Sex Dwarf (song)

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This article is about song; for single see: Sex Dwarf (single); for other uses see: Disambiguation:Sex Dwarf
Sex Dwarf
Track by Soft Cell
Cover - Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret.png
Year 1981
Written Marc Almond
Composed David Ball
Produced Mike Thorne
Genre synth pop
Album Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret
Also in Non Stop Ecstatic Dancing
Sex Dwarf
“Sex Dwarf” is a song by Soft Cell, from their debut 1981 album Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret.

Origin[edit | edit source]

The song was inspired by a headline in British tabloid newspaper News of the World, which was spotted by Marc Almond: “Sex dwarf lures a hundred disco dollies to a life of vice.”[1][2][3][4] It instantly gave duo an idea for a ‘bizarre pervy dance track’,[1] with a song to ‘make a comment on the bizarreness of tabloid exploitation’ [5] and poke fun at people obsessed with rumors and their distorted perception.[?]

Record and release[edit | edit source]

Like most of the tracks on Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret, “Sex Dwarf” was recorded in Mediasound studio, New York, in 1981, and produced by Mike Thorne. Vicious Pink Phenomena provided additional vocals and sounds. According to Dave Ball, the work on album was coming to an end and it was an opportunity for everyone to have fun while recording the song.[1]

The album with the song was released in late 1981. Years later, it received a self titled single release for Record Store Day 2016.

Other versions[edit | edit source]

Non Stop Ecstatic Dancing[edit | edit source]

“Sex Dwarf” was one of the songs to be re-recorded for Soft Cell's first ‘dance remix’ release, Non Stop Ecstatic Dancing mini album. Almond recorded new, more sinister and raw vocals, with shortened lyrics, while the music got more aggressive, borderline industrial percussion and sounds and harsher synth and bass lines. Vocal parts by Vicious Pink Phenomena undergo various distortions. It later also appeared on 2016 Sex Dwarf single.

Remixes[edit | edit source]

Beside of Non Stop Ecstatic Dancing version, the most recognized remix was made by The Grid for Heat: The Remixes compilation in 2008. It incorporates elements of both ‘Original’ and ‘Ecstatic’ versions. It later was included on the same Record Store Day single in 2016.

The remixer duo Razormaid released their mix of the song in 1989 on their Class-X – Volume Eleven album, which was available to purchase exclusively for registered members of their service.[6][7] This mix is essentially a fusion of two first versions without original elements, like in case of The Grid remix.[8]

Live versions[edit | edit source]

The earliest and officially released live version of “Sex Dwarf” would be from Soft Cell's performance on BBC TV music show The Old Grey Whistle Test, on 4 February 1982: it appears as video on At The BBC CD compilation, and later as both video and audio in Keychains And Snowstorms box set.

The next live recording is from band's 2000s reunion tour and was released on 2003 album Live. A video recording from the same time, during concert in Italy, was released on 2002 video album Live In Milan.

“Sex Dwarf” was performed by the band during their farewell 2018 show in O2, London, recording of which was released as both audio and video on Say Hello Wave Goodbye: The O2 London.

In 2021 Soft Cell started doing shows again with concert tours dedicated to 40th anniversary of Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret, performing the entire album live. Audio and video recordings of final London shows from the first tour in UK were released in 2023 on Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret... And Other Stories: Live releases.

Personnel[edit | edit source]

Original version:

  • Written-By (lyrics), vocals – Marc Almond
  • Written-By (music), instruments – David Ball
  • Additional vocals – Vicious Pink Phenomena
  • Production – Mike Thorne
  • Engineering – Don Wershba
  • Mixing – Harvey Goldberg

Lyrics[edit | edit source]

Written by Marc Almond

Original version

Isn't it nice?
Sugar and spice
Luring disco dollies to a life of vice
I can make a film and make you my star
You'll be a natural the way you are
I would like you on a long black leash
I will parade you down the high streets
You've got the attraction
You've got the pulling power
Walk my little doggie
Walk my little sex dwarf
We can make a scene
We'd be a team
Making the headlines sounds like a dream
When we hit the floor you just watch them move aside
We will take them for a ride of rides
They all love your miniature ways
You know what they say about small boys

Sex dwarf

I'm in a Rolls Royce, look, it's so huge!
It's big and it's gold
With my dumb chauffer
Looking to procure, run little doggie
Lure a disco dolly
Run my little sex dwarf, I feel so lonely
Get my little camera, take a pretty picture
Sex dwarf, in a gold Rolls, making it with the dumb chauffer

Isn't it nice?
Sugar and spice
Luring disco dollies to a life of vice
Sex dwarf
Isn't it nice?
Luring disco dollies to a life of vice

(Sex dwarf)

We can make an outfit for my little sex dwarf
To match the gold Rolls on my dumb chauffer
We'll all look so good, we'll knock 'em cold
Knocking 'em cold in black and gold
We can have playtime in my little playroom
Disco dollies, my sex dwarf and my dumb chauffer

I would like you on a long black leash
You can bring me all the things I need


Sex dwarf

(repeat the chorus)

Isn't it nice?
Sugar and spice
Luring disco dollies to a life of vice
I can make a film and make you my star
You'll be a natural the way you are
I would like you on a long black leash
I will parade you down the high streets
You've got the attraction
You've got the pulling power
Walk my little doggie
Walk my little sex dwarf
(You doggie-doggie)
We can be a team
We'll make a scene
Making the headlines sounds like a dream
When we hit the floor you just watch them move aside
We will take them for a ride of rides
They all love your miniature ways
You know what they say about small boys

Sex dwarf (x5)

(Look, it's so huge)

We'll all look so good, we'll knock 'em cold
Knocking 'em cold in black and gold

Isn't it nice?
Sugar and spice
Luring disco dollies to a life of vice
Sex dwarf
Isn't it nice?
Luring disco dollies to a life of vice

Sex dwarf (x5)

(repeat the chorus)

Isn't it nice?

Music video[edit | edit source]

Sex Dwarf
music video by Soft Cell
Video still - Sex Dwarf.png
Still frame from ‘clean’ version
of “Sex Dwarf” video
Released 1982 (second version)
Recorded St. John's Wood Studios, London
Directed Tim Pope
Part of Non-Stop Exotic Video Show

Original version[edit | edit source]

The music video for “Sex Dwarf” was filmed as part of Soft Cell's video album Non-Stop Exotic Video Show, which accompanied Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret and Non Stop Ecstatic Dancing releases, using the latter, ‘remix’ version of the song. It wasn't intended to be used as promotional music video like “Bedsitter” and “Say Hello, Wave Goodbye” previously, but to be shown in discos,[9] while the rest content of album was later broadcasted on US networks such as newly launched MTV.[?][10] Like most of the videos on the album it was filmed in St. John's Wood Studios, London, and, like all of them, directed by Tim Pope.[3][11]

The idea of the video was to push the absurdity of the song further visually, ‘to show how people wanted trash, sex and violence’,[9] as well as to ‘push the boundaries in a commercial pop world’,[5] given the experimental art background of both Almond and Ball.[1] The outcome is a BDSM play taking place in Texas Chainsaw Massacre inspired environment. Real sex workers from Soho, London, were hired for filming, including at least one transgender woman, named Kelly.[3][9][11] The titular dwarf, Tony Cooper, wasn't a professional actor either: he was a member of disco band Red Lipstique managed by Jock McDonald,[9][12] and was doing playback performances to “Sex Dwarf” in Soho clubs, which Marc Almond saw at some point.[3][13] After that McDonald contacted Almond through Some Bizzare and persuaded him to take Cooper to star in the video.[9][12]

The video starts in a dark, red lit scene with Kelly, naked, tied to a table. Almond is walking around the table and observing the girl. Meawhile Dave Ball in butcher attire is ‘playing’ on a chainsaw with violin bow and then revs it up. As the song's intro ends, the light is turned on revealing white room and an assortment of knives, hooks and meat (fake carcases and some real pieces)[14] hanging around the table, and a group of people in leather, drag and bondage gear enters the scene. As they start teasing each other, Ball cuts meat with cleaver knife on a wooden crate – out of which the dwarf in bondage gear and leather mask jumps out. He then gives away meat cuts to other participants. The event gradually turns into a simulation of orgy involving fake blood and maggots,[2] with Almond at this point wearing only a jockstrap, while maskless dwarf wields chainsaw and Ball continues to work with meat pieces. The video ends with Ball looking into the camera from behind of one of the carcasses.

According to Tim Pope, during the filming he turned music to extremely loud volume and threw live maggots at actors to receive genuine horror reaction from them. The realization, however, came at the very end, prompting most of them to run away from the studio.[11][15]

Controversy[edit | edit source]

The video caused a scandal not long after its filming in May 1982.[10] It was preceded by Soft Cell's appearance in the club Cinderella's in Hickstead, Sussex. According to Almond, the place wasn't suited for pop acts and Stevo put up projections of “Sex Dwarf” during the show. The imagery provoked a riot in the audience, making artists and their manager barricade themselves and escape.[2][9][15]

At the same time a tape with unfinished version of the video was obtained by Cooper and McDonald from video company. They took it to tabloid publishers, stating that the band exploited Cooper, with claims ranging from being payed only £40 for appearance to being drugged up and forced to participate in actual sadomasochistic activities.[5][9][13] Among those magazines was also News of the World, which initially inspired the song. Subsequently, bootleg copies of the tape started to appear and reputedly sold in Soho joints for £30.[3][13]

In the press and following public reaction the band was accused of obscenity and sexism, and the video was compared to video nasties.[?][9]

The existence of the video was soon acknowledged by Metropolitan Police's vice squad. This lead to raid of Some Bizzare office at the Trident Studios in Soho in June. After talking to Stevo the policmen left lacking prosecutions,[3][9][16] although there are claims of tapes being confiscated and given back later.[11]

In the end scandalous news have reached video retailers who raised an ultimatum: if producers won't remove offensive content they will not stock the video. The band had to comply to give Non-Stop Exotic Video Show a release after all.[3]

In a later interview Tony Cooper stated that he wasn't exploited and overall was positive about the making of the video, while disappointed by its ban.[12] Almond and Ball in following interviews also expressed their disappointment in censorship, stating that the video wasn't offensive and didn't outplay already available at the time media with its controversial content, but at the same time they didn't want to be associated with the clean pop stars image.[9][17][18] However Almond also stated he didn't like how the video turned out itself and thus he doesn't want to release it at this point.[9]

Final version[edit | edit source]

The controversy around original video is played trough several in-between sketches in Non-Stop Exotic Video Show and short ‘clean’ version filmed as a replacement. After “Tainted Love” video, in the Some Bizzare office, excited Almond shows and reads Record Mirror article about scandalous video,[9] followed by a commentary from Stevo. After “Memorabilia”, Almond and Ball enter a porn cinema joint in Soho. There its owner, played by Tim Pope, gives them keys and tells them that they are showing “Sex Dwarf” video − only to ruin Almond's initial exhilaration that it's ‘another version’, and then assuring him that they've got original as well.

In new version Almond and Ball appear in suits and glasses as school choir conductors[3] with dwarf assistant (this time an actor), by comically misplaced music stands with official Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret sheet music books. Almond is singing the beginning of ‘Ecstatic’ version, conducting imaginary choir and in an irritated manner turning pages of assistant's book. Meanwhile, Kelly, the bartender from the Golden Girl club sketch, is sitting still in front of them, and the cleaner lady from pre-“Tainted Love” sketch, portrayed by Jane from Some Bizzare, is lurking around.

The new video is followed by another sketch, before “What”: a still frame of original “Sex Dwarf” shows up for a very short moment, during Almond's talk in the beginning,[?] and when he comes to Ball, trying to remember title of the next song, the choir assistant dwarf shows up and attacks Almond, stating he was exploited.

Current status[edit | edit source]

According to director Tim Pope (interviewed in 2011 for an unreleased documentary)[19] the original “Sex Dwarf” video remains to be banned in UK.[15] At the same time its fragments were used in several documentaries about Soft Cell and Pope himself, shown on British television.[20]

The digital copy of original video was published by Pope on his official web site around 2007, accompanied by his side of the story of its making with aftermaths and several magazine clippings. There he also stated that original tapes were destroyed by rot and thus video now exists only on VHS bootlegs.[11] This video file ended up being copied and spread on the Internet by fans. Since then the video was removed from director's web site. Years later a fragment of it appeared in his demo reel,[21] and in 2023 the entire video was revealed publicly again, in better quality comparing to first upload.[22]

In 2018 Marc Almond had plans to include original video on Keychains And Snowstorms box set DVD, but retracted this idea, recalling how much trouble it caused to the band earlier and preferring to keep it ‘underground’, liking the idea of it being an urban myth which some people have seen, some not.[5][23] However, Dave Ball is aware about digital copy circulating online for years.[3]

Availability[edit | edit source]

“Sex Dwarf” appears on following records.

Official releases
Year Title Type Version
1981 Cover - Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret.png Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret Album Original
Cover - Sex Dwarf (promo).png Sex Dwarf Promo Original
1982 Cover - Non-Stop Exotic Video Show.png Non-Stop Exotic Video Show Video Music video
1996 Say Hello To Soft Cell Compilation Original
2002 The Very Best Of Soft Cell Compilation Original
Cover - Live In Milan.png Live In Milan Video Live video
2003 Cover - Live (album).png Live Album Live
Cover - At The BBC.png At The BBC Compilation Live video
2006 The Best Of Soft Cell Compilation Original
The Hits Compilation Original
2008 Cover - Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret (deluxe).png Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret 
(Deluxe Edition)
Album Original
Cover - Heat - The Remixes.png Heat: The Remixes Compilation Remix
2010 Cover - Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret + The Art Of Falling Apart.png Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret + The Art Of Falling Apart Album Original
2016 Cover - Sex Dwarf.png Sex Dwarf Single Original
Trials Of Eyeliner Box set Original
2018 Cover - Keychains And Snowstorms - The Singles.png Keychains And Snowstorms: The Singles Compilation Original
Cover - Keychains And Snowstorms (box set).png Keychains And Snowstorms Box set Live
Music video
Live video
2019 Cover - Say Hello Wave Goodbye - The O2 London.png Say Hello Wave Goodbye: The O2 London Album Live
Cover - Say Hello Wave Goodbye - The O2 London (video).png Say Hello Wave Goodbye: The O2 London Video Live video
2023 Cover - Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret And Other Stories Live.png Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret... And Other Stories: Live Album Live
Cover - Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret And Other Stories Live (video).png Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret... And Other Stories: Live Video Live video
Title Type Version
It's A Mug's Game Single Original
Ocean's 17 Album Live

All officially released versions are also available on streaming platforms.

Legacy[edit | edit source]

As noted by producer Mike Thorne, “Sex Dwarf” has become ‘one of the first pop songs to laugh with funny sexual areas rather than just at them.’[24]

There are numerous tributes to “Sex Dwarf” by various artists. Famous American artist Trent Reznor, known as big admirer of Soft Cell,[1] covered the song live with his industrial rock band Nine Inch Nail in late 1980s and attempted to make studio recording of it.[25][26][27] Berlin-based Swiss electro punk artist Bonaparte released cover of “Sex Dwarf” as bonus on vinyl edition of his 2012 album Sorry, We're Open.[28][29] Other notable examples include cult American gothic rock band Christian Death (fronted by Valor Kand),[30] German electronic dance band Scooter[31] and Canadian darkwave project Psyche (studio[32] and numerous live versions).[33] Swedish hardcore punk band Sex Dwarf obviously named themselves after the song, along with naming their debut 2014 album Non-Stop Erotic Noise Cabaret.[34]

The notoriety of original music video and the fact that it's still banned and not officially released to present days also plays role in song's recognisition, sparkling curiosity amongst duo's and general music fans. In retrospect Almond expressed that neither him or Ball were expecting scandalous reaction because of still having the art school mindset, and the following attention of journalists and authorities at the time was very troublesome.[5][23] Dave Ball admitted that they essentially made a soft-core porn video.[35]

Listen[edit | edit source]

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • A ‘special commemorative sex dwarf T-shirt’ was produced and sold exclusively by the Cellmates fan club in 1983, featuring color prints of photographs from making of original video and small bottom caption ‘Police raid on Soft Cell's offices’ on the front (most likely a reference to one of magazine headlines covering the scandal),[16] and chorus of the song on the back. The design is most likely inspired by “Cambridge Rapist” punk shirt by McLaren and Westwood from 1977.[36]

References[edit | edit source]

The list bellow can be scrolled
  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Keychains And Snowstorms: The Soft Cell Story (box set book)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Tainted Life (autobiography by Marc Almond)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 Electronic Boy (autobiography by Dave Ball)
  4. Soft Cell Tainted Love Live Interview (Soft Cell appearance on The Merv Griffin Show). 1982. (YouTube)
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Soft Cell’s Marc Almond reflects on 40 years on the fringe. Lindsey Parker. 19 February 2019. (  archived
  6. Class-X - Volume Eleven (CDr). (Discogs)
  7. Razormaid! Productions (Class-X - Volume Eleven on official Razormaid web site). (
  8. SOFT CELL - Sex Dwarf (Razormaid Mix) (YouTube)
  9. 9.00 9.01 9.02 9.03 9.04 9.05 9.06 9.07 9.08 9.09 9.10 9.11 Record Mirror #25 – News, page 6 (magazine archive by Michael Kane). 19 June 1982. (Flickr)
  10. 10.0 10.1 Evening Standard – One man's meat is... (magazine fragment on Tim Pope's web site; archived version of the page from 2012). 25 May 1982. (
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 : soft cell - sex dwarf (archived version of the page from 2007). Tim Pope. (
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Tit-Bits – Tiny Tony's Sex Shocker (fragment of magazine article on Tim Pope's web site; archived version of the page from 2008). Karen Hooper. 1982. (
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Number One #49 – The Soft Cell Scandals, page 29 (magazine archive by Michael Kane). 7 April 1984. (Flickr)
  14. [1]. 5 March 2019. (Twitter)  archived
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Soft Cell’s Infamous ‘Sex Dwarf’ Video (NSFW) | Dangerous Minds (archived version of the page from 2012). Marc Campbell. 28 March 2012. (
  16. 16.0 16.1 Evening Standard – Ad Lib – Police Raid on Soft Cell's offices (magazine fragment on Tim Pope's web site; archived version of the page from 2008). Peter Holt. 15 June 1982. (
  17. Zigzag #129 – Non-Stop Erotic Almond, page 22. Paul Barney. August 1982.
  18. Smash Hits – Soft Cell: That Was Then But This Is Now, page 6 (magazine archive by Brian McCloskey). Peter Martin. 5 January 1984. (Flickr)
  19. Chain Of Flowers: Tim Pope documentary (post about cancelled Tim Pope documentary on The Cure fan blog). 26 May 2011. (  archived
  20. Tim Pope TV documentary - Tim Pope director. (
  21. TIM POPE MIXED SHOWREEL - Tim Pope director. (  archived
  22. Soft Cell "SEX DWARF" - Tim Pope director. (  archived
  23. 23.0 23.1 theartsdesk Q&A: Soft Cell interview. Thomas H Green. 30 September 2018. (  archived
  24. The making of Non Stop Erotic Cabaret | The Stereo Society. Mike Thorne. March 2004. (  archived
  25. Sex Dwarf / Memorabilia | This Noise Inside My Head (Nine Inch Nails fan blog). 2 September 2013. (  archived
  26. The Sinister Sounds of Soft Cell: More Than One-Hit Wonders | by Oscar Hjelmstedt | The Culture Point | Medium. Oscar Hjelmstedt. 4 December 2016. (  archived
  27. Nine Inch Nails - Sex Dwarf (Nine Inch Nails fan wiki). (  archived
  28. Bonaparte – Sorry, We're Open (2012, Pink, Vinyl) - Discogs. (Discogs)
  29. Bonaparte cover of Soft Cell's 'Sex Dwarf' | WhoSampled. (
  30. Christian Death cover of Soft Cell's 'Sex Dwarf' | WhoSampled. (
  31. Scooter cover of Soft Cell's 'Sex Dwarf' | WhoSampled. (
  32. Psyche cover of Soft Cell's 'Sex Dwarf' | WhoSampled. (
  33. Psyche | Discography (releases with “Sex Dwarf”). (Discogs)
  34. Sex Dwarf - Non-Stop Erotic Noise Cabaret | Releases. (Discogs)
  35. Exclusive interview with Soft Cell sent via email to purchasers of Say Hello Wave Goodbye: The O2 London box set.
  36. Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren's fetish store | Dada Magazine | Kids of Dada. (  archived
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