Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Viewing Notes: CAFÉ FLESH (Rinse Dream, 1982)

Café Flesh, 1982, d. Rinse Dream (S. Sayadian)
scr. Sayadian, Herbert W. Day (Jerry Stahl)
with Andrew Nichols, Pia Snow (Michelle Bauer), Marie Sharp, and Kevin James as "Rico"

Rinse Dream (née Stephen Sayadian, whose masterpiece is this or the pretty-much-the-same-thing-but-not-porn Dr. Caligari [1989]) made this ambitious cult post-apocalyptic SF porn satire that looks like a Devo video with a killer droning synth jazz soundtrack from Mitchell Froom.

The mean-spirited, highly effective idea is that an audience of diseased Sex Negatives can find no release and only watch the creepy onstage antics of the Positives who perform at Café Flesh. The Bomb made it so that if Negatives try to experience human sexual contact, they start barfing painfully (I guess?). Meanwhile, Positives, being 1% of the populace, are such a commodity that they are forced to perform.

So, see, that's YOU! You in the raincoat, watching Café Flesh itself and getting your Gaze totally Subverted! The "backstage musical" approach frames all the sex acts as stage performances, which are all elaborate bizarro production numbers ("the guys in baby drag were a bit much"), but look, it's not Busby Berkeley or anything. These imaginative, already off-putting sex shows (the best one has a guy with a giant pencil on his head and a secretary chanting "do you want me to type a memo?") are constantly interrupted by close ups of Felliniesque pervs licking their sweaty chops and bugging their eyes out like Dan Clowes drawings. The entire affair is based in humiliation, frustration, and desires thwarted, which is, of course, some people's Thing.

XXXpensive production value as these things go, and every performance is terrible, including Richard Belzer doing a dumb jive-talk routine.

Viewed on: 9/10/13 — via VCI's terrible VHS-sourced-lookin' DVD

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