An Oral History of Porn: The Rialto Report

rialto_logo_stacked

I spoke with Ashley West, the man behind the Rialto Report (Editor’s Note: This website contains graphic images).

RR-image1Why an oral history of porn?

The birth of modern porn has been chronically under-served by chroniclers so far.

As a result, history has been entrusted to self-important academics whose principal talent is to suck all life out of a subject, or the sex media whose mission is to sell more product by titillation, or well-meaning fans who believe that every film is an undiscovered classic, or the mainstream media who have a monotonous need to find a narrative of abuse.

We wanted to give a voice to the original pioneers, the cowboys of the industry back when it was the Wild West, and ask them the obvious questions: Why did you do it? What was it like? And what effect has it had on the rest of your life?

The fact that most of the people we speak to are now in the autumn of their lives adds a huge amount of poignancy, pathos and value to their perspectives.

Many of them are parents, grandparents even, present day pillars of the community, and one nameless person who is the local chairman of Republican Party. This hindsight has not been captured in this way before.

What draws you to know more about these lives?

This is an important part of the history of the sexual revolution, and therefore the history of this country.

Many of the freedoms we take for granted today were earned by these people taking risks. The early adult film industry operated in a legally ‘gray’ area; many actors, directors, and distributors faced ludicrous charges such as obscenity, conspiracy to fornicate, acts of carnal indecency, and private lewdness.

This was only 40 years ago, but it was a different world.

And when these people pass, their history disappears with them too. It’s important to record their memories, thoughts, and feelings so that we preserve the fullest possible picture of this time.

RR-breaker-beauties-movie-poster-1977-1020530053Tell me a little about past shows.

We combine long-form podcast interview shows with investigative oral history blog articles.

No subject is too small. Apart from interviewing industry giants like Seka, Annie Sprinkle, Georgina Spelvin, and Al Goldstein, we’ve looked at subjects like: Jill Monroe – the first transsexual in the industry; the legendary Melody Burlesk theater in New York; Marty Hodas – the man who single handedly changed Times Square in New York when he introduced peep shows there in the 1960s; Jonas Middleton – a devout born-again Christian who made ‘Through The Looking Glass’, one of the few classics of X-rated cinema; and Jeff Stryker – the iconic 1980s king of gay porn. One of our upcoming guests is Porsche Lynn, who just published a book on her life.

Oh, and the life and times of Dr Infinity, the notorious auto-fellator – who also stole Harvard’s Gutenberg Bible and was Sean Lennon’s nanny for a time.

In short, it’s like an NPR show such as ‘This American Life’ and ‘Fresh Air’ meeting the makers of ‘Deep Throat’ and ‘Debbie Does Dallas’.

Check out the Rialto Report here.

2 Comments on "An Oral History of Porn: The Rialto Report"

  1. Adam's Shadow | Sep 23, 2014 at 6:44 pm |

    “Why an oral history of porn?”

    Opportunity: missed.

  2. Atropostrophe | Sep 23, 2014 at 9:09 pm |

Comments are closed.