The Aesthetic Perfection of: Vintage Porn (NSFW)

Look how perfectly they nailed the lighting behind that plant in front of the octagon mirror? Amazing.

Bachelor Uncle turns 1 year old this month. Wow! Time flies. I’ve had so much fun writing this blog and today we’re going to introduce a new feature that will show up regularly on here.

It’s called “The Aesthetic Perfection of” series where I will dissect a particular topic, movie, TV show, whatever, and really get nitty gritty on why something is aesthetically perfect (in my opinion, but everything on this website is my opinion).

Which I guess brings us today’s topic. Vintage Porn!

Do you think The Plugz ever went on to great musical acclaim?

I’m not going to get into the ethics of pornography (it’s bad). I’m not gonna debate whether porn is healthy or regressive. There’s a lot of talk about that on blogs that pretend to have a deep moral compass and know more about social issues than I do. This is an interior design blog that laments the disappearance of sunken living rooms and wood paneling. You’re probably not gonna get a hot take here.

Porn is bigger than ever, but you could probably say that about every year ever. It’s to the point with Snapchat and OnlyFans that just about everyone you know produces porn content. But there was a time when porn seemed almost like hallowed ground. Weird, quasi-film productions sold in seedy buildings by tattooed misanthropes. And it was during this period where porn really got it’s own aesthetic language.

There seemed to be a real attention paid to how shots were framed, how the scenes were lit, and most importantly for this blog: The interior design.

Soft lighting and plant life features heavily in vintage porn.

Cool cars, beautiful women, hairy dudes, and upper middle-class homes really make the core backbone in this era of pornography. There’s a certain amount of glamour involved that doesn’t exist in today’s porn flicks.

Today’s movies are all shot in high def on a cell phone in some dude’s shitty apartment or a hotel room. They’re graphic and hardcore with zoom ins of wet throbbing body parts. And yeah – it gets the job done – but it lacks context and artistry.

Oh look. Just a nice family dinner with a whole ass cake and some of the most foreboding lighting ever put to film.

Vintage porn movies were expensive. Sometimes 50 dollars per tape. They usually had run times equal to that of feature length films. And that’s just it. They were films. They had story and context and reasons for existing. And one of the ways they told these stories was through interior design.

Porn is about fantasy, ultimately, and so it tried to create semi-plausible narratives that the audience could possibly see themselves engaging in. An idealized version of themselves. It was aspirational in a way. That if you got that Lincoln Continental or had that perfect bachelor pad, this could be the life you’re living. The interior design was more than just places to fuck, it informed you of who these characters were. And, somehow, these movies really nail an aesthetic that is now almost impossible to find.

Every guys fantasy. Two big haired women in front of a matchy-matchy brown pattern explosion.

There’s a richness to the spaces that these characters inhabit. It’s heavy but soft. Masculine but clean. These are environments where people like to fuck and get dirty, but they’re not seedy and unsafe. They’re inviting and a little dangerous.

Excuse me miss, but I mustache you a question.

Look, procuring old porn was an investment. You had to drive to an awful part of town, walk into a store filled with god-knows-what and browse the selections. There was no internet to tell you what was good or not. So you relied on covers, actors/actresses, production companies and word of mouth. But who were you talking to about porn? I feel this is a social aspect of sexuality that is missing today. With access to everything at your fingertips instantly, are we missing something in the ritual? In the risk of being caught buying porn by our friends and family? It must have been absolutely thrilling.

This one was filmed like an ’80s music video.

So what do we do? These movies were long because most people could only afford 5 or 6 tapes a year. They had little sexual vignettes tied together with a loose cobbled-together narrative. The story was just a vehicle to get you from one sex scene to the next. But it’s in those little narrative moments where the beauty and uniqueness of vintage porn really shines through.

A brand-new (for the time) Lincoln Continental driving through a pathway adorned with roses? Are you kidding me?

In the ’90s I found my Dad’s bag of porn tapes. It was in a little weird Arby’s lunch bag and it was full of weird old stuff. That was really my first exposure to these things and it was fascinating. You knew you weren’t supposed to be watching it, but it wasn’t some violent movie with gore and dismemberment. It was adults expressing affection and intimacy. It was a basic human need and seeing this stuff for the first time was confusing and enthralling. (sorry mom).

Velvet couch. Wood paneling. New colonial artwork? We’re definitely in the ’80s.

Now a-days all the narrative context you get for a porn clip is the brief subject line description on Pornhub. It’s no wonder that there is no attention paid to story, character or interior design. Despite the poor acting, vintage pornography is hazy and charming and goofy, which makes it endearing and approachable and somehow more intimate. And a lot of that has to do with the aesthetic choices.

This almost looks like a painting.

Which brings me back to the point of this post. Look, your house doesn’t have to look like a porn set (though it would be cool if it did). But the white-washing of design and the farmhouseification of everything is a total boner killer. I love seeing the emergence of things like cottage core and vaporwave because they are inherently sexy and warm places. Places that inform you of who lives in them and thus makes you feel closer to them. They are intimate because they possess personality.

Guys. I know you’re really busy, but when you’re done, can you please appreciate the french doors and perfect plant locations?

So in conclusion, make sure you take fuckability into account when designing your spaces. Remember that design is sexy, narrative is intimacy and vintage porn is stupid and beautiful (in it’s own way.)

As always – down with the white wall.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *