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Casey Donovoan on a poster for Boys in the Sand (1972) - Wakefield Poole
DefinitionBecause of these restrictions, early gay porn primarily consisted of pictures of individual men either fully naked, or wearing a g-string. Early gay porn in the 1940s and 1950s focused on athletic men or body builders in statuesque poses. They were generally young, muscular, and with little or no visible body hair. Since most gay men of this time were deeply "in the closet", actual depictions of sexual activity were rare. A reader of this type of porn could "pass" as a fitness enthusiast. Although now considered quite tame or soft-core, this type of porn still exists today. Often this sort of material is the only erotic stimulation available to young men or boys, those who live outside of major urban centers, or those who have no web access. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gay_porn [Mar 2006]
The first gay porn films appeared near the beginning of the 20th Century, but they comprised only one percent of the sexually explicit genre. Lesbianism appeared in about 20% of stag films according to film historians Arthur Knight and Hollis Alpert.
The lack of gay porn followed from a lack of demand. There was no product because there was no market. "Gay images existed only as exotica within the heterosexual market," writes Jack Stevenson for the Fall 1997 Film Quarterly. "While viable markets for gay male material would emerge over the decades, genuine lesbian pornography as a commercial commodity… would not emerge until the 1980s…"
The 1950s saw the rise of "physique cinema" where musclar men, many straight, posed and flexed awkwardly to instruction from offscreen directors. Next came wrestling films. "Minimal plot setups introduced stereotyped masculine characters who quickly came to odds and soon, stripping down to jockstraps, were whirling in a frenetic, nearly nude mass of torsos and splayed limbs as fake punches and chops were thrown and pretend chockeholds applied…" (Film Quarterly)
Soft homo porn was distributed by Creative Film Associates, a film-makers' collective, and Amos Vogel's New York City-based Cinema 16.
In 1968, Park Theater in Los Angeles became the first theater to commercially show films with male nudity and gay themes. New York's biggest gay theaters were the Park Miller on 43rd Street and the 55th Street Playhouse. Hardcore homosexual features appeared in 1969. "The landscape was transfigured almost overnight as "beefcake" or "meatrack" productions, euphemisms for gay hard-core porn in the trade, began commercial exhibition at about the same time as straight hard-core features, albeit on a separate and smaller circuit. By late 1971, better-produced and more dramatically ambitious hard-core films began to appear in response to the lack of quality in the very first hard-core titles. On December 29, 1971, Wakefield Poole, an ex-dramatist who had once stage-managed the Phyllis Diller show on television, opened his $8,000 hard-core feature, Boys in the Sand, at the 55th Street Playhouse and grossed $400,000 on a smash run. Poole had unveiled the film with a slick and artful advertising campaign unheard-of for a gay--or straight--hard-core movie, placing ads and earning reviews in mainstream publications like After Dark, The Sunday New York Times, and Variety (which announced, certainly prematurely, that now "there are no more closets"). Boys in the Sand earned model-star Cal Culver celebrity status and prefigured the concept of "porno chic" popularized by Deep Throat in 1972. Poole's contributions to the relative legitimization of gay hard-core film were revolutionary: for the first time, a movie had credits and a real name was on it." (Film Quarterly) --http://www.tranquileye.com/historyofporn/gay_porn.html [Oct 2004]
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