Charles Atlas' video feature "Hail the New Puritan" offers knowing glimpses of the London youth scene, propulsive performance segments and quasi-documentary depictions of the fictionalized private activities and relationships of media celebrities.
Here, a dancer is the beneficiary of Atlas' ambitious 90-minute venture in pop mythology. Because that dancer is the sweetly androgynous, obsessively provocative Michael Clark, "Hail the New Puritan" is an appropriate entry in the Gay & Lesbian Film/Video Festival (7:30 tonight in the Mark Goodson screening room of the American Film Institute, 2021 N. Western Ave.). This is not "The Children of Theatre Street."
Royal Ballet-trained and deeply involved with London's fashion and pop music scenes, Clark has built an international dance career from teasing, outrageous sexual grotesquerie.
"Hail the New Puritan" provides a generous sampling of this whimsical dance repertory and--no less important to Clark's reputation--his highly distinctive wardrobe. Early on he exudes ballerina glamour in a swan tutu. Later he looks delicately winsome in fringed jacket, kilts and a T-shirt emblazoned with an invitation to sex abuse. Ultimately, he strips to his underpants for a longing, I'm-so-sensitive solo set to Elvis Presley's recording of "Are You Lonesome Tonight?"