Big Joy: The Adventures of James Broughton

DIRECTORS: Dawn Logsdon, Stephen Silha, Eric Slade

Expected to attend: directors Stephen Silha, Eric Slade, & Dawn Logsdon, and subjects/interviewees Joel Singer, Armistead Maupin, Jack Foley, Alex Gildzen and Neeli Cherkovski

“James Broughton was a trickster. He had a way of getting at the serious by focusing on the silly, and that’s very seductive.” So opines Armistead Maupin at the start of this wonderfully entertaining, enriching documentary that traces the artistic explorations and romantic romps of the great gay Renaissance man—poet, filmmaker, and sexual liberator—of San Francisco counterculture.

Broughton’s inexhaustible creativity and polysexual escapades made for an action-packed and rewarding life, though not one without its challenges (young Jimmy’s cold-hearted mother deducted 25 cents from his allowance every time he acted effeminate). Hailing from Modesto, Broughton escaped into the City’s underground scene, kicked off poetry festivals, directed award-winning films, shacked up with Pauline Kael, taught at the San Francisco Art Institute, joined the Radical Faeries, and became a charter member of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. “I believe in ecstasy for everyone,” he exclaimed with glee.

At age sixty, Broughton met Joel Singer, a student some forty years younger than his perennially dashing mentor. Following a three-day tryst at the infamous Beck’s Motor Lodge, the pair became a devoted couple for the next 25 years, right up until the bard of eroticism’s death in 1999.

Co-directors Eric Slade, Stephen Silha, and Dawn Logsdon have made a joyous film that does full poetic justice to their bountiful subject, an ebullient artist whose spirit of adventure continues to galvanize queer culture.


AT&T Audience Award Text Voting Code: D302

Co-presented by:
Comfort & Joy
Canyon Cinema

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