A novice filmmaker searches for an actor to portray his seductive and enigmatic jailed lover in this surreal and sexually explicit film from the 1976.


In Johan, a bizarre meta-story from French filmmaker Philippe Valois, one never quite knows who’s who or what’s what, but that’s okay, because even if you lose the narrative thread, there’s plenty – and we mean plenty – of gorgeous footage of beautiful men in various states of undress doing everything from dancing to playing cards to making sweet, sweet love to one another.


Set in Paris, the plot concerns a filmmaker trying to make a movie about his erstwhile lover, Johan, who is “the kind of man you see once and never forget.” Trouble is, none of the actors he auditions can quite get it right. For that matter, the filmmaker can’t manage to cast himself either, because two other men portray him during the course of the film.


As unhinged as the ‘70s gay scene itself, Johan paints a dizzying portrait of gay youth in all its enthralling and often narcissistic glory. We’re shown gay cruising in public gardens, awkward encounters with doting mothers, bravura dance performances and even glimpses into that strange and wonderful relationship gay men have with raucous, free-spirited straight women. All this plus forehead tattoos and bell-bottoms make this weird, little-seen throwback a wild retro trip that is sure to tease, titillate and astound the viewer.


Though it’s out of print on DVD, Johan is now available to stream here. Check it out and take a titillating little trip back to 1976.


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