Starring and co-written by Heather Woodbury about her own experiences as a go-go dancer in New York and New Jersey during the early 80s, HOLLOW VENUS is an autobiographical glimpse at a world where topless dancing and performance art collide. In raw black and white and tinted tones, director Fessenden captures the squalor and pathos of life in the sex trade, and the redemptive naïvete of the performance art scene in the last days of Lower East Side Bohemia, circa 1986.
HOLLOW VENUS was shot in 16mm in 1986 with a crew of three in the streets and tenements of Manhattan and at the Baby Doll Lounge downtown. The project was abandoned for three years to raise completion funds. It was finished on 3/4 inch video in 1986, and enjoyed a run at Anthology Film Archives in New York City.
HOLLOW VENUS was the first movie Fessenden ever submitted to festivals. It played Rotterdam, ICA in London, Rio De Janeiro, and almost captured the prize for best video in Montreal International Festival of Film and Video, but it couldn't be determined if the piece was a video or a film (this tidbit leaked later by a judge). The tape has also screened at performance art venues including Hallwalls in Buffalo NY, and in New York City at Dixon Place and DCTV.
The rampant use of music from the go-go bars of that era has made the film undistributable, though it's been available for home viewing through select video stores. Michael Rohatyn, who wrote music for HABIT, has recorded new songs for HOLLOW VENUS in anticipation of a wider release.