Released theatrically to American gay cinemas in 1971, Billy Boy (dir. Rik Kerr, 1971) was perhaps the first transnational feature film produced out of specifically gay industrial contexts. Commissioned by an Ontario-born producer and publisher of adult magazines who had immigrated to the United States, the film was shot in Los Angeles by famed physique entrepreneur Bob Mizer and directed by a Toronto-based gay magazine publisher named Rik Kerr. Focalizing aspects of the film that visualize police interventions into gay life, this talk contextualizes the emergence of Billy Boy by tracing a history of the policing of Kerr’s enterprises based in Toronto. Further, the talk will consider the production history of the film and its narrative strategies in relation to contemporaneous and budding cultural struggles in and around a broader yet emergent gay liberation ethos.
Finley Freibert is an assistant professor of media studies at Southern Illinois University. Their work has appeared in such venues as Film Criticism, the Journal of Anime and Manga Studies, JCMS: Journal of Cinema and Media Studies, Porn Studies, and Spectator, and they are co-editor with Alicia Kozma of ReFocus: The Films of Doris Wishman (Edinburgh University Press, 2021).