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New York. Desperate for work, Christine takes a job selling tickets at the Variety, a sex cinema. This somewhat alienates her boyfriend Mark, who is investigating a story about union links with the Mob at the wholesale fish market. Christine finds herself drawn towards events on-screen, and also follows one of the customers, Louie, when he enters a sex shop, apparently on business. Louie, who is clearly both wealthy and powerful as a result of his shady activities, takes her to a ball game at Yankee Stadium. When he is suddenly called away, she again follows him and observes him at work.
Variety inverts the traditional narrative structure of cinema – whereby a man watches and a woman is watched – without showing, and thus flaunting, the object of female desire. Creating a counter-narrative to Hollywood, Bette Gordon asks the same question formulated by Teresa de Lauretis in “Oedipus Interruptus”: “How did Medusa feel upon seeing herself in Perseus' mirror just before being slain?”
Official Selection Berlinale 2019 - Forum Archival Constellations


Type of film
Running Time
100 mins
Bette Gordon
Renée Shafransky
Ila von Hasperg
Kathy Acker (script), Bette Gordon (original story)
Director of Photography
Tom Dicillo, John Foster
Helene Kaplan; Sound Design: Ila von Hasperg
John Lurie
Principal Cast
Sandy McLeod, Will Patton, Luis Guzman, Nan Goldin, Richard Davidson
Digital restoration
New York Women in Film and Television's Women's Film Preservation Fund, DuArt Film and Video
Film Image
© Bette Gordon, Nan Goldin

Production status


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Last updated 5th February 2019

Production Company

US, Germany, UK coproduction

Channel 4 Films (UK), Variety Motion Pictures (US), Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen/ ZDF (DE)

Bette Gordon