Pornographic magazines, sometimes known as adult magazines, sex magazines, top-shelf magazines, blue books, or stick mags are magazines that contain content of a sexual nature, typically regarded as pornography. Such publications provide photographs or other illustrations of nudity and sexual activities, including oral sex, sexual intercourse, anal sex, and other various forms of such activities. Most often, these magazines contain photographs of attractive women and/or men. These magazines primarily serve to stimulate sexual thoughts and emotions. Some magazines are very general in their variety of illustrations, while others may be more specific and focus on particular activities, fetishes, or parts of the anatomy. Adult magazines are mainly aimed towards men, as males populate the vast majority of the market.
Porn mags may also carry articles of serious nature. Topics range from science, computers, culture, and politics.
The history of pornographic magazines is part of a much longer history of erotic depictions. As the technology of communication has changed, each new technique, such as printing, photography, motion pictures and computers, has been adapted to display and disseminate these depictions.
In 1880, halftone printing was used to reproduce photographs inexpensively for the first time. 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. 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.
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. Health & Efficiency, started in 1900, was a typical naturist magazine in Britain.
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.
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 '40s images focused mostly on legs, by the '50s, the emphasis shifted to breasts. Betty Grable and Marilyn Monroe were two of the most popular pinup models. In the second half of the 20th century, pornography evolved into the men's magazines such as Playboy and Modern Man of the 1950s. In fact, the beginning of the modern men's glossy magazine (or girlie magazine) can be traced to the 1953 purchase by Hugh Hefner of a photograph of Marilyn Monroe to use as the centerfold of his new magazine Playboy. Soon, this type of magazine was the primary medium in which pornography was consumed.
These magazines featured nude or semi-nude women, sometimes apparently masturbating, although their genitals or pubic hair were not actually displayed. Penthouse, started by Bob Guccione in England in 1965, took a different approach. Women looked indirectly at the camera, as if they were going about their private idylls. This change of emphasis was influential in 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 the late 1960s, 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 changed. By the 1970s, they were focusing on the pubic area and eventually, by the 1990s, featured sexual penetration, lesbianism and homosexuality, group sex, masturbation, and fetishes in the more hard-core magazines such as Hustler.
Magazines for every taste and fetish were soon created due to the low cost of producing them. Magazines for the gay community flourished, the most notable and one of the first being 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 gay icons like cowboys, gladiators and sailors.
- Adelman, Bob - "Tijuana Bibles: Art and Wit in America's Forbidden Funnies, 1930s-1950s" < ISBN:0684834618 > Buy it from Amazon.com
- Gabor, Mark - The Illustrated History of Girlie Magazines Random House Value Publishing < ISBN:0517549972 > Buy it from Amazon.com
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