Try and imagine a world where Pink Narcissus hadn’t been made. The arthouse drama film visualises the erotic desires of a gay male prostitute in fantasy landscapes shot in intensely saturated colour. It was released in 1971 under an ‘Anonymous’ crediting but was finally attributed to its true creator, James Bidgood in the 80s. Pink Narcissus took seven years to film and was shot entirely in Bidgood’s living room, laboriously and fantastically transformed into the variety of scenes that act as backdrops to Pink Narcissus’ erotic desires.
Bidgood is an American artist who embraces multiple disciplines to create his world of immersive erotic enchantment. After moving to New York aged 17, Bidgood started working at Club 82, the infamous basement club of drag staging shows three times a night, seven days a week. Starting out as a singer, Bidgood then designed the sets and costumes for the performances. Whilst studying at Parsons School of Art and Design, he dressed window displays. Bidgood’s most excessive and fabulous designs were staged at the New York Junior League Ball and these costumes were subsequently used as the sets for the homeoerotic fantasy scenes he photographed for the next seven years, all created and shot in his living room.
The first photograph he took was of a sea nymph swimming in an underwater utopia called Water Colors using Club 82 dancer Jay Garvin. In his profile of Bidgood in Aperture, Philip Gefter dissects Bidgood’s production of Water Colors; ‘the bottom of the ocean was created with silver lame spread across the floor of Bidgood’s apartment; he made the arch of a cave out of waxed paper, and fashioned red lame into the shape of lobster. He coated Garvin with mineral oil and pasted glitter and sequins to his skin so the silver fabric under photographic lights would reflect on his body like water.’ The effect is an intensely hued oceanic fantasia.
Bidgood has since worked for Christian Louboutin designing pop up sets as backdrops to his footwear designs.
However, Bidgood’s work has never been acknowledged in the immensity it deserves. It is deeply upsetting that these progressive and beautiful pieces of art have been so overlooked. They are the product and celebration of male homosexual desire, created in an age where such feeling wasn’t fully accepted for what it is. Bidgood’s work is an integral part of twentieth century sexual history.
Now in his 80s, James Bidgood is seeking crowdfunding for a digital camera and materials to start creating his art again. It is fundamental that we support this artistic and homosexuality icon in his pursuit of fabricating fantasia once more.
As a thank you for donating, Bidgood has produced t-shirts, photographic prints and Bidgood Bobby cards dependant on the value of your donation.
You can also watch the masterpiece through the BFI here