Fun, fascinating examination of the moment when American and British culture seemed to lose all inhibitions.
In the middle of the 20th century, the walls of censorship were battered by courtroom decisions favoring what officials had called “indecent” literature—e.g., James Joyce’s Ulysses, Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer and Allen Ginsberg’s Howl. Variety senior editor Hofler (Party Animals: A Hollywood Tale of Sex, Drugs, and Rock 'n' Roll Starring the Fabulous Allan Carr, 2010, etc.) focuses on the period from 1966 to 1973, when those walls seemed to come tumbling down, not only in books, but also in film, theater and TV. Suddenly, authors, directors and producers set their sights quite frankly (albeit often satirically) on formerly taboo subjects like transsexualism (Gore Vidal’s Myra Breckinridge), masturbation (Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint), male prostitution (Midnight Cowboy) and rape (Straw Dogs). Language and subject matter became more explicit in works like the 1966 film of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf and the smash-hit TV series All in the Family. Actors of both sexes began appearing fully nude on the popular stage in Hair and Oh! Calcutta! and in films like Andy Warhol’s Trash and Ken Russell’s Women in Love. Hofler’s deep research reveals the personal (and personnel) connections among many of these projects. Most astonishing, however, are the author’s chronicles of the reactionary attitudes these revolutionary works provoked in mainstream media. Readers will marvel over the ideological distance traveled since those years, particularly by the New York Times, which in 1964 fretted about “overt homosexuality” in Greenwich Village and in whose Sunday magazine in 1973 feminist Anne Roiphe clucked her tongue over “evil flower” Lance Loud, the oldest and openly gay scion of the pioneering reality show An American Family.
Sparkling history of an artistically spirited age.