Pornography: Where Has All The Romance Gone?

Porn used to be earned the hard way by searching bushes to find discarded magazines, now all you need to access explicit filth is a mobile phone. Where has adventure gone?
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The porn bush. Part of any 80s childhood



Porn’s not like it used to be - it’s lost all it’s romance. Just to be clear, I’m not talking about any on-screen romance, of which I think it would've been inherently wrong for there ever to have been any. I’m talking about the olden-time romance of acquiring porn. When I grew up, before the Internet was so readily available, pornography was a relatively rare thing, and to tell the truth, I liked it better that way.

According to the dictionary definition, pornography is “obscene writings, drawings, photographs, or the like, especially those having little or no artistic merit”. By this token, I suppose the first time I ever looked at porn, I would've been in about year four or five at Primary school.

The first ‘obscene writings’ that I ever actively looked for was looking up rude words in 'My First Oxford English Dictionary'. I seem to remember going for the obvious ones first - ‘vagina’, ‘penis’ and ‘breasts’ being right at the top of that list. And then when I got bored of reading the quite medical and rather unsatisfactorily unsensational language used to describe said body parts, I moved on to the only other things I knew at that age; namely ‘condom’ or ‘intercourse’. After that, you really were clutching at straws, although oddly, I do seem to remember someone pointing out that if you look up ‘sheath’, you got a similar sort of entry as ‘condom’. With not much else to do, it was worth a look. Of course, this isn’t really the same as looking at porn. This was just being a kid of 9 or 10. Looking up words in a dictionary wasn’t for any sexual gratification, it was just being curious. It was the type of thing you did through muted giggles with a beetroot red face when you were supposed to be doing a comprehension exercise, not when you were sat at home on your bed with your pants around your ankles.


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Aside from the discarded Daily Sports that were strewn in the bushes at my local park, my first real memory of seeing proper porn was on a playing card. I went to high school with a lad who had numerous older brothers, who when they went on holiday with their older friends, would bring back the type of smutty paraphernalia that was only available in general stores in the likes of Ibiza and Malia. He quickly realised that there was money to be made selling pornographic playing cards to his peers at our all boys school. For the very fair price of 50p and a quarter of Cola Cubes, I bagged myself the four of clubs, and the graphic photo of pudenda printed therein. That card was 2D and didn’t move in any way, shape or form, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t the best thing I had ever seen in my life. It was stashed, like any porn should be, under my bed, and it only came out when I could be sure I had some alone time with it. As soon as I heard the slightest stir from someone moving downstairs however, it would be back in its hiding place in a heartbeat. There’s nothing quite like the terror a young man feels when he thinks he’s going to be discovered looking at porn.

Having wet my appetite with the card, the logical move was into moving images. Luckily, it was around about this time that channel 5 started showing soft-core erotica. When possible I would tape the likes of Red Shoe Diaries, but as it was often on after my bed time, I would set the tape away just before I went to bed. When the tape would reach it’s end at about 2am, 40 minutes after the filth-fest had finished, the loud noise of my video recorder rewinding the tape back to the beginning would ring out. That successful sound of a good night’s recording would often wake me. I’d do a little undercover fist pump to myself, safe in the knowledge that I had secured myself at least another week’s muck. It took quite a lot of effort to keep this going as twelve year old, especially when you take into account the risk I was taking with my parents in the next room. But when I saw that sauna scene with full frontal boob, and just a glimpse of bush - it was all very worth while.

There’s nothing quite like the terror a young man feels when he thinks he’s going to be discovered looking at porn

My next taste of porn came about through very similar means to my first. The very same lad at school, probably two years later, was flogging his brother’s old porn videos. Naturally, I was ready for an upgrade from my playing card and channel 5’s offerings . As I remember it, some of our teachers had caught wind of the porn racketeering that was taking place within in the school grounds and were about to put an end to it. My friend was more than happy to give up his last video to me because he had rightly been identified as the main culprit, and being caught with an unmarked video in his school bag would've been damning evidence against him.

The video had obviously been well used by it’s previous owner, and the moveable flap of plastic that ran across the top of it was hanging on for dear life. In my excitement, I managed to snap it off before I’d even seen the opening credits. Not deterred by this, I eagerly carried on. Now, my video player was quite an old one to begin with, and as explained earlier it made a hell of a racket whenever you required it to work, but I can’t help but think the broken porn vid only exacerbated this problem. There always seemed to be completely unjust commotion behind that video player trap door, and it always seemed worse when you weren't the only one in the house. It's true what they say, the most sensitive part of your body when you're watching porn is your ears.

And then there was the trick that every teenager of my generation tried - unplugging the phone line while you ordered a night's viewing from Television X because someone at school said their friend had tried it and it hadn't shown up on the bill. Everyone tried this, and everyone found out the hard way, it frankly wasn't true. I wonder how many phone calls Sky received from outraged and naive mothers saying they'd been wrongly billed for a night's adult entertainment; after all, they'd asked you if you'd done it, and you swore you hadn't, so it must've been a billing mistake.

That successful sound of a good night’s recording would often wake me. I’d do a little undercover fist pump to myself, safe in the knowledge that I had secured myself at least another week’s muck

But then, after all this toil, the Internet made consuming porn a whole lot easier. No longer was it necessary to have a resourceful mate, or balls of steel to operate noisy machinery so close to your parents. All you need is a broadband connection (and I stipulate broadband because dial up was only good for watching "buffering"), and a computer (or tablet, or console, or smartphone, or Internet enabled TV, or... You get the picture, you can get it anywhere). And not only is the Internet a pornography cornucopia, it has taken the simple formula of man and woman bump uglies to new heights. I’m pretty sure that if I googled "geriatric albino dwarf tickles shemale amputee’s prolapsed rectum" I’d get results. It's no wonder newspapers report with some regularity that porn has taken our idea of normal sex and askew it so much that they don't think we'll ever be satisfied with 'normal' sex ever again.

I'm not writing this to curtail anyone's fun. I don't begrudge anyone sexual liberation, and I'm certainly not suggesting there is even such a thing as 'normal' sex (hence the continued use of inverted commas). As far as I'm concerned, you should get thoroughly stuck in to whatever turns you on, just so long as no one gets harmed as a result. I'm more worried about the decline of the romantic acquisition of porn of old. Taboos are only taboos so long as they're not commonplace. Porn has become so easy to get, it's lost all its mystique and charm, and to compensate for it’s relatively easy acquisition, we’ve developed an insatiable hunger for things to get more obscene and more outrageous.

Typing porn into Google is far less of a romantic idea than grafting though adversity, shoddy technology and fear of being caught for your kicks. Its all too easy. These kids don't even know they're born.

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