The Fruit Machine

Twenty Years of Writings on Queer Cinema

The Fruit Machine

Book Pages: 328 Illustrations: 59 b&w photographs Published: April 2000

Author: Thomas Waugh

Contributor: John Greyson

Gender and Sexuality > LGBTQ Studies, Media Studies > Film

For more than twenty years, film critic, teacher, activist, and fan Thomas Waugh has been writing about queer movies. As a member of the Jump Cut collective and contributor to the Toronto-based gay newspaper the Body Politic, he emerged in the late 1970s as a pioneer in gay film theory and criticism, and over the next two decades solidified his reputation as one of the most important and influential gay film critics. The Fruit Machine—a collection of Waugh’s reviews and articles originally published in gay community tabloids, academic journals, and anthologies—charts the emergence and maturation of Waugh’s critical sensibilities while lending an important historical perspective to the growth of film theory and criticism as well as queer moviemaking.
In this wide-ranging anthology Waugh touches on some of the great films of the gay canon, from Taxi zum Klo to Kiss of the Spider Woman. He also discusses obscure guilty pleasures like Born a Man . . . Let Me Die a Woman, unexpectedly rich movies like Porky’s and Caligula, filmmakers such as Fassbinder and Eisenstein, and film personalities from Montgomery Clift to Patty Duke. Emerging from the gay liberation movement of the 1970s, Waugh traverses crises from censorship to AIDS, tackling mainstream potboilers along with art movies, documentaries, and avant-garde erotic videos. In these personal perspectives on the evolving cinematic landscape, his words oscillate from anger and passion to wry wit and irony. With fifty-nine rare film stills and personal photographs and an introduction by celebrated gay filmmaker John Greyson, this volume demonstrates that the movie camera has been the fruit machine par excellence.


“[A] slice-of-life piece of history with a Canadian perspective.” — Barry Ralph , Revue Francaise d'Economie

“[O]ffers an interesting non-American perspective on gay films of the last two decades. . . . The film student . . . will find this book essential.” — , Community News (Salem OR)

“[Waugh’s] project—as it has been throughout his publications—is expansive, appealing, coalition building, and unabashedly specific as much as it is searingly witty, Maoist in its self-critical urges, and intellectually alive to change.” — Amy Villarejo, GLQ

“Witty, ironic, and always passionate. . . . [A]n inspiration to countless would-be gay film journalists and an invaluable study source for queer film buffs.” — Gay Times

"In a period of just over two decades Thomas Waugh has established himself as a respected public intellectual whose important work as an activist, critic, educator, and historian brings together theory and practice in innovative and enlightening ways. The Fruit Machine features a wide spectrum of work culled from material written for academic conferences, scholarly journals, and popular magazines. Collectively, these writings reflect the author’s impressive scope of expertise and experience, and illustrate the dramatic shifts in the political environment and in media criticism over the past twenty years. . . . [A]n engrossing self-portrait . . . . Waugh’s writings form a cohesive and coherent work that is theoretically informed, politically charged, and eminently readable. His brilliantly argued and thoughtfully-written critiques represent a high point in intellectual writing; they illustrate beyond a shadow of a doubt that film and cultural criticism can be informative, provocative, and above all, accessible–and even entertaining."

— Robert Cagle , Canadian Journal of Film Studies

“This is an enthralling book about a topic at once life-affectingly important and extraordinarily complex: how gay people—or anyone else—are seen and see themselves and how the movies help shape that. Tom Waugh shows us in exemplary fashion that you can combine personal passion and political engagement with the highest standards of intellectual discipline, while taking us on a delicious trip through the vagaries of queer film images.” — Richard Dyer, University of Warwick

“Tom Waugh was thinking queerly about the movies for decades before the New Queer Cinema was a market niche, but without his careful thinking and charming interventions, it’s hard to imagine the present cultural moment. Back when being gay was anything but fashionable, Waugh taught and fought, proselytized and organized, so that queer films and queer audiences would be taken seriously.” — B. Ruby Rich, author of Chick Flicks: Theories and Memories of the Feminist Film Movement


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Thomas Waugh is Professor of Film Studies at the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema at Concordia University. In addition to his many published articles and reviews, he is the author of Hard to Imagine: Gay Male Eroticism in Photography and Film from Their Beginnings to Stonewall.

John Greyson is a prizewinning filmmaker whose work includes the features Urinal, Zero Patience, Lilies, and Uncut, as well as numerous short videos.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Foreword / John Greyson



Films by Gays for Gays: A Very Natural Thing, Word Is Out, and The Naked Civil Servant (1977)

Gays, Straights, Film, and the Left: A Dialogue (with Chuck Kleinhans) (1977)

Rainer Werner Fassbinder (1976–77)

A Fag-Spotter’s Guide to Eisenstein (1977)

Derek Jarman’s Sebastiane (1978)

Medical Thrillers: Born a Man . . . Let Me Die a Woman (1978–79)

Murnau: The Films Behind the Man (1979)

An Unromantic Fiction: I’m Not from Here, by Harvey Marks (1979)

The Gay Nineties, the Gay Seventies: Samperi’s Ernesto and von Praunheim’s Army Of Lovers or Revolt of the Perverts (1979)

Montgomery Clift Biographies: Stars and Sex (1979–80)

Gay Cinema, Slick vs. Real: Chant d’amour, Army of Lovers, We Were One Man (1980)

Nighthawks, by Ron Peck and Paul Hallam (1980)

A Saturday Night Surprise: Burin des Rozier’s Blue Jeans (1980)
Caligula (1980)

Taxis and Toilets: Ripploh and His Brothers (1981)

Bright Lights in the Night: Pasolini, Schroeter, and Others (1981)

Patty Duke and Tasteful Dykes (1982)

Two Strong Entries, One Dramatic Exit: Luc ou la part des choses, Another Way, and Querelle (1982)

Hollywood’s Change of Heart? (Porky’s and The Road Warrior) (1982)

Dreams, Cruises, and Cuddles in Tel Aviv: Amos Gutman’s Nagua (1983)

Hauling an Old Corpse Out of Hitchcock’s Trunk: Rope (1983)

Sex Beyond Neon: Third World Gay Films? (1985)

Fassbinder Fiction: A New Biography (1986)

Ashes and Diamonds in the Year of the Queer: Decline of the American Empire, Anne Trister, A Virus Knows No Morals, and Man of Ashes (1986)

The Kiss of the Maricon, or Gay Imagery in Latin American Cinema (1986–87)

Laws of Desire: Maurice, Law of Desire, and Vera (1987)

Two Great Gay Filmmakers: Hello and Good-bye (1988)

Beauty and the Beast, Take Two (1988)

Whipping Up a Cinema (1989)

Erotic Self-Images in the Gay Male AIDS Melodrama (1988, 1992)

In Memoriam: Vito Russo, 1946–1990 (1991)

We’re Talking, Vulva, or, My Body Is Not a Metaphor (1995, 1999)

Walking on Tippy Toes: Lesbian and Gay Liberation Documentary of the

Post-Stonewall Period 1969–1984 (1995–97)

Archeology and Censorship (1997)

Bibliography: Selected Additional Works


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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2468-3 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2433-1
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