Erotic Media Throughout History: X-Rated Magazines

Erotic Media Throughout History X-Rated Magazines

Accessing sex-related media in the form of books, art or film has never been easier. The internet serves as the ultimate platform to create, sell and access pornography, in a variety of forms. From on-demand one-on-one camgirls to archives of homemade and professionally produced pornos, there’s no shortage of explicit material. Before that, however, getting a hold of erotic imagery could be much more difficult.

The Rise Of Printing

People have created, traded and sold nude art for millennia, but nudity often portrayed vulnerability and innocence. It wasn’t until recently, that nudity took on a risque or suggestive side. While there were certainly sexually suggestive artworks available, they were few and far between, and not available for personal collection. It wasn’t until the 19th century that printing duplicate copies of erotic illustrations became practical. Even after the printing press, printed media was difficult to come by and wasn’t part of a mainstream market.

Cultural Constrictions

The regulations regarding published media typically restricted printed works from depicting sex scenes and frequently censored the images. Uncensored publications were more often available through underground networks than from reputable sources.

The 1960s marked cultural shifts that generated more demand for sex-related content. Soon after that, the laws regarding the publication of explicit content shifted to reflect it. Some countries remained quite conservative which led to the development of black market distribution of pornography. Others, like the United States, embraced their new-found sexuality. Whether it’s seen as part of a sexual revolution or a newfound way to objectify and crudely profit from women, the changes were a global phenomenon.

The Golden Age of Print

The 1970s and ‘80s were the height of the X-rated magazine industry, particularly in the U.S. The improvement of printing technology meant better quality images and they were able to be mass-produced and distributed. Playboy, with its iconic bunny ears, sold 5.6 million copies in 1975. It was among the most successful magazine companies, alongside Hustler and Penthouse. Magazines were available for purchase at newsstands and convenience stores, and could even be periodically mailed to your home.

Going Digital

As the internet became more available to the public, sharing erotic material became easier than ever. Printed magazines couldn’t keep up with the accessibility, convenience and prices of online alternatives. Many printed publications, like Playboy, had to shift to online platforms or risk disappearing from the porn industry altogether. Currently, printed editions are available for purchase online but the overwhelming majority of pornographic material is entirely digitally based.

While the centrefolds of erotic magazines no longer fuel young men’s imaginations, those paper-and-ink origins paved the way for the socio-cultural and legal changes that allow digital media to flourish. The dog-eared pages of pornos-gone-by are responsible for some of the biggest shifts in modern attitudes toward sex. So, next time your X-rated video isn’t loading fast enough, imagine the frustration of it getting lost in the mail!

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