On This Gay Day: The film ‘Head On’ was released in 1998

Australian film ‘Head On’ was released in 1998

Back in 1998 everybody was talking about new Australian film Head On. The debut feature from director Ana Kokkinos told the story of Ari, a young Greek-Australian man, who over a 24 hour period go on a journey through a series of encounters as he struggles with his sexuality.

OUTinPerth editor Graeme Watson recalls seeing the film at Cinema Paradiso when it first came out and audience members walked out as soon as the first provocative sex scene came on the screen.

“By today’s standards the sex scenes in Head On will seem fairly tame, there’s more risqué scenes on television nowadays, but at the time it was very provocative. I remember about five people walking out of the screening when I saw the film when it was first released.”

The film is based on Loaded, a novel by Australian author Christos Tsiolkas, who has gone on to write many best-selling nworks including The Slap, Barracuda, Merciless Gods, Damascus and his most recent work 7½.

The film was praised for it’s stark realism and uncompromising performance from Alex Dimitriades as Ari, and a memorable appearance from Paul Capsis who played transgender friend Johnny/Tula.

Capsis reflected on the part when he spoke to OUTinPerth a decade ago.

‘Head-On was my first dramatic cinema role and one that most people remember. It was my first big break. I really enjoyed the process of film and deeply admired just how driven and passionate Ana Kokkinos, the director was of the work.

“It was her first feature film as well as mine. Anna had very clear direction as to how the character, Johnny should be played, but if the role came up again I would play the character differently. Guess I see the world differently now,’ Capsis told Terry Larder back in 2012.

Photographer Herb Ritts was born on this day in 1952

Herb Ritts was one of the most successful photographers of the 1980s and 1990s. He iconic black and white photographs donned album covers, and advertising campaigns. He found success both in artistic spaces and commercial ventures.

He got his start taking photographs of close friend and aspiring actor Richard Gere in the late 1970s. By the early 80’s he was creating iconic images including shooting Olivia Newton-John for the cover of her Physical album, a pose he would re-use on the cover of Madonna’s True Blue record a few years later.

Ritts would go on to shoot the iconic Cherish video for Madonna, Wicked Game for Chris Isaak and Love Will Never Do Without You for Janet Jackson. He also shot videos for Shakira, Michael Jackson, Brittney Spears and many others.

He was one of the most in demand fashion photographers shooting covers for all the big fashion magazines, and one of his most celebrated covers was the image Stephanie, Cindy, Christy, Tatjana, Naomi, Hollywood, 1989 for Rolling Stone which captured five supermodels. The image inspired George Michael to create his iconic video for Freedom ’90. 

Cher, Tina Turner, Elton John, Ronald Regan, Elizabeth Taylor, David Bowie, Prince, Bjork and Johnny Depp are just a few of the celebrities he captured.

Herb Ritts, who was HIV positive, died in 2002 after contracting pneumonia. He was 50 years old.

OIP Staff

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