Cruising (Back to Front)

1998, 101 min, color, sound

"I moved to New York City July 18, 1978 to pursue film production and cinema studies at NYU. A year later, protests ignited throughout Greenwich Village to disrupt the filming of William Friedkin’s 'erotic crime thriller' Cruising. I lived in a small studio apartment on Jones Street a few doors down from where Al Pacino's character Steve Burns lived. In the summer of 1979 to enter my building I had to pass through the on-location production and the vociferous demonstrations surrounding it. Being immersed in this clash of contradictory cultural forces as a young man exerted a tremendous and foundational influence. I recognized the full impact of these confrontations only later through their delayed yet no less percussive effects on both my politics and creativity, most explicitly my involvement a decade later in the ACT UP affinity group DIVA TV (Damned Interfering Video Activists Television) and my desire to revisit the experience by remaking Friedkin's film as my own twenty years later as Cruising (Back to Front).

"In 1998, twenty years after production began on William Friedkin’s 1980 notorious, gay leather underground crime thriller, Cruising, I reversed it scene by scene. The 'from behind' approach was suggested by the logic of the film itself. The narrative dissonance of the original film is amplified in Back to Front, the antinomy of law and desire patent. Moving in reverse, cause cruises outcome, with often queer effects. For instance, straight intercourse isn’t an anodyne for gay sex, but a push towards it, and hetero-normativity longs for sexual lawlessness. The act that haunts the redo is the one that incites it: Karen Allen donning Pacino’s S&M leather gear and lurking, 'dragging', up behind him on the soundtrack. Upshot: Feminized desire, non-localizable, not-all, betrays the underlying, real, phobia in Friedkin's quasi-horror film 'How would you like to disappear?'" — Robert Buck