Michael Woodhead


Dave Thompson
ECW Press
adult documentary

This book is an intriguing, well thought out, and excellent history of the stag film, from Victorian times to the late 1970s.

Pornography has been with us for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years. Acts of sexuality -- softcore, hardcore, and the outright perverse -- are visible not only on the walls of the ancient Roman Empire, but also in sketches, drawings, and paintings done by various artists from countries all over the world.

It's not surprising, then, that as soon as still cameras and movie cameras became accessible to the general public, they were immediately appropriated for the creation of erotic and pornographic photographs and films.

As the book points out, in the beginning many of the movies were "made to order ", and production was pretty much world wide even by the early 1900s.

From these individual viewings, stag films gradually became fare for "road shows ", the movies being taken from one town to another, thus gradually building up a willing, hungry audience -- predominantly male -- demanding more and more. Thus, the adult motion picture industry began to evolve.

Such movies, however, were not without legal repercussions, and the book goes into the first prohibitions on stag films.

Going on, the author introduces us to various directors, actors, and actresses, and, in particular, describes many of the films that were made during the years.

In the end, with the appearance of the motion picture, Deep Throat, and its "acceptance " by the general public -- making it the most successful film ever made -- stag films, for the most part, gradually disappeared. What was once watched in secret cinemas, back rooms, and peep shows had now been brought out into the open where it became accessible, thanks to the VCR, to everyone, and not just to "dirty old men ".

A selection of photographs has been included in the middle of the book, and as chapter headers. However, created like strips of 35mm film, they're just enough to titillate like the peep shows.