Channels change on an old television set. Are we watching a soap opera, romantic comedy or Hollywood movie musical? Yes, it's reality TV from the past.
Your average housewife, Chi-Chi, is suffering from a sexless marriage while husband, Bill, is more annoyed by a lack of communication. The couple's middle class suburban life begins to unravel through strange fantasies and flashbacks. Their gay son, Junior, suggests she call a self-help guru, Mr. Loveboy, who guarantees to transform her into an 'ultimate woman, fabulous housewife.' After-work at a bar, Bill has a strange daydream that awakens the 'man' in him and returns home for a big surprise. But is this family living in the real world or on TV, for an audience or themselves?
Love Thing captures the emerging multicultural spirit and personal freedom of the late 1970s with an outrageous attitude and experimental style. A work in progress now finally completed it's the last American musical comedy from that era which can be viewed today as a prophetic satire. Through its provocative, entertaining storyline highlighted by song and dance, the movie answers the burning question of our time, "What happens after the marriage?"
Production took place during the years when lengthy underground films were becoming independent features and Love Thing borrows from their different techniques and expectations. This is demonstrated by its star, Joaquin La Habana, an accomplished theatrical performer, and his gender reversal role in scenes with the influential avant-garde filmmaker and performance artist, Jack Smith.
The movie follows the emotional lives of an American family trapped inside the confines of a TV show. This provides the setup for the characters to reveal their true selves between the corny dialogue and phony laugh track. However, at certain intervals the narrative transcends these pretensions by changing channels; adding another perspective to the story which might evolve into an elaborate performance spectacle or surreal educational program. This shifts the focus to a deeper spiritual awareness of events that borders on the supernatural and taps into our collective unconscious.
Love Thing moves to the beat of a new soundtrack by composer Joel Diamond that blends diverse styles from Classical, Jazz, Latin and Disco. It explores the creative boundaries of the traditional musical comedy format in a prescient music video style; mixing aspects of dance, cabaret, burlesque and TV commercials with dreams and reality.
The restoration of this work is done in the spirit of preservation and as a living tribute to those cast members no longer with us. The late 1970s saw the emergence of many social issues concerning race, gender and sexuality that are still transforming our culturally diverse world. Love Thing reflected this fascinating moment in time and now might be the time to take a second look.
#SpoilerAlert – Che-Che Archibald, a transgender person of color who portrays the film character, Birdie, was the true life inspiration for Love Thing.
Film Festivals and Showings:
Greater Miami International Film Festival
First Gay American Arts Festival
New York Gay Film Festival
Rizzoli's Screening Room Series
EZTV West Hollywood Video Theater
XXX Black International Cinema Berlin
TransFormations - Trans Film Festival Berlin
Review excerpts from the past:
"Everyone's worst fears (or fondest hopes) about drag-queen comedy are realized in this nightmarish feature."
-Los Angeles Reader
"Mike Mannetta's third world drag musical, 'Love Thing' is wonderful with the spectacular transvestite, Joaquin La Habana." - Stuart Bryon, Village Voice
"There can be no film anywhere quite like Love Thing."
-Nathan Fain, The Advocate