Ah, Little City–the little movie from 1997 you never heard about. The movie can be described as such: Sex and the City without all the girl-gossip, with more cheating, and more lesbians. Oh, and in San Francisco. Jon Bon Jovi is the biggest name, and he plays Kevin, the bartender in AA who smokes like a chimney and can’t commit to women except for Nina, who becomes pregnant with what may be his or his best friend’s child. Are you with me so far?
“San Francisco’s a great city,” Kevin says, “as long as you don’t mind running into the same six people over and over again.” Or sleeping with them. It’s true that even in San Francisco the lesbian community can become rather insular, especially if you narrow it down to, say, the S&M lesbian community or the leather dykes and bois. Not that it’s necessarily a bad thing–unless you don’t want to sleep with someone who used to sleep with your most recent ex/is her good friend. In the movie, Adam leaves new fling Rebecca for his ex Kate, who was recently dumped by Anne after walking in on Anne and Rebecca in bed. OK, I’ll let you re-read that one a few times.
The lesbians get a lot of play time in Little City, but they seem to be the Sunset to the city’s Mission. Anne is San Francisco’s gateway drug of the lesbians: she seduces unsuspecting women in cafes and her female art students and then tosses them when they get too comfortable. Her biggest fear? “I suddenly see myself as this aging lesbian,” she worries, “wearing Birkenstocks walking down a trail in Mendocino holding the liver-spotted hand of my lover.”
Compared to that Lothario, Kate is crazy. Throughout the movie, she talks to her off-camera psychiatrist. She foists herself on Adam and pleads for a baby. Spoiler alert, she ends up alone, on her psychiatrist’s couch and convinces herself that getting a dog will take care of the babylust. Meanwhile, the four straight people shack up appropriately with the understanding of long-term commitment. At least (and I should grant the movie this) Little City shows different lesbian personalities: the one who just wants to sleep around, the one who wants to settle down, and the one who tests the waters to see if she is or isn’t (she isn’t).
Wouldn’t these people be better off if they were all poly? Isn’t that the hip new San Franciscan thing to do? Kevin could bone Rebecca and Nina; Nina could knock socks with Adam…after all, the film posits that San Francisco is a city so much for singles that they mack on each other in church. You’d think that they’d learn to share the love, especially when they keep bumping into each other.
Rebecca, Kevin, and Nina are all part of the food and bar scene, so it’s no wonder they and their lovers run in the same circle. Even if they weren’t in the same industry, San Francisco is a tightly packed joint. Out of the United States’ major cities, ours ranks No. 2 as the most densely populated. New York leads the race, but that’s not surprising considering its population is over 10 times our own.
So, yes, comparatively, San Francisco is a little city with the same few people always around. If you play your cards right, then, all your friends will becomes your lovers and your lovers will become your friends. And friends of their lovers. And lovers of their lovers’ lovers. You get my point.
Starring San Francisco is Appeal events editor, Christine Borden’s, take on the city’s cinematic past to illuminate today. Have a locally set film you’d like to see featured? Tell her at firstname.lastname@example.org.