Continental – a new documentary
CREATED BY: Ash Christian
LOCATION: New York, New York, United States
What do sex without consequence, men in towels and Bette Midler have in common?
Award Winning filmmaker Malcolm Ingram (SMALL TOWN GAY BAR, BEAR NATION) tells the story of the Continental Baths.
The Continental Baths was a seminal gay New York City hotspot that existed from the late sixties to 1974. Housed at the former site of the legendary Ansonia Hotel at 230 W. 74th St., the Continental ultimately became one of the most important metropolitan keystones for a sexual revolution, fostering an environment of tolerance and indirectly contributing to a level of mainstream gay acceptance the likes of which has never been seen again.
Continental is a stylish examination of a lively and lascivious piece of real estate that transcended sexual identity and acted as a beacon to the hip, beautiful and infamous.
The baths themselves were a lavish Roman style affair, which were opened in the late 60’s in a newly post-stonewall NYC. Owner Steve Ostrow wanted to create a decadent and luxurious clubhouse where newly liberated men could explore with wanton abandon.
“A gay man with $15 can get both sex and entertainment at the Continental and know he is mixing with the beautiful people. He might still turn up to work on Monday and be fired for being a fag” ”“ Dennis Altman-1971
Along with the baths, The Continental was was home to glamorous shows that attracted first class performers such as Cab Calloway, Peter Allen, Wayland Flowers, Patti Labelle and a then unknown Bette Midler, who (with her piano player Barry Manilow) became ringmaster to the revelry. To top it off the house DJ was a fledgling Frankie Knuckles, who used his gig at the Continetal to cultivate a style that would earn him the title ’Godfather of House Music”
“This was a learning period for me. I found myself living in that DJ booth almost 24 hours a day. I was always listening to music.” ”“ Frankie Knuckles (on The Continental).
Told through archival footage, photographs, music and the voices of owner Steve Ostrow as well as patrons, performers and opponents, Continental will be a thorough examination of a time and a place not so long ago when the word positive wasn’t so negative.