★★★★ | House Of Boys

The blurb and the cover on this DVD doesn’t do it justice. It gives the impression of some sleazy b-movie, lots of gyrating hips, few (if any) articles of clothing and even less of a plot line. This isn’t true!

The plot is simple enough. Set in the early ’80s, teenage Frank and a couple of his friends decide to ship off to Amsterdam on the way to St Tropez. After being kicked out, he finds a home in thee House of Boys, a club that offers a form of gay burlesque – and some extras. Risky sex, drugs, straight playing gay, you name it, its all here – along with some cracking one liners and characters.
The music is one of this films stars too – Spandau Ballet, Soft Cell, Jimmy Sommerville, all the names from the early 80s… all classics. The clothes, the sets, all combine to give this glorious film a feel of the time.
Frank proceeds to learn about relationships, the seedy side of life in Amsterdam, and follows as his friends drop in and out of his life – a true coming of age story. Losing you own flesh and blood family only to have it replaced by a family of your own choosing – this is a story some of us are familiar with. Frank finds a surrogate mother, and brothers and lovers – and fulfils his love of dancing on stage, being the centre of attention.

In terms of the cast:

Udo Keir plays the Madame of the House of Boys, taking pleasure in performing on stage and be-hind the scenes, and ruling the house with a rod of steel – taking no prisoners.

Layke Anderon plays Frank with gusto. He takes to the stage well, gyrating in next to nothing, teasing the older clientele.

Benn Northover plays the role of the House favourite – Jake. A “straight” who does what he needs to get by, saving to escape with his girlfriend.

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Various others pop up and provide colour to the storyline – the punk, the drag queens, the mother hen.

The other character missing from any film of the early 80’s soon raises its ugly head – AIDS. This film takes a serious turn when one of the characters is diagnosed with it, and highlighting the ignorance of the times. Kaposi Sarcoma is seen as a pimple, HIV still seen as a gay plague. Throughout it all though, you see love, tenderness and humanity. This film doesn’t aim to show the ignorance and hatred that was also rife at the time, instead it shows the best of us.

There are a few names and faces that pop up, Stephen Fry as a kindly and very understanding doctor, Joanna Scanlan as the hospital nurse… all making for a throughly enjoyable hour and a half (approximately!)

The movie is available from Amazon | iTunes