Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Department of Cinema in Censornati



I'm in Cincinnati, volunteering two weeks of my time to a group called America Coming Together in an effort to unseat Bush in the fall.

Ohio is now at the top of everyone's list as *the* battleground state for this year's election, though my decision to come here, made after hearing about ACT on the O'Franken Factor, was due in large part to the presence here of my high school partner in crime Patty C., who resides in the home of three-, four, and five-way chili with his ever-so-gracious wife, Gretchen, and their two fun, whip-smart kids, Annie and Patrick.

Anyway, the last issue of CityBeat, a local weekly, featured a story on the apparently long and rich history of censorship in this southwest Ohio burg. It didn't start with Mapplethorpe.

Steve Ramos tells the intriguing story of the Esquire Theatre's excision of a sex scene from Wayne Wang's 2001 "adult drama" The Center of the World, in which an anonymous source called Ramos, a critic, to inform him that the theater's operator had instructed him to remove "the lollipop scene," about three minutes in length, from the film prior to screening it -- and without informing the studio or the distributor.

Other works moviehouse owners in Cincy have seen fit to shield from the public's eyes have included, not surprisingly, Last Tango in Paris (1972) and, weirdly, The Bride of Frankenstein (1935). (Equally weird, in my opinion, is Ramos's characterization of 2000's Requiem for a Dream as an "erotic adult film," but whatever.)

For a quick primer on the activities of conservative crusaders in the Queen City, formerly known as Porkopolis, give a gander to rotten.com's page on Cincy, which it describes as "The most Puritan city in America, not nearly as fun as WKRP depicted it."

See you at Gold Star!