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Pink Narcissus

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Pink Narcissus
Directed byJames Bidgood
Written byJames Bidgood
Produced byJames Bidgood
StarringBobby Kendall
Charles Ludlam[1]
CinematographyJames Bidgood
Edited byMartin Jay Sadoff
Music byMartin Jay Sadoff
Gary Goch
Distributed bySherpix
Strand Releasing (2003 re-release)
Release date
  • May 24, 1971 (May 24, 1971)
Running time
71 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$27,000 (estimated)

Pink Narcissus is a 1971 American arthouse drama film directed by James Bidgood[2] and starring (unknowns) Bobby Kendall, Don Brooks and stage actor Charles Ludlam. It visualizes the erotic fantasies of a gay male prostitute.


Between visits from his keeper, or John, a handsome male prostitute (Bobby Kendall), alone in his apartment, lounges, fantasizing about worlds where he is the central character. For example, he pictures himself as a matador, a Roman slave boy and the emperor who condemns him, and the keeper of a male harem for whom another male performs a belly dance.


In a 2005 interview, Bidgood enumerated some of the film's inspirations, such as the British film The Red Shoes and actress Maria Montez. Most of the film's extras were people actor Don Brooks found on the streets when he went out of the set on "talent searches".[3]

The film is mostly shot on 8 mm film[4] with bright, otherworldly lighting and intense colors. Aside from its last, climactic scene, which was shot in a downtown Manhattan loft, it was produced in its entirety (including outdoor scenes) in Bidgood's small New York City apartment over a seven-year (from 1963 to 1970) period and ultimately released without the consent of the director, who therefore had himself credited as Anonymous. He said in the interview, "See, why I took my name off of it was that I was protesting, which I'd heard at the time that's what you did..."[4]


Because the name of the filmmaker was not widely known, there were rumors that Andy Warhol was behind it.[1] In the mid-1990s, writer Bruce Benderson began a search for its maker based on several leads and finally verified that it was James Bidgood, who was still living in Manhattan and was working on a film script.[5] In 1999, a book researched and written by Benderson was published by Taschen about Bidgood's body of photographic and filmic work.

Bidgood's unmistakably kitschy style was later imitated and refined by artists such as Pierre et Gilles.[citation needed]

In 2003, the film was re-released by Strand Releasing as the film had its 35th anniversary in 2006.[1]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Edgecomb, Sean Fredric (May 1, 2006). "Camping out with James Bidgood: The Auteur of Pink Narcissus Tells All". brightlightsfilm.com. Retrieved June 20, 2018.
  2. ^ Genzlinger, Neil (February 7, 2022). "James Bidgood, a Master of Gay Photography, Dies at 88 - In addition to his elaborately staged images of gay fantasies, he made the film "Pink Narcissus," a cult classic released anonymously in 1971". The New York Times. Retrieved February 8, 2022.
  3. ^ Edgecomb, Sean F. (May 2006) Camping out with James Bidgood Archived from the original on January 10, 2013. Retrieved January 4, 2024.
  4. ^ a b Gallagher, Paul (July 4, 2011). "James Bidgood's Sumptuous and Subversive 'Pink Narcissus', 1971". dangerousminds.net. Retrieved June 20, 2018.
  5. ^ Benderson, Bruce (1999). James Bidgood. Benedikt Taschen Verlag. ISBN 3-8228-7427-2.

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