Director: Charles Lum and Todd Verow

Rating: Not Rated (Explicit Material)

Synopsis: This documentary by Lum and Verow tells the story of The Hoist (open since 1996 and now one of London’s only surviving leather bars) and in doing so tells the story of gay sex from decriminalisation to Grindr, taking in police entrapment, the Spanner case, safer sex and Section 28.

We would all like to believe that the saying “Sex Sells” is not true, but we all know that it is. Not that we’re complaining of course, because otherwise we wouldn’t have Charles Lum and Todd Verow’s AGE OF CONSENT to tell you about. It follows the story of The Hoist, one of London’s prominent dress code men’s only bars and through telling the story of the bar, we unravel Britain’s LGBT history.

We meet one of the owner’s of The Hoist, “Uncut” Kurt Streigler and within minutes he reveals “The story of The Hoist is sex, it’s gay sex, male on male fetish sex” and we could not put it any better ourselves. Dissatisfied with the lack of places to go in London, The Hoist opened in 1996. Since it’s opening in the 90s, it has been met with fears of arrest, the AIDS epidemic and generation changes but in 2014 The Hoist is still standing strong.

Combing interviews with prominent LGBT figures including activist Peter Tatchell and BFI LGBT Festival programmer Brian Robinson and patrons of The Hoist, Lum and Verow tell this wonderful story enriched not only in history but a subject that is never really touched on – sex. We have seen so many documentaries come and go, focusing on the idea of sex and LGBT and how far the community has come, but AGE OF CONSENT sticks to its guns and is unapologetic with its incredibly graphic scenes. We have to warn you in advance, if you are a bit of prude this documentary might not be for you. For example, there is a scene with LGBT activist Peter Tatchell explaining how the police would set up gay men in the 1980s, and while he extensively explains the situation, two patrons of The Hoist happily demonstrate why the club is called The Hoist. But if you are a blushing type, you might be happy to know that Lum and Verow have a censored version too!

The only problem with the documentary itself is the fact that it tends to edge more as an educational video rather than going on a journey. We know that this isn’t an actual movie, but it might have been the most perfect documentary if we followed the journey of someone. There is a point where we might actually get to experience The Hoist through the eyes of “anonymous” but it provides only a few minutes of screen time. The lack of journey is made up with a beautiful foray of  characters though, from the club’s cleaner to the patrons all the way to the new generation of Hoist cliental.

AGE OF CONSENT might not be the most conventional of documentaries but, quite positively, it’s brutal, brash and beautifully shot. It’s the perfect homage to the nation’s favourite past time, and it’s no doubt going to piss people off…That’s why we’re in love.

[usr=4] AGE OF CONSENT was shown as part of BFI Flare. For more information visit Age Of Consent on Twitter.