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Photo Credit :: Peter Berlin
Arts & Entertainment
That Man: Peter Berlin
By Mark Thompson & Robert Doyle
January 29, 2006 
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Even if you’d never heard his name before, you might think you knew him. Something about the slightly petulant, pouting face, and the arresting blue eyes, so unwavering in their gaze, daring you to follow, anywhere he led in those skintight white pants, or the black leather ones with the fringed boots, his curtain of blond hair catching the breeze beneath a faded cowboy hat. Something so familiar about him, as if he were a repository of every gay fantasy, and especially that prodigious crotch. Something almost alarming about that member packed in so tight, outlining everything from meat to potatoes. And you might swear that you’d seen him leaning at the Meatrack the other evening, or wandering the piers the night before. And also cruising the park and the beach and late at night down on Folsom Street. And you’d be right in thinking you knew him, because that boyman was Peter Berlin. So known as to be notorious, so very well-known, he was recognized by his walk, that cocky strut, as well as the blatant sexuality of his clothing, and the complete absence of shame, none whatsoever about all that he was and represented to gay men.

That Man: Peter Berlin, Jim Tushinski’s poignant documentary, lets you see the man behind the icon, the story behind the myth. And over the course of the film’s eighty minutes, it becomes increasingly apparent how far-reaching Peter Berlin’s influence has been in matters of fashion and fantasy. Still comfortable with his persona at sixty-three, Berlin exudes a kind of relaxed sexuality, a man in touch with his desires, who happens to have made his desires his art, and his art his life. There are certainly worse ways to live the years given you on this planet and Berlin is a testament to the self-confidence that can come from learning early on who you are and what you need. In an almost elegiac reverie, Berlin recounts one of his first nights cruising in a German forest, not long after realizing that his family could not provide him with that he most needed to become the person he knew himself to be, and his detailed remembrance of that night and the smell of the linden flowers and his awareness of the freedom which was happening all around him serve to remind all of us of the very great freedom which comes from honoring one’s self.