[State of Gay]

The Gay Deceivers was a timely 69 series selection at the Northwest Film Forum, showing in the two days before Humpday & Bruno opened and, I suspect, managing to be more effective and less offensive than these playing-gay counterparts managed forty years later. It’s an extended sitcom plot, with Danny & Elliot pretending to be a couple to avoid the draft. (Not that it would work today! Oh. Wait.) To make it convincing they get an apartment together, then struggle to keep it a secret from their landlord & the Army that it’s a con, and from their girlfriends and families that they’re pulling the stunt in the first place. Hijinks ensue, with TV movie level production all ’round.

It’s total candy colored camp, and my experience was undoubtedly influenced by knowing I was seeing it with a largely queer audience, but I enjoyed it. Unsurprisingly it’s packed with over-the-top stereotypes, but it *is* a forty-year-old B movie trying to maintain a balance between two audiences. There’s plenty of T&A for the straight guys, but there are also a number of lingering shots of Elliot in swim trunks.

But what I think is an overlooked point is that by far the most sympathetic characters are the boys’ landlord, played by Michael Greer, and his partner. They and their relationship are portrayed about as sensitively as one can manage in a B movie, and owes a lot to Greer himself, who was out at the time and (amazing to consider, once you’ve seen it) actually toned down elements of the production. As a couple they’re committed but not conservative, fun, kind, and complicated. They’re introduced as married, and it’s never a joke. That’s a surprising amount of message for a hastily thrown together gaysploitation B reel, you have to admit.