Padraig Robinson, Masquerades of Research: Part I & II, 1 hour 5 mins, digital film


Written and Directed by Padraig Robinson


The film "Masquerades of Research: Part I & II (2020 - 2022)" stars Mark O'Halloran as pre-queer sociologist Laud Humphreys, delving into the morally complex research methods of his infamous sociological study, "Tearoom Trade: Impersonal Sex in Public Places" (USA 1970). Seamlessly blending original writing with archival material, the film challenges misconceptions surrounding Humphreys' legacy and confronts dominant historical narratives regarding queer history. Drawing on 1960s aesthetics, slow cinema techniques, and experimental film contemporary to Humphreys research, the question “why can’t sociology be avant-garde” challenges the boundaries of “discipline”. Through O'Halloran's nuanced performance, Humphreys challenges the assumed objectivity of sociology and its role in perpetuating repressive traditions of power. Part I begins in St. Louis in 1967 to give insight into how the civil and social rights movement created the backdrop for his still controversial, ethnographic study. Part II begins tensely in Los Angeles in 1975, where Humphreys is on the cusp of republishing Tearoom Trade in a post-Stonewall and post-Watergate USA. The relevance one of sociology’s most radical studies has to contemporary discussions of intimacy, social presentation, surveillance and data control is delicately carried by rich performances and visual intensities that keep as many secrets as they give away.



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