Porn again: David McGillivray on Trouser Bar

A controversial slice of gay erotica makes its world premiere at BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival this weekend. It’s a film with a fascinating history.

Alex Davidson
Updated:

Trouser Bar poster

Trouser Bar poster

A controversial gay sex film called Trouser Bar makes its world premiere this weekend as part BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival. The script for the film was found in the collection of the late erotic filmmaker Peter de Rome, who made some of the most beautiful gay sex films ever produced, now available on DVD.

Following de Rome’s death two years ago, producer David McGillivray embarked on something of a personal crusade to make the film as a tribute. Set in a gentlemen’s outfitters c. 1976, the film takes its inspiration from the emotions aroused by a fetishistic love of corduroy, leather and tight trousers. It’s directed by noted porn filmmaker Kristen Bjorn and boasts a cast of professional erotic performers and cameos from Barry Cryer, Julian Clary, Miss Hope Springs and Nigel Havers.

Book tickets for Trouser Bar

We sat down with McGillivray to talk about the genesis of Trouser Bar, and how he managed to get stars such as Nigel Havers and Julian Clary to appear in the film.

Director David McGillivray and actor Nigel Havers on set

Director David McGillivray and actor Nigel Havers on set
Credit: Alex Main

How did you first come across the script for Trouser Bar?

I was making the first of my documentaries about Peter de Rome, Fragments, and he casually mentioned the screenplay. I was astounded. I never quite understood why Peter never made it. The author wrote it in 1976, when Peter was still working.

Have you or director Kristen Bjorn tried to keep to Peter de Rome’s aesthetic?

I thought that was essential. If we were going to alter it in any way, there wouldn’t have been any point in making it.

Trouser Bar (2016)

Trouser Bar (2016)
Credit: Esteban Requejo

How long is Trouser Bar?

20 minutes [the film is showing at the Festival alongside another Peter de Rome film, and will feature an extended interview with the cast and crew of Trouser Bar]. The making-of, called Inside Leg, will probably be feature-length.

What is the plot of Trouser Bar?

There’s not much substance to it. Various men turn up at a men’s boutique [it was filmed in a TV repair shop on Caledonian Road, near Kings Cross]. They go inside, they have sex with the shop assistants, and passers-by peer through the window to try and get a look at what’s going on inside.

Trouser Bar (2016)

Trouser Bar (2016)
Credit: Esteban Requejo

Is there dialogue in the film?

No. A composer came up with something around 20 minutes of original music, probably 1976-style. I think it will enhance it enormously. Peter shot silent films, and went to the parties with a projector and a tape recorder, and pressed both buttons simultaneously! That’s the kind of film we are trying to recreate.

Would it get an 18 certificate or an R18 certificate?

It would get a U! It could be shown on TV before the watershed. [Editor’s note – this sounds very unlikely!] I think this is a film similar to those one would have seen at Peter’s parties.

I think it’s essential now to nail the lie that this film is hardcore pornography. This was the claim of an article that was printed last year without my knowledge.

This film was never intended, as far as we can tell, to be hardcore. It’s not, it’s a fantasy. And, I believe, a very beautiful one.

Trouser Bar (2016)

Trouser Bar (2016)
Credit: Esteban Requejo

How did you raise money for making the film?

It’s my own money. I’ve never asked anyone else to fund me. It was my privilege to make this film, it’s very much a labour of love, not just for me but I think for everyone involved.

You’ve got some amazing star names in the film, such as Nigel Havers, Julian Clary and Barry Cryer.

These are all friends who thought it would be fun to do. It also features [BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival programmer] Brian Robinson and Rupert Smith, who both did so much to bring Peter de Rome’s films to new audiences through the release of The Erotic Films of Peter de Rome on DVD.

BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival programmer Brian Robinson on set

BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival programmer Brian Robinson on set
Credit: Esteban Requejo

Trouser Bar premieres at BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival on Sunday 20 March.

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