History of Porn part 2

The History of Porn part 2

0porndalex In the mid 1960s the first full color, high quality, pictures of explicit sex emerged out of Scandinavia. A colorful car salesman by the name of Berth Milton began publishing the infamous Private Magazine in 1965; it was the first periodical in the world to legally show sexual penetration. It at first began tamely, the first vagina did not appear until issue four, and the first man did not even appear until issue nine. Then the cum shot, heard round the world, came with issue 14 in the summer of 1968. By that time, the Danish capital of Ko had achieved international acknowledgment as the center of the world’s porn industry. Also in 1965, thirty-four-year old Robert Guccione, a Brooklyn-born artist and actor living in London, defied British censors to found Penthouse magazine. Four years later, after a great deal of difficulty in finding financial support and a distributor, Guccione launched the U.S. edition of the magazine as a rival to Playboy, which was already taking on the attitude of respectability. For years, “nudist” magazines like Jaybird had been going far further than Bob Guccione had dared to, while the homoerotic “physique” magazine publishers such like MANual Enterprises had already been winning court cases since the 1950s. The real outlaws, hippies and the homosexuals paved the way for the smut peddlers to take over. With the market, already saturated with girlie magazines, Guccione believed he had an ace up his sleeve: In April of 1970, Penthouse became the first American “men’s magazine” to show pubic hair.

It was the high quality Scandinavian stag films formed the transition to the full-blown adult feature. The acceptability of sex in art house films slowly increased throughout the 1960s, until the Motion Picture Association of America’s rating system was introduced replacing the old Hayes Code from the 1930s The Swedish film I Am Curious (Yellow), was seized by U.S. Customs in 1968, but was released in theaters the following year with the new X rating. The new ratings system legitimized the distribution of films that otherwise would not have been shown, and if anything, the X rating helped the movie’s box office receipts. I Am Curious grossed over $20 million in the United States, a huge take for a foreign film featuring endless discussion of Swedish politics interspersed with some simulated intercourse. The stag film and the art-house film intersected in Deep Throat, a full-length movie, shot on expensive thirty-five millimeter film, it had not only a plot and characters, but explicit sex as well. Deep Throat was shot in just six days on a budget of around $25,000. Though not the first such production, it was by far the most profitable. Deep Throat was one of the most profitable films of the 1970s, grossing $3.2 million by the end of 1972. It seemed for a while, that the success of Deep Throat and “porno chic” would create new possibilities for mainstream movies. In 1972, the New York Film Festival premiered Bernardo Bertolucci’s X-rated Last Tango in Paris, starring Marlon Brando and the openly bisexual, barely twenty-year-old Maria Schneider. However, the revolution never actually arrived; producing a film in the vein of Last Tango was not a risk that American filmmakers were willing to take.

While the ratings system had made owners more comfortable, it had no legal standing so far as the obscenity laws were concerned. In 1967, Denmark became the first Western country to rescind all laws against pornography. The decision made news around the world, especially when government statistics showed a decrease in sex crimes the year after the abolition. Alex deRenzy and a partner traveled to Copenhagen to film Denmark’s first sex fair and in 1969 they released the first feature film showing sexual intercourse called Censorship in Denmark. Made for $15,000, the documentary grossed $25,000 the first week on its way to an eventual box office of over $2 million. Documentaries first broke through the hardcore feature barrier in 1969 in San Francisco with Censorship in Denmark. Sexual Freedom in Denmark from LA’s John Lamb followed in 1970. In New York that same year, Gerard Damiano made SEX U.S.A. starring Linda Lovelace and Harry Reems. While Donn Greer’s film 101 Acts of Love gives the education approach. Alex deRenzy gathered classic stags into A History of the Blue Movie followed by Bill Osco’s inferior Hollywood Blue. The first advertised porn feature in the major New York newspapers was Mike Henderson’s Electro Sex ’75 released on Labor Day weekend 1970. Freddy Hanson made Animal Lover in Denmark with a farm girl Bodille having sex with a dog, pig and horse.

New York’s (then) Mayor John Lindsay decided in late 1972, that it was time to once again clean up Times Square. Through academic endorsement, the porn film produced with $25,000 of Mafia money became high art. UCLA film professor and Saturday Review film critic Arthur Knight testified for the defense.“This is one of the first sexploitation films to show that a woman’s sexual gratification is as important as a man’s.” sex researcher John Money said that “It puts an eggbeater in people’s brains and enables them to think afresh about their attitudes and values”. The court apparently agreed Judge Joel J. Tyler remarked: “It’s worthwhile to me, if nothing else happens, to have gotten this education”, after one witness had to explain to him exactly what the “missionary position” was. Prosecution witnesses included a retired psychologist Max Levin who said that the film’s “anatomical absurdity,” distorted “the true nature of female sexuality,” because  “vaginal orgasm is superior to the clitoral.” Worse than pointing out his adherence to outdated Freudian doctrine, Newsweek strongly implied that Dr. Levin, symbol of the, was senile. Dr. Levin, who was seventy-one and partially deaf, was excused from further testimony after it turned out that he had confused Deep Throat with some of the other short films that were shown with it. Another witness for the prosecution, named Ernest van den Haag a psychoanalyst, compared porn makers to Nazis, arguing that pornography caused progressive desensitization, “until one would be willing to put another person in a concentration camp or exploit his teeth and hair.”

Judge Tyler sided with old school of morality, and declared on March 1, 1973 that Deep Throat was “the nadir of decadence” and fining the Mature World Theater $3 million. Though it was a hollow victory for censorship, the Hollywood establishment was afraid of the heat, Deep Throat’s box-office success had created an entire new shadow industry. Behind the Green Door, starring Marilyn Chambers, whose likeness had once adorned Ivory Soap boxes, which was received ardently at the Cannes Film Festival and went on to become the second highest-grossing pornographic movie of all time. Deep Throat director Gerard Damiano, meanwhile, achieved another success with The Devil in Mrs. Jones. Countless other films followed, beginning a “golden age of porn” that lasted until the 1980s, when the growing affordability of video-cassette players heralded the death of movies shot on film for theaters, and the rise of cheaply-produced videos.

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