Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Café Flesh (1982)

X rated Sci-Fi hardcore of the retro kind

"So close you can almost feel", a porn movie about porn movies, in a thematic sort of way. The director claims in an interview that he originally intended this to be more of a softcore sci-fi piece, but the only backer he could find for it was a hardcore financier so he slipped in the insertions and money shots to make his investors happy. 

Cafe Flesh even had a brief theatrical run in an R-rated version with all the fun stuff cut out because believe me, minus the hardcore sex, there is a cerebral nice sci-fi heart hiding beneath in this adult comedy. Cafe Flesh gives us a post-nuclear holocaust world hobbled with radioactive fallout where 99 percent of the population has been rendered "sex-negative" (i.e) incapable of achieving orgasm and suffering nausea at the touch of another. The sex-negatives, men and women alike, become sex addicts as they watch "sex-positives" - those whose potencies have been left unscathed - perform sex acts at racy nightclubs such as Cafe Flesh. In doing this they hope to fulfill the lust that war has made insatiable. 

The setup is perfect for offering the conventions that are the skin flick's stock-in-trade: a fantasy-world where nothing except sex is important, and where women are as obsessed with watching people screw as men are. (Cafe Flesh's audience I guess is roughly 50/50 men and women, which is generally not the case with your average real-life porno theater.) But unlike most adult movies, Cafe Flesh is aware of these conventions and reflects them back at you. 

During the sex scenes the audience's faces become blank, pained, fixated stares (and if you quickly grab a mirror you might catch yourself with the same expression). Cafe Flesh's emcee, Max Melodramatic, provides intermittent commentary explaining the audience's pain. It has to do with dwelling on a need you can't fulfill, trying to think about it until you make it happen. It's the porn-movie equivalent of the TV spots that tell you to stop sitting around watching TV. You'd be better off getting off your ass, the movie seems to scold, and trying to find a date for Saturday. But since you can't always do what's best for you it's probably okay to watch this movie once -- if you take the phone off the hook and stop going to work, you might want to entertain the possibility that you have a problem. 


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