The Underrated Brilliance of Vintage Porn Movie Posters

November 3, 2014
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The Underrated Brilliance of Vintage Porn Movie Posters

Movie posters are usually colorful and broad enough to capture the audience attention, even if that results in being misleading. They exist with the intention of promoting said film and announcing its presence to the world in an aesthetically pleasant way.

Porn movie posters, though, were rarely seen. They adorned specific spots on sleazy porn theaters back in times when those were the only places to watch dirty movies; but societal norms made the distribution of these movies’ cover art significantly limited.

To this day, they remain a grossly overlooked feature of the 60s and 70s adult flicks, yet they’ve recently enjoyed some long overdue attention at the hand of fellow vintage porn, art and design enthusiasts, who’ve not only noticed but also championed their undervalued rep.

A major element in a lot of the porn movie posters of the 1970s was the prevalent use of comic art. Most of the designs were drawings, because it was a way to get dirtier and more suggestive while still keeping it less sexually graphic and censorship-free. It was essentially the last period for painted posters, as photo ones became the norm soon after.

http://youtu.be/ZjoiW_VPykg

The poster designs for a lot of the old adult movies were some of the most heavily underrated gigs in the genre, especially when you consider these may be the closest artistic merit that a lot of the porn movies of the time had in common with mainstream ones, while they were usually also tamer than the X-rated content of the actual films.

In his book Sexytime: The Post-Porn Rise of the Pornoisseur, Jacques Boyreau claimed these posters could even take it a step further than the movies.

“(The posters) are actually more pornographic, with their emphasis on design — pornographicdesign. The peculiar freedom of these posters’ no-hold-barred innuendos and rehashed figure studies of classic art-flesh is a bit of a perfect crime.” Boyreau wrote in his book. “They do not sell a ticket to the general public yet they are meant for the general public to see. As such, they occupy a public vortex, a space alive with all the possibilities of mis-recognition, including the ‘error’ of wanting the poster without wanting the movie.”

Indeed, many times you didn’t have to see or enjoy the movie to dig the poster. On some occasions, the posters were the best thing about a film.

Robin Bougie, author of Graphic Thrills, arguably the most comprehensive new book on the subject, has actively tried to find some of these artists, but the task has proven to be harder than you’d think.

“Many of the illustrators were family men, and middle aged or older by the time the late 1970s and early 1980s rolled around,” Bougie told the blog Alienated in Vancouver, “They’d made a meager living through the 50s and 60s on advertising art, pulp novels, poster art, men’s adventure magazine covers, children’s books, and other similar jobs.

“They want to be remembered for the children’s books they did at the beginning of their career, and the landscapes they’re painting now that they’re retired. Not the poster for Pussycat Ranch and Ultra Flesh.”

Subversive or morally questionable art has the tendency to not be appreciated in its own time; but luckily some of these gems are still around for all of us to see.

GALLERY

The Underrated Brilliance of Vintage Porn Movie Posters 6 votes

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