San Francisco in Cinema: That Man: Peter Berlin

Former Busby's location, 1446 Polk Street, in 2004 and 2007.

That Man: Peter Berlin tells the story of a ghost-like character in the City's parade of narcissists. The '60s-era kept boy turned '70s-era porn maker - "he was his own work of art," says the breathless tag line for this 2005 documentary by Jim Tushinski - attempts to cast Berlin, born Armin Baron von Hoyningen-Huene, as a Greta Garbo of the gay world. Here's a review from John Kane: "I saw Jim Tushinski's Peter Berlin documentary tonight at the American Cinematheque, a special screening sponsored by Outfest. Wish I could say I loved it, but the content, not the subject, was under whelming. It is neither a rip roaring look at the '70s, a la Boogie Nights or the Julia Phillips book, nor a gay porno Grey Gardens or Sunset Boulevard, which Peter Berlin would seem to suggest, not having, apparently, left his apartment, held a job, or done anything other than exhibit his aging cock for the past three decades, his glory days behind him. I am guessing, based on a post screening discussion with Tushinski and Berlin, that Berlin was not very forthcoming. Despite being called a gay Garbo, Berlin is really just a porno star Andy Warhol, a blond, blank cipher who summed up an era by epating le bourgeois. I applaud Tushinski's effort and professionalism, but I can see why the film is going straight to DVD. Here's hoping it can recoup costs there."

Several gay themed San Francisco locations appear in the film. Berlin is shown cruising the sidewalk outside of Busby's on Polk Street in archive footage from "That Boy." Busby's also receives honorable mention in Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin. The author provides memories of the former sex icon Berlin in "That Man."

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