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SXSW 2013 Film Reviews: 'Continental'

Daily reviews and interviews

Reviewed by Kate X Messer, Fri., March 15, 2013

SXSW Film

Continental

Documentary SPotlight, World premiere
D: Malcolm Ingram; with Steve Ostrow, Michael Musto, Sarah Dash

Who knows? Had Steve Ostrow lived out his dreams of being an opera star, gay history might've never had the Continental Baths, the legendary men's "health club" that took gay sex from the dark corners of society to a whole 'nother level. Ostrow opened the palatial Continental a year before the Stonewall riots, colliding the homo-underworld with the legitimizing glam of New York's emergent disco glitterati. The baths boasted 400 rooms, 2,000 lockers, 20,000 weekly patrons, a rooftop "beach," and a stage that launched the careers of Bette Midler, Labelle, house music DJ Frankie Knuckles, and more. Ingram's nose for missing gay-history puzzle pieces (Small Town Gay Bar, Bear Nation) led him to Ostrow, whose story alone is worth hours in a dark theatre seat. Supportive eyewitness accounts from den denizens like The Village Voice's Michael Musto and Labelle's Sarah Dash make it shimmer like a Crisco'd fist.

Saturday, March 16, 11am, Topfer
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