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A History Of Obscenity

The truth is that we don’t really know how long people have been making art about sex. We can celebrate certain moments when sexuality officially crossed over into a new medium, but how can we really know the first time someone made an erotic photograph, film or drawing?


We know wiki says Adah Isaacs Menken was the first entertainer to appear nude in a photograph and for that we should be thankful. Now think about how many friends you have trying to make it in art yet so far unknown. Then think about Van Gogh. Multiply that number by how many pictures you took but never showed anyone and again by the number of people in the world who would be happy to take or pose for nude pictures - That number roughly represents exactly how sure you can be that nobody else had an erotic photograph taken before she did (on stage), to the nearest decimal point.

Erotic film history is slightly easier research as incredibly surprisingly ‘Production of erotic films commenced almost immediately after the invention of the motion picture’.

‘Le Coucher de la Mariée’ is one of the first pornographic films known yet as it was originally seven minutes long and only the first minute and a half survived the trials of time, it is up to us to take histories word for it. Surely there can be no better reminder to back-up your data on a regular basis than to know that this film was made in 1896 yet due to the beta testing problems with film preservation it was not until 1908 that someone made an erotic film that we can actually see today.

‘A L’Ecu d’Or ou la bonne auberge’ is that film, and watching it makes it seem obvious that people had been making porn for a long time before it. It has the vaudeville music and the story presented written on screen like all your favourite silent films, it also jumps almost directly into well filmed explicit oral three-way between two women and a man and follows to include the first penetration on camera so in many ways this film is the beginning of porn as we know it. If you know anyone who has a problem with porn, tell them the French are basically historically responsible.

That might seem like a long time ago and you may feel a lot has changed. However, when you consider that this first ever porn film contains a scene of a woman sitting on a man’s face, and that is currently banned in UK porn and in many other places, it could be said that those people don’t seem so old fashioned after all.