Publications and Research

Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2017


This article analyzes Bette Gordon’s first feature film Variety (1983), reassessing how experimental novelist Kathy Acker’s contributions to the screenplay awkwardly positioned the film within contemporary cultural debates over pornography and the future of avant-garde filmmaking. While centered on an erotic thriller narrative concerning a woman’s entrée into the scuzzy world of New York City porno theaters, Gordon and Acker also take up in the film a series of three related representational problems for the 1980s: feminist approaches to pornography, narrative in an avant-garde tradition, and the role of speech and writing in film.


Originally published as: Ferguson, Kevin L. "On Variety: The Avant-Garde between Pornography and Narrative." Cinema Journal, vol. 56, no. 4, 2017, pp. 51-75.

Reprinted by permission of the University of Texas Press.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.