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.

Available for download on Wednesday, September 05, 2018