an eye-opening, if alarming insight into circuit life
If you have ever wondered about life on the US party circuit, let alone if the circuit is for you, then this candid exposé makes for revealing, if provocative viewing. For here directors Stewart Halpern and Lenid Rolov have gone behind the throbbing beat of the dance floor, in order to cinematically confront the raw reality of the drug-fuelled highs and indeed the very lows of those who live, if not die, for the perfect party.
And here their willing White Party participants include Tone, 21, a "not doin' drugs this time" guy, only for his circuit buddy Matt to have other ideas. And then there's Todd, 35, a buffed to perfection ex hetero now into pretty boys who's more than happy to take his current boyfriend Jon, 19, to the party, alongside Jon's best friend and former Todd lover Jason. But will their relationship be a case of the early morning blues?
Seen through the experiences of its subjects, the moral conscience of the group and for that matter the film, is by way of twenty-three-year-old Brandon. For whilst a circuit 'sans drugs' virgin, albeit one more than happy to party from dusk 'til dawn, it is his cutting comments that remind you of the pros and cons of what for some, equates to a gay utopia; namely the ultimate mix of men and music, dance and drugs, let alone as much sex as you can rise to. Or indeed as many drugs as you can take. And here cue Johnny; a circuit veteran with burned out receptors courtesy of a seemingly endless supply of alcohol, cocaine, crystal, ecstasy, GHB and marijuana - did I leave anything out?
Only is everything what it appears to be? For whilst a coke induced smile may mask a lonely life, the predominant theme throughout this work is not the music, not even the casual sex, as readily available both on and off the dance floor, but that of drugs. Not that the use of club drugs is anything new. Yet what is shocking here is footage of those who should know better, having either seen or personally experienced the dark side of substance abuse, but who instead appear to be more than happy to play Russian roulette with the latest chemical high and if loss of consciousness be the result, then so be it.
Exhilarating as the scene itself and filled with more prime cuts of man-beef than a butcher's shop, not surprisingly many of the issues raised here, are also to be found in Dirk Shafer's fictional tale Circuit; both films being geared to a specific section of gay life that some men are clearly addicted to. And yet it is the honesty of the participants that takes you back, as equally do scenes of yet another partygoer being carried out on a stretcher in the early hours of the morning, having paid just too high a price to party. All of which makes for an eye-opening, if alarming insight into circuit life.
screened as part of the 16th London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival 2002