Susanne Bartsch: On Top

SUSANNE BARTSCH: ON TOP (Anthony&Alex, U.S.). 84 minutes. Rating: NNN New York City has changed a lot over the last 30.


SUSANNE BARTSCH: ON TOP (Anthony&Alex, U.S.). 84 minutes. Rating: NNN


New York City has changed a lot over the last 30 years, but Susanne Bartsch has remained a continuous force in its queer nightlife. This loving portrait largely cedes the narrative to the loquacious Swiss-born party promoter, fashion muse and long-time Chelsea Hotel resident, who is launching a new party and prepping a retrospective for the Fashion Institute of Technology when duo Anthony&Alex catch up with her. 

Club scene fixtures Michael Musto, Amanda Lepore and Kenny Kenny pop up, as does RuPaul (a regular at Bartsch’s 80s parties), while Bartsch’s son and hardbody husband give more personal insight. We learn about her influence on the fashion world and her star-studded 1989 AIDS fundraiser, Love Ball, gets a lengthy sequence.

But as archival dance-floor footage blends into the present day, it becomes apparent that her relevance is not just about ambition, but that the safe space she provides to explore sexuality and gender is still so needed.

May 1, 9:15 pm, Isabel Bader May 3, 1 pm, Isabel Bader May 5, 9 pm, Revue May 7, 6:30 pm, Hart House

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