“What Edwin Denby is to dance, Joan Didion is to anomie, and John Waters is to deviance, Boyd McDonald is to the movies. He maps the unruly politics of desire from big screen to small, while cruising America in all its mess, muscle, and wonder. McDonald’s bawdy and brilliant critical tome is the best lube for thinking that’s ever been concocted.” — Bruce Hainley
Ronnie Reagan’s bizarre legs are sufficient reason to watch John Loves Mary (1949), a picture so ordinaire it needs this bizarre touch. When the faces in this historic still from the Musuem of Modern Art are cropped, Reagan could pass for a butch lez from the Women’s Army Corps who is about to put the old make on a fluff (Patricia Neal.)
Cruising the Movies is Boyd McDonald’s “sexual guide” to televised cinema, originally published by the Gay Presses of New York in 1985. The capstone of McDonald’s prolific turn as a freelance film columnist for the magazine Christopher Street, Cruising the Movies collects the author’s movie reviews from 1983 to 1987. This expanded edition also includes previously uncollected articles and a new introduction by William E. Jones.
Better known as the editor of Straight to Hell — a compendia of real-life sexual stories that are part pornography, part ethnography — McDonald in his film writing reveals both his studious and sardonic sides. Many of the texts in Cruising the Movies were inspired by McDonald’s attentive inspection of the now-shuttered MoMA Film Stills Archive, and his columns gloriously capture a bygone era in film fandom. Eschewing new theatrical releases for the “oldies” once common as cheap programming on independent television stations, and writing against the bleak backdrop of Reagan-era America, McDonald never ceases to find subversive, arousing delights in the comically chaste aesthetics imposed by the censorious Motion Picture Production Code of 1930. With lancing wit, Cruising celebrates gay subculture’s profound embrace of mass culture, seeing film for what it is — a screen that reflects our fantasies, desires, and dreams.
Boyd McDonald (1925-1993) was a writer for Time and IBM, a journalist, a founder and editor of Straight to Hell, a celebrated fanzine that bore a variety of subtitles, including “The Manhattan Review of Unnatural Acts” or “The New York Review of Cocksucking.”