Mitchell Froom is a prolific musician and producer, though you’ve probably not heard of him. Besides his production work from Elvis Costello to Suzanne Vega (who was his wife for a while), Froom composed the soundtrack for the 1982 porno flick Café Flesh.
The movie takes place in a dark and seedy dystopian environment after a nuclear apocalypse, leaving 99% of humans as “sex negatives.” If these Negatives attempt to have sex, they become violently ill just by touching another human. However, the other 1% are able to have sex and are forced to serve the audience carnal entertainment for the Negatives since they cannot complete sexual acts themselves. Most of the porno involves sex on a stage with skits full of odd costumes and themes as the Negatives look on, drooling over the performance. The film was created and co-directed by Stephen Sayadian (who also did the 1989 erotic pseudo-sequel tale of Dr. Caligari) under the name “Rinse Dream” alongside journalist Jerry Stahl (who also wrote the lyrics for the porno’s soundtrack) under the name “Herbert W. Day.”
Froom’s music for Café Flesh is an oddball and unique electronic soundtrack that’s equally part jazz and part new wave. It’s not the type of music you’d originally guess to be playing over a post-apocalyptic porno but it is unexpectedly pleasant to listen to. I am reminded a bit of the Liquid Sky soundtrack from 1982, the same year Café Flesh was released. The track “Fruto Prohibito” sounds just as relevant as any early electronic release, with a bit of industrial flair.
The music from Café Flesh ended up on Froom’s solo album from 1984 titled The Key of Cool. It was released on Los Angeles-based punk label Slash Records who have also put out the likes of The Germs, Fear, Faith No More and countless other important bands. The album cover is kind of creepy, depicting a masked man peeking out of the shadows – this being a tie-in to the porno’s movie poster. It’s a release that doesn’t show up much, so if you see it in the bins at the record store, pick it up… at least out of curiosity and a new avenue of inspiration.
– Andi Harriman