Two very different movements are now attacking the last sexual taboos in rock'n'roll. The more progressive movement is led by such gifted, androgynous artists as Prince, Culture Club's Boy George and the Pretenders' Chrissie Hynde. They challenge listeners' preconceptions with explicit eroticism based on blurred gender roles and mutual stimulation.
The more reactionary movement is led by gimmicky, stereotyped artists such as Rick James and the Plasmatics. They pander to sexual fantasies by exaggerating traditional gender roles. The newest stars in this reactionary movement are a Los Angeles trio called Berlin, whose debut seven-song album, "Pleasure Victim," is synth-pop soft porn.
Berlin is especially dangerous because leader John Crawford is so adept at crafting sleek synthesizer dance tracks. The liner notes credit Crawford with bass, synthesizers and vocals but credit female singer Terri Nunn with vocals and oral sex. Nunn plays the title role in "Pleasure Victim": She's a sexual toy who services anonymous men and accepts their abuse. It's disturbing when a man (Crawford) writes these lines for a woman (Nunn) to sing: "Kiss me, kick me, feel my blood. / Forever, for now, my heart screams for you." Berlin's first single, "Sex (I'm a . . .)," features a compelling synthesizer pulse and Nunn's self-demeaning litany: "I'm a teaser / I'm a virgin / I'm a one- night stand / I'm a drug / I'm your slave."
Boo. ON RECORD, ON STAGE THE ALBUM BERLIN -- Pleasure Victim (Geffen GHS 2036). THE SHOW BERLIN, with Popular Secret and Growing Up Different, Friday at 9 at the Wax Museum.