Literature / Kiss of the Spider Woman

Kiss of the Spider Woman was originally a 1976 novel by gay Argentinian writer Manuel Puig. It was later adapted into an Academy Award winningnote  film in 1985 and a Tony award winningnote  musical in 1993. And a 1983 play. But that one isn't as well known.

Set in a Banana Republic, the story follows the imprisonment of Luis Molina (William Hurt in the film), a gay man who was caught corrupting a minor, and political prisoner Valentin Arregui (Raul Julia in the film), who is part of a leftist revolutionary group trying to overthrow the military dictatorship and is currently being tortured for information.

Molina passes the time by describing his favorite movies: the most prominent (and the only one featured in the film) being a romance story of star-crossed lovers... that also happens to be a Nazi propaganda film. Naturally, the Film Within a Film is draped with metaphors and symbolism relating to the two characters. It is later revealed that Molina was imprisoned with Valentin to spy on him in the hope that he will open up to Molina, using the film as a way of getting him to talk. Just one problem: Molina has fallen in love with Valentin. Cue moral dilemmas, political statements and gay angst.

Has nothing to do with any of the Spider-Woman characters published by Marvel Comics.

The story provides examples of:

  • All Love Is Unrequited: Valentin's girlfriend loves Valentin who loves Marta. Molina loves the waiter, and later Valentin, both of whom are straight. Subverted when Valentin agrees to sleep with Molina.
  • Bi the Way: Valentin reciprocates Molina's love for him.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: Very embarrassingly happens to Valentin after eating poisoned food.

Additionally, the film provides examples of:

And the musical provides examples of:

Alternative Title(s): Kiss Of The Spider Woman