Friday, January 18, 2013

That Man: Peter Berlin (2005)

That Man: Peter Berlin (2005)


Take a step back into San Francisco 1974 and you'll be able to conjure images of the legendary Peter Berlin. Sex-style just oozed from this stud in skin-tight white pants, leather accoutrements and smooth, shoulder-length blonde hair. After just two remarkable 16mm porn films in 1974 (That Boy and Nights in Black Leather) he vanished from the scene. Do you ever wonder what happened to the "Greta Garbo" of porn? Director Jim Tushinksi interviewed other surviving gay '70s icons about Peter Berlin and then caught up with the legend himself in his San Francisco apartment giving us a glimpse into a very private and fascinating life. Combining interviews, juicy film clips and lots of Peter Berlin photography we're let in on one of the most compelling gay personal histories we've seen.
That Man is a portrait of the creation of an icon and also the man behind the myth. Armin was born into an aristocratic German family in post-war Berlin. Early on, Armin discovered his personal sexual power and he used it. He ended up, like many gay men in the early '70s, in San Francisco. There Armin adopted the persona of Peter Berlin and began his work as photographer, filmmaker, and model. In his 20s, he made the porn films which led to stardom and encounters with Andy Warhol, Robert Mapplethorpe, Sal Mineo, and many others. Eventually, Armin turned his life inward, saw most of his friends die, survived the AIDS epidemic, and now lives quietly.
Berlin's take on male sexuality was very different from the popular clone-look. No flannel shirts for Peter Berlin, he preferred suggestive, skin-tight clothing. Peter served as his own photographer, model, and fashion designer; he even made his own clothes. He was the basis for several Tom of Finland drawings and ended up creating a gay '70's icon that persists to this day.
Director Tushinki has focused on giving us a rare glimpse into a private man that's spiced with terrific interviews with filmmaker John Waters, pornstar Jack Wrangler, author Armistead Maupin, filmmaker Wakefield Poole - all '70s icons as well. Compelling, very sexy and filled with juicy gossip, That Man is a lively documentary about a man we've wanted to learn about for a long time. It was well worth the wait.


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