Blade Runner‘s influence on the cinema world is staggering. Echoes of its grim vision of the future, hard-boiled protagonist, and mouth-watering visuals can still be seen in modern science fiction. As deep as its influence runs, I never envisioned Blade Runner sparking the creative juices of the porn industry in the late 80s. It did.
CABARET SIN & EMPIRE OF THE SINS
aka: Droids (re-edited without hardcore scenes)
aka: X Trop
USA, 1987/1988, Philip O’Toole/Kirdy Stevens
LOS ANGELES 2020 AD! The future! (Shit! That’s only six years away!) Neon signs! Graffiti! Coco-Cola! Mannequins wearing sunglasses! Something important and electronic and futuristic – a decoder (apparently) – is stolen! From a cyborg dressed entirely in black! With a black helmet and flashing red bulbs for eyes! We will be seeing a lot of these black-clad cyborgs. We also be seeing the most liberal use of a fog machine in a pornographic movie ever.
Taylor (Greg Derek), a bad-ass cop from a team of cool guys known as “The Eliminators”. I think he says he’s a “pirate cop”, but I could be wrong. He’s on a mission to retrieve the stolen decoder. He drives a cool future car. Even though it’s never seen in motion, it’s a surprisingly good prop.
We follow Taylor into a super sleazy club: THE PLEASURE DOME! The fog machine is turned up full blast. The fog’s so thick it’s sometimes difficult to tell what’s going on. There’s sex androids lurking about. Cyborgs watch on. Just like Blade Runner, there’s an Asian motif to this world. A masked Mexican bouncer wears a Japanese flag as a neckerchief. A geisha (Kristara Barrington) dances on stage behind a giant robo-geisha head. There’s a tricloptic little person with a ventriloquist dummy. The future is fucked up.
The Asian motif is thrown aside. An Egyptian dancer comes out. We get a really, really long dance sequence. The editor goes mad. We get flashes of a guy playing a saxophone. I don’t know where he’s supposed to be. There’s cutaways to signs that say things like “Creative Treats” and “Pleasure”. The little person’s dummy screams, “LIKE THAT! LIKE THAT! YEAH!” The footage repeats over and over. Tom Byron joins the stage and fucks the Egyptian dancer on a futuristic blow up mattress. The crowd fucking loves it! Taylor doesn’t.
A cyborg talks to a dancer backstage. (I couldn’t understand a word they said.) A brief stolen music cue from A Clockwork Orange, then they fuck. The android takes off his helmet. His make up seems to suggest he is a re-animated corpse. He cums on her hairy crotch and makes a funny cyborg-orgasm face. I laughed.
The film wildly cuts between a series of befuddling scenes. There’s a guy with a turban called Turk (Herschel Savage), who is apparently a “scum droid”. I’m not sure what that means, but Turk wants Taylor dead! (“Watch him, then waste him!”) There’s more insane cabaret routines. Keisha and Candie Evans lez out to a thumping electronic score. Taylor asks Candie Evans where the decoder is. She doesn’t answer. They have sex.
Back to the bar. Taylor sees his ex-wife Nicola (Krista Lane) conducting some sort of business deal with Turk. Before we work out what’s going on, we cut to a musical number. Two guys blow on trumpets. A lady plays a trombone (Bunny Bleu). The audience’s cheers are edited to the beat. The trombone lady starts giving everyone blowjobs. One of the trumpeteers throws his trumpet into the audience and an audience member picks it up and plays it perfectly. Lucky!
Nicola and Taylor ignore the horn section fuckery and share a mutual fantasy where they’re dancing, crying, and fucking in an especially foggy room under a disco ball. I liked this scene a lot.
Romance is pushed aside. Taylor confronts Turk about his missing decoder. A fight ensues. A cyborg shoots Taylor, but he manages to get the upper hand. He knocks off the cyborg’s helmet. AND HOLY FUCK! It’s Nicola! She stole the decoder! Taylor says: “Fuck the system!” They embrace. They live happily ever after, right? No! That’s only the end of Cabaret Sin!
Empire of the Sins opens with Star Wars inspired scrolling text. You can tell it’s not Star Wars because Star Wars never used multiple exclamation points. At the Pleasure Dome: a woman dressed like a Nazi (Lorrie Lovett) screams about how shit sexual oppression is in a not-very-sexy stage routine.
Wailing synth-kazoos imitate the Blade Runner soundtrack. Taylor and Nicola fuck in his depressing future-apartment while Japanese television programs play in the background (it’s the future). Taylor asks his smug robot, Rochester, to bring him a drink. Rochester, speaking like a less endearing C-3PO, refuses. The drink has too many “calatrons”, he says. “Why can’t you speak regular Englandese like other robots?” asks Taylor. Rochester can speak “Eurasian” and “jive”. This is an embarrassing scene for everyone involved.
Cyborgs invade this domestic scene. Nicola escapes. Taylor is grilled by cops. He’s injected with truth serum. There’s a hallucination sequence. Taylor then has sex with a big boobed prisoner. For some reason, the cops let Taylor go. The film descends into total chaos.
Taylor wanders around, confused and drugged. He goes back to the Pleasure Dome. We see a series of seemingly unrelated scenes. Two cyborgs (Randy West and, appearing for a second time, Tom Byron) take off their helmets and fuck a lady. I wish they’d have kept the helmets on. It would have made the scene more surreal. But then we would’ve missed Tom Byron’s horrible fuck faces.
Weird robot sounds are dubbed over Randy West’s orgasm face. Candie Evans is now in prison and has sex with the Nazi lady. Randy West shows up again, possibly playing the same character. He sells some drugs to the club’s geisha dancer in a repulsive toilet with a sign that reads “Gents ‘n’ Transoids”. I’m really confused but that made me laugh.
There’s a few more unrelated and unremarkable sex scenes. We occasionally cut back to Taylor tripping balls at the bar. This goes on for ages. Nicola shows up. Some cyborgs show up to arrest her, but Rochester, Taylor’s obnoxious robot, saves the day. Rochester says, “Taylor, I love you.” He dies. But then he comes back to life.
Despite the graphic fucking, I sometimes had to remind myself I was watching a hardcore porn film. Other times I had to remind myself I was watching a film. Cabaret Sin and its sequel’s refusal to adhere to comprehensible storytelling creates an intoxicating, almost ethereal effect. It’s like catching a secret glimpse of some otherworldly anti-world where nothing makes sense.
Both films do a rather fantastic job in creating a cinematic universe with a low budget. While they lack the mind-melting visuals of Blade Runner, there is a fantastic grit to the Pleasure Dome and its surroundings. I feel that a lot of love must have gone into the creation of Cabaret Sin and Empire of the Sins. If edited into a single film (but without cutting out the hardcore scenes ala Droids), this could have been a wonderfully confusing and sleazy masterpiece.
Reaping its narrative and aesthetics from not only Blade Runner but Star Wars, the Mad Max films, Cabaret, and the Naziploitation genre, Cabaret Sin and Empire of the Sins manage to drift away from its source material and become something unique. Moody, atmospheric, and silly as fuck, this duo of sci-fi fuck films is worth a look.
Cabaret Sin is available on DVD in France under the title X Trop. I don’t think it includes Empire of the Sins. I know nothing about this particular release. You might be better off hunting down the VHS releases. I doubt the video quality will be any worse.