A Review of Graphic Thrills: American XXX Movie Posters, 1970-1985
Let’s explore vintage smut with Cinema Sewer’s Robin Bougie!
Letting Cinema Sewer magazine creator, Robin Bougie, take you on a tour through the world of smut is somewhat like exploring the Atlantic Ocean with Jacques Cousteau as your guide—you’re not going to find anyone better for the job.
Those familiar with Bougie’s work understand that he is the Howard Zinn of sleaze. He is a true people’s historian, documenting obscure and forgotten material from the world’s cultural underbelly and making it available and accessible to the writhing masses—and usually alongside lots of his drawings of boobs, butts, and boners. Nowhere does Bougie channel his inner-cultural historian better than in his new book Graphic Thrills.
Yes, Graphic Thrills has it all. The book is a collection of pornographic movie posters from 1970 to 1985, but it offers so much more than just breath-taking, lurid images and catchy film titles. Bougie opens Graphic Thrills with an absolutely epic essay on the history of smut, beginning at human pre-history, with 7,200 year-old cave paintings. From there, Bougie takes some sizable leaps through time, spending most of the 12-page intro detailing the trajectory of smut throughout the period in question: 1970-1985 (with a geographic focus on the US). I know, I know—it sounds like a lot of text for a collection of pork-film posters, but let me tell you, it is all worth the read. Bougie’s writing will inform you, make you laugh, and perhaps even cause you to grool or give you a boner. He moves fluidly, almost creamily, between the topics of the state’s campaign to suppress smut, the lives of adult filmmakers and performers, and then, of course, stories behind the posters that make up most the book’s 141 pages. And hey, if you’re not really that into reading, fear not: this section is peppered with a wealth of sleazy images to which you can stroke the old johnson or massage your slit—whichever applies.
With that said, let’s get to the meat of this book—the posters. Each of the 124 featured images is paired with text, supplied by Bougie, which contains the author’s descriptions of the films in addition to excerpts of interviews with relevant adult filmmakers and stars. For as fun and interesting as the text is in this section, the posters steal the show. Their artwork ranges from silly to cute to cryptic to straight-up raunchy. Each piece is eye-catching or junk-grabbing on at least some level.
Among the many notables is the poster to Barbie’s Fantasies, which showcases a painting of a curvy blonde woman standing in front of what appears to be a pink hole—you know, like a black hole in outer-space, only pink. The lady is leaning back, licking a finger, and using her other hand to knead her bulging twat through tight white shorts. Yep. Not surprisingly, this iconic image is featured on the back-cover of the book. Good call, FAB Press—it’s one of the main reasons I purchased it.
Wow. Just wow.
An additional standout is the poster for 1978’s Hot Teenage Assets. Another painting, this poster is a perfect visual encapsulation of the aesthetics of the 1980s (even though the film was released in the late 1970s). Against a hazy, dark-blue backdrop, a woman in a cherry-red bikini flash-dances while showering herself with a long, twirling white hose that looks like something out of a laser-light show and appears to be spraying water and constellations over her. The text on the poster immediately calls the original Tron movie to mind, which is a good thing. Fans of 1980s art will also love the classic, semi-psychedelic poster for Consenting Adults.
Oh, I almost forgot: vore and macro fetishists will most certainly go crazy over the poster for Champagne for Breakfast—the central image is a painting of a tiny, nude, mustachioed man floating in a glass of champagne as the drink is raised to sultry, larger-than-life scarlet lips for a drink. The concerned look on the man’s face says he’s about to go down the hatch.
While this book is a net-masterpiece, there are some lowlights to be discussed. For one, the poster compendium is rather hetero-centric. However, Robin Bougie not only acknowledges this problem in the book’s intro, he completely laments it, stating, “It should be noted that effort was made to include posters representing the more noteworthy gay films of the same era, but it turned out to be
an exercise in frustration.” Bougie goes on to explain that, due to prevailing norms of the times, posters typically weren’t even made to advertise gay fuck-films between the years of 1970 and 1985. Bummer. What’s more, according to Bougie, of the few gay adult film posters that could be tracked down from that time period, the cost was simply too high to purchase them, due to their rarity.
And on a pretty subjective note of criticism, the last forty-some pages of the book begin to display more and more photo-based posters, which sort of bummed me out. While some of the photographic content is certainly interesting, most of it pales in comparison to the outlandish, dynamically styled artwork that comprises the bulk of Graphic Thrills. But hey, maybe you’ll love the photos?
At the end of the day, Graphic Thrills is truly an unrepentant masterwork of the mondo di sleaze. I write with confidence that it is a must-own for fans of either porno or posters—and especially the very small number of people who fall into the middle section of the classic Porno Fan–Poster Fan Venn diagram. You may also consider buying this book if you like: smut history, vintage art, boobs, psychedelic colors, butts, feeling sexually aroused, or simply things that are just fucking awesome. Seriously, pick up a copy of Graphic Thrills at Atomic Books in Hampden, now, you dirtbag.