Café Flesh (Stephen Sayadian / U.S., 1982):

Sartre is Stephen Sayadian’s basis, "the look" and Nausea are adumbrated for an exhaustive excoriation of voyeurism. Porno holocaust: The world "after the Nuclear Kiss" is a smoky vault, mankind is divided between sallow, elongated, lust-impaired New Wavers and the handful of "Sex Positives" who perform for them at the eponymous underground joint. The emcee (Andrew Nichols) is a razzing vaudevillian who quotes Dr. Johnson and gets off on the audience’s hopelessness: "Go play in the fallout!" Among the "erotic casualties" are a depressed former jock (Paul McGibboney) and his closeted Sex-Positive wife (Michelle Bauer): They try their luck with an embrace but he gets violently sick, she fakes queasiness to be by his side but is increasingly inflamed by the carnal café performances. Flesh is made blue under phosphorescent bulbs, sex is mechanistic, dispassionate, unappetizing -- a rodent’s face on the milkman who schtupps a housewife, a pencil’s noggin on the magnate who shags a secretary. New attractions include the ingénue (Marie Sharp) who enjoys her own ravishment onstage, and the legendary superstud (Kevin James) whose protruding crotch enthralls the famished heroine. "You don’t mind if I get profound, do you folks? There’s a message in here somehow." In this sick-Eros reading Frank’s Alas, Babylon (shot with an eye on The Salon de Refuse), Sayadian trades raunch for the desolation of watching other people fuck. An arrestingly self-annihilating hardcore revue -- when the need for sex is coupled with the inability to feel, the final cum shot practically doubles as a burst of tears. With Tantala Ray, Dennis Edwards, Dondi Bastone, and Paul Berthell.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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