Institute History


SPOOKY is the story of Felix Kater, a young Jewish man whose surreal family beginnings do not adequately prepare him for his collisions with the real world. In the course of the story, Felix faces his homosexuality, drug addiction, and his desperate love for Gordie Benjamin, his anchor and alter-ego, who he adores, envies, seeks to emulate, loses, reconnects with and ultimately loses, only to finally find himself.

The story opens at the beginning of Felix's journey into the world of New York in the 1970's. After thwarted attempts at adopting various identities to help himself survive outside his family, Felix is "rescued" by Gordie Benjamin.

The story continues with Felix and Gordie leaping out the window of the apartment belonging to Felix's father's girlfriend, Maxine. Soon after, Felix and Gordie make efforts to set up house together in the East Village, and this event begins to reveal the complexities of Gordie's character. At first, Felix sees Gordie as being everything he is not: authentic, smart, capable, well-educated, and rooted in the safety of a strong orthodox Jewish family. Soon, however, Felix begins to note the inconsistencies in Gordie—most glaringly that he lives a double life. Felix and Gordie follow a night of cocaine binging with a Passover Seder with Gordie's family in Queens, where Gordie boisterously performs for his family. We see Gordie acting the beloved son and Talmudic scholar while Felix looks on: left out, isolated, and increasingly disillusioned with his alter-ego.

Believing intuitively that his hold on Gordie is contingent on drawing him into the deeper waters of heavy drug use and wild adventures, Felix seduces Gordie into speedballing (injecting heroin and cocaine). Gordie's industriousness and Felix's reckless impulsiveness make an explosive combination, like gasoline and matches. They emerge as outlaws. Gordie drops out of law school and turns his inexhaustible wit and commentary into writing porn to support their drug habits. When even those earnings are exhausted through days and nights of cocaine use, the two take up larceny, emptying Maxine's apartment and selling the contents on the street. This spiral is interrupted abruptly when Gordie, sick with hepatitis, returns to the safety of his family in Queens.

Felix, alone and abandoned, falls into addiction with kamikaze-like zeal. To support himself and his drug habit, Felix turns to "cattle rustling," shoplifting steaks from a supermarket and selling them on the street. When Gordie, healthy and detoxed from drugs, revists months later, he finds Felix out of control: wrecking their apartment, beating up the closet, chasing cocaine hallucinations with a broom.

Without his alter-ego Gordie, Felix returns to the impersonations with which he defined his personality at film's beginning. At a memorial lunch for his deceased father, Felix—running into the bathroom every seven minutes to shoot coke—takes on the identity of Claude Rains' giddy and hysterical "Invisible Man," delighted by the mayhem he creates around him. Felix begins hiding out in his apartment, annoyed with persistent knocking on the front door as he is trying to get high.

Just as Felix is "getting off," he is confronted by Gordie on the phone. It was Gordie who was knocking on his door.

The revelation that Gordie is HIV positive becomes a sobering and transformative moment for Felix. Felix has been chasing death hysterically, but now, through Gordie, he is facing death. Though Felix doesn't pull himself together immediately, he begins to make the effort. Still in love, Felix and Gordie get back together but not as before. Gordie, bent on survival, becomes an AIDS Activist. He is still comic, but he no longer has the patience for Felix's irresponsible behavior and magical thinking.

Haunted by his failure to be by Gordie's side in his last painful days, and now confronted with his own AIDS diagnosis, Felix finally struggles to come to terms with himself, his mortality, and the life he has left in front of him.


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