In 2005, a German archeologist unearthed a sculpture that many now consider the oldest pornographic content. Dating from circa 7200 BC, it depicts two figurines, a man and woman, having sexual intercourse. The gentleman in the statue must have been really aroused, because he was literally hard as a rock.
More than nine millennia later, it’s safe to say porn isn’t going anywhere. Every new medium – photography, film, the Internet – has only furthered erotica’s accessibility and popularity. Here are ten torrid truths about porn.
10 Ways Pornography Shapes The World
10 Porn Stars Have Really Big… Bandwidth
Various studies have verified the supposition made in the hit Broadway musical “Avenue Q”: the Internet is for porn.
PornHub, one of the industry’s most prominent adult content providers, claims its site streamed 75 GB of data per second in 2015 – enough to fill nearly 90 million 32 GB smartphones. The site had a total of 87.8 BILLION views. That’s about 12 times the planet’s population… and that’s only one porn site.
Some researchers found that as much as 30% of web traffic is pornographic, by far the largest plurality of any industry. Though this figure may be overblown – other studies place the number as low as four percent – porn constitutes double-digit percentage web searches on both desktop and mobile devices. An estimated 60% of porn sites are hosted in the United States, a figure that proudly proves the U.S. is still capable of leading the world in something other than obesity and unnecessary pandemic deaths.
Porn is also incredibly big business. Various sources place the industry’s net worth at about $97 billion. Remarkably, porn’s annual revenue actually surpasses that of Hollywood: the US mainstream film industry releases about 600 movies per year and makes roughly $10 billion in profit (though COVID-19 will, of course, make 2020 an exception). By comparison, the porn industry produces about 13,000 films and generates nearly $15 billion in profit; that’s more money than the USA’s Major League Baseball, National (American) Football league and National Basketball Association… COMBINED.
9 There’s a Film for Every Fetish
If anyone’s ever been turned on by it, chances are there’s a porn showcasing it.
Porn’s proliferation, most recently driven by near-universal high-speed Internet’s ability to stream video, is exemplified not only by its saturation but also its customization. Gone are the days where fetish porn typically comprised a handful of niches: Asian, foot worship, domination and older woman (i.e. MILFs) among them.
Perusing a categories list on a popular porn site blends the eminently reasonable – interracial, wife-swapping, first-timers – with the seemingly ridiculous: midgets, smoking, armpits (yes, armpits). One site has more than 100 selections in the “Blue Hair” category, which may or may not feature Cookie Monster, Grover or other Sesame Street mainstays; if you think that was a random tangent, Google “Cookie Monster porn.” Other conspicuous categories include Bicycle, Blindfolds, and Braces… and that’s only the B’s.
Some seemingly out-there fetishes are surprisingly widespread. A list of top fetishes ranked by Google search volume has one decided outlier: balloon fetishes. Also known as “looners,” balloon fetishists experience a build-up of arousal as they anticipate a balloon getting popped, either by a foreign object (like a pen) or body part (like a penis). Once they pop, they can’t stop, making for some especially weird (and loud) erotica.
8 For Male Performers, It’s a Lot of Hard Work
Like most cinema, porn is heavily edited. Filming a 15-minute scene can take several hours, as the positions of cameras, lighting and sound equipment must change along with the positions of the actors. So that easy transition from missionary to reverse cowgirl viewers see was probably anything but seamless.
Porn’s fantasy of a hot, impromptu sexual encounter is typically just that: fantasy. Complicating the “bang and break” nature of porn shoots is persistent instruction from directors looking for just the right shot.
For male performers an obvious issue arises: the need to repeatedly, well, rise to the occasion. “We take Viagra, Cialis, Levitra, injections. It’s very common,” said one male star who remained anonymous as part of an exposé.
For some, these quick fixes can create serious problems. “As a result of taking those types of medications,” the actor claims, “I ended up in the hospital.” He says he was treated numerous times for painful, prolonged erections, and doctors warned him about long-term damage if he kept abusing the drugs.
Add to that the fact that male porn actors generally earn less money than their female counterparts, and any man’s dream of switching places with the guy onscreen becomes decidedly less glamorous.
7 Anti-porn Activism is Growing
For as long as people have been fornicating on film, others have been attempting to ban the promiscuous practice. By and large, the history of the anti-pornography movement involves the usual suspects: religious leaders, grandstanding politicians, parent organizations.
Recently, though, anti-porn allies have become more diverse. For one, the #MeToo movement has drawn a dotted line, however unproven, between the proliferation of pornography and unhealthy male sexual aggression. There is also a sizable set of young men who, having gone through puberty in the era of easy-access online erotica, say porn has warped their concepts of normal sexual encounters and relationships.
This backlash has, in part, led to the equivalent of slut-shaming. “Coomer” is a 4Chan Internet meme based on an illustration of a scraggly male character as a porn-obsessed excessive masturbator. The term’s increasing usage includes the “Coomer Pledge,” an often-in-jest gesture in which men who’ve failed so-called “No Nut November” – a month-long masturbation moratorium – use Coomer’s image as their social media avatar. The phrase “OK Coomer” – an offshoot of “OK Boomer” – is also used as a dismissive online comment. The pendulum appears to have swung and the new counter-culture is now about getting married and raising a happy and healthy family. Way to go 4Chan!
Still, the anonymity afforded by Internet porn – gone are the days of trenchcoat-donning men at seedy theaters, or even embarrassing rental store checkouts – makes it all the more likely porn will continue to flourish indefinitely. Coom one, coom all.
6 Keeping Porn Away From Kids Is a Real Problem
While the question of whether porn should be banned or restricted is debatable, a key driver behind the modern-day anti-porn movement is undeniable: it is more difficult than ever to keep kids from accessing near-limitless libraries of hardcore pornography. Complicating matters is that, unlike alcohol or tobacco, porn isn’t a physical item, since gone are the days of raiding dad’s stash of Playboys. And unlike, say, jihadist content, porn isn’t tracked by authorities since, after all, it is so widespread among adults.
According to Australian government stats, nearly half of children between the ages of 9-16 experience regular exposure to sexual images. Many experts believe porn can be highly harmful to children and teenagers, giving them unrealistic sexual expectations and inferiority complexes concerning their bodies, as well as promoting sexual aggression and even violence.
One organization on the forefront of the fight to keep adult content from children is Enough is Enough. The statistics on the non-profit’s website serve as warning in a world where the Internet is increasingly right in kids’ pockets.
Put simply, there’s no gatekeeper: Nearly three in four surveyed porn sites display adult content on their homepage (accessible to anyone) before asking if viewers are of legal age. This free-for-all, the organization claims, entails American children beginning hardcore porn consumption at an average age of 11.
Top 10 Tragedies Of The Porn Industry
5 Porn Pops Up in the Darnedest Places
Examples abound of porn being displayed in wildly inappropriate – and wildly hilarious – forums, either by accident or through a hacker with a fantastically sadistic sense of humor. In the latter “trick or tramp” category, hackers once streamed a sex channel at a supermarket in Germany, on a large screen meant to show the daily specials; apparently it was pork sausage.
The mistakes are even funnier. During a primary school meeting in Northern Ireland, a priest accidentally showed X-rated photos to a group of parents. In France, a preschool teacher who thought she was cueing up a cartoon inadvertently clicked on a hardcore porn file. Unwittingly, she left the room before the clip began and the film played for several minutes. Best episode of Peppa Pig ever.
But by far the biggest stage for unanticipated erotica came in 2009, when a major cable television provider accidentally aired 37 seconds of porn during the Super Bowl (censored footage), giving the word “sack” a whole new meaning.
4 Going Mainstream Is a Trick Few Have Turned
Most porn stars are horrific actors whose mouths are better off doing things other than delivering cheesy lines like “here’s your pizza… with extra sausage.”
When porn actors do manage to land a role that doesn’t carry a XXX rating, it’s typically still a sexuality-driven venture. In 2008’s “Zombie Strippers,” porn legend Jenna Jameson (when she’s not hunting down Hollywood pedophiles—pictured) plays Kat, a seductress who woos the crowd with her flesh-eating moves and necro-gyrations. It’s better than “True Blood,” but that’s not saying much.
Other mainstream roles for porn stars involve playing… porn stars. One of the better efforts in this column would be Katie Morgan’s credible role in the Kevin Smith-directed “Zack & Miri Make a Porno,” starring Seth Rogan and Elizabeth Banks.
The most prolific mainstream porn actor is likely Ron Jeremy, a distinctively hairy, sloppy bloke who looks like an extra in a mediocre 70s cop drama. Jeremy’s credits include Ghostbusters, Orgazmo, The Boondock Saints, The Rules of Attraction, and Crank: High Voltage.
Bur the award for Best Acting by a Porn Star probably goes to Sasha Grey, who starred in the 2009 Steven Soderbergh-directed movie “The Girlfriend Experience,” a well-received film that earned 4/4 stars from prominent critic Roger Ebert. Grey also played herself – a porn star trying to become a mainstream actress – over a full season of the hit show Entourage, playing the lead character’s girlfriend. She also starred in the music video for “Space Bound” from Eminem’s Grammy-winning album, Recovery.
3 A Lot of Major Celebs Have Worked in the Industry
… and not just famous-for-nothing glamour girls like Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton dropping homemade “purpose porn” to stay relevant.
Before her breakout role opposite Jim Carrey in 1994’s “The Mask,” a 19-year-old Cameron Diaz starred in some softcore porn. Upon becoming a big Hollywood name, she tried in vain to keep the footage from appearing online. Cue a lot of guys taking a break from reading this list.
Sibel Kekilli, who played one of Peter Dinklage’s (Tyrion Lannister’s) love interests in “Game of Thrones,” had previously done hardcore porn under the stage name ‘Dilara.’ Unfortunately, when a newspaper in her native Germany discovered and reported this, her parents cut off all contact with her.
Both David Duchovny and Matt LeBlanc (Joey from “Friends”) were featured in the mid-90s softcore series “The Red Shoe Diaries,” and Arnold Schwarzenegger once posed nude for a gay magazine called “After Dark.”
Then there are the celebs whose porn stardom is more voyeuristic train wreck than sex appeal. Dustin Diamond – Screech from “Saved by the Bell” – gave nerdgasm a new definition, though apparently is such a terrible actor that he didn’t even use his own genitals. “Octomom Home Alone” was more entertaining than either Octomom Nadya Denise Doud-Suleman or “Home Alone,” and the no-porn-name-needed John Wayne Bobbitt showed off his severed-then-reattached phallus in the most impressive display of medical science since Jonas Salk cured polio.
2 The Appeal of Porn Parodies
Porn parody – basically the “pornoization” of a popular show, movie or pop culture phenomenon – is both completely ridiculous and completely understandable.
It can safely be assumed that nobody pressing play on 1999’s mafioso-turned-ménage thriller “The Sopornos” was expecting an Emmy-worthy expansion on established Sopranos canon. This was rub one, not “Rogue One.”
No, the appeal of porn parody rests in the age-old truth that if you put an attractive woman in front of a guy for long enough, he’s going to have at least a passing thought of sex. The Sopornos is meant to satisfy a male audience’s inevitable interest in seeing the Bada Bing girls, the gaudy-but-gorgeous Adriana and the MILF-ish Carmela get the ol’ roly-poly cannoli.
Parody porn goes far beyond movies and TV spoofs like “Jurassic Pork,” “The Da Vinci Load,” “How I F*cked Your Mother” and the no-rename-necessary “Big Bang Theory” (all real titles). One of the most popular parodies in porn history came in 2008, after US presidential candidate John McCain chose the questionably qualified but unquestionably attractive Alaska governor, Sarah Palin, as his vice presidential running mate. The campaign classic “Who’s Nailin’ Palin?” showed just how dirty politics can get.
1 Post Coitus: Life After Porn
Retirement from porn is about as varied as porn itself. Most middle-of-the-road porn actors undoubtedly live in constant concern over their past ruining their present, typically via sentences beginning with “Don’t I know you from…?” Evelyn Lin, a popular Asian-American starlet in the late 2000s-early 2010s, has been reduced to something called “Fighting Fitness,” which is only slightly less ridiculous than most porno plots.
Others go from gang bangs to God; former starlet Teresa Carey shares her sordid story and subsequent conversion at university lectures, during which she hangs signs reading “Porn Again Christian” and “50 Shades of Grace.”
Still, some porn stars go on to solid second acts after hanging up the garter belts and stiletto heels. Brittany Andrews went from spinning on you-know-whats to spinning records as DJ BritStar. Lisa Ann – star of the aforementioned “Who’s Nailin’ Palin” – became a successful fantasy sports radio show host.
Others just want to be left alone… or maybe they’re just dead? One of the most well-known porn stars ever seemingly disappeared off the face of the Earth for more than two decades. Bambi Woods – Debbie from “Debbie Dows Dallas,” arguably the most famous porn film ever – was feared dead either by drug overdose or foul play. In 2007, a woman claiming to be Woods gave an interview. However, the interview is unverifiable as it was conducted entirely over email.
Top 10 Listverse Lists Google Doesn’t Want You To See