Museum of Sex x Pornhub | “STAG: The Illicit Origins of Pornographic Film”

by Morgan Vickery

Shocker: our predecessors weren’t strangers to X-rated entertainment. As a matter of fact, the earliest porn films were produced as early as the beginning of the 20th century. To highlight the history of this topic, the Museum of Sex in New York City collaborates with Pornhub in an exhibition called “STAG: The Illicit Origins of Pornographic Film,” bringing these first pieces of adult entertainment to the public.

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Set in the museum’s vintage theater are so-called ’stags’ — short black and white films produced in secrecy in early 1900 through the 1960s. They often interlaced sex with humor and narrative plots for the sake of satire and social commentary, exploring the construction and portrayal of male and female sexualities at the time.

“We’re proud to partner with Museum of Sex in the presentation of ‘Stag: The Illicit Origins of Pornographic Film,’” said Corey Price, Vice President of Pornhub. “We wanted to celebrate the earliest depictions of sex on film and pay homage to the professional filmmakers and amateur producers responsible for this unprecedented time in adult entertainment.”

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Though sound and color film was a norm when later stags were produced, almost all stag productions were silent and black-and-white. This stylistic choice generated an explicit allure, suggesting the reality of the sex acts being performed and the underground nature of the pornographic film industry itself. Exclusively curated by Museum of Sex, the exhibit features films that demonstrate the major aesthetic and thematic trends that shaped the early history of the ‘scandalous’ film industry.

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The exhibit is currently open to the public and will be on view through October 21 at Museum of Sex on Fifth Avenue.

Written by: Valerie Stepanova