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The Kiss (1896) - William Heise

The Kiss (1896) - William Heise

When Edison invented the moving pictures, the pornographic potential of this new media was, of course, too obvious to be overlooked, and very soon a prosperous, underground production of 'blue movies' began, particularly in South America. In fact, Edison himself produced an erotic motion picture as early as in 1886; called The Kiss (1896) . It created a public scandal, and was a tremendous success. The film was not pornographic, of course, but heralded a new era in the erotic industry which has now, in very recent years, reached another stage with the video tape, cable and satellite television productions of pornography. --Berl Kutchinsky, Sex Industry and Public Policy http://www.aic.gov.au/publications/proceedings/14/kutchinsky.pdf

The Kiss (also known as The May Irwin Kiss, The Rice-Irwin Kiss and The Widow Jones) is an 1896 actuality which was one of the first movies ever shown commercially to the public. It is barely twenty seconds long. The scene is a re-enactment of the kiss between May Irwin and John Rice, in the final scene of the stage musical The Widow Jones. The Kiss may have been the first movie ever publicly shown in Canada; it was projected onto a makeshift screen in West End Park, Ottawa, on July 21, 1896. It caused a scandalized uproar and occasioned disapproving newspaper editorials.

It was directed by William Heise for Thomas Edison. In 1999 the short was deemed "culturally significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Kiss_%28film%29 [Nov 2005]

Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985) - Hector Babenco

    Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985) - Hector Babenco [Amazon.com]
    The history of gay cinema can be split into two sections: before Kiss of the Spider Woman, and after. This great film was undeliberately timely, and in the twenty years since its release, its pop-cultural importance has only increased.

    Kiss Of The Spider Woman opened in a Manhattan cinema on July 26, 1985, the same week that a dying Rock Hudson flew to Paris on Concorde to try the experimental AIDS treatment, HPA-23. Days later, the first reviews of the film began appearing in newspapers, obscured behind disaster-movie style front pages featuring blown up pictures of the wasted Hudson, and announcements from UCLA immunologist Michael Gottlieb, such as “Mr Hudson is being evaluated and treated for complications of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.”

    During the first screaming years of the AIDS epidemic, gay characters in movies all but disappeared. Then they re-emerged, politicised and martyred, in films like Philadelphia and Longtime Companion. Post AIDS epidemic, they were reborn - infantile and gurgling at the breasts of mother figures like Jennifer Aniston and Madonna in films like The Object of My Affection and The Next Best Thing.

    Culturally, the AIDS epidemic rumbled in like a fire curtain, sealing off the danger zone - obvious, fruity homosexuality - and Kiss Of The Spider Woman lunged across the nationwide release line just in time. The film's main character Molina (William Hurt) was the last in a grand line of theatrical, flawed gay adults who didn’t shy away from their dark sides, their carnality and their sadnesses, and who had more bravery and spirit in each perfectly polished toenail than a thousand modern gay guys put together. The vital gay characters from films like Victim, The Boys in The Band, and Making Love were a breed apart from their washed-out post-AIDS epidemic cousins, and Molina/Hurt is the King of them all.


    Manuel Puig, the author of the original novel, hated it, predicting correctly that in the role of Molina “La Hurt is so bad she will probably win an Oscar”. However, while Puig's novel was innovative, anyone who’s seen the film first will find the far less lyrical book comparatively drab. --Mark Adnum http://outrate.net/outratespiderwoman.html

    Soundtrack by Wally Badarou

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