Two captivating new documentaries about landmark gay bars are among the 19 feature films screening at New York City’s Newfest, which opened last night at the Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater. We Came to Sweat: The Legend of Starlite, which follows the sad demise of Brooklyn’s oldest black gay bar, will see its world premiere today (Friday), while Age of Consent, a raunchy and revealing doc about London’s first and only gay fetish club The Hoist, will have one of its first-ever showings on Saturday night.
Directed by Kate Kunath and Sasha Wortzel, We Came to Sweat takes us back to early 2010, when Brooklyn’s longest-running black-owned-and-operated gay bar the Starlite Lounge faced an uncertain future after its building was acquired by new owners. Founded in 1962 by Mackie Harris, the Starlite had been a key pre-Stonewall LGBT safe-zone, and a vital part of the community surrounding its Bergen Street and Nostrand Avenue location. Set against the backdrop of its importance in the history of both its Crown Heights neighborhood and New York City’s greater gay scene, We Came to Sweat introduces us to the bar’s devoted staff (including house mother Mama Dot and resident performer Lady Jasmin), management, and patrons old and new as they rally around the Starlite and try to save it from closure.
Across the pond, London’s notorious gay fetish club The Hoist is profiled in Charles Lum and Todd Verow’s Age of Consent, which walks an interesting and titillating line between hardcore hotness and London-gay-scene primer. Famed activists Peter Tatchell and Joseph Sonnabend help lay the groundwork for how revolutionary the club was when it opened in 1996, while the club’s owners, staff and patrons (including Mister Leather Europe 2012 Kilker Alcaraz and International Mr. Leather 2003 John Pendal) show us around and share the ins and outs of the fetish scene. “I don’t want anything domestic in here,” explains club owner “Uncut” Kurt Striegler at the doc’s outset, “so if you have it at home, chances are you won’t find it in The Hoist.”
We Came to Sweat world premieres Friday, July 25 at 4:30 p.m. (including Q&A afterward with directors Kate Kunath and Sasha Wortzel), while Age of Consent has its New York premiere on Saturday, July 26 at 11:30 p.m. (including Q&A afterward with directors Charles Lum and Todd Verow). Both screenings are at Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater. Other not-to-miss 2014 Newfest highlights include Daniel Ribeiro’s wonderful The Way He Looks and Stefan Haupt’s The Circle (both Teddy winners at this year’s Berlin international Film Festival), as well as Hong Khaou’s tender Lilting (starring Ben Whishaw) and Bruce LaBruce’s Gerontophilia.
Watch the trailers for We Came to Sweat and Age of Consent (NSFW) below.