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Portrait of Jason

USA, English, 105 mins

  • Director: Shirley Clarke
  • Producer: Shirley Clarke

CGiii Comment

Jason Holliday aka Aaron Payne - a painful bore.

Over 90 minutes of rambling, by an old drunken hustler, is not the ideal way to waste you time - and this, indeed, is time wasting on an absolute nobody.


The(ir) Blurb...

The highlights of a 12-hour interview with Aaron Payne, alias Jason Holliday, a former houseboy, would-be cabaret performer, and self-proclaimed hustler who, while drinking and smoking cigarettes and pot, giggles his way through stories and observations of what it was (and is) like to be black and gay in 1960s America.

Portrait of Jason is an extended interview with its eponymous subject: a gay African-American man and a brilliant raconteur. When asked by Clarke early on what he does for a living, he succinctly responds, giggling: “I hustle… I’m a stone whore, and I’m not ashamed of it.” This might be the ultimate film about hustling and being hustled. It becomes clear that Jason’s identity is assumed in more ways than one. He spins hilarious yarns—recounting affairs gone sour, his days of indolent splendor as a houseboy, raising money for a nightclub act that he has endlessly deferred—but eventually they start to unravel. To borrow from Jason’s elaborate lexicon, things get… confused. Are his theatrics for us, or for himself? Are we being had or entertained? Or has Jason shifted around the particulars of his autobiography so often that he’s found it illegible? Maybe all are true, or none.

Cast & Characters

Shirley Clarke as Interviewer;
Jason Holliday as Himself;
Carl Lee as Interviewer

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