Saturday Night at the Baths

Cheesy little time capsule
★★★
☆☆
Released: 
1975
Director: 
David Buckley
Starring: 
Robert Aberdeen, Ellen Shepard, Don Scotti
The Setup: 
Straight guy gets a job at a gay bathhouse in NYC, forcing him to deal with his own repressed sexual issues.
Discussion: 

I'm being a little cheeky in writing about this here, as it is not available on DVD or cassette [Oops, but now it is], but I wanted to put you on the look-out for it, as it's really a little cheese gem. If you see it playing anywhere [I saw it as part of the New York Gay & Lesbian film festival], definitely go see it! It's a total hoot.

The story concerns Michael, who has recently moved to New York with his girlfriend. He plays piano, and needs a job, so he tries out for and takes a job at the Continental Baths, where the movie was actually filmed. He and his girlfriend become friends with the manager, Scotti. But Michael is uncomfortable with the blatant displays of homosexuality he witnesses, and the idea that men are coming on to him. Could all of this discomfort originate in his OWN homoerotic feelings? The truth may be too shocking to face.

While not much about the story is going to take anyone by surprise, this movie is invaluable in its individual charmingly hilarious moments, and also just as a recording of some of the denizens of the bathhouse and many of the performances that took place there. The highlight of the performances has to be the Diana Ross impersonator, who looks quite like her, and sings “Aint' No Mountain High Enough” in an elaborate white dress that reveals the upper half of her ass. There's also this long interpretive dance piece performed by a bunch of guys in white underwear. Good heavens, what I wouldn't give to go back to the 70s.

Michael's girlfriend Tracy provides the best performance and a bunch of hilarious scenes. Her great facial expression after the three main characters get stoned and the two men are bonding homoerotically over her knees is just precious. I also love her whole speech excoriating Michael for not being able to “relate” to Scotti [after the gays-vs-straights football game]. That's one other thing I miss about the 70s… how the first thing out of someone's mouth would be this super touchy-feely stuff abut sharing and relating and understanding and accepting. Ah yes.

The movie is also fun just to see a lot of Greenwich Village and SoHo as they looked in the 70s. Definitely a fun little cheesy classic, if you can find it playing somewhere definitely go and check it out.

Should you watch it: 

If you can find it, watch it for sure.