William E. Jones

William E. Jones is an artist and filmmaker who teaches film history at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. He has made two feature length experimental films, Massillon (1991) and Finished (1997), several short videos, including The Fall of Communism as Seen in Gay Pornography (1998), the feature length documentary Is It Really So Strange? (2004), and many video installations. His films and videos were the subject of retrospectives at Tate Modern, London, in 2005, and at Anthology Film Archives, New York, in 2010. He has worked in the adult video industry under the name Hudson Wilcox.

  • Halsted Plays Himself

    Halsted Plays Himself

    William E. Jones

    The life, times, and mysteries of Fred Halsted, gay porn's first film auteur.

    Fred Halsted's L.A. Plays Itself (1972) was gay porn's first masterpiece: a sexually explicit, autobiographical, experimental film whose New York screening left even Salvador Dalí repeatedly muttering “new information for me.” Halsted, a self-taught filmmaker, shot the film over a period of three years in a now-vanished Los Angeles, a city at once rural and sleazy. Although his cultural notoriety at one point equaled that of Kenneth Anger or Jack Smith, Halsted's star waned in the 1980s with the emergence of a more commercial gay-porn industry. After the death from AIDS of his long-time partner, lover, spouse (and tormentor) Joey Yale in 1986, Halsted committed suicide in 1989.In Halsted Plays Himself, acclaimed artist and filmmaker William E. Jones documents his quest to capture the elusive public and private personas of Halsted—to zero in on an identity riddled with contradictions. Jones assembles a narrative of a long-gone gay lifestyle and an extinct Hollywood underground, when independent films were still possible, and the boundary between experimental and pornographic was not yet established. The book also depicts what sexual liberation looked like at a volatile point in time—and what it looked like when it collapsed.

    • Hardcover $24.95 £20.00

Contributor

  • Cruising the Movies

    Cruising the Movies

    A Sexual Guide to Oldies on TV

    Boyd McDonald

    A writer casts an acerbic, queer eye on the greats and the not-so-greats of Hollywood's Golden Age.

    Ronnie Reagan's bizarre legs are sufficient reason to watch John Loves Mary (1949), a picture so ordinaire it needs this bizarre touch. When the faces in this historic still from the Museum of Modern Art are cropped, Reagan could pass for a butch lez from the Women's Army Corps who is about to put the old make on a fluff (Patricia Neal). —from Cruising the Movies

    Cruising the Movies was Boyd McDonald's “sexual guide” to televised cinema, originally published by the Gay Presses of New York in 1985. The capstone of McDonald's prolific turn as a freelance film columnist for the magazine Christopher Street, Cruising the Movies collects the author's movie reviews of 1983–1985. This new, expanded edition also includes previously uncollected articles and a new introduction by William E. Jones.

    Eschewing new theatrical releases for the “oldies” once common as cheap programing on independent television stations, and more interested in starlets and supporting players than leading actors, McDonald casts an acerbic, queer eye on the greats and not-so-greats of Hollywood's Golden Age. Writing against the bleak backdrop of Reagan-era America, McDonald never ceases to find subversive, arousing delights in the comically chaste aesthetics imposed by the censorious Motion Picture Production Code of 1930–1968.

    Better known as the editor of the Straight to Hell paperback series—a compendia of real-life sexual stories that is part pornography, part ethnography—McDonald in his film writing reveals both his studious and sardonic sides. Many of the texts in Cruising the Movies were inspired by McDonald's attentive inspection of the now-shuttered MoMA Film Stills Archive, and his columns gloriously capture a bygone era in film fandom. Gay and subcultural, yet never reducible to a zany cult concern or mere camp, McDonald's “reviews” capture a lost art of queer cinephilia, recording a furtive obsession that once animated gay urban life. With lancing wit, Cruising celebrates gay subculture's profound embrace of mass culture, seeing film for what it is—a screen that reflects our fantasies, desires, and dreams.

    • Paperback $17.95 £13.99