Disposable Passions: Vintage Pornography and the Material Legacies of Adult Cinema

From The Grindhouse Cinema Database

Disposable Passions Vintage Pornography and the Material Legacies of Adult Cinema
  • Title: Disposable Passions: Vintage Pornography and the Material Legacies of Adult Cinema
  • Global Exploitation Cinemas series Vol. 2
  • Editors: David Church, Austin Fisher (series editor), Johnny Walker (series editor)
  • Release date: September 22, 2016
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
  • Pages: 296
  • ISBN (paperback): 1501307576
  • Publisher website

From early twentieth-century stag films to 1960s sexploitation pictures to the boom in 1970s “porno chic,” adult cinema's vintage forms are now being reappraised by a new generation of historians, fans, preservationists, and home video entrepreneurs-all of whom depend on and help shape the archive of film history. But what is the present-day allure of these artifacts that have since become eroticized more for their “pastness” than the explicit acts they show? And what are the political implications of recovering these rare but still-visceral films from a less “enlightened,” pre-feminist past? Drawing on media industry analysis, archival theory, and interviews with adult video personnel, David Church argues that vintage pornography retains its retrospective fascination precisely because these culturally denigrated texts have been so poorly preserved on political and aesthetic grounds. Through these films' ongoing moves from cultural emergence to concealment to rediscovery, the archive itself performs a “striptease,” permitting tangible contact with these corporeally stimulating forms at a moment when the overall physicality of media objects is undergoing rapid transformation. Disposable Passions explores the historiographic lessons that vintage pornography can teach us about which materials our society chooses to keep, and how a long-neglected genre is primed for serious rediscovery as more than mere autoerotic fodder.


As the study of pornographies continues to grow and develop it is especially good to see new approaches to vintage adult film. David Church's book is a fascinating dissection of the appeal of vintage porn and what this can tell us about cult film, fandom, and porn archives. Feona Attwood, Professor of Cultural Studies, Communication and Media at Middlesex University, UK, and author of Mainstreaming Sex (2009) and porn.com (2010) and founding co-editor of Porn Studies Disposable Passions is an absolute must read for every porn studies scholar. Church's meticulous and accurate research dives deep, and fills a gaping hole in seX film history. Annie Sprinkle, Ph.D., Porn Star turned Post Porn Artist

About the author

David Church is a film historian specializing in genre studies, taste cultures, and histories of film exhibition and distribution. He is a Lecturer in Comparative Cultural Studies at Northern Arizona University, USA, and is the author of Grindhouse Nostalgia: Memory, Home Video, and Exploitation Film Fandom (2015).

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