July 23, 2002 05:56pm
25 Years of Mainstream Porn
by: Company Press Release
(CHATSWORTH, CA) -- The adult entertainment business "stopped being a dirty little secret" when Frank Sinatra showed the movie "Deep Throat" to then Vice President Spiro Agnew, but it fully entered the mainstream consciousness twenty five years ago when the first adult features for home VCR machines were released, according to Adult Video News.
The initial video releases were made in 1977, according to AVN, the leading adult entertainment trade journal, which traces the history of the industry in a retrospective article in its August issue entitled "The 25 Events that Shaped the First 25 Years of Video Porn." But, five years before these releases, says AVN, "adult stopped being a dirty little secret and became part and parcel of the entertainment mainstream when Frank Sinatra unspooled "Deep Throat" (starring Linda Lovelace and Harry Reems) for then Vice President Spiro Agnew at Sinatra's residence. Johnny Carson joked about the film on 'the Tonight Show' in the early 70s, and reporters Woodward and Bernstein dubbed their informant 'Deep Throat.'"
Consumers still had to view adult movies at "The local Pussycat and peep booths" until widespread availability of VCR players allowed them to view porn in "The comfort and privacy of their own homes, and in the process, giving birth to what eventually blossomed into a multi-billion-dollar business," says AVN.
A controversy remains about which adult title was actually the first to be produced for the VCR. Leading contenders for the first porn video include "Behind the Green Door" starring Marilyn Chambers, the hard core title "Lesbian Orgy," possibly "Deep Throat" or another legendary porn movie, "The Devil in Miss Jones."
Other major events that have impacted adult entertainment include:
* The Miller Decision. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed in 1973 the right of adults to possess "obscene" material, a complex and controversial ruling that removed fear of prosecution for owning or renting porn.
* Traci Lords "She was blonde with full, pouty lips, a sexy siren with an insatiable appetite who made dozens of hardcore titles," says AVN. "There was only one problem: she was underage." the 1984 scandal had a "profound impact on the industry" and forced studios and producers to adopt a more stringent approach to checking the ages of performers.
* The Contract Girl. The new studio Vivid Video signed adult actress Ginger Lynn to an exclusive contract in 1984 that was modeled after the old Hollywood star system. Lynn was a huge success, the contract system is now the industry standard and Vivid is its largest company.
* Blockbuster's Decision in 1985 not to stock adult products led to a proliferation of competing independent video stores. "Ironically, while the independents flourished (some of them literally across the street from Blockbuster outlets), Dallas-based Blockbuster fell on some well-documented hard times, perhaps a result of its porn-aversive stance," reports AVN.
* The Meese Commission formed by President Reagan and named after Attorney General Edwin C. Meese III concluded in 1986 that the adult industry should be more tightly controlled through enforcement of existing laws and use of federal statutes.
* The Amateur Revolution of the 1980s, in which homemade porn started being produced using camcorders. This phenomenon began with swingers who traded tapes of their own sexual exploits and, according to AVN, is the forerunner of today's reality TV shows.
* The Internet gave consumers even easier access to enjoy pornography in "The comfort and privacy of their own digs." "Now the average raincoater doesn't have to make the trek to his local theatre, or even to the video store as was necessary in the past," AVN says. A few years later, porn became even more easily accessible through cable and satellite systems.
* The Clinton Administration. "The adult video industry saw a tremendous period of growth (during the Clinton years), making inroads into most sectors of American society, exploring new avenues of explicit content and more than doubling the number of production companies." Attorney General Janet Reno had other priorities and Bill Clinton had his own sex-related battles to fight.
* The Bush Administration. The ascendancy of George Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft sent a shiver through the adult industry, which feared more prosecutions. But they have not materialized so far, possibly because of more pressing issues like the war on terrorism and the economy. Meanwhile "all manner of other edgy material is being churned out with regularity as always."
Adult Video News is the leading independent authority in adult entertainment. The company publishes the monthly magazines AVN and AVN Online along with an industry newsletter, operates the leading adult industry trade shows Adult Entertainment Expo and Internext, provides content through the Websites AVN.com, AVNonline.com, AVNInsider.com and AVNLive.com, owns the fast-growing consumer expo Erotica LA and hosts the annual AVN Awards ceremony every January in Las Vegas. For more information visit AVN.com.
For interviews with AVN editors or more information:
Patti Rogers, 212-338-0050, PR@AVN.com