Flaming Creatures

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Flaming Creatures
Flaming Creatures.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jack Smith
Produced by Jack Smith
Starring Piero Heliczer
Frances Francine
Sheila Bick
Joel Markman
Mario Montez (as Dolores Flores)
Arnold Rockwood
Judith Malina
Marian Zazeela
Release dates
Running time
43 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $300

Flaming Creatures is a 1963 American experimental film by filmmaker Jack Smith. Due to its graphic depiction of sexuality, the film was seized by the police at its premiere on April 29, 1963 at the Bleecker Street Cinema in New York City,[1] and was officially determined to be obscene by a New York Criminal Court. The 43-minute featurette attracted media and public attention, and has been described as a "controversial featurette". This also made Jack Smith famous as a film director across North America. Smith himself described the film as "a comedy set in a haunted music studio."


The film features an array of transvestites, hermaphrodites, drag shows, a sexually ambiguous vampire, a drug orgy and a well-built cunnilingual rapist. Sexual ambiguity is a prominent visual theme, which is particularly shown by overlapping images of flaccid penises and breasts.

Senate use[edit]

During the confirmation hearings for the chief justice nomination of Abe Fortas, James Clancy, representing Citizens for Decent Literature, showed Flaming Creatures in a room in the capital among other material, inviting senators to view the sorts of things that Fortas had held in several decisions did not constitute obscenity.[2]


Susan Sontag praised the film in a 1966 essay as a "rare modern work of art; it is about joy and innocence".[3] According to The Village Voice Film Guide, Gregory Markopoulos "was only slightly exaggerating when he commented that ... early audiences were astounded when their secret Hollywood fantasies burst upon the screen".[4] The same guide compares the film to Shanghai Express and The Devil Is a Woman in visual sensuousness and "exquisite" manner.


  1. ^ Geoffrey Hendricks, Critical Mass: Happenings, Fluxus, Performance, Intermedia, and Rutgers University, 1958-1972 (Rutgers University Press, 2003; ISBN 0813533031), p. 186.
  2. ^ Silverstein, Mark. Judicious Choices: the New Politics of Supreme Court Confirmations. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2007. Print.ISBN 0393930440
  3. ^ Ellen W. Goellner, Jacqueline Shea Murphy (eds). Bodies of the Text: Dance as Theory, Literature as Dance. Rutgers University Press, 1995. 0813521270
  4. ^ The Village Voice Film Guide: 50 Years of Movies from Classics to Cult Hits.

External links[edit]