When Did Porn Become Mainstream?

By

sasha grey
How did porn become OK? Was it Howard Stern, Jenna Jameson, Joe Francis, Larry Flynt?

Anyone notice how much the word "porn" is thrown around lately? Is it designed to shock or something? A few porn stars teamed up with the Gunn Brothers to bring us PG Porn, Isabella Rossellini and the Sundance Channel brought us Green Porno, Eli Roth and his contemporaries made popular a sub-genre of horror known as torture porn and shelter magazines (like Blueprint and Domino) have introduced us to home décor porn. Has "porn" just become in a stand-in word for gratuitous, idealized and, ultimately, fruitless? And if so, is it just because of porn's binary relationship to whacking?

Whatever the case may be, porn taboo is going the way of, uh, old porn theaters. Porn stars can be famous without shame (see Jenna Jameson and Ron Jeremy). A guy who used to provide security for amateur porn shoots (and moonlighted punching out hobos) was the crown jewel in CBS's mixed martial arts broadcasts (Kimbo Slice). Playboy (who once tried to eschew their lascivious image for a literary one) is getting pummeled by web porn (so says Jossip). And porn actresses are making the jump to non-sex actresses (and vice versa).

 

Porn legend Traci Lords plays a porn actress in Zack and Miri Make A Porno (as does Katie Morgan). And it doesn't stop there, Steven Soderbergh (yep, Oscar winner Steve Soderbergh), directs porn actress Sasha Grey in The Girlfriend Experience. It's about a high-class escort in NYC and after showing a peep to a Sundance audience, it's been revealed that it features no sex. The Frisky grabs a handful of reviews, but the best comment comes from one of their readers (worth checking out). For their part, Ebert liked it but Roeper thought it was too preachy. And it's not all just going in one direction. Per Asylum, Kelli McCarty is going from non-penetrative film to work in those French-type films. You may remember Kelli McCarty as a former Miss USA and successful bit television actress (even with recurring roles in Disney's Even Stevens).

What's the point? It's tenuous, OK? I just remember growing up that porn was something to be enjoyed in secret. Admitting to knowing the name of even a single porn star was edgy, man. Self-abuse was a solitary affair and contraband material was hidden in some place moms would never look. Now couples watch it together as a sensuality aid and people with a porn addiction can find help with only a modicum of fear of ridicule or recrimination. It's a whole new world, Princess Jasmin.