By Eddie Shapiro
Continental, an excellent documentary that tells the story of the fabled Continental Baths in New York City, is the third gay-themed feature from director Malcolm Ingram (Small Town Gay Bar, Bear Nation). And with a subject of the world’s best-known bathhouse, he allows us to imagine a world that few may believe was once possible.
Although it may be virtually impossible now to imagine a ’70s bathhouse as anything other than a cesspool. But as director Malcolm Ingram explains through some amazing footage and interviews with Steve Ostrow, the club’s founder (who started the business with capital from his wife’s father), this mecca of pleasure was something unique in history.
Men didn’t just go there to anonymously hook up, Ostrow explains, they’d dance the night away, in towels, on the world’s first, according to Ostrow, light-up disco floor. As many already know, the infamous stage shows featured the budding talents of Bette Midler and LaBelle.
This was a place that could only really exist in that sliver of time between Stonewall and AIDS, but during that brief era, the Continental changed the landscape of sex in the city—and perhaps the world? Continental serves as a history lesson and reminder of a cultural and sexual revolution that contained victories that we currently take for granted.
WATCH THE TRAILER BELOW:
Continental screened as part of Outfest. For more information visit the website.