16 December 2009

Sex Dwarf - Soft Cell

Sex Dwarf is a track by Soft Cell, and let's hope you were aware of that when you clicked on this, lest you turn out to be curious about actual dwarves and wish to see them in a range of sexual situations. Actually, if that is the case, you'd be better off hunting on Google Images, or some other specialist site. However, while you contemplate this, consider the real truth, which may or may not be a revelation to you: in the mid-eighties the band Soft Cell, comprising Marc Almond and Dave Ball, produced a track called Sex Dwarf with a video so awful, so disgusting, so downright perverse, that the police seized the master tapes and burnt them. That's right - we're talking the levels of perversion that get your master tapes seized.

Take a pause. Do a little research... it's true.

Really, it's true. Mind you, so is the fact that most of it would be considered quite tame if you accidentally spliced it into the middle of 'Saw IV'. There's a sobering moment, if ever I saw one.

So let's be calm for just a while. Let me tell you about Soft Cell's first album, a joyously sleazy affair called Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret. You may wish to consider exactly where they thought they were going with that title. It's hardly demure, and you wouldn't expect a coy glance and a blush to follow once you'd placed the pristine black plastic twelve inch on your turntable. Coy glances, as predicted, failed to follow...

'Frustration', the first track, was the story of a man doomed to a life of middle-aged hell, and the video seemed to centre about the poor bastard's death, with Marc Almond doing everything apart from dancing on the coffin. No, wait - he more-or-less did that, actually. Literally. 'Tainted Love', the second, was destined to become Soft Cell's most celebrated song, despite (or perhaps because of) the peculiar 'Roman Cricket' visuals (complete with 'Please God Make Marc Almond's Skirt Longer' moment), but the following tracks: Seedy Films and Youth, were far more indicative of the depths Soft Cell were determined to plumb. All credit to them, in my book, and do take a breath now, ready to fill it in later, because this is where 'Sex Dwarf' clunk-clicked. 'Entertain Me', the follow-up, was sardonic, but 'Chips On My Shoulder' redeemed it all, despite the over-acting, and 'Bedsitter' is amazing, even more amazing than 'Secret Life' and the celebrated (which means covered by David Gray) 'Say Hello, Wave Goodbye'.

Soft Cell was doomed to a life of sleaze: right from the moment Marc Almond tarted himself up with black eyeliner and Dave Ball set the synths up inside a cage for their very first Top Of The Pops appearance, their fate was sealed. 'There's more to Soft Cell than sleaze,' claimed Marc Almond in one interview. A page later, he was discussing the Marquis De Sade and 120 Days Of Sodom. It's in the sleeve notes of the 2005 live release, if you want to confirm it for yourself. But let's get back to the video, controversial as it is:
The video begins with a starlet chained to a table. The chains are gold, because no expense has been spared. Marc Almond is stroking her, all over. Yes, all over - breasts included. Naked, dirty, sexy breasts. Which, considering the Soft Cell audience is mostly gay, simply makes us admire Marc for doing what must be done. Deep breaths and stroke...
At this point, Dave Ball, who usually (wisely) constrains his efforts to pressing bits of synthesisers, brings a meat cleaver down on a wooden crate. It's really quite ironic that it's surprising when a dwarf leaps out, dressed in some sort of sadomasochistic leather outfit, including a massively prodigious jockstrap. We are, if I may side with the viewer for a moment, utterly shocked. It's a dwarf in a jockstrap. What's worse, he's going to indulge in sexual relations with anyone in sight, and this is where it all goes horribly odd...
I have failed to mention the meat carcasses. You see, the meat cleaver fits in with Dave Ball's outfit, as he is inexplicably dressed as a butcher. In fact there are approximately six meat carcasses hanging enticingly from the ceiling. They are props, and they are clearly there to be used. Dave Ball has already been seen playing a chainsaw with a violin bow, and it's hardly suprising when he begins running about using the chainsaw to cut pieces of meat from the carcasses.
Breathe. Let's take stock. As we speak, Marc Almond is cavorting in raw meat with a scantily clad tart, while Dave Ball chainsaws raw meat into smaller chunks. Try to imagine why the British police impounded the tapes and burnt them as we continue with the show...
There are a few more semi-naked men, and now Marc's stripped off his black vest and is clad only in a jockstrap, too. There are women about, also dressed in leather, and - oh, lots of blood, bits of meat, the odd bit of offal. You see, the chainsaw's spitting blood about as it carves up the carcass, and Marc Almond appears to be smearing the blood over his body as he gropes at his jockstrap-clad crotch.
Meanwhile, there's a be-wigged woman with a rib of beef on her tits, and a dwarf with a liver (which isn't, technically speaking, his) humping her. The blood's everywhere, and it's true - at one point Marc Almond pulls the elastic of his jock strap rather lower than you'd want him to and rubs the blood into what must surely be his pubic hair. By the end of the video we see a panting Marc Almond leering through an orgy of blood, beef and cheap tarts to giggle 'That's nice!' as something white and horrible drips from his lip.
A little history. Tacked onto the end of Tainted Love in the official video collection, Marc Almond reads dramatically from a tabloid newspaper. Here's what he reads:
"Soft Cell have made a pornographic video as outrageous as those shown in London's Soho. Lead singer Marc Almond is shown masturbating through his clothes and rubbing raw meat into naked women. He strips down to only a jockstrap and appears with a dwarf in the same attire.'
People familiar with the history of the band, and of Some Bizzare records boss will be delighted to watch as an obviously drugged-up Stevo incisively comments 'Yes. Yes. Analysation of people!'. The aforementioned DVD, incidentally, does not feature the original Sex Dwarf video, instead there's a be-suited Marc Almond conducting some nicely-dressed dwarves with a baton; it's all rather sarcastic, really.

I expect you want to watch it now, right? Well, it was here, but sadly it seems to have vanished again. Good luck finding a copy; it's been the holy grail of Soft Cell fans for years, and while it hardly compares to some of the more shocking videos available on the internet now, remember that the whole sleazy affair took place right in the middle of the Thatcher years, when homosexuals were threatening the very fabric of society with their evil, evil agenda. Dwarves, raw meat, gold chains and jockstraps probably didn't help the cause much...

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