X is for X-Rated

The XXX-rating means hard-core, the XX-rating is for simulation, and an X-rating is for comparatively cool films.

~ William Rotsler

These are words from a slightly different era, but even today the idea that any amount of Xs mark a piece of art might titillate one to no end.  Today we discuss the letter X as it applies to, arguably, the most mainstream kink of them all: X-Rated creations.

Why porn?  Why erotic art?  Why X?  Well, aside from the bad rap it often gets, pornography and erotic art can point you toward a diversity of action and meaning that one can rarely get to understanding or even being exposed to when simply reading a textbook or even experimenting sometimes.  Our sexual selves are emotional, psychological, physical, intellectual, and holistic when we let them be.  The ideas, practices, images, and demonstrations contained in the right pornography or erotic art might just be the gateway to a new understanding of pleasure and connection to your own sexual self that you’ve been desiring.  Just remember that you can have connections with your own body and with other people; not with images or moving pictures.  We all have to work on translating our fantasies about relationship desires and sexual prowess into real life communication with our partners and playmates…  So have fantasies, talk about them, negotiate respectfully, be inspired, find safety, and play.

What is this X rating all about anyhow?  Here’s a little US history on the subject – take note that other countries have their own rating systems (or not) which define adult content differently.

Once upon a time (the late 50’s through 1990) an X rating assigned by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to a film meant that the film was officially “unrated” due to containing adult content not suitable for children or minors (this included sexual as well as violent material).  The “X” was a non-trademarked rating, so unlike the trademarked ratings of G, PG, PG-13, and R anyone could assign an X rating to their film if they knew prior to its release that it would contain content which would render the film unsuitable for an official rating.  Directors, distribution companies, etc could mark a box X without it being judged by the MPAA.  Some mainstream films during these years were rated X upon their release including “Clockwork Orange”, “Midnight Cowboy”, and “The Evil Dead” to name a few – all of which have been re-rated since.  Because of the accessibility of the non-trademarked X rating during this time pornographers began rating their films as such as well.  Eventually it became more and more popular to rate your pornographic film with an X, XX, or XXX (playing on the idea that the more Xs a film was given, the more graphic the material within).  The porn industry in the 70s and 80s grew increasingly popular and publicly visible, and the X rating became semi-synonymous with pornographic content which led to many cinemas banning X rated films from their theaters regardless of the reason for the X rating.  In 1990 the MPAA agreed to trademark a new rating, NC-17, which has allowed movies with adult content (sexual and violent) to be officially distinguished (by the MPAA) from the oft-pornographic and still non-trademarked X.  So, there you have it.

The tour at the San Francisco Armory is awesome. It is also a tour of Kink.com's studios... Delicious.

The tour of the San Francisco Armory is awesome. It is also a tour of Kink.com‘s studios… Delicious.  This pic was taken in the luxurious play space on their top floor.

My experiences with porn, erotica, and other adult-type works:  (FWIW, I write this section as I sext with a partner, yum!)…  I’m a little funny when it comes to the the X-rated department.  I don’t know why it is, but as much of a sex geek as I am, I prefer to engage by interacting with politics, practices, and education about sexy times more than with the aesthetic, storying, and imaging of it.  Maybe as I get older this will evolve, or maybe as I get older I’ll just become increasingly aware of the vast and fascinating diversity of what out there embodies these ideas in an appealing-to-me way.  I have a general distaste for obvious and overused presentations of sex, gender, and sexual identity in our culture, and I find many of these images and ideas to be pervasively stultifying.  Almost a thrust of the sword at creativity and the true nature of what sex is: creation/creativity/pleasure/the making of something new.  I find it absurd and terrifying that people are discouraged from talking about bodies using real biological terms with children, and that our national discourse on sexuality is so repressed and bastardized that it turns any mention of perfectly normal and necessary bodily functions (sex, masturbation, fantasizing, reproductive and sexual health protection, pregnancy, menstruation, menopause, breastfeeding, using the toilet) into babied code, neglected mention in “mixed” company (whatever that means), or fear filled retraction.

I have sold a lot of porn and helped people find and rent the pornographic films that might make them and their partners most happy.  I have written and performed erotic art on stage – written word, striptease, and erotic (sometimes grotesque) performance art.  I have watched locally made amateur porn (and loved some of it), hosted parties where porn was watched and discussed by a group of people, watched porn of various types with partners and as a solo activity.  I’ve masturbated to pornography I’ve hated, watched and re-watched the money shot over and over until I was ready to come, fantasized about being a part of the scenes I was watching, read erotica (great and terrible), discovered gay porn I loved, lesbian, bi, queer, and trans porn I got off on, various bits of mainstream porn even has found a time and place, and regardless at best I find some good actors which make it all tolerable.  I’ve watched hardcore, kinky, violent, boring, fascinating, imaginative, and hilarious porn…  My experience is the experience of many: watching other people get it on (even in a staged way) is fascinating and sometimes just what the spank bank or imaginarium needs.  Porn has not ruined my sex life…  nor would I say has it drastically heightened it.  Porn, for me, exists.  Some of it I find a turn on, some of it I do not, some of it I find a downright turn off and to be offensive.  But I feel all these ways looking at any type of art or craft over time.

One of the best experiences I’ve had interacting on a visual level with adult material was at the Miami Sex Museum!  Seeing first hand the actual art inspired by erotic feelings from, well, pretty much the beginning of art through pretty much all cultures and ages was not just a fascinating circus act to view but it made me understand how sex is intimately connected to the human race on a level I rarely feel.  We are all here, generation after generation, country by country, puberty until death, sexual creatures who will feel urges, satisfy them in a diversity of ways, and pursue satisfaction in forms that work best for each of us.  Like the experience of being on a nude beach and seeing all the different body shapes and types and differences, you start to feel as though having a body is what is most beautiful, not what it looks like or making sure you do with it what someone once told you was supposed to be pleasing.  Having that body allows you to listen deeply.  We all drum to our own drummer, and sometimes you get to play with people who you can make really exciting music with.

Not everything is for everyone (far from it), but when you find what will do the trick, X really can mark the spot.

To Breath and Being,
~ Karin

If you like my blog, please check out my Patreon Page and consider supporting me, or just click here: Support the Artist

~Thank you.


Be an ABCs contributor:  Have a story or perspective to share about kink or want to promote a kinky event?  Email Karin directly at: Karin@ABCsOfKink.com or fill out the as-anonymous-as-you-want-it-to-be feedback form below and you could see your writing published as a part of Wednesday’s “Perspectives on Kink: Conversations with the Community” blog on this site.  Don’t know what to write about?  Consider answering some of the Survey Questions I posted recently.  Happy writing, and thanks!

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