Synopsis by Jason Buchanan
Filmmakers Mathew Kaufman and Jon Hart explore the last gasp of the sexual revolution with this profile of Plato's Retreat -- New York City's most notorious, 1970s-era sex club. The year was 1977: the city was in the suffocating grip of a heat wave, nerves were rattled due to the energy crisis, and the social unrest was growing. But when the sun went down over the city, the nightlife flourished. The discos were packed, cocaine was all the rage at Studio 54, and over at CBGB the punks were smashing it up. Inspired by the open sexuality in gay clubs all across town, Larry Levenson hatched the idea to open a club where people could have sex freely, without shame or threat of lawful consequences. On the surface Levenson appeared to be just your average family man, but by night he would leave his wife at home to live it up at local swingers clubs. It was with the help of some particularly shady investors, as well as his girlfriend Mary and a series of steamy public-access commercials, that Levenson made his dreams of opening an extravagant, heterosexual sex club a reality. There were no inhibitions at Plato's Retreat, as highlighted by the numerous vintage clips showing the swingers paradise in its heyday. But while the city ultimately failed in their efforts to pass ordinances that would close Plato's Retreat, the club flourished until the closing of its doors on New Year's Eve, 1985, an erotic casualty of the growing AIDS crisis. Interviews with Melvin Van Peebles, Ed Koch, as well as other journalists, celebrities, and actual club employees paint a vivid image of the carefree era before sexuality was a matter of life and death.
club [place], nightlife, owner, sexual-revolution, swinger