Free screening of documentary on Boise’s homosexual scare, at Egyptian Thursday

Filmmaker Seth Randal’s “The Fall of ’55,” will be shown at 7 p.m. Thursday, sponsored by the Boise 150 sesquicentennial celebration and Opera Idaho. Randal’s Facebook page includes clips from the film, which drew an overflow crowd to its premier at the Egyptian in 2006.

The film explores the overreaction to an alleged gay sex ring, which put Boise on the cover of Time Magazine and prompted hysterical editorials in the Idaho Statesman, including one headlined, “Crush the Monster.” The scare was the subject of the 1965 book, “The Boys of Boise,” by John Gerassi.

Police interviewed almost 1,500 people in a city that then had a population of 34,000. In the end, 16 men were arrested, some for consensual sex. Nine were convicted on charges including lewd and lascivious conduct with children under 16 and infamous crimes against nature. One was sentenced to life. There were reports of an underworld that victimized hundreds of underage boys, but the number dwindled to four or five, some of whom were paid for sex.

Opera Idaho follows up Friday and Sunday with the American opera, “Susannah” by Carlisle Floyd, which explores McCarthyism. Both performances are at the Egyptian, at 7:30 p.m. Friday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday.  Tickets range from $15 to $69.

As in 2006, I will participate in a panel discussion following the film. Hope to see you there.

 

 

 

 

Dan Popkey came to Idaho in 1984 to work as a police reporter. Since 1987, he has covered politics and has reported on 25 sessions of the Legislature. Dan has a bachelor's in political science from Santa Clara University and a master's in journalism from Columbia University. He was a Congressional Fellow of the American Political Science Association and a Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. A former page in the U.S. House of Representatives, he graduated Capitol Page High School in 1976. In 2007, he led the Statesman’s coverage of the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news. In 2003, he won the Ted M. Natt First Amendment award from the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association for coverage of University Place, the University of Idaho’s troubled real estate development in Boise. Dan helped start the community reading project "Big Read." He has two children in college and lives on the Boise Bench with an old gray cat.

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