The film opens with John (Jonathan Wade Drahos) regaining consciousness in a restroom stall at "The Red Party." He stares at himself in the mirror and flashes back to when he was a small-town cop from Illinois who moved to Los Angeles, hoping to live somewhere that's more welcoming of a gay lifestyle. He temporarily moves in with his cousin Tad, who's living with his suddenly ex-boyfriend Gill and Tad's new boyfriend Julian. Tad is a filmmaker, shooting a documentary on circuit parties, and Julian DJs at the parties. Gill takes John to a party in the Hollywood hills, where he meets Hector (Andre Khabbazi), a hustler. Hector is battling mounting insecurities over his looks and age, which are exacerbated by his losing his "sugar daddy." John and Hector forge a friendship and Hector introduces John to the world of circuit parties and illicit drugs.
One of Tad's subjects is Bobby (Paul Lekakis), an exotic dancer and model who performs at circuit parties (and with whom coincidentally John tricked with at John's first circuit party). Bobby is HIV-positive but asymptomatic. Tad records one of Bobby's performances at a club. Also performing at the club, as a comedian, is Nina (Kiersten Warren), who, coincidentally is a friend of John's who's in the audience. She's living out of her car so John, who's moved into a trailer, invites her and her cat to stay with him.
Tad shows his footage of Bobby to Gino (William Katt), who's an investor in the film, trying to secure the funding he needs to finish the film. Gino is involved in a number of business ventures, including running circuit parties with his wife Louise (Nancy Allen), distributing drugs and buying viatical settlements, including Bobby's. After viewing the footage Gino angrily confronts Bobby, who remarks that Gino gambled by buying his insurance policy and lost.
Gino offers Tad half the money he needs to finish his film and asks to see any footage of Bobby that he shoots.
John is following Hector deeper in to circuit scene, using a variety of drugs including Special K, GHB, crystal meth and, suffering from a touch of body dysmorphia despite being in terrific physical shape, anabolic steroids.
As the relationship amongst the three of them has grown more strained, Gill has grown tired of Tad and Julian living with him and gives them a deadline for moving out. Initially he agrees to let them stay until after the White Party so Julian can earn some money for rent and Tad can finish his film but then changes his mind and wants them out sooner. Desperate, Tad returns to Gino for more financing. Gino refuses. Louise, growing more disgusted with Gino, later secretly gives Tad the rest of the money.
Gino has become obsessed with Bobby and plans to kill him. Hector has always refused to have sex with Bobby (because Hector doesn't have sex for free). Gino offers to pay Hector to sleep with Bobby and let Gino provide the drugs.
John becomes involved with Gino, working security for his parties (which is largely an excuse for his own partying). One such party is The Red Party, where John runs into a drag queen who remembers him from his small town days. This reminder of his past nearly sends John over the edge, apparently leading to the drug binge which lands him on the stall floor.
Gill and Nina realize John's in trouble but aren't able to help him. John goes so far as to prostitute himself, joining Hector for a scene in which they have sex while a client watches. John, disgusted with himself, argues with Hector and refuses to take his cut of the fee. Eventually Nina moves out after John, in a drug-induced rage, attacks and possibly kills her cat. He tries to seduce Gill, who refuses him because of his heavy partying and drug abuse.
John reduces his partying and drug use and goes to Gill for a job with his landscaping business. He and Gill also pursue a romantic relationship, but John, having stopped his steroid use, can't perform sexually because his body feels "soft." He returns to Hector for more "juice."
It's the weekend of the annual Palm Springs White Party. Gino has provided Hector, who's become more desperate and terrified about losing his youth and looks, with a lethal dose of an unspecified drug to give to Bobby.
Tad is going to the party to record the last footage he needs to complete his documentary, including filming Bobby's farewell performance. Julian is DJing. John is going to supervise security. He and Hector travel by limo together and they reconcile. While John is listening to music on headphones, Hector confesses that he loves him. Gino and Louise are also at the party and amidst the chaos Louise leaves him.
After Bobby's farewell performance, Hector goes to his room and they have sex for most of the night. When they're spent, Bobby says to Hector, "you saved my life tonight." Hector replies, "More than you'll ever know" and snorts the poisoned drugs. He dies, on his 30th birthday.
The next morning, Bobby discovers that Hector's dead. John, on his way to find Hector, runs into Gino outside the room, who says how sorry he is about Bobby's death, but trails off when Bobby walks out of the room. John looks in and sees Hector's body. He realizes Gino's involved somehow and attacks him, then collapses in grief and takes off running and weeping.
Six months later, John, Gill, Nina, Tad, Louise and others gather for the premiere of Tad's documentary.
Circuit was filmed over a six month period in digital video.
Awards and nominations
- 2001 Coachella Valley Festival of Festivals Award for Best Film, Underground/Alternative Collection (winner)
- 2002 Political Film Society Award for Exposé (nominated)
Circuit was released on Region 1 DVD on December 31, 2002. The DVD features a "director's cut" with approximately ten minutes of additional footage.
Template:Infobox Album Track listing:
1. Ready Set Go - Kevin Aviance
2. Rising - Elle Patrice
3. How Many - Taylor Dayne
4. Seven Cities - Solar Stone
5. Follow Me - Tony Moran
6. White Rabbit - China Cat
7. Love Divine - Ron Perkov
8. Can U Feel It - MarQus
9. Emotions - Elle Patrice
10. Assume The Position - Paul Lekakis
11. Circuit - China Cat
12. Menage - ATO
13. Jazzy Groove - ATO
14. Love In The Shadows - Toni Ann Martinez
15. Let The Music Fill Your Soul - Tony Moran
16. Been To the Mountain - Francesca
17. Suddenly You - Ryan Andrews
18. Wait - Lonnie Gordon
19. High - Lighthouse
- Director's commentary, Circuit DVD