LOS ANGELES — The late Pat Rocco, a pioneering gay adult filmmaker, will be honored with a memorial tribute and screening presented by the UCLA Film & Television Archive, Outfest and the ONE Archives.
The event, free to the public, will be held at the Billy Wilder Theater at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
“Los Angeles and its LGBTQ community lost one of their great chroniclers with the passing in November of filmmaker and activist Pat Rocco,” said the UCLA Archive.
The Brooklyn-born Rocco fell in love with Los Angeles when he relocated with his parents in the mid-1940s. As an adult, his career behind the camera blossomed when he answered an ad in the Free Press looking for a photographer of nude males. These early photo shoots quickly led to short 8mm and 16mm films that often featured his performers acting out stories he penned himself. The themes ranged from bucolic romance to pie-throwing slapstick burlesque.
The openly gay filmmaker did not hide his films. He famously debuted a selection of them at the Park Theatre in Los Angeles in 1968, the city’s first-ever public exhibition of “overtly gay films with male nudity,” notes the UCLA Archive. “More than titillating erotica, they exhibited a personal vision that celebrated a romantic, joyful positive image of men in love.”
Rocco’s films, which critic and author Jim Kepner then described as “exhilarating, fresh, ideal, basic and agonizingly beautiful,” were a success and enabled him to continue exploring his passions, including using his cameras to capture the birth of the gay civil rights movement in the city.
A UCLA rep described Rocco as “a one-of-a-kind storyteller and entertainer. We are proud to join with these institutions to remember and celebrate Rocco’s inspiring life and career with a selection of films, clips and remembrances.”