Monday, February 2, 2009

The Pink Angels (Larry G. Brown, 1971)

A film that, until about a week ago, I had no idea existed, The Pink Angels is a bizarre oddity from the hippie era that will baffle and amaze those who seek out its strange glow. Elegantly transferring the biker tomfoolery of Easy Rider and screwing it onto the collective head of an unabashedly flamboyant group of motorcycle riding drag queens, Larry G. Brown's groundbreaking film is, to it bluntly, the gayest movie I have ever seen. You know you're in for something different early on when an attractive flower child in a convertible attempts to flirt with the bikers and is greeted by cold indifference. You see, these motorized Friends of Dorothy want nothing to do with the alluring hipster, and to see them so righteously disregard her flirting was fantastic sight to behold. It was the first of many road movie cliches that are skewered in this highly subversive, totally offbeat, and, dare I say, fabulous enterprise. On the surface, they appear to be your typical bike gang: a surly disposition draped in leather and denim accentuated by iron crosses, flag patches for nonexistent nations, and swastikas. However, underneath lies a festering cauldron of pure, unadulterated fierceness. Lead by the tough looking Michael (John Alderman), the most adept when it came to maintaining his macho veneer, this gang of gay bikers are heading down the coast of California in order to attend a cotillion drag ball in Los Angeles.

The biker aesthetic is just a cover to get the cross-dressing sextet to their destination without any hassle. Only problem is society is just as hostile towards motorcycle enthusiasts as they are homosexuals. So, this puts a double onus on our chichi heroes.

Now I'm no expert, but from what I've read, most bikers like to smuggle narcotics and weapons with them on their cross-country journeys. Well, you can now add bejewelled gowns and reasonably priced lipstick to that list of biker-friendly items that are worth smuggling. Of course, the excessively armed police that populate this cockeyed world don't know how to react to the sight of a concealed wig. Either way, much counterculture-related hilarity is procured from these strange encounters.

The sight of the bike gang (which is actually only three bikes in total - they all have sidecars) riding through the arid wilderness, with the tuneful hippie music wailing in the background, is tremendous stuff. However, it's when their intense gayness bubbles to the surface that The Pink Angels starts to become a proper lark. This intense gayness is best observed during the stop at the hamburger stand, where your standard tizzy evolves into a massive tizzy (ketchup is squirted, meat is thrown).

The audience's comfort level is severely tested during this exchange of fast food and girlish slapping. But if you can through the scene without it letting upset your delicate sensibilities, you should be fine the rest of the way. (I don't why I'm talking about "comfort levels." It's a gay biker movie. If you go in thinking otherwise, well, that's not my problem.)

Anyway, every scene where they thwart the advances of women had me fisting random strangers with unsupervised approval. Maybe it was because I found it hard to fathom the sight of healthy grown men frustrating throng after throng of willing prostitutes. Well, whatever it was, I found the scenes where heterosexual copulation is denied with extreme prejudice to be fascinating.

The one where the burly gay biker and the Liverpudlian gay biker look nonplussed by the offer of bargain-priced sexual intercourse from the topless (and pants-less) room service lady was another excellent example of this sexual denial.

Don't worry, though, the prostitutes are needed later on in order for the gay bikers to appease the penises of an angry looking group of non-gay bikers. This sequence, not known in any circles as the "outdoor biker orgy sequence," is my favourite in the whole movie, as it shows a world where pantyhose-wearing trollops, straight bikers, and effeminate, champagne swigging, candle holder-loving bikers can briefly commingle with one another without malice. The key word there being "briefly," as this movie's ending is a real doozy. Even the most hardened of film watchers will be shocked by its harshness.


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4 comments:

  1. Wow. This movie sounds really gay.

    When we were on our cruise, we saw a sign for a "Friends of Dorothy" meeting. I had to explain what that meant to my better half.

    Ketchup. Hee.

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  2. Yeah, it's, as George Constanza would say, "steeped in gayness."

    Damn. I would have loved to have been able to overhear your explanation. :)

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  3. No, just not my kind of movie I don't think.

    When it comes to grindhouse flicks anyway, I go by Homer Simpson's addage:

    "No! We're never going to see him again, not because he's gay, but because he's a sneak! I like my beer cold, my TV loud, and my homosexuals FLAMING!"

    So yah, I'm not sure if I'd like a bunch of pretenders who turn out to be gay.

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  4. They're pretty flaming after the five minute mark. You know, once they have their tizzy at the rest stop.

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