The Porn Star Turns Full Circle

December 21, 2013
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I was browsing incognito the other day, and it suddenly struck me that I didn’t know the names of any of the people present. I suddenly realized that in terms of its protagonist, porn has gone full circle.

Pornography as we know it arguably drifted into the popular public spectrum in the 50s with the advent of Playboy magazine. These were the days when the exhibitor was king, and the consumer’s relationship was primarily with the brand.

Like all centuries the 50s gave way to the 60s, and in turn the 60s gave way to the 70s. Only this decade saw the rudimentary genesis of a new type of star: the Porn Star. 1972 saw the release of Gerard Damiano’s Deep Throat, and moreover the talents of Linda Lovelace.

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Times have changed

The 70s saw a ubiquity of cheap recording equipment, which paved the way for small timers to get their films made. Only it wasn’t that simple. In order to get around the United States Supreme Court, pornographers had to give their videos narratives. Deep Throat is essentially about a woman who can’t orgasm, so she goes to see a doctor who uses albeit skeptical methods to diagnose the old ‘clitoris in the throat’. The film itself is actually quite humorous, and did extremely well at the box office.

During the next ten years or so in fact, pornography accounted for almost a fifth of U.S box office takings. But throughout the ‘Golden Era’ (early 70s to mid 80s) the star (e.g. Linda Lovelace) was to a certain extent eclipsed by its framework (e.g. Deep Throat).

This all changed in the 90s and early naughties when we started to associate porn not so much with the producer, or the product, but the performer.

In this period the likes of Heather Brooke, and to a larger extent, Jenna Jameson, became household names (depending on the household of course). This was the advent of file sharing, and it wasn’t long before people were doing it one handed, yet with file sharing the consumer needed to know what he was looking for. A scene might take as long as a day to download, so it was important that you were informed as to which performers you wanted to see.

At this point we were so much more aware of the actresses themselves, but this started to change when the YouTube style porn sites started to get their act together. No one wanted to clog up his or her hard drive with hours of porn, and these sites offered a solution. The first website I was ever aware of was the Huns yellow pages. It was a loveless website, which was about as visually stimulating as it’s telephone directorial namesake, but they soon became a lot more user friendly.

Today’s experience is a lot more like the magazines of the past. We trust that the exhibitor can supply a constant flow of pornography, which we can then leaf through until we get to something we like. So, once again it is not the exhibitionist who is the star, but the exhibitor.

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