Golden Age of Porn  

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A typical image from Perversion for Profit: a photograph taken from a lesbian pornography magazine and censored with colored rectangles

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
sexual revolution

The Golden Age of Porn or porno chic refers to a period in the history of pornography, approximately from the late-1960s to the early-to-mid-1980s. The period is idealized as a time in history where the difficulties in treating STDs had not achieved wide public notice. This freedom was ostensibly reflected in the pornography industry, with adult movies and adult magazines approaching the mainstream and becoming increasingly visible.


The era

pornographic film#1970s

The Golden Age was a period of interactions between pornography and the contemporaneous second wave of feminism. Radical and cultural feminists, along with the Christians, religious, and conservatives attacked pornography, while other feminists were pro-pornography, such as Camille Paglia, who defined what came to be known as sex-positive feminism in her work, Sexual Personae. Paglia and other sex-positive or pro-pornography feminists accepted porn as part of the sexual revolution with its libertarian sexual themes, such as exploring bisexuality and swinging, free from government interference.

The origins of the Golden Age are typically associated with the 1970 film Mona the Virgin Nymph, the first adult film to obtain a wide theatrical release in the USA. Following this came the massive success of the 1971 film Boys in the Sand, which represented a number of pornographic firsts. As the first generally available gay pornographic film, the film was the first to include on-screen credits for its cast and crew (albeit largely under pseudonyms), to parody the title of a mainstream film (in this case, The Boys in the Band), and to be reviewed by The New York Times. The apex of the era is perhaps the American hardcore feature film Deep Throat (1972). The prediction that frank depictions of onscreen sex would soon become commonplace did not eventuate. William Rotsler expressed this in 1973, "Erotic films are here to stay. Eventually they will simply merge into the mainstream of motion pictures and disappear as a labeled sub-division. Nothing can stop this." In Britain, however, Deep Throat was not approved in its uncut form until 2000 and not shown publicly until June 2005.

These films brought pornography into mainstream consciousness, whereby drive-in theatres would take out full page newspaper ads to promote the latest adult features. Porn films started being shown in mainstream movie theaters, and were accepted as suitable for general public consumption, or at least tolerated.

With releases such as The Opening of Misty Beethoven (1975) and The Image (1975), American director Radley Metzger is regarded as the auteur of the era. In France Emmanuelle (1974) was a huge box office success and the film Le Sexe qui parle is regarded as one of the most bizarre films of the golden age of porn.

Mainstream attention

For a period of two or three years it was fashionable to watch and discuss pornographic films. An influential five-page article about the film Deep Throat in the New York Times Magazine in early 1973 used the phrase "porno chic" in the title to describe the phenomenon. Actress Linda Lovelace once stated at that time that she believed that pornography would merge with the mainstream film industry.

Porno chic actors

Major pornographic film actors of the Golden Age included Linda Lovelace, Marilyn Chambers, Annie Sprinkle, Lisa De Leeuw, Jacqueline Lorains, Nina Hartley, Juliet Anderson (a.k.a. "Aunt Peg"), Seka, Desiree Cousteau, Harry Reems, John Leslie, Jack Wrangler, Ron Jeremy (a.k.a., "the Hedgehog") and John C. Holmes (a.k.a. "Johnny Wadd").

As their popularity rose, so did their control of their careers. John Holmes became the first recurring porn character in the "Johnny Wadd" film series directed by Bob Chinn. Lisa DeLeeuw was one of the first to sign an exclusive contract with a major adult production company, Vivid Video, and Marilyn Chambers worked in mainstream movies, being one of the first (and still rare) crossover porn actors.

The dominant pornographic film studios of the period were VCA Pictures and Caballero Home Video.

Films of the period

Some of the best-known pornographic films of the period include:


  • Weitzer, Ronald John (2000). Sex for Sale: Prostitution, Pornography, and the Sex Industry. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-92294-1.
  • Legs McNeil, Jennifer Osborne and Peter Pavia: The Other Hollywood: The Uncensored Oral History of the Porn Film Industry. Regan Books 2005. ISBN 0-06-009659-4

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Golden Age of Porn" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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