Pornographic magazine

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Pornographic magazines on display in a Japanese shop, 2009 Pornographies of Japan.jpg
Pornographic magazines on display in a Japanese shop, 2009

Pornographic magazines, or erotic magazines, sometimes known as adult, sex or top-shelf magazines, [1] are magazines that contain content of an explicitly sexual nature. Publications of this kind may contain images of attractive naked subjects, as is the case in softcore pornography, [1] and, in the usual case of hardcore pornography, depictions of masturbation, oral, vaginal or anal sex. [1]


They primarily serve to stimulate sexual arousal, and are often used as an aid to masturbation. [1] Some magazines are general in their content, while others may be more specific and focus on a particular pornographic niche, part of the anatomy, or model characteristics. [1] Examples include Asian Babes which focuses on Asian women, or Leg Show which concentrates on women's legs. Well-known adult magazines include Playboy , Penthouse , Playgirl and Hustler . Magazines may also carry articles on topics including cars, humor, science, computers, culture and politics. With the continued progression of print media to digital, retailers have also had to adapt. Software such as Apple's discontinued Newsstand enabled the downloading and displaying of digital versions of magazines, but it do not allow pornographic material. However, there are specific digital newsstands for pornographic magazines.


The first issue of Playboy, published in December 1953. Pb1253.jpg
The first issue of Playboy , published in December 1953.

Pornographic magazines form a part of the history of erotic depictions. It is a form for the display and dissemination of these materials. [2]

In 1880, halftone printing was used to reproduce photographs inexpensively for the first time. [3] The invention of halftone printing took pornography and erotica in new directions at the beginning of the 20th century. The new printing processes allowed photographic images to be reproduced easily in black and white, whereas printers were previously limited to engravings, woodcuts and line cuts for illustrations. [4] This was the first format that allowed pornography to become a mass market phenomena, it now being more affordable and more easily acquired than any previous form. [2]

First appearing in France, the new magazines featured nude (often, burlesque actresses were hired as models) and semi-nude photographs on the cover and throughout; while these would now be termed softcore, they were quite shocking for the time. The publications soon either masqueraded as "art magazines" or publications celebrating the new cult of naturism, with titles such as Photo Bits , Body in Art, Figure Photography, Nude Living and Modern Art for Men. [2] The British magazine Health & Efficiency (now H&E naturist, often known simply as "H&E") was first published in 1900, and began to include articles about naturism in the late 1920s. [5] Gradually, this material came to dominate - particularly as other magazines were taken over and absorbed. At times in its post-WWII history, H&E has catered primarily to the soft-porn market.

Another early form of pornography were comic books known as Tijuana bibles that began appearing in the U.S. in the 1920s and lasted until the publishing of glossy colour men's magazines commenced. These were crude hand drawn scenes often using popular characters from cartoons and culture. [6]

In the 1940s, the word "pinup" was coined to describe pictures torn from men's magazines and calendars and "pinned up" on the wall by U.S. soldiers in World War II. While the 1940s images focused mostly on legs, by the 1950s, the emphasis shifted to breasts. Betty Grable and Marilyn Monroe were two of the most popular pinup models. Marilyn Monroe continued to be a popular model for the men's magazines in the 1950s.

The 1950s saw the rise of the first mass-market softcore pornographic magazines: Modern Man in 1952 and Playboy in 1953. [7] Hugh Hefner's Playboy started a new style of the men's glossy magazine (or girlie magazine). [8] Hefner coined the term centrefold, [9] and in the first edition of his Playboy used a photograph of a nude Marilyn Monroe, [10] despite her objections. Another term that became popular with Playboy readers was the "Playboy Playmate". These new-style magazines featured nude or semi-nude women, sometimes simulating masturbation, although their genitals or pubic hair were not actually displayed.

In 1963, Lui started in France to compete against Playboy, while Bob Guccione did the same in the United Kingdom in 1965 with Penthouse . [11] Penthouse's style was different to other magazines; with women looking indirectly at the camera, as if they were going about their private idylls. This change of emphasis influenced erotic depictions of women. Penthouse was also the first magazine to publish pictures that included pubic hair and full frontal nudity, both of which were considered beyond the bounds of the erotic and in the realm of pornography at the time. In 1965, Mayfair was launched in the UK in competition to Playboy and Penthouse. In September 1969 Penthouse was launched in the U.S., bringing new competition to Playboy. [11] In order to retain its market share Playboy followed Penthouse in the display of pubic hair, risking obscenity charges, and launching the "Pubic Wars". [11] As competition between the two magazines escalated, their photos became increasingly more explicit. [11] In the late 1960s, some magazines began to move into more explicit displays often focusing on the buttocks as standards of what could be legally depicted and what readers wanted to see.

By the 1970s magazines containing images of the pubic area became increasingly common. Paul Raymond launched in the UK Men Only in 1971, and then Club International in 1972. [12] Playboy was the first to clearly show visible pubic hair in January 1971. The first full frontal nude centerfold was Playboy's Miss January 1972. In 1974, Larry Flynt first published Hustler in the US, which contained more explicit material. Some researchers have detected increasingly violent images in magazines like Playboy and Penthouse over the course of the 1970s, with them then returning to their more upscale style by the end of the decade. [13] Paul Raymond Publications launched Escort in 1980 in the UK, Razzle in 1983 and Men's World in 1988.

Sales of pornographic magazines in the U.S. have declined significantly since 1979, [14] with a nearly 50% reduction in circulation between 1980 and 1989. [15] The fact that the U.S. incidence of rape has increased over the same period has cast doubt on any correlation between magazine sales and sex crimes. [16] Studies from the mid 1980s to the early 1990s nearly all confirmed that pornographic magazines contained significantly less violent imagery than pornographic films. [13]

In the 1990s, magazines such as Hustler began to feature more hardcore material such as sexual penetration, lesbianism and homosexuality, group sex, masturbation, and fetishes. [1] [2] [8] In the late 1990s and 2000s the pornographic magazines market declined, as they were challenged by new "Lad mags" such as FHM and Loaded , which featured softcore photos. [1] The availability of pornographic DVDs and above all internet pornography also led to a decline in magazine sales. [1] [17] Many magazines developed their own websites which also show pornographic films. [1] Despite falling sales, the top-selling U.S. adult magazines still maintain high circulations compared to most mainstream magazines, and are amongst the top-selling magazines of any type. [15]

Paul Raymond Publications dominates the British adult magazine market today, [17] distributing eight of the ten top selling adult magazines in the UK. [17] There were about 100 adult magazine titles in the UK in 2001. [17]

Common features

Several magazines feature photos of "ordinary" women submitted by readers, for example the Readers Wives sections of several British magazines, and Beaver Hunt in the US. [1] Many magazines also feature supposed stories of their reader's sexual exploits, many of which are actually written by the magazines' writers. [1] Many magazines contain a high number of advertisements for Phone sex lines, which provide them with an important source of revenue. [1]

Gay magazines

These kind of pornographic magazines are made for gay and bisexual men focusing on homoerotic male content. The most notable and one of the first is Physique Pictorial , started in 1951 by Bob Mizer when his attempt to sell the services of male models; however, Athletic Model Guild photographs of them failed. It was published in black and white, and was published for nearly 50 years. The magazine was innovative in its use of props and costumes to depict the now standard pornographic gay classics like cowboys, gladiators and sailors. [2] [18] [19]

Production, distribution and retail

A successful magazine requires significant investment in production facilities and a distribution network. [7] They require large printing presses and numerous specialized employees, such as graphic designers and typesetters. [7] Today a new magazine start-up can cost as much as $20 million, and magazines are significantly more expensive to produce than pornographic films, and more expensive than internet pornography. [7]

Like all magazines, pornographic magazines are dependent on advertising revenue, which may force a magazine to tone down its content. [7]

Depending on the laws in each jurisdiction, pornographic magazines may be sold in convenience stores, newsagents and petrol stations. [1] They may need to be sold on the top shelf, [20] under the counter or in plastic wrappers. Some retail chains and many independent retail outlets do not stock pornographic magazines. They may also be sold in sex shops or by mail order.

List of pornographic magazines

See also

Related Research Articles

<i>Playboy</i> Mens lifestyle and entertainment magazine based in Chicago

Playboy is an American men's lifestyle and entertainment magazine, formerly in print and currently online. It was founded in Chicago in 1953, by Hugh Hefner and his associates, and funded in part by a $1,000 loan from Hefner's mother. Notable for its centerfolds of nude and semi-nude models (Playmates), Playboy played an important role in the sexual revolution and remains one of the world's best-known brands, having grown into Playboy Enterprises, Inc. (PEI), with a presence in nearly every medium. In addition to the flagship magazine in the United States, special nation-specific versions of Playboy are published worldwide.

Pubic Wars, a pun on the Punic Wars, is the name of the war between the pornographic magazines Playboy and Penthouse during the 1960s and 1970s. Each magazine strove to show just a little bit more than the other, without getting too crude. The term was coined by Playboy owner Hugh Hefner. In 1950s and 1960s America, it was generally agreed that nude photographs were not pornographic unless they showed pubic hair or genitals. "Respectable" photography was careful to come close to, but not cross over, this line. Consequently, the depiction of pubic hair was de facto forbidden in U.S. pornographic magazines.

<i>Penthouse</i> (magazine) Erotic magazine

Penthouse is a men's magazine founded by Bob Guccione. It combines urban lifestyle articles and softcore pornographic pictorials that, in the 1990s, evolved into hardcore.

Pornographic film Film genre that depicts unsimulated sex activity as the central part of story

Pornographic films (pornos), erotic films, or sex films are films that present sexually explicit subject matter in order to arouse and satisfy the viewer. Pornographic films present sexual fantasies and usually include erotically stimulating material such as nudity (softcore) and sexual intercourse (hardcore). A distinction is sometimes made between "erotic" and "pornographic" films on the basis that the latter category contains more explicit sexuality, and focuses more on arousal than storytelling, but the distinction is highly subjective.

<i>Hustler</i> Pornographic magazine

Hustler is a monthly pornographic magazine published by Larry Flynt in the United States. Introduced in 1974, it was a step forward from the Hustler Newsletter, originally conceived as cheap advertising for his strip club businesses at the time. The magazine grew from a shaky start to a peak circulation of around 3 million in the early 1980s; it has since dropped to approximately 500,000. It shows explicit views of the female genitalia, becoming one of the first major US-based magazines to do so, in contrast with relatively modest publications like Playboy.

Hardcore pornography Explicit graphical depictions of sexual acts

Hardcore pornography, or hardcore porn, is pornography that features detailed depictions of sexual organs or sexual acts such as vaginal, anal or oral intercourse, cunnilingus, fellatio, fingering, anilingus, ejaculation, and fetish play. The term is in contrast with less-explicit softcore pornography. Hardcore pornography usually takes the form of photographs, films and cartoons. Since the 1990s, hardcore pornography has become widely available over the Internet, making it more accessible than ever before.

Pornography in Japan Japanese pornographic industry

Pornography in Japan has unique characteristics that readily distinguish it from Western pornography. Reflecting Japan's views on sexuality and culture, Japanese pornography delves into a wide spectrum of heterosexual, homosexual, and transgender sexual acts in addition to unique fetishes and paraphilias.

Softcore pornography Erotic still photography or film that is less sexually explicit than hardcore pornography

Softcore pornography or softcore porn is commercial still photography or film that has a pornographic or erotic component but is less sexually graphic and intrusive than hardcore pornography, defined by a lack of sexual penetration. Softcore pornography includes stripteases, lingerie modeling, simulated sex, and emphasis on the sensual appreciation of the female or male form. It typically contains nude or semi-nude actors involved in love scenes, and is intended to be sexually arousing and aesthetically beautiful.

Erotic photography art photography using erotica, and sexually suggestive appeals

Erotic photography is a style of art photography of an erotic, sexually suggestive or sexually provocative nature.


The centerfold or centrefold of a magazine refers to a gatefolded spread, usually a portrait such as a pin-up or a nude, inserted in the middle of the publication, or to the model featured in the portrait. In saddle-stitched magazines, the centerfold does not have any blank space cutting through the image.

Lesbian erotica Visual art depiction of female-to-female sexuality

Lesbian erotica deals with depictions in the visual arts of lesbianism, which is the expression of female-on-female sexuality. Lesbianism has been a theme in erotic art since at least the time of ancient Rome, and many regard depictions of lesbianism to be erotic.

History of erotic depictions Aspect of history

The history of erotic depictions includes paintings, sculpture, photographs, dramatic arts, music and writings that show scenes of a sexual nature throughout time. They have been created by nearly every civilization, ancient and modern. Early cultures often associated the sexual act with supernatural forces and thus their religion is intertwined with such depictions. In Asian countries such as India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Japan and China, representations of sex and erotic art have specific spiritual meanings within native religions. The ancient Greeks and Romans produced much art and decoration of an erotic nature, much of it integrated with their religious beliefs and cultural practices.

Women's erotica is any erotic material that caters specifically to women target-demographic of various sexual preferences. When erotica is specifically directed at lesbians, it is referred to as lesbian erotica. Women's erotica is available from a variety of media including video games, websites, books, comics, short stories, films, photography, magazines, audio, anime and manga. The content may cover many aspects of sexuality, from relationships to fetishes; the main idea being to convey sex-positivism from a woman's perspective, or to feature female empowerment and sexual fantasies.

Kimberly Kane American pornographic actress (born 1983)

Kimberly Kane is an American pornographic actress.

Dian Hanson is an American magazine and book editor.

The Victorian pornographic tradition included French photographs, erotic prints, and printed literature. As technology has advanced, pornography has taken diverse forms and become more widespread in society. In the twentieth century the production of pornographic magazines and films developed, and by the twenty-first century pornography was available by telephone, on television and via the internet. However, access to pornography has generally been more restricted than it has been in comparable Western countries.

Pornography in the Philippines is defined by Philippine law in the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines and Republic Act No. 7610. According to this Philippine legislation, pornography are illegal doctrines, publications, shows, and other similar material or portrayals that advocate human immorality, obscenity, and indecency. Philippine legislations penalize participation in these unlawful activities, which extend punishment to those that harbor abuse, exploitation, prostitution, and discrimination of children.

Will Santillo

Aaron Hawks is an American multidisciplinary artist, best known for his conceptual fetish photography and installation art.


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