Pornography is the representation of the human body or human sexual behaviour with the goal of sexual arousal.

Table of contents
1 Introduction
2 Legal situation
3 Anti-pornography movement
4 History
5 Pornographic conventions
6 Pornography around the globe
7 Magazines
8 Publishers
9 Studios
10 Erotic authors
11 Famous Movies
12 Personalities
13 Specialized forms of pornography
14 See also
15 External links and references


Pornography may use any of a variety of media — written and spoken text, photos, drawings, moving images (including animation), and sound such as heavy breathing. Pornographic films combine moving images, spoken erotic text and/or other erotic sounds, while magazines often combine photos and written text. And novels and short stories provide written text, sometimes with illustrations.

In addition to media, a live performance may be called pornographic.

In its original meaning, pornography was literally "writing about prostitutes." It evolved into writing about anything sexual, especially in a base manner, and grew to include sexually related material of all kinds, both written and graphical. The term "pornography" often has negative connotations of low artistic merit, as compared to the more esteemed erotica. Euphemisms such as adult film, adult video and adult bookstore are generally preferred within the industry producing these works (namely the adult industry). Pornography can also be contrasted with ribaldry, which uses sexual titillation in the service of comedy.

Sometimes a distinction is made between softcore pornography and hardcore pornography. The former generally refers to materials which feature nudity and some sexually suggestive scenes, while hard-core or X-rated pornography contains close-ups of genitalia and sexual activities.

Legal situation

Please note: Wikipedia does not give legal advice, the information in this section is not necessarily 100% accurate.

The legal status of pornography varies widely. While child pornography is illegal almost everywhere, most countries allow at least some form of pornography. Soft core pornography is usually tame enough to be sold in general stores and (in some countries) to be shown on TV.

Most countries attempt to restrict minors' access to hard core materials, so that it is only available in adult bookstores, via mail-order, in some countries over special satellite TV channels, and sometimes in gas stations. Many of these efforts have been rendered moot by the wide availability of internet pornography. Most western countries have some restrictions on pornography involving violence or animals.

There are recurring urban legends of snuff movies, in which murders are filmed for pornographic purposes. Extensive work by law enforcement officials to ascertain the truth of these rumours have been unable to find any such works.

  • In 1966 in Denmark, the ban on written pornography was lifted and in 1969, Denmark was the first country in the world to legalise (hard core) picture pornography.

  • The Netherlands have the most liberal rules: pornography is sold openly at normal newsstands and material involving animals is legal.

  • In Sweden material involving animals is de-facto legal but subject to animal-welfare laws. Porn movies can be viewed beginning at age 15, and there are no age restrictions for magazines.

  • In the United States, hard core pornography is legal unless it meets the Miller test of obscenity, which it almost never does. The materials may not be made available to persons under 18 years of age. Some attempts at restricting pornography on the internet have been struck down by the courts; see internet pornography.

  • In Australia, regulation of pornography has increased somewhat under the Howard government, but remains reasonably widely available. See censorship in Australia.

  • In the United Kingdom, hard core pornography was illegal until 1999.

  • Hard pornography remains illegal (but tolerated) in Norway.

  • In Japan until the mid-1990s, no genitals could be shown, but there is no taboo regarding sex and violence and also much less general concern about portraying teenagers as sexual beings (this applies to both out-and-out pornography and works dealing with other themes). Until recently, Japanese law prohibited the depiction of pubic hair in depictions of any forms of nudity, whether it be pornographic or not. For example, Japanese editions of men's magazines such as Playboy had to have any photographs visible signs of pubic hair airbrushed out.

  • In Singapore pornography is illegal, even Playboy is banned.

  • In Republic of Ireland pornography was illegal until the mid-1990s.

Anti-pornography movement

Criticisms of pornography come from two directions: conservative and religious forces, and

Religious conservatives, exemplified by the United States citizen Rev. Jerry Falwell, decry pornography because they see it as immoral; sex is reserved for married couples, and pornography is thought to lead to an overall increase in immoral behavior in society.

In the United States, a 1968 Supreme Court decision which held that people could view whatever they wished in the privacy of their own homes caused Congress to fund and President Lyndon Johnson to appoint a commission to study pornography. The commission's report recommended sex education, funding of research into the effects of pornography, restriction of children's access to pornography, and recommended against any restrictions for adults. The report was widely criticized and rejected by Congress.

In 1983, prosecutors in California tried to use pandering and prostitution state statutes against a producer of and actors in a pornographic movie; the California Supreme Court ruled in 1988 that these statutes do not apply to the production of pornography (People v. Freeman (1988) 46 Cal.3d 41).

"Evidence of the harm of exposure to sexually explicit images or words in childhood is inconclusive, even nonexistent. The 1970 U.S. Commission on Obscenity and Pornography, the 'Lockhart' commission, uncovered no link between adult exposure to pornography and bad behavior and called for the dismantling of legal restrictions on Erotica." - Judith Levine, Harmful to Minors

In 1985, President Ronald Reagan appointed another commission to study pornography issues, specifically to overturn the findings of the Lockhart commission. It was headed by Attorney General Edwin Meese and is generally known as the Meese commission. The commission's report, released in 1986, found that pornography is harmful and can lead to violent acts. These findings have been criticized for not reflecting the empirical evidence.

The feminist position on pornography is divided. Some feminists view pornography as a crucial part of the sexual revolution which led to women's liberation, and see conservative views of morality as designed to fortify an oppressive status quo. Other feminists, most vocally Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon, see pornography as degradation of women which leads to violence against women. They have attempted to create laws which allow sexually abused and otherwise affected women to sue pornographers in civil court. One such attempt in Indianapolis was struck down by the US Supreme Court in 1986. In a 1992 decision, the Canadian Supreme Court upheld the Canadian obscenity law, accepting the feminist argument that the law is intended to create gender equality and prohibits materials that harm women, rather than "immoral" materials. Dworkin herself favors a civil law approach and opposes all criminal pornography prohibitions.

The criticisms of Linda Boreman, who herself worked as a porn actor under the name Linda Lovelace, focus on the exploitative practices of the porn industry, rather than on pornography's societal effects.

Japanese pornography and sex crimes

It has long been theorized that there may be a link between pornography, particularly violent pornography, and an increase in sex crime. This theory has relatively little empirical support and indeed Japan, which is noted for violent pornography, has the lowest reported sex crime rate in the industrialized world, which has led some researchers to speculate that an opposite relationship may in fact exist, namely, that wide availability of pornography may reduce crimes by giving potential offenders a socially accepted way of regulating their own sexuality.

Milton Diamond and Ayako Uchiyama write in "Pornography, Rape and Sex Crimes in Japan" (International Journal of Law and Psychiatry 22(1): 1-22. 1999) [1]:

Our findings regarding sex crimes, murder and assault are in keeping with what is also known about general crime rates in Japan regarding burglary, theft and such. Japan has the lowest number of reported rape cases and the highest percentage of arrests and convictions in reported cases of any developed nation. Indeed Japan is known as one of the safest developed countries for women in the world (Clifford, 1980). (...)

Despite the absence of evidence, the myth persists that an abundance of sexual explicit material invariably leads to an abundance of sexual activity and eventually rape (e.g., Liebert, Neale, & Davison, 1973). Indeed, the data we report and review suggests the opposite. Christensen (1990) argues that to prove that available pornography leads to sex crimes one must at least find a positive temporal correlation between the two. The absence of any positive correlation in our findings, and from results elsewhere, between an increase in available pornography and the incidence of rape or other sex crime, is prima facie evidence that no link exists. But objectivity requires that an additional question be asked: "Does pornography use and availability prevent or reduce sex crime?" Both questions lead to hypotheses that have, over prolonged periods, been tested in Denmark, Sweden, West Germany and now in Japan. Indeed it appears from our data from Japan, as it was evident to Kutchinsky (1994), from research in Europe and Scandinavia, that a large increase in available sexually explicit materials, over many years, has not been correlated with an increase in rape or other sexual crimes. Instead, in Japan a marked decrease in sexual crimes has occurred.

That hypothesis is challenged by a recent increase in sex crimes in Japan which, however, parallels an increase in all crimes. Nevertheless, some in Japan have blamed the increase on violent pornography and indeed, some sex offenders report having been inspired by themes in commonly available pornography. The counter argument is, of course, that sex offenders will likely use any defense they can to lower their culpability.


Pornography has possibly a very long history. Nude human beings and sexual activities are depicted in some paleolithic art. However it is not certain that the purpose was sexual arousal, the images may have had instead a spiritual significance. There are numerous pornographic paintings on the walls of ruined Roman buildings in Pompeii. One notable example is a brothel in which the various sexual services are advertised in murals above each door. In Pompeii you can also see phalluses (an erect penis and testicles) engraved in the sidewalks, pointing the way to the prostitution and entertainment district, to aid visitors in finding their way (see Erotic art in Pompeii).

In the second half of the 20th century, pornography became available in "men's magazines" such as Playboy. These magazines usually featured nude or semi-nude women, sometimes engaging in the act of masturbation. Other magazines evolved into more explicit displays, featuring sexual penetration, lesbianism and homosexuality, group sex, and fetishes.

The movie camera has been used for pornography throughout its history, and with the arrival of the home video cassette recorder the pornographic movie industry grew massively, people being able not only to view pornography in the privacy of their own home without having to go out to a theater, but also to make their own pornography.

Pornographic computer games have also existed almost since the start of the industry.

With the arrival of the Internet, the availability of pornography increased greatly. Many of the most successful internet entrepreneurs are those who operate pornographic internet sites. As well as conventional photographic or video pornography, some sites offer "interactive" video-game-like entertainment. Due to the international character of the Internet, it provides an easy means for consumers of pornography that is illegal in their country to simply acquire such material from sources in another country where it is legal or not prosecuted. See internet pornography.

The almost-zero cost of copying and shipping of digital data boosted the formation of private circles of people swapping pornography. This type of exchange is especially popular for material that is illegal, most notably child pornography.

In leet speak, it is usually referred to as pr0n.

Pornographic conventions

Pornographic work contains a number of conventions. Although pornography targeted at heterosexual males often includes interaction between females, interaction between males is taboo. In hard core materials, a male always ejaculates outside his partner's body, in full view. Penises are almost always shown fully erect.

Pornography around the globe

The production and distribution of pornography are economic activities of some importance. The exact size of the economy of pornography and the influence that it plays in political circles are matter of controversy.

Pornography in the United States

Main article: Pornography in the United States

A few large companies operating out of Southern California's San Fernando Valley are responsible for much of the pornography produced in the United States. The distribution of pornography has changed radically after the 1980s with videotape and cable television largely displacing X-rated theaters. Video distribution in turn is in the process of being replaced by DVD (and Internet distribution for niche markets). Distribution of pornography is a large industry which involves major entertainment companies such as AOL-Time Warner (which profits from pornography through its cable channels, and in-room movies provided by hotel chains).

Pornography in the United States tends to feature mostly blonde women with large breasts and buttocks and often with small tattoos or body piercing. Men in heterosexual pornography tend to be older and heavily muscled, whereas men in gay pornography are on average younger. American pornography movies often attempt to promote pornographic stars, and the boxes for video tapes tend to be extremely gaudy. Plot in pornographic movies is often minimal.

Pornography in Europe

European hardcore pornography is dominated by a few pan-European producers and distributors, the most notable of which is the Private organization. Most European countries also have local pornography producers. Both of these compete with imported American pornography.

Women in European pornography typically have a so-called "more natural" look than in American pornography, with less emphasis on breast implants.

Pornography in Asia

The three main producers of pornography in Asia are Japan, Hong Kong, and Thailand. Japan has a large pornography industry which features more natural looking women usually wearing little makeup servicing multiple men who tend to be anonymous. Hong Kong and Thailand produces much print pornography but less video. The men in Thai pornography tend to be younger than in Japanese or American pornography.


Playboy (originally only in US, nowadays has editions in many countries)
Hustler Magazine (originally only in US, nowadays has editions in many countries)
Private (Established in Stockholm, Sweden in 1965 as the world's first full color hardcore sex magazine)
Le Ore (Italy), once an ordinary newspaper, in the 1970s had a notable turn in editorial line and represents now the most important title of a wide network of sex related magazines in central Europe.
see also: List of men's magazines


Black Lace
Blue Moon
Chimera Press
Nexus Books
Silver Moon


Falcon Studios
Titan Media
Vivid Video

Erotic authors

Marquis de Sade
Anais Nin
Henry Miller

List of erotic authors

Famous Movies

Debbie Does Dallas
Deep Throat
The Opening of Misty Beethoven
The Devil in Miss Jones
Behind the Green Door
Girls Gone Wild


Annabel Chong
Annie Sprinkle
Asia Carrera
Ben Dover
Bob Guccione
Brande Roderick
Chloe Verrier
Danni Ashe
Hugh Hefner
Georgina Spelvin
Gousgounis: a famous male porn star in Greece, now retired (2004). Many people consider his as the most important historical personality in the Greek porn scene. In Greek every-day language, "Gousgounis" is used as an euphemism for "a male who has lots of sex".
Ginger Lynn
Gloria Leonard
Ilona Staller
Jenna Jameson
John Holmes
John Stagliano
Karin Schubert
Larry Flynt
Linda Lovelace
Marilyn Chambers
Moana Pozzi
Nicci Sterling
Nina Hartley
Peter North
Rocco Siffredi
Ron Jeremy
Tera Patrick
Tiffany Towers

Specialized forms of pornography

  • bondage magazines
  • spanking magazines

See also

External links and references