I. Historical Overview of the Industry

Part: 
Four
Chapter: 
8

The pornography industry has grown considerably over the last thirty years by continually changing and expanding to appeal to new markets.[1650] In the last several decades, the industry has gone from a low yield, covert business to a highly visible multi-billion dollar industry.[1651] Over five hundred fifty million dollars of this may be attributed to retail sales in the Los Angeles area alone. [1652] The remaining billions of dollars worth of materials are distributed throughout the United States and abroad. In the 1950s, "adults only" pornographic establishments[1653] were dark and dingy stores and theatres located in the less desirable parts of urban areas.[1654] The sexrelated materials of this period generally depicted scantily-clad women in seductive poses and were not readily available to the public.[1655] The most graphic publication of this era was the Tijuana Bible, a book with illustrations of various sexual acts.[1656]

Magazines were usually produced in black and white and were grainy in quality.[1657] The photographs depicted were mostly of provocatively posed nudes.[1658]  Generally, the model's pubic area was not shown in these photographs.[1659] As a result, nudist magazines were extremely popular.[1660]

The films available during this period were also of very poor technical quality.[1661] The film containers were also plain. Usually, the films did not have titles but were given numbers for identifying purposes.[1662] These films showed mostly females in "strip tease" [1663] activities.[1664]

The females depicted in the films were often partially exposed in the breast area and the males, for the most part, were fully dressed.[1665] The first of these films to be a major economic success was produced in 1959 for $24,000 and was about a man who was unable to see clothing on women.[1666] This film ultimately grossed $1,000,000.[1667]

While the above descriptions represent mainstream sexually oriented materials during the 1950's, some more explicit materials were also available. [1668] In some "adults only" pornographic outlets in major cities in the United States, sexually explicit materials depicting individuals with clearly visible pubic hairs could be purchased.[1669] Some "stag films,"[1670] mail order operations and underground connections, were the source for sexually explicit materials in which actual penetration was clearly visible.[1671]

In the 1950's the distribution of sexually oriented materials often took place on an informal basis through "trunk sales".[1672] During this time, Los Angeles had five "adults only" pornographic outlets, all of which were supplied in this way. [1673] The stores selling this material fronted as general newsstands and kept the sexually oriented materials in the back.[1674]

The early 1960's saw the emergence of sexually explicit materials into the public eye. Simulated sex acts with no exposed genitalia constituted the majority of sexually explicit materials and an exposed genital was an obscenity violation in almost any jurisdiction.[1675] Between 1960 and 1965, "adults only" pornographic outlets and theatre locations in Los Angeles alone increased from five to eighteen.[1676] These outlets were primarily located in the central and "Skid Row" sections of downtown.[1677] The "adults only" pornographic outlets were small and in some cases provided other publications in addition to the sexually explicit fare.[1678]

The "adults only" pornographic theatres also began to emerge in small vacated business locations.[1679] These premises were often rundown and conducive to lewd activity.[1680]

During the 1960s, magazine print quality improved.[1681] Magazines were generally fourcolor publications which continued to depict female nudes.[1682] Nudist magazines also remained popular.

The 1970 Commission on Obscenity and Pornography described the sexually explicit magazines of this period in detail.

"Adult" Magazines Until the Late 1960's. Court decisions overruling obscenity convictions of sexually oriented magazines have affected the market almost as profoundly as similar court decisions dealing with textual material. In 1958, the Supreme Court reversed an obscenity conviction involving two nudist magazines containing pictures clearly revealing the genitalia of men, women, and children. During the early 1960's, nudist magazines slowly broke down the practice of segregating the sexes in photographs which had been observed earlier. Publishers remained very restrained about the situations portrayed in the photos. Any scene implying sexual activity was scrupulously avoided, and body contact was allowed only in situations of a wholly non-sexual nature. Nudist magazines of the early 1960s contained numerous articles extolling nudism and portrayed nudists only at work and play.

By the mid-1960s, secondary publishers had become much bolder in pictorial nudity. Implied erotic activity became an integral part of pseudo-nudist magazines. The so-called "legitimate" nudist magazines, which attempted to reproduce candid shots of nudist camp activities, passed nearly into oblivion because they could not compete in the marketplace with magazines which copied the nudist format, but contained more erotic pictures and more attractive models. By 1967 or 1968, a whole new group of magazines featured nude females posed in a manner which emphasized their genitalia in complete detail (known in the industry as "spreader" or "split beaver" magazines). Most contained little, if any, text.

At the same time, male homosexual magazines developed along the same lines, also assisted by favorable Supreme Court decisions which overturned previous obscenity convictions. Homosexual magazines through the late 1960s consisted primarily of posed pictures of nude males. The genitals of the models, the focal points of the photographs, were flaccId. Photographs were usually of a single model, although group scenes were not unusual. There was little or no physical contact between models, and sexual activity was generally not even implied.

Relatively small quantities of fetish books and magazines were produced featuring uses of items such as rubber and leather wearing apparel, lingerie, high heeled boots, etc. Sadomasochistic depictions or descriptions of bondage, spanking, and "domination" by clubs, whips, etc. were also available in limited quantities. Sexual explicitness in these materials was usually far less than in typical "girlie" magazines. Although quite a number of titles were produced, these magazines were not a major factor in the marketplace.

Sexual Content of "Adult" Magazines 1969-1970. Through June, 1970, there have been few dramatic innovations in the sexual content of "adults only" magazines. Additional female models have been added to the photographs, and many magazines have integrated male and female models. This has led to considerable implied sexual activity in the photographs. Actual sexual activity, or arousal of the male models is seldom depicted.

Magazines aimed at male homosexuals have changed somewhat in the last year or two, and self-imposed restrictions on implied sexual activity are eroding slowly. Most homosexual magazines, however, are considerably less graphic than magazines featuring females.

Fetish magazines continue to be a rather insignificant part of the total production, and have changed relatively little from the mid1960s .[1683]

During the 1960's, the pocketbook emerged and replaced the Tijuana Bible.[1684]

While the pocketbooks were not illustrated, extremely graphic language was used in the text.[1685]

The 1970 Commission on Obscenity and Pornography described the sexually explicit paperback book of this period as follows:

"Sex Pulp" Books Until the Late 1960's. The sexual content of paperback books published for the "adults only" market has become progressively "stronger" in the past decade, primarily because of court decisions involving books such as Tropic of Cancer and Fanny Hill (See, Legal Panel Report [of the 1970 Commission]).

Until the mid-1960s, most paperback books published for the secondary market were knkown as "sex pulps". These followed a rather rigid set of ground rules: vulgar terms describing sexual acts, genitalia, excretion, etc., were not used, but rather euphemistic or symbolic language was substituted; the books consisted of a series of sexual adventures tied together by a minimal plot; sexual foreplay was described in great detail, but the mechanics of the sex act was not; and much of the sexual content was left to the imagination of the reader.

By the late 1960s, however, the "sex pulp" formula had become relatively passe. A new breed of sexually oriented secondary books came onto the market, in which all restraints upon both language and descriptions of sexual activity were eliminated. In many there was little more than a compilation of non-stop sexual activity.

Some paperback novels of the "sex pulp" type of the early 1960s are still published, probably because a portion of the market prefers less explicit material. However, the industry's criteria for "sex pulp" books has been broadened; this classification now includes any paperback which is badly written, edited, and typeset, and is apparently aimed at relatively poorly educated readers, irrespective of the degree of explicitness of its language or descriptions of sexual activity.

Wholly Textual Sex Oriented Paperback Books in the Secondary Market, 1969-1970. Virtually every English language book thought to be obscene when published, and many similar books translated into English, have been reissued by secondary publishers. The entire stockpile of "classic erotic literature" (e.g., The Kama Sutra, Frank Harris, De Sade, etc.) published over centuries has thus come onto the market. Another type of sexually oriented book has become popular in the last few years-pseudo-medical, alleged case-study analysis of graphic descriptions of sexual activity. Although such books purport to be written by medical doctors or Ph.D.s, they primarily consist of graphic descriptions of sexual activity.

As of 1970, publishers of sex-oriented, wholly textual paperback books are convinced that there are no legal restrictions on the content of any wholly textual publication. As a result, "adults only" paperback books published and sold in the United States cannot possibly be exceeded in candor, graphic description of sexual activity or use of explicit language. The overwhelming majority of these books are intended for a heterosexual male readership. Almost no such books are written for a female audience. Perhaps 10% or more are directed at the male homosexual market, and less than 5% are specifically written for any of the various fetishes.

Illustrated Paperback Books, 1969-1970. In the past two or three years, some secondary publishers have included photographs in their books. Initially, such paperbacks included photographs in which young females posed with the focus of the camera directly upon their genitalia. In 1968 and 1969, however, two additional types came onto the market which revolutionized the sexual content of illustrated paperback books. One was the illustrated "marriage manual" containing photographs of couples engaging in sexual intercourse "for an educational purpose". The most recent marriage manual of this type depicts fellatio and cunnilingus in addition to vaginal intercourse (penetration shown in detail). The second "breakthrough" occurred in 1969 with the publication of books purporting to be serious studies of censorship and pornography. These books contain illustrations ranging from Oriental and European erotic art to reproductions of "hard-core" photographs taken from Danish magazines, which graphically depict sex activities such as vaginal and anal penetration, fellatio, and cunnilingus. Following this lead, a number of publications containing "hard-core" photographs with textual commentary have been published and are in circulation in many major metropolitan areas.

To some extent, therefore, the pictorial content of a number of paperbacks published and sold in the United States has reached the level of sexual explicitness found in Danish materials. However, Danish-type "pornographic" magazines (consisting entirely of photographs of sexual activity) have yet to be published and sold openly in this country; domestic publishers apparently believe that the inclusion of text is required to provide a legal defense in the event of an obscenity prosecution.[1686]

During the 1960s, the technical quality of sexually explicit films remained poor, but the content began to change.[1687] In the early 1960s, the majority of films involved simulated sexual acts with the focus on female genitalia.[1688] By the end of the 1960s, sexually explicit films showing oral and genital copulation were more readily available.[1689] The packaging of the films also changed. The boxes were more colorful and some had a photograph on the cover depicting a scene from the film.[1690]

The 1970 Commission on Pornography and Obscenity described the sexually explicit films during this period as follows:

Between 1964 and 1968, exploitation films moved in a variety of directions. Some producers dropped all pretense of a plot and substituted nudity for a story line. Others produced "roughies," a mixture of sex and violence. Some films depicted women as aggressors (nymphomaniacs, lesbians, and prostitutes); others portrayed them as victims. A few films were self-styled "documentaries" dealing with sexual mores and aberrations. Still others were known as "kinkies" (dealing with fetishes) and "ghoulies" (minimizing nudity and maximizing violence).

In 1969, and continuing into 1970, exploitation films dealt with the same themes often found in general release motion pictures: perversion, abortion, drug addiction, wayward girls, orgies, wife-swapping, vice dens, prostitution, promiscuity, homosexuality, transvestism, frigidity, nymphomania, lesbianism, etc. Almost all of the popular movie-making formulas have been utilized as settings for presenting these themes, including westerns and historical epics, although contemporary settings are still the most widely used.

The vast majority of exploitation films are directed at the male heterosexual market. Relatively few films are produced for a male homosexual audience, but the number of these films has increased in the past year or two. A small number of theaters exclusively exhibit male homosexual films and a few exhibit such films on occasion. This market is quite small at present, and is included in the estimate for the entire exploitation film market, although "male" films are developing their own producers and theaters.

Full female nudity in exploitation films has become common in the last year or two, although male genital exposure is almost unknown except in those films directed at the male homosexual market. Sexual activity covering the entire range of heterosexual conduct leaves almost nothing to the imagination. Actual sex acts, however, are not shown, only strongly implied or simulated. Self-imposed restrictions on the use of "vulgar" language have also disappeared in many films.[1691]

During the 1960s the distribution of sexually explicit pornographic materials expanded significantly.[1692] Although "trunk sales" remained the major method of distribution, large wholesale warehouses began to emerge.[1693] The wholesalers used small storefront businesses and older commercial buildings for storage and dissemination of materials.[1694] The channels of distribution also became more complex with producers and wholesalers providing a variety of materials to outlets which now stocked several different types of sexually explicit materials.[1695]

The real proliferation of sexually explicit materials in the United States took place in the 1970s.[1696] During this period, distribution locations for sexually explicit materials in Los Angeles alone increased from eighteen to over 400.[1697]

In the 1970s, producers of sexually oriented materials depicted sexually explicit and varied acts and continuously tested the bounds of existing obscenity laws.[1698] While most of these materials consisted primarily of simulated sexual acts, materials depicting actual sexual intercourse and oral copulation were increasingly available.[1699] Sexually explicit magazines like Swedish Erotica were distributed widely and focused on depictions of actual sex acts.[1700] Most of the materials designed to appeal to paraphilias became prevalent during this period, including those showing harmful homosexual acts, sadomasochism, bondage and discipline, children and animals as well as visuals of ejaculation, urination and defecation.[1701]

Child pornography was more commonly available in the 1970s and appeared in commercially produced magazines such as Moppets and Where the Young Ones Are.[1702] Child pornography and materials with depictions of bestiality were openly available at some "adults only" pornographic outlets, [1703] sold under-the-counter in others and also available through mail-order sales. [1704]

"Adults only" pornographic theaters became more noticeable as they advertised and showed films of better technical quality.[1705] Many of the mainstream theaters went out of business in the 1970s and were purchased to show sexually explicit films.[1706] The most widely circulated of these films in the history of the industry, "Deep Throat"[1707] and "The Devil in Miss Jones," were produced and marketed during this period.

In the late 1970s, the industry expanded to include much larger "adults only" pornographic outlets, complete with peep show booths.[1708] The number of independently owned stores declined and were replaced by stores owned by producers and distributors of sexually explicit materials who wanted to enter the retail business.[1709] The companyowned "adults only" pornographic outlet became prevalent in the 1970s and has continued to dominate the retail market. [1710]

The distribution of sexually explicit materials in the 1970s became a sophisticated business.[1711] Not only were distributors investing in retail outlets, but they began to operate out of more modern facilities with some distributors constructing their own buildings to accommodate their growth.[1712]

The Industry Today

Southern California is the production capital of the world for sexually explicit materials.[1713] At least eighty percent of the sexually explicit video tapes, eight millimeter films and sexual devices and paraphernalia that are produced in the United States are produced and distributed within Los Angeles County.[1714]

Southern California has become the center of the sexually explicit film and film-related industries for the same reasons that it is the center of the mainstream film industry: the availability of resources and the temperate climate.[1715] Processing facilities and equipment, as well as film technicians, camera operators and performers are readily accessible for local operations producing sexually explicit material.[1716]

The 1980s have seen the complete transformation of the industry into a big business with large scale distributors,[1717] theater chains,[1718] and technological advances such as home videos,[1719] subscription television,[1720]  Dial-A-Porn [1721] and computer sex subscription services.[1722] Distribution locations have become large complexes operating out of modern industrial centers.[1723] The major distributors own their own buildings and have incorporated all aspects of production into their businesses.[1724]

The following portions of this chapter are devoted to an in depth discussion of the industry today. These portions describe the various sexually oriented materials and services and how and where these products and services are produced and distributed.

It should be noted that compiling information on the production and distribution aspects of this industry was a very difficult task. Much of the detailed information is closely guarded by industry representatives and was thus unavailable to the Commission.

Notes

  1. Los Angeles Hearing, Vol. I, Robert Peters, p. 32 and 60A.
  2. Id. p. 32, 60C; Chicago Hearing, Vol, I, Donald Smith, p. 30.
  3. Id.
  4. See, The discussion of "adults only" pornographic outlets.
  5. Id. p. 38.
  6. Id. pp. 38 and 60A.
  7. Id. p. 38.
  8. Id. p. 60A.
  9. Id. p. 39, New York Hearing, Vol, I, Bruce Taylor, pp. 240-41.
  10. Id.
  11. Los Angeles Hearing, Vol. I, Robert Peters, p. 39. Nudist magazines were put out by members of nudist organizations and often depicted pictures of nudists and their families.
  12. Id. pp. 38 and 60A.
  13. Id.
  14. "Strip tease" refers to the slow and seductive disrobing of a woman usually to music while on stage.
  15. Id. p. 38.
  16. Id. pp. 38-39. Some films did depict males undressing. Id. p. 39.
  17. The Report of the 1970 Commission on Obscenity and Pornography, (1970), p. 94.
  18. Id.
  19. New York Hearing, Vol. I, Bruce Taylor, pp. 240-41.
  20. Id. p. 240.
  21. Stag Films was an actual film production label made in Nashville, Tennessee. Los Angeles Hearing, Vol. I, Ted Mcllvenna, p. 206.
  22. New York Hearing, Vol. 1, Bruce Taylor, p. 241.
  23. Los Angeles Hearing, Vol. 1, Robert Peters, pp. 39, 60A. "Trunk sales" refers to the distribution of materials out of the trunk of the seller's car.
  24. Id.
  25. Id., p. 39.
  26. Id., p. WA.
  27. Id.
  28. Id., pp. 60A-60B.
  29. Id., p. 60B.
  30. Id., p. 39.
  31. Id., p. 6oB.
  32. Id., p. 40.
  33. Id.
  34. The Report of the 1970 Commission on Obscenity and Pornography, (1970), pp.115-16.
  35. Los Angeles Hearing, Vol. I, Robert Peters, p. 40. Pocketbooks were paperback books which fit into your pocket. They were the forerunner of today's paperbacks.
  36. Id.
  37. The Report of the 1970 Commission on Obscenity and Pornography, (1970), pp. 112-14.
  38. Los Angeles Hearing, Vol. I, Robert Peters, p. 40.
  39. Id.
  40. New York Hearing, Vol. I, Bruce Taylor, p. 292A.
  41. Los Angeles Hearing, Vol. 1, Robert Peters, pp. 40-41.
  42. The Report of the 1970 Commission on Obscenity and Pornography, (1970), pp. 94-95.
  43. Los Angeles Hearing, Vol. I, Robert Peters, pp. 41, 60B.
  44. Id.
  45. Id., p. 60B.
  46. 1695. Id., p. 41.
  47. Id., p. 41 and 60B; New York Hearing, Vol. I, Carl Shoffler and Ledra Brady, p. 238A-5.
  48. Los Angeles Hearing, Vol. I, Robert Peters, p. 60B.
  49. Los Angeles Hearing, Vol. I, Robert Peters, pp. 44-45.
  50. Id., pp. 43, 44, 60B.
  51. Id., p. 44.
  52. Id., pp. 44, 45, 60B.
  53. Id., p. 48.
  54. Child pornography was sold over the counter in New York City during this period.
  55. Id., p. 6oB.
  56. Id., p. 42.
  57. Id.
  58. "Deep Throat" cost twenty-five thousand dollars to produce and has earned over fifty million dollars.
  59. Los Angeles Hearing, Vol. I, Robert Peters, pp. 41, 42, and 51; See, The detailed discussion of "adults only" pornographic outlets and peep show booths.
  60. Id., p. 42.
  61. Id.
  62. Id., p. 51.
  63. Id., pp. 51, 60B.
  64. Los Angeles Hearing, Vol. I, James Docherty, p. 6.
  65. Id.
  66. Id., p. 7.
  67. Id.
  68. Id., p. 60D.
  69. Id., p. 52.
  70. Id., pp. 52-53.
  71. See, Section D, infra.
  72. See, Section E, infra.
  73. See, Section F, infra.
  74. Id., pp. 54, 60D.
  75. Id.