Heavy Petting (Docurama)

Video and DVD

 
Heavy Petting



1989, Rated R

This 1989 documentary about societal attitudes of the 1950s toward teen sexuality follows the Atomic Café template. Archival footage from old sex-education films, Hollywood movies and other sources are presented collage-style to zippy, fun period music. It was meant to amuse then-thirtysomething Boomers about their youth. The problem is that director Obie Benz keeps cutting to snippets of contemporaneous interviews with a mélange of artist types (David Byrne, Spalding Gray, Laurie Anderson and many more) about their early sexual experiences. These observations aren't especially interesting, and there's a B-list quality to many of the interviewees — especially now. (Who is Zoe Tamerlaine, anyway?) One wishes the movie would just concentrate on the old footage. Fortunately disc two of the newly released DVD does just that, featuring 10 dated if well-meaning sex-ed/anti-pornography films from the 1930s-1950s, including an anti-syphilis film produced by the state of Kansas that has the coolest Jazz soundtrack imaginable. Someday, our "teaching abstinence" material will look just as corny. (Steven Rosen) Grade: B

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