What is a Classic?

barbara-broadcastWith the addition of VCA to VideoBox’s studio lineup, I’ve been thinking a bit lately about what qualifies a movie as a “classic.” Depending on who’s doing the answering, a classic seems like it could be anything released before 2000. Obviously that can’t be the case.

Perhaps we can learn from the world of classic rock. Although the definition seems to be a rolling one (what gets played on classic rock radio today is definitely different from what was played 5 years ago), there is a loosely agreed-upon definition that most stations seem to adhere to.

I went and checked the playlists for a few stations (WZLX in Boston, WLUP in Chicago, WDVE in Pittsburgh) and found that generally speaking, classics tend to come from the years between 1965 and 1985. Looking at the “classic” VCA movies on VB, the non-compilation movies made in that era are:

  • Debbie Does Dallas 2 (1981)
  • Barbara Broadcast (1977)
  • New Wave Hookers (1985)

However, these movies – categorized the exact same way – were made after 1985:

  • Night Shift Nurses (1987)
  • Curse of the Catwoman (1991)
  • The Catwoman (1988)

It’s hard for me to call a movie made in 1991 a classic. I might even be willing to expand the definition of include anything up to 1989, but it just seems like a stretch to call things made within the last 2 decades classics.

What do you guys think? What era really qualifies as “classic porn?” Does it depend on how old you are?


24 Responses to “What is a Classic?”

  1. Detritus Says:

    Most consider 20 to 25 years as classic for many things like some cars, movies etc. but, for porn that’s a tough one. It changes so often it’s hard to say and age will certainly play a part. I remember the differences between the 80’s, 90’s and now fairly well and would consider the 80’s classic for sure, or anything over 20 years. The 90’s are the problem. It was not so long ago really but it was so very different from what we have now it does not seem right to include it with today’s work either. But I’m not sure it’s “classic” just yet. Great question, no easy answer really.

  2. FlopTheNuts Says:

    Well, we have to look at the medium before deciding what is an is not “classic.” Would I call a movie from 1995 “classic”? No, because we’ve had movies since 1895. Would I call a rock song from the early 90s classic? No, we’ve had rock since the 50s. Would I call a TV show from the 90s classic? No, we’ve had TV since the 40s. Would I call a porn from 1990 classic? Maybe, because we’ve really only had it since the 70s, right? I don’t know much about porn history, but I think relative context is important here.

  3. The Content Dude Says:

    Classic Porn refers to a time and style of the way movies were made. Typically we think of the 70/80 era of Boogie Nights but It’s safe to say that the way the early/mid 90’s gonzo was shot is not how they make movies now. It was a Renaissance period for the industry for many reasons, producers didn’t shot as much because they were making so much money on less, the girls were not as burned out because of this and it showed in there performances.
    (Rope made a comment about Lethal Hardcore in a post recently and I know that Stoney only shoots twice a month because he wants a superior product and wants to touch the scenes from beginning to end) There wasn’t nearly as much talent working back than which lead to better personal relationships with the working stars that would carry over to the set. It was a different time. Currently, porn is a big production business, for example, currently guys do 3/4 scenes a day 3-4x a week. You ever wonder why some guys can’t really cum(pop) during the finish? More than likely he has already done two or three scenes that day. When you see a scene where a guy has a huge load you know they are shooting in the morning and it’s his first gig. It wasn’t like that 15 years ago, I would say it was a Classic time.


  4. xtcbyme Says:

    Classic is truly a style not an era. We talk of classic cars and tv and whatnot like all older cars are classic and all black and white tv shows are classic simply because they are older. The fact is many older cars and tv shows are simply junk. Ditto for older porn.

    I think ContentDude hits a huge point with the manner in which scenes are shot today compared to say 15 years ago and the physical drain that occurs in the talent pool due to demand or workload. However, that said we can see that not all directors or scenes are shoot/shot in a modern manner or some new talent arrives that brings new attributes to what porn is or expected to be.

    Clearly one can read the reviews on this site and find very quickly the opinion of what makes good porn a classic in true sense is a very elusive goal. I think classic in the real sense is the scene or film that captures not only the attention of the viewing public, but the sensual and erotic attributes of the models. With that said it is next to impossible to classify new releases too soon, but hey when girls scream out mind blowing orgasms with trembling thighs and reddened ears and boys can pump a seemingly endless supply of splunk onto teenaged girls face to plaster it . . .then my fellow whoremongers we have real, honest to goodness hardcore porn and we should be happy!

  5. Mister Handy Says:

    I’d say “Classic” is one of those nebulous terms. If we’re talking about “a classic,” well, I’d say that enough time has passed that some of the mid-to-late-1990s features qualify (Latex and Still Insatiable, for two VCA titles I’d love to see here), as do some of the gonzo of the time (Buttman’s early work.)

    If we’re talking about “classic porn” as a genre, I’d say that the real cutoff is when people switched pretty much entirely to video-mostly in the early 1980s, with a very few directors holding on into the late 1980s with the kind of plotted, shot-on-film stuff. Then by the early 1990s, it was pretty much a goner: what little shot-on-film stuff there was was being stylistically influenced by the shot-on-video majority, and by music videos (see for example Andrew Blake’s early stuff), and by newer directors like Greg Dark. The Dark Bros were cutting-edge stuff when they hit in the mid-1980s.

  6. everwood257 Says:

    All the above comments are most interesting, particularly xtcbyme’s comment about classic porn being more about style than era. It may be my age is showing, but although porn has been with us since cave drawings, the ’70’s created a very unique style; shot on film, attempts at both plot and character (generally not very successful, but still), pubic hair, cumshots other than facials, and a sense of humor about the whole thing. Classic stars that come to mind are Ron Jeremy, John Holmes, Peter North, Ginger Lynn, Amber Lynn, Christy Canyon, Keisha, and many others. While today’s porn has better lighting and camera work, and is visually clearer because it’s shot directly on tape, it’s all pretty repetitive; scantily clad girls undressing and masturbating, crude comment from alleged videographer/director, stunt dick enters, stunt dick gets sucked…you know the drill. Less pubic hair, more silicone, much less humor. Sigh. I miss the old days. Of course, I miss my ’70’s libido, too.

  7. Mister Handy Says:

    @everwood257 – those “classic” stars are all great, and of course, a couple of them have had fairly recent films made albeit the worse for a couple of decades’ wear. That said, except for John Holmes and Ron Jeremy, they’re all stars who started in the 1980s, and I *think* all those started far enough into the 1980s to be more “adult video” stars than “adult film.”

    I’m not sure what I’d call the great adult videos of the 1980s; they’re classics in their way (much as I hate to admit that, because they’re the ones I jerked off to as a teenage and that makes me old) but they’re a very different genre from what came before or after. I guess for those under 30, they’re just “classics” too. What’s fun is seeing Nina Harley still around in the last couple of years.

  8. doppyman Says:

    If you use music as an analogy like Alison did, the definition of classic changed as eras changed. You now have late 70s and early 80s tunes being played on classic rock stations. I would imagine in five more years, you will hear Nirvana and early 90s stuff on there. ESPN will make great recent games instant classics. So, to them, a classic doesn’t have to be old, just really really good. I suspect that most porn watchers will categorize their favorites from when they first started watching porn as classics, so for people who started watching porn in 1995, their classics will be different from those who started fifteen years before. (Think about it; at one point Elvis was classic rock. He is still and will always be the king, but now his music is in the “oldie” category, except for maybe In the Ghetto and Suspicious Minds.) So while I can see the point so many have made about style and chronology, I will go with the concept of quality in determining what is a classic. Maybe I’m twisting the definition too much, but I certainly wouldn’t include a lot of the older stuff in a classic category simply because it was shot a certain year. Certainly some recent porn vids like the first Pirates and the first Fade to Black and Vivid’s Key Party deserve consideration as classics …. Now this is my own prejudice, but I’m not sure that gonzo can qualify as classic at all.

  9. Mister Handy Says:

    Perhaps it should be “Oldies” rather than “Classic porn?” (Although in this context, wouldn’t that be readily confusable with the “GILF” section…?)

  10. Papayaman1 Says:

    Whilst accepting the points Content Dude makes, normally something does not become classic because it was made at a particular time. Certainly, just being old does not make something a classic. I think that usually it is a mix of high quality and influence that makes a film, song, or whatever into a classic. Elvis and The Beatles are classic because their music was better than what came before and they reshaped pop/rock. Rock bands that came after The Beatles could not help but be influenced by their sound. I’m not sure which porn films would fulfill such criteria, but probably they would include Deep Throat, Devil in Miss Jones and Debbie Does Dallas. I would also make a claim for some of the films that came out of Europe in the ’70s and ’80s, such as Parties Fines with the delectable Brigitte Lahaie. And what about directors like Walerian Borowczyk, whose films may not have been hard core, but certainly pushed the envelope with their erotic content? Or Oshima’s In the Realm of the Senses, which contained a considerable amount of real sex combined with a pretty compelling if rather nightmarish story-line?

  11. x2visionquest Says:

    thru 89 would be the call id make too. i tend to think, porn blossomed late and milks the varying tastes and styles for a longer periods than most industries. the music industry trying to turn a new leaf every 5 or so years, for instance – making way for reunions and comeback tours. all the 80s titles feel classic by default though(bias admitted). if i was in the position to call it though – id anchor term around DeepThroat and open the umbrella 16yrs in either direction.

  12. lumpkin Says:

    Okay what a classic is in film, cars and most anything else are defined by 2 things. 1. most of you are getting right. it has to be over 20 years old. 2. it has to have a definable thing that is new and never been done before. like in cars the 1st with a new technology out of the factory, like the 1st to have ABS breaking, the 1st to have disk breaks, 1st to have AC. . . that is a classic car. When the 64 Ford Mustang turn 20 a new category was added since nothing about the Mustang was new. It was the 1st of it’s type. the mid size 4 seat sports car. Now anything over 20 years old and not defined by of the above are just antique. This is the most technically correct.

    A looser definition is something that is iconic and/or defines a style in the public’s eye. iconic would be “The Catwoman”. Defining “Buttman’s bendover babe’s #1” because it brings together what is the gonzo style. Also things like the 1st time X porn actress did x type sex act, x porn actress 1st scene.

    Unless their is some governing body, that defines the term classic. It can be whatever you want it to be. You just have to be consistent in the what you tag as classic video. You can add new category for the in between stuff. like anything between 15 to 19 years, is old school.

  13. thirdeye Says:

    I think porn “classics” should be left for the “original high quality” porn… stuff back when VHS or Beta were just getting going the industry was beginning to seriously flourish. Movies made around that time could be considered classics, except me personally just do not like “classic porn”. I dont like “classic movies” in general (like Gone w/ the Wind, ect ect) but can still call them classic.

    I also don’t agree with people who say that these classic porn movies are what gave us the porn of today. Thats just stupid… the porn of today was inevitable because of the medium being used. The internet, quite simply, created the “porn of today”. Nothing to do what “what came first”, ala, “classic”… the internet and quality of cameras have simply given us the “quantity over quality” porn of today.

  14. PinkPanther Says:

    “Classic” gets used for anything older, so the term gets diluted. “New Wave Hookers” is obviously a classic – on any credible list of classic porn. You have a scene in the Evil Angel channel that Stagliano shot at Adam – pre-Seymour Butts – Glazer’s gym – it was his entree into porn, besides being a fun scene with Madison & Sunny McKay. That’s most definitely a classic for its historical significance. A lot of other older porn is just older porn and the “classic” label is being slapped on because that’s marketing, and I have no problem with that, really.

    I’m really glad that you’re getting the VCA stuff. I hope that you get Alex DeRezny stuff like Babyface 2 (a true classic, in my book) and Butt Detective & some of the other great anal features that they were doing around that time – whether or not you want to describe them as Classics.

  15. Mister Handy Says:

    VB posted an interesting example of a possible “classic” today: Michael Ninn’s “Latex” (VCA, 1995). Is 1995 recent enough to be a classic? Dunno. This was (if I understand correctly) the highest budget porn film up to that time, VERY hyped, relatively controversial, and it’s still a DARN fine watch today.

  16. the content dude Says:

    Mister Handy – Yes Latex is a classic. As is Zazel which came out in ’96 but will get the classics tag anyway just because at the time when everyone was jumping on the gonzo bandwagon Metro went big budget crazy.

    Sometimes their are outliers in every group and things get the cult classic tag from day one. Any Russ Meyer or early John Waters material would be a good example. The first Stooges album was considered classic by only 7 years after it’s release. This years Super Bowl is already being considered a classic. (fyi – Alison is a avid Steeler fan so tread lightly here)

    I don’t think there is a right answer. Not every film, car or song from any so called classic period is going to actually be a classic. Is ‘Thank You’ off of Led Zeppelin 2 a classic? quite the opposite, It’s one of Zep’s worst songs. I watched ‘Jaws’ the other day (or tried too) and it really didn’t hold up. Yet that movie was labeled a classic when it came out. So you never know.

  17. rpm45vinyl Says:

    How about some simple criteria: If the women are still wearing high heels in bed, it is a classic. OR, if the majority of the men are mustachioed, it is a classic. Simple enough.

  18. jfro21 Says:

    I would say “classics” are works of culture/art that are influential or notably high quality and not recent…no matter how old they are. I could imagine that a porno from 1999 could be a classic if it inspired a genre of subsequent movies or stands out as an achievement of some kind. The tag “Classic” might be then more of a matter of opinion rather than simply a way to date movies. But, yes, I think in the 1990’s there were influential pornos that should be called classics even though they may not get the “classic” tag on videobox.
    I think though that VB’s rating and tagging systems should themselves be influential on porn directors, so I think a classic tag should be given out with care and thought by whomever does it. I wouldn’t want “classic” to mean just “old” but well-crafted or having had an impact.

  19. danebly Says:

    Quality porn is what most people here want. Classic porn is often seen as quality product due to the way it was made. Let me posit this simple observation.

    The Euro porn that we’ve been treated to lately on this site clearly meets any ‘quality’ standard. And, it appears to me, to be made in the ‘classic’ style.

    VB has been giving us a buffet of gonzo and Euro recently. While some of us appreciate the Italian porn for its lite story lines, costumes and beautiful women, others eschew that in favor of the instant gratification of gonzo.

    There is a niche in the market for both Saks and WalMart. Content Dude is to be congratulated.

  20. MonkeySpanker Says:

    Some solid points made by all. staying high level, If I had to put a year on it, then I’d say 1988. That was the year that almost all the porn theatres had closed because of VHS, Heavy Metal died transitioning into Glam-Metal, 80 Rap turned into MC Hammer & Vanilla Ice, and every douchebag with a video camera pumped out shitty porn with ungly skanks poorly acting in only 2-3 scenes i

  21. Chuckwin Says:

    I think this subject has been covered with one exception. Classics deserve (no matter your individual definition) to be preserved, untouched and uncensored. As an example, why put on Barbara Broadcast and cut the peeing scene. It was the hottest scene in the movie and a classic’s classic scene. Why worry about the years of inclusion in a classic category and focus more on the integrity of the original film.

  22. The Content Dude Says:

    Chuckwin – We put up the version of Barbara Broadcast that was licensed to us. I don’ think there is a uncensored version on the market.

  23. alison Says:

    This is such a great discussion that I didn’t want to jump in. I think the people who pointed out that year is less important than style are right on. When you see a car that looks a certain way, you know it’s a classic. The same with a porno, I think.

  24. Ikediamonds Says:

    My personal favorite era of porn is the 90’s. I feel like anything before that is the “classic” era and then 90’s porn just pops up in my head as, well… 90’s Porn. I’m not to creative