Production

Part: 
Four
Chapter: 
8

Mainstream sexually explicit magazines have grown in number since the arrival of the first of this genre, Playboy, in 1953. These magazines generally follow a formula of sexually explicit photographs featuring primarily nude females in a variety of sexual activities interspersed with textual content that is either also sexually oriented or covers general interest topics.

The content of the April, 1986 issues of twelve of the most widely circulated of these magazines was examined and analyzed to more systematically portray this material. The magazines examined were: Cheri, Chic, Club International, Gallery, Genesis, High Society, Hustler, Oui, Penthouse, Playboy, and Swank.

To get a better understanding of the range of material available in one issue of these magazines, frequency counts were obtained of the advertising, editorial and pictorial content.

Each advertisement was counted regardless of whether it was a display or a classified advertisement. In terms of the percentage of sexually oriented advertising, the amounts ranged from 100 percent of the advertising being sex-related as was the case with Club International and High Society, to twenty percent in Penthouse and ten percent in Playboy.

Phone sex was the product/service most heavily advertised across these magazines, with forty-nine percent of the advertising featuring this service. This was followed by sexually explicit video (sixteen percent) and sexually oriented magazine (ten percent) advertisements.

Editorial content in these magazines similarly varied from being totally or almost totally sex-related (Club International had one hundred percent sex-oriented content, followed by Cheri, with ninety-four percent, Club with ninety-three percent, and High Society with ninety-one percent), to having a greater proportion of general interest topics (sixty-seven percent in Playboy and sixty percent in Penthouse were on nonsex-related topics).

Pictorial matter generally consisted of a "centerfold," other photographs of females posed alone, with other females, or with one or two males, and featured a variety of sexual activities. The most common of the acts portrayed was that of a nude female in what the jargon of the trade calls the "split beaver" shot, a shot of a female with her legs spread apart and in many instances, also spreading open her vaginal lips with her fingers. One in five of the acts portrayed in these magazines were of this variety. Nineteen percent of the activities depicted showed some type of touching or fondling, followed by oral-genital (twelve percent) and sexual activities between two women (nine percent).

In 1983, a similar content analysis was carried out on one issue of eleven of these magazines by Canadian National Commission studying sexual offenses against children.[1890] Included in this analysis were Playboy, Penthouse, Hustler, Gallery, Cheri, Playgirl, Forum, Oui, Club, Swank, and Genesis. The results showed that

  • A large majority of the photographs depicted partially dressed females.
  • The largest category of photographic depictions was for female body parts, primarily breasts, nipples (17%), followed by genitals (14%).
  • The most common sexual act depicted in the text was masturbation (21%) followed by oral-genital contact (14 %).
  • The use of force in these textual depictions (anal penetration, bondage equipment, weapons, rape and murder) accounted for 10% of the sexual acts depicted.
  • Sexually oriented products featuring children were most heavily advertised in Hustler magazine.

In 1980, Malamuth and Spinner conducted a more specific study that analyzed the content of all Playboy and Penthouse cartoons and pictorials from 1973 through 1977.[1891] Pictorial violent sexuality was found to have increased significantly over the five years analyzed both in absolute numbers and as a percentage of the total number of pictorials. However, pictorials rated sexually violent were still a small percentage of the total pictorial material, reaching about five percent in 1977. Throughout this period, Penthouse was also found to have a greater percentage of sexually violent cartoons than Playboy (thirteen percent versus six percent).

The sexually explicit magazines which are not included in the studies discussed above and are primarily available at "adults only" pornographic outlets portray masturbation as well as group, lesbian, gay, and transvestite sexual activities. Actual anal and vaginal intercourse as well as fellatio, cunnilingus and sodomy are also prevalent.[1892] There are depictions of rape, incest, bondage and discipline, sadomasochism, urination and defecation, bestiality, and simulated sexual activity with juveniles.[1893] Additionally, they cater to every type of paraphilia which has currently been identified.[1894]

In 1982, Dietz and Evans classified 1760 heterosexual pornographic magazines according to the imagery portrayed on the cover photographs.[1895], Four shops were randomly selected from the 42nd Street district in New York City and every magazine-format publication with a female or cross-dress male on the cover was categorized. Depictions of a woman posed alone predominated these covers in 1970, according to the authors, but only constituted eleven percent of the authors' 1980 sample. Bondage and domination imagery was the most prevalent imagery (seventeen percent of the covers) while smaller proportions of material were devoted to group sexual activity (10%). The authors suggested that pornographic imagery is an unobtrusive measure of the relative prevalence of those paraphilias associated with preferences for specific types of visual imagery.

In 1985, Dietz, Harry and Hazelwood [1896] analyzed the content of nineteen detective magazines representing eighteen different titles from six publishers. The study found that covers tended to juxtapose erotic images with images of violence, bondage, and domination. Sadistic imagery accounted for twentyeight percent of the covers and women were most often shown as dominated by men. Bondage was depicted in thirty-eight percent of the covers, with all the bound subjects females.

The layout of these magazines varies. Most sexually explicit magazines are four color and usually undated. Some magazines contain all photographs and others have less photographs and a few editorials.[1897] Some magazine contents are tailored to consumers who prefer less sexually explicit material and others are produced with predominantly graphic ultimate sexual acts or specific paraphilias depicted.[1898] Advertising is generally sexually related and includes advertisements for mail order sales, sexual devices and paraphernalia, sexually explicit videos and telephone sex.[1899]

Law enforcement sources have stated that most of the production work associated with these magazines is done in-house.[1900] The models are hired, the film is shot and processed, the pictorial layout is completed and the magazine is printed all within the corporate network.[1901] They believe that this is particularly the case with two major producers of the magazines: Star Distribution, Inc., and Parliament News.[1902]

In order to determine the extent and nature of pornographic magazines available, the Commission staff conducted a survey of pornographic outlets in six major cities in the eastern United States. The results of the survey indicated that there were over 2,300 different magazine titles available in these 16 stores alone. For a further discussion of the types of magazines and other material surveyed see the discussion of specific material in Chapter 27.

Notes

  1. Committee on Sexual Offenses Against Children and Youths, Sexual Offenses Against Children (1984).
  2. Malamuth and Spinner, A Longitudinal Content Analysis of Sexual Violence in the Best-Selling Erotic; Magazines, 16 The Journal of Sex Research 226 (1980). See also, Miami Hearing, Vol. II, Judith Reisman, p. 242; A Content Analysis of Playboy, Penthouse, and Hustler Magazines With Special Attention to the Portrayal of Children, Crime and Violence (The Institute for Media Education, Judith Reisman 1986); The Playboy Cartoon Information Delivery System and Client Sexual Exploitation By Health Professionals, Sexual Exploitation of Clients by Health Professionals (Accepted for publication, A.W. Burgess ed. 1985).
  3. See, The Imagery Found Among Magazines, Books, Films in "Adults Only" Pornographic Outlets discussed in this Part. Los Angeles Hearing, Vol. II, Joseph Haggerty, pp. 16-66.
  4. Chicago Hearing, Vol. I, Jack O'Malley, pp. 106, 111.
  5. Paraphilias are psychosexual disorders where "unusual or bizarre imagery or other acts are necessary for sexual excitement. Such imagery or acts tend to be insistently and involuntarily repetitive and generally involve either: (1) preference for use of a nonhuman object for sexual arousal; (2) repetitive sexual activity with humans involving real or simulated suffering or humiliation, or (3) repetitive sexual activity with nonconsenting partners. In other classifications these disorders are referred to as "Sexual Deviations." American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, (3d ed. 1983), p. 266.
  6. Dietz and Evans, Pornographic Imagery and Prevalence of Paraphilia, 139 American Journal of Psychiatry, (1982), p. 1493.
  7. Dietz, Harry and Hazelwood, Detective Magazines: Pornography for the Sexual Sadists? (1985) (available from Dr. Dietz, School of Law, University of Virginia).
  8. Telephone interview with Sergeant Donald Smith, Los Angeles Police Department (Mar. 9, 1986).
  9. Id.
  10. Telephone interview with Detective Robert Peters, Los Angeles Police Department (Mar. 9, 1986).
  11. Id.
  12. Id.
  13. Id.