Christine lives in New York and needs a job. She finds one at the box office of a porn cinema, where she sits between the street and the entrance. Everyone entering the cinema must walk past her. Gradually, she develops a fascination for the porn industry. When one of the customers invites her to a baseball game and suddenly leaves, she decides to follow him. Her obsession takes her to dark streets and fish markets, perhaps into the world of the mafia. The more she follows her desires, the more she seems to resemble the image of a porn star. Her journalist boyfriend distances himself from her, her mother and a friend leave worried messages on her answerphone. Eventually, she tells the man she’s been stalking to meet her at a street corner.
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?”
by Bette Gordon
with Sandy McLeod, Will Patton, Luis Guzman, Nan Goldin, Richard Davidson, Mark Boone Jr, Cookie Mueller, Suzanne Fletcher, Peyton Smith, Spalding Gray
USA / Federal Republic of Germany / United Kingdom 1983 English 97’ Colour


  • Sandy McLeod (Christine)
  • Will Patton (Mark)
  • Luis Guzman (Jose)
  • Nan Goldin (Nan)
  • Richard Davidson (Louie)
  • Mark Boone Jr (Man)
  • Cookie Mueller (Girl in Bar)
  • Suzanne Fletcher (Girl in Bar)
  • Peyton Smith (Girl in Bar)
  • Spalding Gray (Obscene phone caller)


Director Bette Gordon
Screenplay Kathy Acker based on an original story by Bette Gordon
Cinematography Tom Dicillo, John Forster
Editing Ila von Hasperg
Music John Lurie
Sound Design Ila von Hasperg
Sound Helene Kaplan
Producer Renée Shafransky Variety Motion Pictures
Commissioning Editor Brigitte Kramer ZDF – Das kleine Fernsehspiel
Digital Restoration New York Women in Film and Television's Women's Film Preservation Fund
DuArt Film and Video

Produced by

Variety Motion Pictures

Bette Gordon

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, USA in 1955. She studied French Literature, Film Theory and Filmmaking. She is currently a professor at Columbia University in The School of the Arts, where she teaches film directing.


1974 i-94; 3 min. 1975 An Erotic Film · Noyes; 4 min. · Still Life; 3 min. · United States of America; 25 min. 1976 An Algorithm; 10 min. 1979 Exchanges; 15 min. 1981 Empty Suitcases; 55 min. 1983 Variety; 97 min., Berlinale Forum 1984 1986 Greed Pay to Play; 20 min. 2000 Luminous Motion; 97 min. 2010 Handsome Harry; 93 min. 2017 The Drowning; 98 min.

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2019