**Content Warnings: drug use, rape
Dir. Slava Tsukerman, 1982
Hedonistic aliens have landed, and their UFO appears to be filled with psychedelic amniotic fluid. They came to earth in search of heroin, though they’ll end up addicted to human orgasms. The queer ravers they set their sights on were so offbeat that I wasn’t sure, at first, if some were actually aliens in disguise.
Taking a tongue-in-cheek jab at high fashion’s obsession with waifish beauties, Liquid Sky actress Anne Carlisle played two androgynous, bleach-blonde models (Margaret and Jimmy), whose first onscreen appearances showed them ducking out of a stylish club for a quickie.
Aliens watched expectantly as Margaret danced for Jimmy, jerking her limbs as if to channel a force beyond her body. The models’ attraction was ill-fated (Jimmy ransacked the bedroom, trying to steal her roommate’s drugs), and the two ended their tryst before much happened between them — minus their becoming nemeses. The camera then cut to a syncopated club performance that was honestly… a bop.
Adrian (Paula E. Sheppard), Margaret’s hard-ass, performance-artist roommate, raised her left arm dramatically as ‘Me & My Rhythm Box’ (a song that samples her heartbeat), thrummed the club scene. While new wave partiers bobbed their heads to the performance, Margaret and Jimmy returned backstage to prep for their modeling gig. After the models posed in angular couture and face-paint, a cutaway scene revealed ‘liquid sky’ as a slang term for heroin — referencing its euphoric effects. With this definition, the film’s plot kicked into higher gear.
“Doesn’t that mean that, um, orgasms are dangerous?” — Sylvia (Susan Doukas)
Margaret went home with another petulant man after her fashion show, and she soon found that her sex led to literalized petite morts. The first mid-coital death seemed like a coincidence, but the second death, aimed at her rapist, established a pattern. Margaret started thinking her sex was cursed — unaware that a life-form above her head was pulling the strings. Still, she learned to use orgasms as protection. She warned a crowd that her genitalia had teeth, and became a calculating black widow.
Liquid Sky is a self-aware film that preserved New York City’s underground, post-punk era — a time and place formed by artists who refused normativity en masse. It kind of reminds me of Space Is The Place (dir. John Coney, 1974) — a film starring Sun Ra that preserved some of the rebel spirit of psychedelic funk. I recommend watching these films at night.