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Heavy Petting
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Amusing; also a time capsule of the hipster late '80s."
4 stars

If you haven't seen any of the old classroom reels dealing (ineptly) with sex issues, this is a good place to start.

A pleasant if unfocused documentary, Heavy Petting combines old government “instructional” films and hipster interviews with the likes of David Byrne, Spalding Gray, Laurie Anderson, and Sandra Bernhard. It’s about what it was like to be young and horny in the ‘50s. The vintage clips are hilarious, alternating between wanton girls who wreck their lives with premarital sex and insanely casual gym teachers who helpfully define various stages of arousal — “You can cause ejaculation by ‘masturbation,’ or rubbing your penis” — while wide-eyed boys listen and ask priceless questions (“An erection — does that mean there’s too much sperm and you have to get rid of it?”). Women will guffaw at the instructional clip about menstruation, wherein a girl asks her big sister why she hasn’t gotten her period yet and is reassured, “The way you’ve been acting, it shouldn’t be long now!”

As a sort of living rebuttal to these clips, which preached abstinence and warned of the hideous consequences of lust, the movie shows us men and women of that generation looking back fondly on their youthful (pre-AIDS) sexual escapades. Nothing changes; adults will always impose tunnel-visioned sexual parameters on horny teens, who will always rebel against them — which is a lot more dangerous now than it was then.

Other interview subjects: Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, Ann Magnuson, John Oates, Zoe Tamerlaine, and video artist Duka.

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originally posted: 04/05/07 09:08:55
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User Comments

2/26/15 action movie fan more intense than one would think-a fun sleazy look at 1950.s sex 5 stars
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  02-Sep-1989 (R)



Directed by
  Obie Benz

Written by
  Pierce Rafferty

  Spalding Gray
  David Byrne
  Frances Fisher
  Sandra Bernhard
  Ann Magnuson
  Josh Mostel

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