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American erotica

Related: academic study of pornography - Al Goldstein - Dian Hanson - American censorship - American exploitation - Deep Throat - erotica - Jay A. Gertzman - Earl Kemp - Richard Kern - Irving Klaw - Eric Kroll - Russ Meyer - Bettie Page - Playboy - porno chic - Alex de Renzy - Ralph Ginzburg - Mark Rotenberg - Samuel Roth - Joe Sarno - Eric Stanton - USA - John Willie

Publishers: Grove Press

Films: Mona (1970) - Behind the Green Door (1972) - Deep Throat (1972) - The Devil in Miss Jones (1973) - Score (1973) The Opening of Misty Beethoven (1976) -

Marilyn Monroe, first issue of Playboy magazine, 1953

North American pornographic film

In the United States, distribution of pornography changed radically after the 1980s, with videotape and cable television largely displacing X-rated theaters. Video distribution in turn is in the process of being replaced by DVD (and Internet distribution for niche markets). Distribution of pornography is a large industry that involves major entertainment companies such as Time Warner (which profits from pornography through its cable channels, and in-room movies provided by hotel chains).(see Pornography in the United States)

Porn industry in Canada is mainly situated in Montréal, Québec, the third largest porn producing city in the world after Los Angeles and Amsterdam. Canada has previously seen a major court case where writings about child porn were deemed to not be illegal. Certain communities such as Medicine Hat have seen divisive battles where restrictions have been placed on the sale of pornography. In Medicine Hat, Jim Ogston led an unsuccessful battle against the new restrictions for businesses to have the right to sell pornography.

Pornography generates billions of dollars in sales in the United States alone, and economists have suggested that it has now gotten to the point where the outlawing of the industry, which has been tried on many occasions, could have a major negative economic impact upon the country, and a prohibition-style legislated ban might spark a rise in organized crime. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pornography_by_country#North_America [Mar 2005]

Male frontal nudity in mainstream American cinema

The instances of actors in mainstream American movies swinging in the breeze are so rare that movie buffs can catalog them off the top of their heads. Harvey Keitel has let it all hang out at least twice (The Piano and Bad Lieutenant) and Ewan McGregor at least four times, including the upcoming Young Adam. Bruce Willis in 1994’s Color of Night, Kevin Bacon in 1998’s Wild Things and Geoffrey Rush in 2000’s Quills are among the few others. --http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4235583/ [Oct 2004]

Presidential Commission on Obscenity and Pornography (1968 - 1970) [...]

In 1968, Fr. Hill (who also served as president of MIM until his death in 1985) was appointed by President Johnson to serve on the Presidential Commission on Obscenity and Pornography. In 1970, the Commission issued a report which recommended that all "adult" obscenity laws be repealed. Fr. Hill and another Commission member, Dr. Winfrey Link, co-authored a minority report that described the Commission's report as a "Magna Carta for the pornographers." In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court cited the Hill-Link minority report in upholding obscenity laws. --http://www.obscenitycrimes.org/aboutmim.cfm [Aug 2004]

Perversion for Profit (1965)

Perversion for Profit (1965)

"Through this material, today's youth can be stimulated to sexual activity for which he has no legitimate outlet. He is even enticed to enter the world of homosexuals, lesbians, sadists, masochists and other sex deviants."

Perversion for Profit is a 1965 propaganda film financed by Charles Keating and narrated by George Putnam. A vehement diatribe against pornography, the film attempts to link explicit portrayals of human sexuality to a Communist conspiracy and the subversion of American civilization. The film is in the public domain, and it has become a popular download from the Prelinger Archives. Perversion for Profit illustrates its claims with still images taken from various softcore pornography magazines of the period, though with some portions of human anatomy obscured by colored rectangles. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perversion for Profit [Jan 2006]

"Now, you might ask yourself, why this sudden concern? Pornography and sex deviation have always been with mankind. This is true. But now, consider another fact. Never in the history of the world have the merchants of obscenity, the teachers of unnatural sex acts, had available to them the modern facilities for disseminating this filth. High-speed presses, rapid transportation, mass distribution. All have combined to put the vilest obscenity within reach of every man, woman and child in the country." —George Putnam, narrator

"This same type of rot and decay caused sixteen of the nineteen major civilizations to vanish from the earth. Magnificent Egypt, classical Greece, imperial Rome, all crumbled away. Not because of the strength of the aggressor, but because of moral decay from within. But we are in a unique position to cure our own ills. Our Constitution was written by men who put their trust in God, and founded a government based in His laws. These laws are on our side. We have a constitutional guarantee of protection against obscenity. And in this day especially we must seek to deliver ourselves from this twisting, torturing evil. We must save our nation from decay, and deliver our children from the horrors of perversion. We must make our land, the land of the free, a safe home. Oh God, deliver us Americans from evil." —George Putnam, narrator (closing words)

http://ia200140.eu.archive.org/2/movies/Perversi1965/Perversi1965_edit.mp4 [Dec 2005]

See also: 1965 - American erotica - anti-pornography - film - propaganda - cautionary tale

Prewar and interwar American erotica

598 Seventh Ave., circa late 1960s. This was originally the Liberty Book Shop, later named Forsythe Books.
Photo courtesy Guy Gonzales, New York City.
Sourced here.

After cleaning up my American erotica and American exploitation pages, I stumbled upon this quote from http://beautyindarkness.blog.ca/, on which Jay Gertzman himself comments with a link to American Fetish - a forthcoming book by Robert V. Bienvenu II, Ph.D.

There was a certain odd gap in my research. I had plenty of material on the Victorian era: Munby and Cullwick, Sacher-Masoch, Krafft-Ebing and My Secret Life, just to name a few things. After WWII there's Willie, Stanton and Bilbrew, the biker/leatherman culture, L'Histoire de O, the Profumo scandal and so on.

But what happened in kink in the Interwar period? There's the Weimar Republic of Germany, as documented by Mel Gordon's [correction mine] Voluptuous Panic. I also want to work in William Charles Moulton and his creation, Wonder Woman. And what else?

Furthermore, what happened in America all those years before the 40s? Why was the US apparently so vanilla compared to Europe?

Jay A. Gertzman's Bookleggers and Smuthounds: The trade in erotica, 1920-1940 (University of Pennsylvania, 2002) helps a lot. It covers a strange era in US history when Americans grappled with the issue of what is permissible in print, which Europeans had dealt with generations before. The main axis of conflict is between immigrant pornographer and "pariah capitalist" Samuel Roth, and John Saxon Sumner, the more polite and reflective successor to the great American censor, Anthony Comstock.

Gertzman's divides the erotic book trade into five categories: gallantiana, sex pulps (set in the here and now), erotology and sexology, "bibles" and "readers" (cheap paperbacks), and classical and modern books "judged to be rankly indecent." (Pg. 61)

Gallantiana, a term coined by Gershon Legman, is "those marginal elements of unexpurgated literature such as jest-books and balladry, works on (and against) women and love, facetious treatises in prose and in verse, and the hinterland of scatologica." (Pg.62) This included Beardsley's Under the Hill, Venus in Furs and other works that had, or tried to have, a certain upper-class grace. --http://beautyindarkness.blog.ca/2006/08/09/bookleggers_and_smuthounds~1025167

1601 (1880) - Mark Twain

1601 (1880) - Mark Twain [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

See entry under Mark Twain


Welcome to Alta-Glamour, the portal to Ivan Stormgart's vast collection. This unique database condenses over 30 years of collecting and dealing in erotica, sexology, and men's magazines. Formats include books, magazines, ephemera, artifacts, and art. Check our unique collection of original artwork from 60's and 70's PARLIAMENT men's magazines. --http://www.alta-glamour.com [Jan 2005]

One of the few booksellers specializing in erotica and sexology, Ivan Stormgart has his business in Seattle, Washington. A good friend, for whom I have spent many pleasant hours compiling catalogues, he is also the sole distributor of the Scissors & Paste bibliographies of the New York Olympia Press and Jules and Jean Gay. --Patrick J. Kearney via http://www.sonic.net/~patk/Links.html [Jan 2005]

Naked Came the Stranger (1969) by Penelope Ashe

NY: Lyle Stuart (1969). First edition.
Image sourced here.

Naked Came the Stranger (1969) by Penelope Ashe [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Book Description
In 1969, a group of reporters at Long Island Newsday decided to have some fun. They were appalled at the poor writing in the then-current bestsellers by Jacqueline Susann, Irving Wallace and Harold Robbins. They decided to have a contest to see who could write on an even lower level of tawdriness. Editor Mike McGrady directed the spinning of the plot. Then, twenty-four seasoned newsmen and newswomen each wrote one chapter. Fifteen chapters were selected, the plot smoothed out, and a great American hoax was on its way to being born. McGrady's sister-in-law assumed the nom-de-plume Penelope Ashe. The book was presented to a publisher as being written by a "demure Long Island housewife who thought she could write as well as J. Susann."

Unbeknownst to the "author," the publisher was in on the secret. The book actually hit the New York Times bestseller list even before the hoax was uncovered by the Times. The hoax became an international story and the book became an international bestseller. Naked Came the Stranger became a huge mass-market hit and was made into a film which premiered at the same theatre that had introduced the world to Deep Throat. Not since Naked Came the Stranger has publishing experienced any hoax that came near to getting the sensational response and worldwide attention engendered by this one. And, to the surprise of all, the book is a delightfully entertaining read.

About the Author
Penelope Ashe is a pseudonym for a cooperative effort that included twenty-four different authors. There are 19 surviving authors many of whom have since left Long Island and live across the country. Thirty-four years later many of the authors are still active journalists working for newspapers such as the New York Times and Newsday.

Radley Metzger
Radley Metzger turned Naked Came the Stranger into a movie. VCA produced it in 1975. It stars Darby Lloyd Rains, Mary Stuart, Christine Hutton, Helen Madigan, Levi Richards, Alan Marlow, Kevin Andre, Lina Lovemore, Ronda Fuller, David Savage, Steve Anthony, and Marc Stevens. Running time is 75 minutes. --http://www3.isrl.uiuc.edu/~unsworth/courses/bestsellers/search.cgi?title=Naked+Came+the+Stranger [Oct 2005]

Made between Pamela Mann and Misty Beethoven this Metzger hardcore film has an unusual origin as a famous literary hoax. 25 editors and journalists at the New York daily newspaper "Newsday" conspired to write the worst novel of all time, then see how far they could drive it up the bestseller lists. To ensure lack of quality, they wrote it by committee. The resulting novel "Naked Came the Stranger" (1969), was an incomprehensible hodgepodge about the sexual adventures of husband-and-wife radio talk show hosts. The authors sent out an attractive woman claiming to be the author to hustle their book on the talk show circuit. After the book became a top-10 bestseller, the conspirators admitted that they were the authors. Five years later, Metzger bought the rights to the book and made this very odd and sometimes funny film which included one of Darby Lloyd Rains' most memorable weird scenes, masturbating in a stairwell while listening with comical disbelief (through an apartment door) to the innane sexual baby-talk her husband's mistress gushes during sex. "William and Gillian have the most popular talk-show around, maybe because they talk about sex. But when William starts giving intimate sex advice in his spare time, his lovely wife decides to give him a dose of his own medicine." --http://www.cinebizarre.com/xdir_metzger.htm [Oct 2005]

The book was published by Lyle Stuart. Lyle Stuart is an American independent publisher of controversial books. He has published Jackie Oh! (1978), The Anarchist Cookbook and Naked Came the Stranger. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lyle_Stuart [Oct 2005]

Penelope Ashe, author of bestselling novel, Naked Came the Stranger is found to be several people who each took a turn writing a chapter of what they described as "junk" in order to prove that sex-filled trash sells. It did. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1969_in_literature [Oct 2005]

See also: hoax - 1969 - USA - erotic fiction - Radley Metzger

Tijuana Bibles : Art and Wit in America's Forbidden Funnies, 1930s-1950s (1997) - Bob Adelman, Art Spiegelman

Tijuana Bibles : Art and Wit in America's Forbidden Funnies, 1930s-1950s (1997) - Bob Adelman, Art Spiegelman [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

When Robert Crumb, S. Clay Wilson, Gilbert Shelton, and other Bay Area misfits first started producing "underground" comics in the '60s, they were considered to be highly innovative in their use of frank sexual themes. However, some 10 to 15 years before they commenced their explicit, often offensive cartoons, another genre of pornographic graphics was dying out, the so-called "Tijuana Bibles" (or sometimes "Cuban Bibles," "French Bibles," etc.). Simon & Schuster has released a collection of these antique obscenities that often featured famous political, show business, or cartoon figures having more fun than mainstream censors would have allowed. The introduction, by comic book apologist and New Yorker comics editor Art Spiegelman, is an amusing and sarcastic look at the history of this lost medium, with some interesting reflections on the genre, noting that "Though there are bound to be those who will loudly declaim that the Tijuana Bibles demean women, I think it important to note that they demean everyone ... it's what cartoons do best." While the reprinted comic strips are often amusing in being laughingly bad, the historical essays and asides by editor Bob Adelman provide fascinating historical context. A sociology of mid-century sexual mores and the love/hate relationship that Americans have with their celebrities is evinced by the combination of reprint and commentary.

Product Description:
Hidden in a corner among the great sacred texts of the world lies a series of exuberantly ribald underground comics known as the Tijuana Bibles. Iconoclastic, hilarious, and sexy, these anonymous little books, written from the 1930s through the 1950s, are revered among scholars and aficionados of American folk art, and devotees of comics as well as collectors of erotica. The primitive energy of their vigorous, often crude line, combined with their gonzo sensibilities, has given the Bibles a tremendous if largely unacknowledged influence on such talents as Art Spiegelman, Robert Crumb, and Lenny Bruce.

Comic strips in general were an American phenomenon, and at their zenith the Sunday funnies were as important as breakfast. But the anonymous creators of the Tijuana Bibles turned the saccharine tradition of the comics on its head, cheerfully savaging every sacred cow in the pasture in their pursuit of satire and sex. Political leaders, cartoon heroes, storybook legends, and American folk icons -- no one was safe from the glowering wit and smutty irreverence of these eight- and sixteen-page booklets, cranked out illicitly in basements and sold under counters across the country. From Donald Duck, Al Capone, and Greta Garbo to Lou Gehrig, Mahatama Gandhi, and the Fuller Brush Man, the pure and the impure were burlesqued with equal inspiration.

Aboveground for the first time, these subverive comic masterworks are presented here in all their brilliant and raunchy glory. Author Bob Adelman reviewed almost 1,000 of the Tijuana Bibles before selecting 100 of the most lively and important examples of the genre. The book opens with an introductory essay by Art Spiegelman, America's most famous comic artist and a man who proudly acknowledges the impact these rollicking and scandalous little booklets have had on his own work.

Paging through reproductions of the Bibles, the reader discovers that there is more to the Tijuana Bibles than good dirty fun. Indeed these tremendously entertaining comics also tell us fascinating things about American attitudes toward celebrity, about the hypocrisy of certain social and political values, and about the hypocrisy of certain social and political values, and about the ability of artists working outside the establishment of effectively tweak its sensibilities in a way few others can. For anyone who believes irreverence can be patriotic and sex can be just plain fun, Tijuana Bibles showcases American comic art at its untamed finest.

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