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Friday, 3 April 2009

American Swing - Interview with directors Jon Hart and Matthew Kaufman

The year was 1977, and New York City burned. As the metropolis hurtled into bankruptcy, the city's nightlife hit unprecedented heights. In midtown, the ultra-exclusive Studio 54 was a cocaine-fueled celebrity playhouse. Downtown, at CBGB's, punk rockers set out to destroy everything that was Pop. Meanwhile, in the basement of the prestigious Ansonia building on the conservative Upper West Side, Plato's Retreat opened its doors to ordinary couples that came to dance, to swim, and to swap. It was the start of a revolution.

The brainchild of former wholesale meat purveyor Larry Levenson, Plato's Retreat quickly emerged as the epicenter of public sex for the "me" generation. Previously, swinging was mostly an underground activity, engaged in primarily by the attractive and well-to-do. But Plato's welcomed anyone and everyone. For a mere $35, couples checked their judgments and pedigrees at the door at this clothing-optioned Disneyland. Debutantes got it on next to bus drivers, as movie stars gave secretaries the "starlet treatment". For Levenson and others, Plato's was utopia. For some, it is a time capsule that they are eager to forget.

Utilizing exclusive interviews with former patrons, employees, and family members, intercut with riveting, never-before-seen archival materials, American Swing brings this epicenter of sex and excess to the big screen for the first time. MovieWeb caught up with directors Jon Hart and Matthew Kaufman to learn more about their excellent new documentary.

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