"That Man: Peter Berlin" reps a workable, if slightly reticent docu portrait of the titular '70s pin-up and porn star, once famous for his bobbed hair and a protuberant crotch. Pic offers standard mix of digitally shot interview material with the elusive main subject himself, with archive footage and talking heads to assess Berlin's impact on gay culture.

“That Man: Peter Berlin” reps a workable, if slightly reticent docu portrait of the titular ’70s pin-up and porn star, once famous for his bobbed hair and a protuberant crotch John Waters describes here as the gay equivalent of Jayne Mansfield’s bust in “The Girl Can’t Help It.” Pic offers standard mix of digitally shot interview material with the elusive main subject himself, with archive footage and talking heads to assess Berlin’s impact on gay culture. Already skedded to tour several gay fests, film could find nostalgic out auds in select burgs saying, “Hello, Berlin.”

Likened by some here to Greta Garbo for his stand-offish manner when famous, and later withdrawal from the spotlight, German-born Berlin, now a well-preserved if impoverished sixtysomething, recollects his life for Tushinski’s camera. Something of a riches-to-rags story, aristo Berlin is seen making his name in pre-Aids San Francisco and beyond via distinctive photographic self-portraits, modelling for artists Tom of Finland and Robert Mapplethorpe, and starring in such films as “Nights in Black Leather” and “That Boy.” Some auds may bemoan what lay beneath Berlin’s tight trousers is hardly seen. Tech package will do.

That Man: Peter Berlin

Production

A Gorilla Factory Prods. production. (International sales: Gorilla Factory, Cathedral City.) Produced by Lawrence Helman, Jim Tushinski. Directed by Jim Tushinski.

Crew

Camera (color, DigiBeta projection), Tushinski, Jochen Labriola, Peter Berlin; editor, Tushinski, Clarence Reinhart; music, Jack Curtis Dubowsky. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Panorama), Feb. 15, 2005. Running time: 80 MIN.

With

Peter Berlin, Rick Castro, Armistead Maupin, Wakefield Poole, Robert W. Richards, John Waters, Jack Wrangler.
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