“Watching Virtue in San Francisco might be a little like watching Chelsea Girls in New York City: It’s less a movie than a record of a particular time and space. That is not to say it lacks plot or action – Virtue is an astutely ambitious, eye-catching parable about cyberaddiction – but its importance stems not from arty effects and opportune subject matter but from nearly a decade of production. Director Camera Obscura, who took the name after staving off the destruction of that local monument the last time around, began filming in the early ‘90s, before protease inhibitors and the Mission Yuppie Eradication Project. The well-timed endeavor allowed Obscura to draw from a font of sub-culture that has become dehydrated over the years.
“Hundee – the main character played by Connie Champagne and Laura Milligan (in deference to French new wave or in compliance with seven years of scheduling conflicts) – scampers through a fluorescent world filled with San Francisco luminaries who have since moved or passed on. It is a testament to the creative tenacity of the city at the time that High Priestess Sister X-tacy Marie Collette asked to be brought from her hospital bed and carried on and off set to complete the exquisite black-and-white wedding scene presided over by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.
“Thankfully, not all of the familiar faces will be mere memories: Scenesters, both old and new, will recognize Arturo Galster as Patsy Cline, Glama-rama’s Deena Davenport as the VR waitress, Elvis Herselvis as the handsome prince, drag king Lu Read as the bride, “Baby Judy’s” Alvin A Go-Go as a leashed boy, Jello Biafra as the VR poker dealer, and Ruby Toosday as a club kid; Pixelvision interviews with R.U. Sirius, William Gibson, and Timothy Leary are also included. The music, too, is locally created and inspired, with a breathtaking rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” (sung by Connie Champagne, lip-synced by Marina Bell’Occhio, and arranged by Red House Painters’ Mark Kozelek) that will carry you though gruesome vivisection footage.”
-Silke Tudor, SAN FRANCISCO WEEKLY, July 28, 1999
“...firmly planted in avant-garde film history of the Maya Deren and Jack Smith variety...”
-SAN FRANCISCO BAY GUARDIAN
“San Francisco filmmaker Camera Obscura has melded together a dozen different film formats, ranging from high-contrast black-and-white to grainy Fisher-Price Pixelvision footage, to create a parallel universe of sexual obsessiveness and paranoia in which the popular addiction to wayward forms of digital technology is used by government and corporate overseers as a pernicious means of social control... For technophiles and well-adjusted gender-transgressors of all ages.”
Written and Directed by Camera Obscura (E. Koohan Paik)
Laura Milligan and Connie Champagne
Phillip R. Ford
The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence
Special Appearances by
John Perry Barlow
DVD Bonus Features include conversations with visionaries Timothy Leary, William Gibson and R.U. Sirius.
TRT: 76 minutes