Malcolm Ingram’s lively new documentary CONTINENTAL takes viewers back in time to the sexually charged New York of 1968, when the notorious Continental Baths opened its doors. This groundbreaking den of debauchery (advertised as a place “for sophisticated men only”) came to transcend sexual identity and became a cultural beacon to the hip, beautiful and infamous. Not only host to newly-empowered gay men of all shapes and sizes, eager to take full advantage of their sexual freedoms at a lavish venue, the Continental brought both high and low culture to the bathhouse’s stage week after week, becoming instrumental in the careers of ‘60s and ‘70s icons like Bette Midler, Barry Manilow, Patti LaBelle, Peter Allen and countless others. It will be showing at the SXSW Film Festival in March.
With the help of its owner and proprietor, the enigmatic Steve Ostrow (along with his former staff, historians and artists who were there), CONTINENTAL tells the tale of one of the most important keystones in the sexual revolution, one that fostered an environment of tolerance and contributed to a level of mainstream gay acceptance and uncensored sexuality the likes of which have never been seen since.