advertisement
advertisement
advertisement

The Glorious Graphic Design Of ’70s Porn (NSFW)

From Deep Throat to Debbie Does Dallas.

In an era when you can find any–truly any–porn online, there’s little need for an X-rated movie poster. But in the 1960s and 1970s, when porn theaters dotted the country, posters were necessary to give a taste of what could be experienced if one bought a ticket. A new book explores these tantalizing pieces of graphic design history.

advertisement

[Image: courtesy Reel Art Press]
X-Rated Adult Movie Posters of the 60s and 70s (Reel Art Press), by Tony Nourmand and Graham Marsh, features posters of films like Come One Come AllDeep Throat, and Debbie Does Dallas. Influenced by Pop Art and the psychedelia of the 1960s, the posters use the era’s distinct design language to play on the timeless allure of sexuality–bold typography offsets campy visuals reminiscent of tamer ads from that time.

“The task of the X-rated graphic artist was to arouse urgent desires that could only be satisfied by a seat in the stalls. Their designs required no decoding,” writes the journalist Peter Doggett in the book’s introduction. “Subtlety was rarely on the artists’ agenda. Their mission was to tease and to provoke, to conjure up fantasies and arouse repressed desires, with minimum budget and maximum impact. Everything–typography, pictorials, those enticing verbal come-ons–was focused on the irresistible allure of the forbidden.”

[Photo: courtesy Reel Art Press]
Some posters are more sensual, like 1963’s Days of Sin and Nights of Nymphomania, which features a come-hither woman’s hand holding a cigarette in the foreground while scantily clad women in a club saunter across the top of the poster. Others seem rooted firmly in their time and place, like the 1962 housewife fantasy Eve and the Handyman‘s pink backdrop and curly typography. Then there’s 1965’s Fe-Mail Special Delivery, where a postman has a panty hose-clad woman’s legs sticking out of his bag, framed by images of other barely dressed women–including one just of breasts.

Subtle? Of course not. But there’s something almost innocent about these posters viewed in 2017’s light. So much design today taps into our desires invisibly–apps capture our attention, phones shape our moods, and algorithms cater to our worst instincts. And they do so quietly–often without our explicit consent. The porn posters of the ’60s and ’70s might not be the world’s most refined graphic design. But they were nothing if not transparent about what they were selling.

About the author

Katharine Schwab is a contributing writer at Co.Design based in New York who covers technology, design, and culture. Follow her on Twitter @kschwabable.

More