by Rebecca Burgan
In the wake of the new wave art house boom of the 1960s, sexploitation films and art films mimicked each other’s aesthetics to market to a wider audience. American auteur Joseph W. Sarno (1921-2010) produced a prolific catalog of softcore films in the '60s and '70s. Hoping that the hardcore genre was short-lived, Sarno found his niche in the arty sexploitation world, where dramatic lighting, complex sensitive characters, and female sexuality dominated. His technical skills and quick production time set him apart from other directors in the genre, whereas those with a comparable technique would have gone on to mainstream films. He directed his actors to express their anxieties and passions through realism, capturing gritty sexual emotion in its immediacy. He was a master of sexual cinematic verisimilitude.
Sarno’s films emphasize women’s relationships and women’s pleasure, whereas the men are more objectified as instruments to help achieve the female orgasm—a fairly fresh feminist notion at the time. Visual focus during orgasm was often directed at facial expressions rather than a tight zoom on some tight penetration. The sincerity of the sexual experience is revealed more intimately by the face. Gustav Machaty's 1933 Czechoslovakian art film, Ecstasy, starring Hedy Lamarr, was still pre-Code but was banned in America and in Germany by Hitler. Audiences watched Lamarr’s titillating nude body traipse through the woods and skinny dip in the lake, leading up to a moment of sexual ecstasy revealed only through a close-up on her pained face. The director employed an inspired technique of realism to achieve the right expressions from her—poking her rump off screen with a safety pin. The film was banned because of her scandalously debauched motivation for pleasure: cheating on her gross old husband. The censors decreed, you had to be married to revel in such pleasure and make faces like that. More intimate and revealing than a nude bathing scene, the close-up disturbed the Production Code censors in America, who considered even a safer, morally balanced edit of the film to be too indecent for audiences. The film was basically buried, and Lamarr was only allowed to work again if she cleaned up her act.
by Rebecca Burgan
RBMA is the radio station of the Red Bull Music Academy and is now broadcasting live from San Francisco, straight from their studio in the Mission District, every day from 2pm to 10pm 'till Mar 11th. Guests include Kevin Saunderson, Wooden Shjips, Honey Soundsystem, Amoeba music's own superstars, and many others.
Tune in to RBMA on Tuesday, March 3rd from 2-3pm to hear Amoeba presents Ceiling Eyes live! With their debut album First Lust Encounters, Ceiling Eyes unleashed their esoteric dreamworld on the masses. No two of their experimental ambient performances are ever alike.
Then on Tuesday, March 10th from 6-7pm, hear Amoeba's tribute to 1980's Sunset Strip with Lip Service (aka Brent James & Kells Bells). Spandex and hairspray reign supreme on the outside, but you might be surprised to see what lies beneath as Lip Service spins old favorites and deep cuts from the debauchery that was Hollywood in the late '80s. Listen with fondness or recoil in horror, but be prepared to get rocked to the foundation!
Tune it to RBMA HERE!
On Sunday, February 15th, we celebrated another epic year of musical mayhem with Amoebapalooza SF at Brick & Mortar Music Hall in San Francisco. The all Amoeba employee-powered night of entertainment raged until early in the a.m. with eight musical acts, the enigmatic MC stylings of a masked Brent St. James, dance rave-ups on vinyl with DJ Ken Kubala, and a lot of Mardi Gras cheer.
Enjoy these amazing photos of the night taken by Lauren Clark.
|Aaron Araki & Guests (Joe Goldmark on the left, Sean Murphy on the right)|
|Joe Goldmark of Aaron Araki & Guests|
|Pretty Poisonous Predators|
|The Chocolate Cake Incident|
|Bears & My Body|
|The Mingy Stingees|
...and an encore performance with Nicki Jizz.
Join Love City and Amoeba Music on March 5th at 715 Harrison for an art and music showcase like you've never seen before. It's the Love City PsycheCircus featuring six mind-blowing bands, live painting, and (wait for it)...$2 draft beer all night!
Leading the charge in the musical merriment that night is psychedelic Western cinematic rock ‘n rollers SPINDRIFT and everyone's favorite drive-thru metal band, Mac Sabbath! You gotta see these guys to believe em. Also featuring garage rockers Coo Coo Birds, Renaissance man Bill Baird, soulful power pop with Joshua Cook & The Key of Now, and heavy psych with OUTLAW.
Plus, feast your eyes and soul on the live painting by Zachary Sweet and Justin Herbst.
Tickets are available now at www.lovecitysf.com.
|Mac Sabbath. Photo by Alex Loftus.|
Amoeba Music and CIIS Public Programs & Performances present Spanish-born, Miami-based singer Buika on Saturday, February 28th at the Nourse Theater in San Francisco.
Since her introduction to the American music scene in 2007 with her album Mi Niña Lola (My Little Girl Lola), Buika has experienced a meteoric rise, earning lavish praise from The New York Times, The Miami Herald, and The Wall Street Journal, as well as NPR, which quickly included her in their "50 Great Voices" radio gallery. Despite just a few concert appearances, she earned two Latin Grammy nominations in 2008. Her next release, Niña de Fuego (Fire Child) paved the way for relocation to Miami in 2011 (she lovingly calls the US "the country of happiness and noise").
Before her career took off in the US, she had already achieved success in Europe, performing on screen in the Pedro Almodóvar film The Skin I Live In and dueting with pop singer Seal. Music from those projects and more were collected in 2011 on the essential 2-CD set En Mi Piel (In My Skin) to satisfy a growing demand for her music in her new country. Rare is the artist to garner comparisons to Nina Simone, Chavela Vargas, and Cesaria Evora, but Buika has been compared to all of them. She has clearly inherited their steely independence and uncompromising creative vision.