Saturday, August 28, 2010

#22. American Swing (2008)

DVD Synopsis: The Seventies were sexy and sleazy. At the epicenter of it all was Plato's Retreat, the controversial, first-ever swingers club. In New York's conservative Upper West Side, Plato's embraced adventurous couples who came to dance, to swim, and... to swap. It was the start of a revolution. The brainchild of Larry Levenson, the self-proclaimed King of Swing, Plato's Retreat quickly emerged as the mainstay of public sex for the me generation, welcoming anyone and everyone. For only $35, couples checked their judgments and pedigrees at the door; debutantes got it on next to bus drivers, as movie stars gave secretaries the starlet treatment. For Levenson and others, Plato s was a utopia. However, this wild party did not last. American Swing brings this enigmatic epic of excess to the screen for the first time.

Some of the finest documentaries I’ve seen have centered on relatively obscure topics, and while I wouldn’t classify swinging, or wife swapping, or whatever you want to call it as an undiscovered phenomenon, it is, nonetheless, not often explored in popular culture. American Swing throws a spotlight on this lifestyle, taking us back to the late 70’s, when places like Plato’s Retreat provided a safe haven for swingers to gather.   Going in, I admit I knew very little about Plato’s, yet the film had me believing I should have known about it, offering up a complete exploration of its subject matter, spurred on by a strong conviction towards its own importance. 

Now, if you’re just looking for a few cheap thrills, you’ll find plenty here. The movie has a lot of nudity, some pretty frank sex talk and excerpts from a handful of vintage hard-core videos. But for those looking to know more, to delve deeper into an under-explored social reality, American Swing offers a thorough examination of a moment in history, and this is what ultimately makes it worth your time.


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