Café Flesh  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Café Flesh is a 1982 post-apocalyptic cult pornographic science fiction film co-directed by Stephen Sayadian (under the pseudonym "Rinse Dream") and an uncredited Mark S. Esposito and co-written by Sayadian and Jerry Stahl. Music was composed and produced by noted music producer Mitchell Froom. Two versions of the film were released: a hardcore version, and a softcore version. The softcore version was shown in mainstream cinemas. The film has often been shown on a double bill with Liquid Sky.


In a post-apocalyptic world, the entire population is either sex positive or sex negative. The sex negatives, who become nauseous if they try to have sex, attempt to satisfy "the lust that war has made insatiable" by watching the sex positives get it on, staged as Dadaist performance art with props like phone booths, typewriters and salon hair dryers. Publications such as TimeOut London noted the film's prescience of AIDS-pandemic. [1]


By the early 1970s, the pornographic film industry had gained popularity, through the success of films such as Behind the Green Door and Deep Throat. During this period, there were many attempts to create artistic pornography, including The Devil in Miss Jones. There were also non-pornographic films with hardcore sex, such as I Am Curious (Yellow) and In the Realm of the Senses. By the early 1980s, home video technology shifted the porn industry, and pornography theaters were becoming less successful.

In 1982, Café Flesh, which mixed sex, satire, and avant-garde theater, was released. The film was created and co-written by Stephen Sayadian, under the name "Rinse Dream", and journalist Jerry Stahl, under the name "Herbert W. Day". Sayadin and Stahl made the film in two separate parts, using the non-pornographic elements of the film to attract financiers. The film became a success at midnight showings. An R-rated cut of the film was shown in mainstream theaters.

Two actors involved in this film went on to notable work in mainstream productions. Pia Snow changed her name to Michelle Bauer and became a prolific B-movie actress. Richard Belzer, a noted comedian at the time who later became know for his roles in Homicide: Life on the Street and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, appears as an audience member.

Two sequels, Cafe Flesh 2 and Cafe Flesh 3, were released in 1997 and 2003, without the participation of the original creators. The sequels were written and directed by Antonio Passolini, and did not have the same degree of popularity and cult appeal as the first film.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Café Flesh" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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