I’ve read something like 40 letters to Penthouse in the past two weeks. It’s insane. It’s everything you think it would be. There are swingers parties with Jell-O molds, romantic 007 re-enactments with citronella candles, and even the seduction of homeless men for the benefit of all. And despite all the kink and chaos, the one thing I’m not seeing is violent behavior. Like, not at all, which is both surprising and not surprising, because “vintage” erotica (anything that was made pre-2000s) seems a whole lot more like consensual adults just engaging in tarp-related activities than the sadistic stuff we have right now.
There are so many studies done on how porn has changed in the past couple of decades. This guy used to edit a British “lad mag” that was raunchy in its day, but when he spent a year studying contemporary attitudes towards pornography, he was completely terrified and disgusted. Rightfully. And here’s a thing and a thing writers Kelly Sundberg and Sarah Green posted on more perniciousness. And then Joseph Gordon-Levitt made Don Jon, which is basically a PSA for COOL IT ON THE SICK PORN, BRO. It’s been a gradual change, but how we consume porn and the kind of porn we consume is increasingly creepy, and we’re all affected whether we like it or not. A note: all of the above who have written about porn’s leap into violence are men, which is nice, because as much as women protest, we’ll only be labeled prudes. We need male allies.
ANYWAY: Designer/artist Ophelia Chong and I were growing nostalgic for a time when porn could just be funny and a little dangerous and not just filled with borderline psychotic personality profiles. So we created a new humor/parody site called AfterThrob. AfterThrob is the Where are they now?: Penthouse Forum Edition. Ever wonder what happened to those letter writers now that it’s the digital age? We’ve got the answers, along with fantastic vintage photos and kitsch from our favorite era of erotica, when a bevy of creative female copywriters used to sit at their typewriters and tap out some absurdly gorgeous prose with the enticing salutation: Dear Penthouse…
So…Dear AfterThrob, it’s been a long time, but I thought we should catch up.