American Swing: 4 of 5 stars

MoviesDocumentary (genre)Minority GroupsEntertainmentRoger MooreMelvin van Peebles

Here's a documentary about a piece of history many won't believe ever happened. In the late 1970s through the mid-'80s, there was a much ballyhooed club for "swingers" in Manhattan, a place where the beautiful and the buzzed, the homely and promiscuous, the famous and obscure could get together for organized orgies. There were TV shows about it, film crews were let in (none of the most graphic stuff was televised) as people romped in a pool, in hot tubs or in "The Mat Room." And the city allowed it.

As American Swing tells us, "the '70s are when the ethic of the '60s took hold," and Plato's Retreat was the embodiment of that.

This graphic, non-judgmental documentary by Jon Hart and Matthew Kaufman uses archival footage and still photographs of those who went to Plato's in its various locations where founder Larry Levensen set up his "heterosexual gay bar." That was the inspiration, the easy hook-ups of gay bathhouses and bars of the day, only for straight couples, triples, etc. Among those interviewed for the film, comic writer Buck Henry (a real hipster in his day) and filmmaker Melvin Van Peebles, frequent visitors to this $25 a visit, all you can fornicate buffet.

You will be stunned and amused. But not titillated.

Screening at: 10:15 p.m. Sunday, April 5, Enzian.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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