Called “The American Bowie,” “The True Fairy of Rock & Roll” and “Hype of the Year,” Jobriath’s reign as the first openly gay rock star was brief and over by 1975. Now, 35 years later, “Jobriath A.D.” spotlights his life, music, groundbreaking influence and the new generations of fans slowly re-discovering him.
Eight Track Tape Productions
User Reviews: One of the better docs about music that has appeared in the last couple of years (and that includes "Sound City" and "20 Feet From Stardom"). Although this movie has almost no budget for effects and hype as the others do, it manages to do something that most other music docs cannot achieve: it makes you feel compassion towards the single protagonist, a musician who might not have been a musical genius, but was a first-rate performer, who was decades ahead of his time.
Jobriath, although a Bowie knock-off, was one of the few original artists of his day. Looking backwards through glitter-encrusted glasses, any time we see Lady Gaga emerging from an egg or Pink flying around on a trapeze, we are seeing the humble beginnings of their Las Vegas-type routines in the staging of Jobriath’s fantasy sets — his concept of a stage act in which he scales a replica of the Empire State Building which become a giant phallus is almost a precursor to many of the stage sets of today.
All of the hype surrounding Jobriath’s moment of fame holds our interest mostly because it explores the transition when rock and roll went from being "outsider" and turned into "mainstream" — when a public who had been weaned on multi-platinum acts like Peter Frampton and the poseur band Kiss, suddenly had to accept the likes of a performer who was not only gay, but undeniably proud of it. He was an enigma even while David Bowie had broken down the door to a blurred sexual identity. In Jobriath, there was a moment when "homo superior" had meaning.
Jobriath’s ending was a particularly appropriate one, and left us with a sense of loss, not so much for his musical talent, but more of a "What if?" kind of mystery: had Jobriath never gotten infected with HIV and died, would his musical ability have improved, and would he have gone on to be a recognized talent? Unfortunately, the documentary misses this last point — had this been a big-budget production, the filmmaker might have had the kind of ending that would dramatize this, and instead of just an animated segment, we might have seen a fully staged example of just what could have been.
Overall, a terrible loss to the world but a fascinating documentary.