Chicken Hawk: Men Who Love Boys is one of the sickest documentaries you’ll probably never see. Made in 1994, it’s a look inside the world of NAMBLA, the North American Man-Boy Love Association, an organization that purportedly exists as a “political and educational organization” for guys who like their meat real tender. There are no hardcore scenes of man-boy joy in Chicken Hawk, but the stories and fantasies that NAMBLA members relate are jaw-droppingly creepy enough. A pasty-faced Mormon missionary named Leyland Stevenson tells how one time he brought a little friend with him on a camping trip, zipped their sleeping bags together, and ass-fucked the kid the next morning. “No lubrication was required…or desired,” Leyland coos to the camera, grinning wide at his cherished memory.
But Chicken Hawk is not just about shocking stories of lonely adult men who pine for smooth, soft boyflesh. Many of the NAMBLA members profiled don’t seem to have ever actually done anything beyond jerking off to episodes of Webster, yet they are persecuted (by fringe anti-pedophile groups like Straight Kids USA) as violently as convicted child molesters. A nerdy, nervous teacher at Bronx Science High School gets fired just for being a NAMBLA member thanks to one child-safety activist, and Renald Corrazzo, an odd Italian artist, receives cheerful phone calls like “Die of fucking AIDS, you babyfucker. You lowlife son of a cunt-licking whore.”
Remarkably, Chicken Hawk was done as a sophomore project at NYU by Adi Sideman, a former Israeli paratrooper who’s since left the documentary world to head a successful webcasting company. When it was finished, two of his NYU advisors were so appalled that they demanded their names be taken off the credits. (of course, now that the film is getting critical acclaim, one of them shows it as part of his History of the Documentary class.)
Not surprisingly, gays weren’t too happy with Chicken Hawk. Though the documentary features copious interviews with disapproving early-90s gay-rights types (“We’re not with them,” lisps one neatly coiffed dude at a March on Washington that NAMBLA joined), some gay film festivals wouldn’t touch it. Instead, it premiered at the first New York Underground Film Festival in 1994 and made national headlines. Don’t forget, kid sex was a hot topic then, what with the recent scandals of Michael Jackson, Katie Beers, and Polly Klaas clogging news time, not to mention the kinder-core fashions that were all the rage.
Chicken Hawk was released theatrically and on home video, but the companies that put it out eventually went out of business. Sideman moved on to other things, and the film became an obscure rarity.
Today things are pretty much the same. Gary Glitter is gone, but his good pal Pete Townsend is continuing his “research.” Catholic priests are still stingy on the lube and, lo and behold, Michael Jackson has returned to the fray. To celebrate this total lack of progress, Chicken Hawk has returned to the New York Underground Film Festival and will no doubt cause the same outrage it did the first time around. It’s too bad. There are a lot of important lessons this film could teach, but unless it gets rereleased or you catch it at the festival, this is just going to have to stay our little secret.
Check nyuff.com for details.