Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay that unpacks the influence of James Bidgood’s queer experimental film Pink Narcissus.
A statuesque sex worker (Bobby Kendall) daydreams of tactile erotic encounters from the seclusion of his sequenced apartment. Through a fuchsia fog of fantastical escapism, the young man’s interlocked, narcissistic dream-life begins to subsume the sleaze of his day-to-day. Pert matadors, leather-clad bikers, and all manner of imagined lovers traipse through the young man’s apartment.
Directed by James Bidgood, who long-disowned his labor of love due to conflicts with the producing brass, 1971’s Pink Narcissus is a kitsch cacophony of intimacy and one of the most influential and culturally significant pieces of queer experimental filmmaking. In its terse 65-minute runtime, Pink Narcissus muses on the interlocking intricacies of homoeroticism, loneliness, and fantasies within fantasies. Unabashedly risqué and unapologetically campy, the film has proved an influential aesthetic touchstone of queer escapism. As Oliver Basciano writes for The Guardian, in commemoration of Bidgood’s recent passing, the influence of Pink Narcissus can be felt in the works of everyone from Pierre et Gilles to Lil Nas X.
And as the following video essay astutely underlines, Pink Narcissus‘ unflinching embrace of fantasy, day-dreaming, and escaping reality has a pressing place in the vocabulary of queer creative expression. There are reasons that a young sex worker in the 1970s would want to lose themselves in a cornucopia of greek myth, velour, and fantasies within fantasies. So, without further ado, a look at the aesthetic influence, thematic concerns, and behind-the-scenes labor pains of Pink Narcissus:
If that plot summary wasn’t enough of a hint, please note that the following video is slightly NSFW.
Watch “Pink Narcissus – The Beauty Of Queer Escapist Dreaming”:
Who made this?
This video essay on the themes of Pink Narcissus is by You Have Been Watching Films. United Kingdom-based writer Oliver Bagshaw produces the channel, creating video essays on an assortment of movies, from cult to classic strains of cinema history. You can subscribe to their YouTube channel here.
More videos like this
- Here’s an audience recording of Pink Narcissus director James Bidgood introducing the film at IFC’s Queer Art Film event.
- Want another sample of You Have Been Watching Films? Here’s a video on how Takashi Miike’s movie Audition manipulates its audience with genre conventions.
- Here is another on the themes of warmth and cynicism in the French-language animated film The Triplets of Belleville.
- And here’s why the short documentary Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe is more profound than its blunt title suggests.
- And finally, here’s an essay on how the animated 2018 film The Wolf House uses a fantastical lens to contend with real-world horrors.