“Everyone in New York has a gimmick,” said Jason Holliday, clinking ice in his lowball glass. “Mine is hustling.”
In 1967, Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Shirley Clarke interviewed Jason Holliday, also known as Aaron Payne, recording 12 hours of confessional footage. The resulting film, Portrait of Jason, depicted a candid, humorous, and controversial portrayal of life as a gay hustler in New York City. When released, Jason caused a media firestorm in the United States, and received mostly negative reviews from critics. As a result, the film has been forgotten.
Until now. Two years ago, Milestone Film recovered the master reel of Portrait of Jason, and is collaborating with the Academy Film Archive in its restoration. In order to fund the project, Milestone is calling on film lovers and LGBT activists to reach their Kickstarter fundraising goal of $25,000 by December 10. With the money raised, the organization will be able to re-release this landmark film, which provides a rare glimpse into pre-Stonewall era New York City, as recounted by a gay African American.
To find more information about the project, visit Milestone’s Kickstarter page.