TIME photography

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Porn Industry in 1970

When crusaders for morality took on a booming business

A pornographic filmmaker, during an interview for a 1970 LIFE cover story about his industry, offered a bold prediction: “When everything is shown that can be shown,” he prophesied, “boredom will set in.” The ensuing decades, of course, have proven him incontrovertibly wrong: Pornography in the U.S. has grown from a $1 billion annual industry to a $10-to-$12 billion industry, and the Internet has made both the creation of and access to pornographic materials easier than ever before.

But in 1970, as the sexual revolution challenged traditional perspectives on love and sex, the industry was stuck between increasing demand and growing concerns over morality. The “torrent of sexuality,” as LIFE called it, was a subject of debate from the Capitol Building to small-town living rooms, as elected officials and private citizens debated not only what to do about porn, but also how to define it in the first place.

From a business perspective, there was never any question as to pornography’s value. Overhead was low and profit potentials were soaring: One racy film with a loose premise about industrial espionage cost $125,000 to make and was expected to gross more than $10 million. (That’s about $61.5 million in today’s dollars.) An Iowa theater owner earned $1,600 in one week showing the Julie Andrews musical film Darling Lili. He made nearly twice that amount in a single night showing the less innocent Love Camp No. 9.

As the business thrived, President Nixon became more determined to stifle it. Following the Supreme Court decision in Stanley v. Georgia, which established that people could view whatever they wished in the privacy of their own homes, Nixon established the President’s Commission on Obscenity and Pornography. Despite the Commission’s finding that there was no evidence to suggest that pornography was harmful, Nixon urged the formation of a “citizens’ campaign against obscenity.”

And campaign the citizens did. In the small Iowa town of Mason City—the same town where Love Camp No. 9 drew such an eager audience—the Concerned Community Citizens group was protesting what they viewed as an infiltration. They advocated for higher ticket prices, warnings on the marquee and less prominent placement of pornographic books in bookstores.

But their efforts were not without opposition, not only from businessmen like the theater owner, but also from fellow citizens who believed in free speech and education over censorship. The divide, like many of the era, was largely generational. Mason City’s young adults were more concerned about the environmental impact of the cement dust from nearby factories than fictional movies which, they said, were having no impact on their own behavior.

One parent, a local car dealer, occupied a position somewhere between freedom and defeat. To a fellow parent, he suggested, “You cannot shield your children from life. And I don’t care how you try.”

August 28, 1970 LIFE magazine
LIFE MagazineAugust 28, 1970 issue of LIFE Magazine.

Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter @lizabethronk.

TIME Companies

Google Isn’t Banning Porn Blogging After All

A sign is posted on the exterior of Google headquarters on Jan. 30, 2014 in Mountain View, California.
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images A sign is posted on the exterior of Google headquarters on Jan. 30, 2014 in Mountain View, California.

Blogger users can keep posting nude photos

Google is backing down from its new porn policy four days after announcing a plan to block sexually explicit images from its blogging service.

The company said on its Blogger help forum Friday that it will keep its old policies in place and instead work harder to crack down on commercial porn using the previous rules.

“We’ve had a ton of feedback, in particular about the introduction of a retroactive change (some people have had accounts for 10+ years), but also about the negative impact on individuals who post sexually explicit content to express their identities,” wrote Jessica Pelegio, a Google social product support manager.

Under the new rules, Blogger users would have been banned from posting graphic nudity except in specific circumstances deemed appropriate by Google. Old blogs with sexual imagery would have retroactively been made private.

TIME sexuality

Fifty Shades of Grey Gets Women Into Porn, Research Says

After reading the best-selling book, some women begin using pornography for the first time

E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey is introducing more women to porn — at least according to a narrow study conducted at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada.

Researcher Diana Parry interviewed 28 women in their 20s to 50s about their pornography habits. She discovered that women in the group increased their consumption of sexually explicit content after reading the book.

“So many of the women [we interviewed] were hopping in for the first time to pornography or sexually explicit material that was written by women for women,” Parry told Salon in an interview.

“I find it’s motivating women. It is exposing them to a genre of material that they either didn’t know existed or they didn’t know that they liked,” the professor said.

Parry employed a broad definition of porn, using a catchall label of “sexually explicit material” to reduce stigma surrounding erotica, porn websites and other sexual entertainment.

“But I think we need a cautionary note around it, because while they open up opportunities and provide women with unprecedented access to new genres or ways of thinking about their sexuality, at the same time, many of the scripts that are reproduced are really patriarchal scripts around women’s sexuality.”


TIME China

Is China’s Official News Agency Following a Japanese Porn Feed on Twitter?

If so, perhaps the notoriously frosty ties between the old East Asia rivals are warming at last

The official news outlet for China’s Communist Party appears to be a follower of Japanese pornography.

On Friday morning local time — when the adjacent screen shot was taken — the China Xinhua News listed Absolute JP Porn as one of the 3,301 Twitter users it was following.

There is no indication whether this is a prank by a third party or if Xinhua’s verified account is following, for news and research purposes, a feed that claims to link to pornographic images of Japanese women on a daily basis.

Several other suspect accounts, featuring profile photos of attractive women, appear among the list of Twitter users followed by Xinhua.

Relations between China and Japan have been mired with bitterness for decades in the wake of the atrocities committed by the Japanese military on Chinese soil during World War II. But perhaps a thaw is finally taking place across the East China Sea.


Court Rules Porn Actors in L.A. Must Wear Condoms

Despite industry pushback

Actors in pornographic films shot in Los Angeles must wear condoms while filming sex scenes, a federal appeals court ruled Monday, despite pushback from the multibillion-dollar industry.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a measure approved by Los Angeles County residents in 2012 — which mandated condoms during sex scenes and which industry lawyers claimed was a violation of the actors’ right to free expression — aided in the County’s bid to reduce the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases while still allowing for “adequate alternative means of expression,” Reuters reports. A lower court had previously upheld the law.

The 2012 measure also required that adult film actors be regularly tested for STDs; the AIDS Healthcare Foundation has previously said they are 10 times more likely than the general public to contract one.


TIME Education

Sex Education, From ‘Social Hygiene’ to ‘The Porn Factor’

The facts of life have been inspiring debate for decades

Within mere weeks of the publication of TIME’s first issue in 1923, sex education was making news: the “Social Hygiene Bureau” had done a survey of 5,000 American women, with the goal of designing a more “discriminating” kind of sex ed. This was news because 74% of the respondents admitted to using birth control of some sort, a surprising finding for the era.

Over the years, TIME’s coverage of the topic — which has included several cover stories — has ranged from 1930s worries about “over-intellectualization” of the topic, to Alfred Kinsey’s 1950s pronouncements that some form of sex ed should begin in infancy, to the first federal grants in the field in the 1960s, to a 1972 cover story’s finding that teens having sex younger didn’t mean they weren’t “woefully ignorant” on the topic, to Surgeon General C. Everett Koop’s 1980s statement that sex ed should be “as explicit as necessary,” to the 1990s fear that Dawson’s Creek was doing more to educate kids than schools were, to the 2000s fear that the Internet’s “porn factor” had replaced Dawson’s Creek.

And yet a few questions have been constant: How much of this is about the mechanics? How much is about the morality? How much should be done by schools and how much by parents?

Those debates continue today, as schools confront the problem of why they’re still having trouble teaching the topic.

Read more: Why Schools Can’t Teach Sex Ed in the Internet Age


TIME Crime

Former Government Cybersecurity Head Convicted on Child Pornography Charges

The US Department of Health and Human Se
Saul Loeb—AFP/Getty Images The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services building is shown in Washington, D.C., 21 July 2007.

He is the sixth person convicted in an ongoing DOJ investigation of three child pornography sites

The former acting head of cybersecurity at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services was convicted on child pornography charges in a Nebraska federal court, the Department of Justice said Tuesday.

The former official, Timothy DeFoggi, allegedly expressed interest in the violent rape and murder of children in online exchanges and at one point suggested meeting up with another web user to fulfill such fantasies, the Justice Department said in a statement.

DeFoggi, 56, was convicted of engaging in a child exploitation enterprise, conspiracy to advertise and distribute child pornography, and accessing a computer with intent to view child pornography, according to the DOJ.

He was the sixth person convicted in an ongoing investigation into three child pornography websites, the DOJ said. The administrator of the sites has previously been convicted of engaging in a child exploitation enterprise. According to the Justice Department, DeFoggi registered on the site in March 2012 and was active until it was taken down in December of that year.

It’s unclear if his illegal activity overlapped with his work for the government. In an HHS budget report for Fiscal Year 2014 that was found by the Washington Post, a Tim DeFoggi is identified as head of OS IT Security Operations for the department.



Most Teenagers Believe Porn Is Damaging. Could Sex Ed Be The Answer?

Teen Computer
Getty Images

A new poll of teenagers in Britain shows that many think porn leads to unrealistic or damaging views about sex

The rise of online pornography has long worried researchers, feminists and parents about the toll easy access to graphic images would take on young people.

It turns out, young people are grappling with the same concerns. A poll released on Wednesday by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), a British think tank, asked 500 18-year-olds about their views on pornography and its impact on their lives. The results aren’t pretty.

Most of the teens polled said that “accessing” pornography was common throughout their school years, with many starting around the ages of 13-15. And, according to the poll, a whopping 72 percent of 18-year-olds surveyed believe that pornography leads to unrealistic attitudes about sex, while 70 percent believe that pornography can have a damaging impact on young people’s views of sex or relationships.

Negative feelings about porn and its impact were more pronounced among teenage girls. Nearly 80 percent of the young women polled said that porn puts pressure on girls to look and act a certain way. Meanwhile, only 18 percent of the young men strongly agreed with the statement “pornography encourages society to view women as sex objects,” compared to 37 percent of young women. But the overall majority of teens — 66 percent of women and 49 percent of men — said they believed “it would be easier growing up if pornography was less easy to access for young people.”

“This new polling data shows that pornographic images are pervasive in teenagers’ lives and that young women in particular are acutely conscious of how damaging they can be,” said IPPR associate director, Dalia Ben-Galim, about the poll’s results. “It paints a worrying picture about the way online pornography is shaping the attitudes and behavior of young people.”

So what can we do about this issue? It should be noted that in the U.K., internet providers are now required to block explicit websites as a default — people who want to remove the blocks in order to view porn must opt in. Yet it’s obvious that teens are still finding access to pornography and it’s a cause for concern for many of them.

One way to address the concerns could be found in another question from IPPR’s poll. When asked, the vast majority of the teens polled — 86 percent — said they thought that “sex and relationship advice should be taught in schools.” Now some form of sex ed is already a part of British public school’s curriculum from the age of 11 onwards (though parents do have the right to withdraw their children from parts of the course), but perhaps these courses should be tailored to actually address what teens are seeing in pornography and the way it impacts their lives.

It’s also possible that by age 11, it’s already too late. Miranda Horvath, a psychology professor at Middlesex University in London who has done research on pornography, told the New York Times earlier this year that kids would benefit from some form of sexual education before they actually encounter pornography:

One of our recommendations is that children should be taught about relationships and sex at a young age… If we start teaching kids about equality and respect when they are 5 or 6 years old, by the time they encounter porn in their teens, they will be able to pick out and see the lack of respect and emotion that porn gives us. They’ll be better equipped to deal with what they are being presented with.

According to IPPR’s poll, teenagers are looking for help dealing with the pornography that clearly isn’t going away. It’s just up to educators and policymakers to listen to them.

TIME Google

Google Bans Porn Ads From Search Results

Updated July 2, 4:39 p.m.

Following an earlier announcement of the change, Google has begun banning pornographic ads from its search engine. As of Monday, the company now blocks explicit content from AdWords, the Google ad units that appear above users’ search results and across the Web, according to CNBC. Google now no longer accepts ads that promote “graphic sexual acts with intent to arouse.”

Google first announced the change to its advertising policy back in March. The new policy affects all countries. The company also bans ads promoting underage and non-consensual sexual content, as well prostitution and escort services. However, Google does allow ads for strip clubs and what it terms “adult and sexual dating sites.” The changes will not affect the organic results users see when conducting Google searches.

The search giant has made several moves recently to limit the amount of explicit content on its services. Earlier this year, the company issued new developer guidelines for the Google Play store that banned apps featuring erotic content.



The Smut Shaming of Dov Charney and Terry Richardson

Dov Charney American Apparel
Keith Bedford—Bloomberg/Getty Images Dov Charney, chairman and chief executive officer of American Apparel Inc., stands for a portrait in a company retail store in New York City on July 29, 2010.

Fashion giants Dov Charney and Terry Richardson have both been accused of sexual harassment multiple times (and always settled out of court). But are they finally getting their due?

Dov Charney and Terry Richardson are like the weird uncles of the fashion world, complete with ’70s glasses, questionable facial hair and a tendency to strip down when you least expect it.

They have another thing in common: both Charney and Richardson have built their brands on selling sex. As founder and CEO of American Apparel, Charney is especially fond of showing pubic hair and using semi-nude teenage models in his ads, and was known for walking around his factories in his underwear. And Richardson, one of the most famous photographers in fashion, has photographed his own face drenched in semen and is known for getting naked (and becoming erect) during photo shoots with female models (he says it’s to make the models feel more comfortable).

At first, the controversies around their personal behavior brought attention and buzz to their envelope-pushing work. But sex only sells until it stops seeming edgy, and that day may have come for both Charney and Richardson. Ultimately, the sex factor that launched their careers may morph into a smutty reputation that brings them down.

And it would not be entirely surprising. Both Charney and Richardson have been accused of harassing women they work with for years. Both have been named in multiple sexual-harassment lawsuits. In 2008, Charney, 45, was accused of keeping a teenage employee as his “sex slave” (she said he coerced her into performing oral sex by threatening that she would lose her job). He’s also been sued for sexual harassment by multiple other employees and models, but all the lawsuits against him have been dismissed or settled out of court. And Richardson, 48, has been sued at least twice by former models (both lawsuits were settled) and has been accused at least nine times of sexual weirdness during photo shoots. (Requests for comment from Richardson and from American Apparel were not returned.)

We’ve known about these allegations for a long time, and until now, both men seemed to weather the storms of bad press.

But on Wednesday night, the board of American Apparel dismissed Charney amid “ongoing investigation into alleged misconduct.” They didn’t identify a specific case, but an anonymous source told the Los Angeles Times that the “misconduct” involved Charney’s bad behavior with women. In other words, the sexual weirdness that left a bad taste six years ago is completely unpalatable now.

Charney’s story is like a Shakespearean porno — the sex-infused imagery that sold his clothes became the smut that sank his career. It is a sign that times have changed. Behavior that used to be tolerated as the price of working with an eccentric genius is now considered unacceptable. No matter how cool you are, you don’t get a “free pass” if the public concludes you’re taking advantage of women.

Richardson hasn’t been dumped like Charney, but a recent profile in New York magazine shed light on some of his stranger sexual proclivities and how they’ve affected his career — the article was titled “Is Terry Richardson an Artist or a Predator?” Magazines like Vogue and fashion companies like Target Style and H&M have said they have “no future plans” to work with Richardson. A Change.org petition to get big brands to stop employing Richardson has already gained over 34,000 signatures.

And Charney’s antics didn’t seem to be helping his company. American Apparel had been hemorrhaging money in the years since Charney’s lawsuits started, and lost over $396 million since 2009 (the company wasn’t in total free-fall the whole time, but the overall financial picture looked bleak). Yet in the hours after Charney’s dismissal, stock rose 20%.

To be fair, Charney’s leadership wasn’t all bad. His commitment to making all of American Apparel’s clothing in the U.S. and supporting fair wages for workers is certainly admirable. After the tragic collapse of a factory in Bangladesh last year, Charney wrote that “the apparel industry’s relentless and blind pursuit of the lowest possible wages cannot be sustained over time, ethically or fiscally.”

But Charney’s narrative is familiar to any girl who’s found out the hard way that sex sells and sells and sells, until it the moment it doesn’t. Just ask Miley Cyrus when she turns 40 (or, for that matter, Madonna). Where sexual women are slut-shamed, Charney and Richardson are being smut-shamed, as well they should be. Unlike girls who simply express their sexuality, Charney and Richardson are accused of taking advantage of women less powerful than themselves. That’s what’s really shameful.

Women have known for years that sex can have social consequences, unfair as they may be. Maybe men are finally getting a taste of that medicine.

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