History of Porn part 3

The introduction of the VCR in the late 70’s caused a reversal in the adult movie world. The VCR allowed millions of consumers who would in noinside_seka4 way be caught dead in a porno theater to enjoy adult films in the privacy of their own homes. The adult video industry exploded. The inventions of new technologies have always been helped along by porn. The photograph, film, video and internet have seen porn emerge as one of their first – and most popular – subjects. In 1978, less than 1% of all American homes had VCRs, but over 75% of VHS tapes sold were porn. It has been said that Sony’s Beta-Max lost the format wars to VHS, because Sony had refused to allow the pornography industry to use their format. Today, there are over 10,000 new titles released a year; there are industry associations, trade fairs, and a multitude of publications and guides to the adult film world. Most notably Adult Video News which holds an annual Oscar style award show honoring performers each year. The boom in home video produced many of the industry’s top stars, such as Nina Hartley, Vanessa Del Rio, Ron Jeremy, and Seka. It also allowed for ordinary people to get in on the act with their home equipment, spawning the amateur porn market that would take flight seriously when the internet entered the picture.

Coinciding with the dawn of porn being introduced to family households across the world, a conservative backlash began. Stemming from anti-porn movement in the 1960’s and perpetuated by the feminist movement of the seventies, porn was under attack in the media just as its sales and availability increased. In 1978 Hustler Publisher Larry Flint was shot in an assignation attempt that left him paralyzed from the Waste down. Conservatives (who were mainly radical Christian Fundamentalist) and Feminist joined forces and by 1984 when Ronald Regan took office he immediately appointed a commission to be headed by his Attorney General to determine the effect of pornography on society. In 1986 the findings of the Meese Commission were released. The commission found that: “substantial exposure to sexually violent materials . . . bears a causal relationship to antisocial acts of sexual violence and, for some subgroups, possibly to unlawful acts of sexual violence.” However, the commission was politically, not scientifically, constituted. The Meese Commission was primarily composed of nonscientists who did no research of their own and commissioned none. It solicited testimony mainly from specific parties and organizations which it knew would be sympathetic to its goals, while ignoring testimony from those it suspected would be disagreeable. It was published in 1986 and contained 1,960 pages. The findings of the Meese Commission along with several severe controversies led to United States Code Section 2257 enacted in 1987, demanding certain obligations on producers of “graphical representations of actual, explicit sexual conduct”. It does so under penalty of criminal prosecution and the imposition of a criminal sentence. The Attorney General, established regulations for the enforcement of Section2257, has propagated a series of regulations found at 28 CFR Part 75, the validity of some portion of which has been rejected by the federal courts considering them. More recently, in 2004, the Attorney General published proposed, newly amended Regulations which change some of the existing duties and which squarely address the Internet for the first time.

The controversies began with the September, 1984 issue of Penthouse Magazine which contained a nude pictorial of the reigning Miss America Vanessa Williams, engaged in simulated interracial lesbian acts taken from a shoot conducted before she won the crown. This was all over page-one news in 1984, and the ensuing outcry compelled Miss Williams to turn the Tiara back in to the pageant. Also included in that issue, was emerging porn star Kristie Elizabeth Nussbaum, who went by the stage name Traci Lords. Lords had begun her career as a nude model in 1984 and that same year she starred in her first porno film “What Gets Me Hot”, which was released in 1985, she went on to star in 107 films over the next two years. In 1987 it was discovered that she her real name was not Kristie Nussbaum, but Nora Louise Kuzma, and she was in fact only 15 years old when she began her career. The public outcry over the scandal caused millions of her videos to be forcibly removed from stores and destroyed often publicly. The public backlash caused Congress to get involved; working off the founding’s of the Meese Commission they began passing laws that would try to restrict the porn industry.

Simultaneously in California the courts were trying the case of Harold Freeman. In California v. Freeman the state tried to prove that the producer and director of pornographic films were guilty of pandering under state laws. It was an attempt to shut down the industry which was rapidly growing in the state. Although he was initially convicted, he appealed his case all the way to the California Supreme Court. The Supreme Court eventually overturned his conviction and effectively legalized hardcore pornography in California.  Prior to the case porn had often been filmed in secret locations, due to the ruling though porn was taken out of the shadows and cemented itself in southern California creating the now infamous “Porn Valley” in the San Fernando Valley area where 90% of all U.S. pornography is either filmed or owned by companies  operating from there.

The federal anti-porn crusade proved short-lived. When Bill Clinton took office in 1993, he and his attorney general, Janet Reno, had little interest in devoting attention and resources to new obscenity prosecutions (which declined dramatically during the first few years of the Clinton administration). The video-rental industry continued to boom throughout the Meese Commission years. Movie Gallery, the first major rental chain to carry adult videos, launched in 1985, with only five stores in 1987, expanded to 37 stores in 1992, and had 73 stores two years later — all the while continuing to carry adult product. The government’s campaign had virtually no impact on the consumer, when mail-order companies were driven out of business, the video companies expanded their mail-order business, and new companies came in to replace the old mail-order companies. Prosecuting porn would become even more problematic when the adult industries, and the would-be porn warriors, were overtaken by another set of new technologies: pay-per-view, satellite television, and then the Internet. Like video, pay-per-view and satellite offered consumers a new way to watch a wide variety of adult films on demand. Unlike video, though, you didn’t have to leave your home at all. I personally watched channels like American XXXstacy and Spice on my grandmother’s enormous yard satellite throughout the late eighties and early nineties. Though they began scrambling the reception around 1993 and you needed to buy illegal decoders to find the ever shifting signals. Then in came the Internet, and as it got cheaper, faster, and easier to use it further expanded the variety of and ease of access to porn. Both technologies were cheaper, safer, and even more anonymous than renting or purchasing videos, continually shrinking the distance between producers and consumers of adult material.

Just as it had with video, the porn industry quickly realized the possibilities of the internet. Firms that had grown big and profitable off of the home video boom such as Vivid Video, VCA Pictures, and even Playboy could repackage and resell their product almost endlessly and distribute it cheaply, via several media nationwide: rental and mail-order video, home and hotel pay-per-view, websites, porn magazines, and satellite TV. During the mid-1990s, they had begun to form partnerships with big mainstream firms like AT&T, Marriott, and even General Motors (which owns DirecTV). By the end of the 1990s, film produced by Vivid could be rented in a video store, bought through the mail, watched on the AT&T-owned Hot Network, or ordered in a hotel room. The ease of consumption made porn more popular and more profitable than ever. Between 1992 and 1999, pay-per-view revenues went from $54 million to $367 million according to research by Showtime Event Television. During 1998, the adult content market earned an estimated $1 billion. By 2001, the total was up to $14 billion bigger, than football, baseball, and basketball combined. With the birth of the World Wide Web in the mid 90’s,   pornography had gained a potent new medium. Back then porn was distributed via the Usenet newsgroups and the BBS Bulletin Board System.

As of 2004 approximately 347,000,000 web pages of pornography were created, compared with 62,900,000 political web pages; with the pornographic pages still growing. One of the biggest cultural changes in the United States over the past 25 years has been the widespread acceptance of sexually explicit material – pornography. Jenna Jameson is a household name, and Sasha Grey graces the cover of mainstream magazines. Beginning with the video boom pornography began to become more diverse for the first time small start-up companies where able to widely distribute to specific fetishes.  This expanded exponentially once the internet entered the picture. Every imaginable fetish culture was given its day and rival companies exploded to exploit each nitch market. This had a profound effect on the industry which saw its more straight-heterosexual companies take a serious loss. It paved the way for an invasion of sorts by European companies (mainly Eastern-European) to not only invested heavily in American porn, but they began importing their starlets and ways. It began as simply “gonzo” has moved into the most debasing hardcore extremes from the Old Country.

Now in doing my research for this article I could find nothing on this, but as someone whom has spent countless hours over the last 20 years watching porn I can attest to the facts I have witnessed with my own eyes. I distinctly recall reading about it in AVN many years ago, and now it seems to be erased from the history books. Though the evidence is there, not just the women imported from Prague and Hungary that litter the online porn I see daily, but the men as well. Most notably Manuel Ferrara and any of his boys, their thick Slavic accents barking order over the almost sad moans of the women they triple penetrate.   It’s actually almost frightening that I can’t find any information on what happened. I first noticed it at the turn of the new millennium. We first began seeing American stars making movies in Budapest and Hungary, then almost overnight the Eastern-European men began popping up in the valley. Now it seems they have completely dominated the landscape.  Where as in the  AIDs scare has caused more mainstream porn to institute condoms and veer away from more hard core acts like double and triple penetration, double anal, and double vaginal, the boys from across the pond openly and gleefully practice them exclusively. This has opened the door for a plethora of films that involve slapping, spitting and treating women as less than objects. Their behavior borders on BDSM without the costumes and props. While there has been many who have objected to this new direction it appears to be here to stay. Much like the Japanese Bukkake that has also had a profound effect on American porn.

427_3d_porn_land2Now more than ever, modern porn no longer has any borders or boundaries. From the cave paintings of old to the early stag films and bondage comics, the internet has eradicated the lines between localized tastes. The Europeans predisposition to group orgies and gangbangs are far more common to the American teen with internet access than in my day when the pages of Private magazine where a shock to my system. The infinite money to be made online and the ability for anyone with a camera to broadcast their sex lives has led to average people to display every twisted notion that comes to their mine. 50 men cum slams is no longer a joke. We live in an age, of Web cams and there is no telling where the future will take us. A Chinese company recently announced the production of the first 3D porn, bringing us closer to virtual sex technologies touted in the mid nineties.  Porn is now a $14 billion dollar global industry. The demand for those of us who are (at heart) voyeurs, to watch strangers engage in sexual acts will never go away. In fact as porn stars mingle evermore with mainstream stars and a generation grows up with porn only a mouse click away we can safely say that porn’s history has just begun.

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