March 28, 2009 12:03pm
04-02-09 Cinema Seen
Source: William Margold
by: William Margold
A copulating confluence of events spanning over 30 years of my life will be coming full circle when American Swing opens on Friday April 3 at Laemmle’s Sunset (8000 Sunset Blvd.).
Matthew Kaufman’s and Jon Hart’s broadly amusing little documentary about New York’s most notorious swing club during the late 1970’s---Plato’s Retreat--- and the lusty life and testicular times of its creator---Larry Levenson---made me sit up and take notice, if for no other reason than in clips from 1979’s ''Plato’s the Movie'' (shot in Hollywood) that Kaufman and Hart use to ''flesh out'' their production, I appear, in almost all of my glory, as Roger, the ''blue-ward- robed'' manager of the infamous swing club.
(In fact, because of the limited images from the American Swing press kit, some of the artwork---including me in my blue bathrobe---on this page is from ''Plato’s the Movie.'')
But I am getting way ahead of my tail.
Back in the early 1970’s, when I was just starting to get my feet (etc.) wet in the Adult Entertainment Business, I was introduced to the warm and writhing world of swinging by the legendary adult filmmaker (and very dear friend) Titus Moody. One balmy evening in the fall of 1973, Titus brought me to a swing house known as Chris and Flora’s in Sherman Oaks, and then wandered off with the first friendly lady that came his way. Within a few minutes an aggressive redhead reached out, and not for my hand, and led me off to a corner of the living room, where a comfortable couch became our passion pit…until our passion was pitted. Then I was encouraged to go off and find ''more passion partners.'' Eventually I found myself in a dimly lit area, wallowing in a massive hot tub, replete with mountains of bubbles, partaking of whatever literally fell into my lap. And to this day, I still think that there was something four footed and remarkably wooly in the hot tub that might also have played ''bare bumper tag'' with me that evening.
My ''Swinging Saturdays'' segued into ''Stumbling Sundays'' as I was playing (with very little left in my legs) in a football league during that period, and I opted out of the orgy scene (although I did keep a few intimate relationships on the side), because I was getting more than enough action making X-rated films. Which eventually led to my being cast as the lead opposite Seka and Lisa DeLeeuw in the hardcore feature film look at what was supposedly going on in New York’s Plato’s Retreat. Shot in late November 1979, at what was called Plato’s Retreat West (on Ivar in Hollywood), the production took six days, with everyone taking Thanksgiving Day off to celebrate the holiday, which provided me with the chance to watch my beloved Detroit Lions win their only other game that season. And of course I returned to the set, with renewed sexual vigor (Lions victories have always had that effect on me) and proceeded to bang my way through quite a number of scenes…on camera…as well as off.
In 1981, the garrulous Al Goldstein, a perpetual guest at Plato’s Retreat during its brief heyday, and who had championed Larry Levenson on the pages of Screw Magazine, (and who appears throughout American Swing) asked me if I thought that I would be able to ''knock off more women than Larry'' over the period of an evening. In fact, Al was willing to bet on me against ''The Baron of Balling.'' I was tempted. But then I thought about it with the head above my shoulders, and not wanting to squander whatever the magic was that made me able ''to get up, get in, get out and get off'' in front of the camera on an evening of meaningless sex, I declined.
I forgot all about Plato’s and Larry Levenson until the spring of 1999, when while visiting New York for a convention called Erotica USA at the Jacob Javits Center, I was befriended by a bundle of investigative reporting energy named Jon Hart. He told me that he was in the process of interviewing Larry, and that he was eventually going to make a documentary profiling him and his club and the era that allowed them both to proliferate. I wished him well, and basically forgot about his project until recently, when word of American Swing (www.magpictures.com) came bubbling up from the depths of life’s very own massive hot tub.
At first, my DVD player, and even my computer’s DVD player, did not take to the screener that I was sent. But from I could see in the surprisingly (and delightfully) explicit to a pretty fine pulsating pubic point, what Hart and Kaufman, utilizing a crazy quilt of evocative interviews, had come up with was a non-judgmental look at an innocent nebbish named Larry Levenson, who decided to bring swinging out of the suburban bedrooms, and for a brief steamy and sweaty moment, elevate it into the mainstream---wherein sex was guiltlessly transformed into the three letter word: Fun.