The Golden Age Of 8mm Smut

 

mistral-17-greats-ad-1

It will seem incomprehensible to younger readers, but up until around 1980, the only way people could enjoy sexy movies in the privacy of their own homes was to buy actual films and feed them through a projector. 8mm movies were, for a long time, the only option for watching the sort of movies that were not available on TV. The films were short – anything from three to around twenty minutes, and cost a pretty penny – if you think the price of VHS tapes in the early 1980s was outrageous, bear in mind that an 8mm film might cost you just as much – especially if you wanted such luxuries as colour and sound. The films were often fiddly, prone to snapping and jamming, while projectors were noisy and temperamental and the whole set up involved a certain degree of commitment – and not just financially. To watch a film, you’d have to set up a screen, get out the projector, feed through the film and then manage the focus. There was not much hope of doing all this clandestinely if you didn’t live alone. I have a lot of affection for 8mm, but I can understand why video was greeted with a sigh of relief from most people.

Still, needs must and despite all the difficulties, 8mm films sold like hot cakes throughout the 1960s and 1970s. 8mm smut was unique in that it was more often than not specifically made for the home market, rather than being the cut down versions of feature films that dominated the mainstream. Stag movies and porno loops were hugely popular, both in softcore and hardcore forms. The latter were available in the UK strictly under the counter, but the former were widely advertised, and companies like Mistral and Astral were pushing as close as they could get towards hardcore by 1980, while John Lindsay’s Taboo Films brazenly sold hardcore movies – the same films shown in Lindsay’s cinema clubs – until the police finally shut him down.

Here is a growing gallery of 8mm movie ads and box covers from the glory days of sexy home movies. Check back regularly for additions.