Fast Drip, Long Drop (1994): Gregg Bordowitz’s Personal Docu as Artist with HIV (LGBTQ, Gay)

Fast Trip, Long Drop is a personal diary of Gregg Bordowitz, an angry young man afflicted with AIDS, and how the disease has influenced his roles as a video artist and political activist.

Unusual in its format, docu mixes freely, if not always absorbingly, autobiographical musings on daily existence with AIDS, his Jewish identity and family life, and the joys and sorrows of political involvement. The ideal exhibition for this non-traditional docu would be in a program comprised of personal shorts about AIDS, but film also has potential for specialized TV and cable airings.

In l988, New York video-maker Gregg Bordowitz tested HIV-positive, a traumatic act that prompted him to shed alcohol and drugs–and come out of the closet. But this distressing news also had some positive, if ironic effects, as he says, “at 23, I found what I’ve been looking all my life–a sense of belonging.”

Docu reconstructs the reaction of the filmmaker’s mother and stepfather to his homosexuality and illness. “There are worse things than being gay,” says his stepfather, while his mother can’t remember if she cried or not when he came out.

While working on his memoirs, a close friend was diagnosed with breast cancer and Bordowitz’s grandparents were killed in a car crash. The cumulative result of these events was to challenge his sense of identity and force him to revisit his Jewish roots. These occurrences also forced him to reassess his illness and his future–“getting AIDS now a days is not a death sentence,” he says in one of the film’s few upbeat moments.

Bordowitz’s life has been marked by countless deaths of ancestors and friends, not always as a result of AIDS. Prevalence of death in helmer’s existence may explain docu’s dominant visual motif: footage of car and airplane crashes, daredevil stunts, and other disasters.

Combining personal and collective history, while drawing on archives of AIDS activist media, Bordowitz chronicles the gay community’s response to government inaction on AIDS during the Reagan and Bush administrations. The novelty of his strategy is that it provokes a critical dialogue about the current AIDS crisis. Bordowitz voices his frustrations not only with the government’s policy, medical establishment, and media coverage, but also with institutionalized gay activism.

“I don’t want to be a hero or model,” the filmmaker says about his new approach, “survival is my only concern.” That said, he must also realize that his response to having AIDS is not as peculiarly subjective as it might appear on the surface.


Produced, directed, written by Gregg Bordowitz. Executive producer, Sara Diamond. Camera (color), Bob Huff, Jean Carlomusto, Jason Simon; music, Frank London, Lorin Sklamberg, Alicia Sviglas.

Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival, January 24, 1994. Running time: 54 min.