There’s a whole generation of kids growing up who have no idea how good they have it. They have no idea the herculean efforts people once had to put into jerking off. They don’t understand what it was like to have to hide dirty magazines in strategic places in your room – or what it was like to have to go to the store and buy those magazines. Hell, that’s if you even bought them.
I remember being a kid and having a couple of main sources of pornography. A lot of the porn we got was found porn, which is pretty disgusting when I look back at it. These would be magazines that we found in alleys or in the occasional wooded area (we lived near the Van Wyck Expressway, and alongside it there were these trash-strewn mini-forests in which we would play). These magazines would be crusty and bloated… from what sort of moisture no one knew, but we all just tried to assume it was rain. The porn that we found was hit or miss, and the idea of seeking out a specific sort of porn was like science fiction.
Then there were the porn mags we bought at Te-Amo. Te-Amo was a chain of cigarette and magazine stands; the local one had a couple of arcade machines in the back, and we’d play video games and steal comic books and candy while the Indian shopkeep was otherwise occupied. This guy didn’t give a shit what we bought – plenty of kids bought smokes or beer there, and my friends and I would sometimes buy porn mags. When we had the money, anyway. You could get three hardcore mags in a plastic wrapped package for a princely sum like ten or twenty dollars; it was always luck of the draw because you could see the front and back mags, but never knew what madness was nestled in the middle. The proprietor didn’t give a shit – our money was all that mattered to him – but I would still take a good 30 minutes to work up the courage to actually bring the mags to the counter.
There was my friend Joel’s dad; Joel’s dad had a chest in a storage room in our apartment building basement, and it was full of the kind of stuff that’s run of the mill today but was beyond shocking in the 80s. He had all sorts of German magazines from the 70s, and there were bushy bushed broads in bondage gear and people getting fisted and all manner of mind-blowing perversity. This shit comes to you from Google today, but in 1987 we were still jerking it to Christina Applegate in tight sweaters on Married With Children. We were beyond excited to see unsimulated sex happening, so the prospect of a magazine where six dudes lined up to blow loads on some little Austrian girl was completely Caligulan. The downside to Joel’s dad’s stash was that we couldn’t really take it away from the chest in the storage room. I doubt Joel’s dad ever checked in on his astonishing collection (seriously, he had hundreds upon hundreds of mags in there – Puritan, Swedish Erotica, stuff in languages we didn’t recognize), but we were 13 and afraid of getting busted. And since this isn’t one of those stories where my friend and I explored our sexuality together we’d just sort of look at them with the same astonishment that we had for the latest gore layouts in Fangoria and put them away (and file them in our minds for later use).
Getting porn videos was a real effort. Usually it would be a scenario where one guy would find his dad’s or older brother’s stash and we’d all go over after school (a bunch of latchkey kids we were) and watch. Like that episode of Freaks and Geeks it was more uncomfortable than erotic; while we weren’t horrified by what we saw on screen, we were mortified by sitting on the couch next to our friends with boners.
So we would get porn, but it wasn’t always available when we needed it. And as a young man I often ‘needed’ it. Like everyone older than 30, I grew up yanking it to catalog models in bras, and to sexy girls on TV. My generation grew up jerking off to scrambled cable porn (the trick was to enter the porn channel twice on the remote and keep smashing ‘Previous’ again and again. You could almost figure out what body parts you were seeing). I spilled entire civilizations worth of seed to women who were fully dressed on TV and not doing anything the least bit sexy – they were just female and in my line of sight.
Now I have a phone that can get the internet automagically and, with a couple of taps on a screen, I can have hardcore sex in the palm of my hand at any time. I don’t have to wack it to the lady anchor on the 11 o’clock news, I can actively seek out whatever niche sickness appeals to me. Some days I see more porn before breakfast than I did in all of 1985. Hell, I can carry the entire contents of Joel’s dad’s chest of horrors on my iPhone. And I can see pictures and videos of things that even the most fucked up Dutch magazine publisher couldn’t have imagined.
So all of you young people out there, thoughtlessly calling up Blacks on Blondes and MILFhunter and Bang Bros and FuckTube and YouPorn – be thankful. Know that once upon a time porn was the most precious of commodities, a magical item to be quested for, horded and guarded. Once I had elaborate hiding places for copies of Swank. Now I just have a folder two directories down from the desktop.
God bless internet porn.