Softcore pornography

Softcore pornography or softcore porn is commercial still photography or film that has a pornographic or erotic component but is less sexually graphic and intrusive than hardcore pornography. It typically contains nude or semi-nude actors involved in love scenes, and is intended to be sexually arousing and aesthetically beautiful.

Erotische Aufnahme c1880s
1880s French postcard showing (presumed) intercourses without showing actual penetration.
Screenshot from The Cell by Alexander Kargaltsev
2010. Still from an erotic art film showing a couple from the waist up, thus leaving ambiguous to what degree sexual activity is occurring, a typical framing technique for a softcore porn film.


Softcore pornography may include sexual activity between two people or masturbation. It does not contain explicit depictions of sexual penetration, cunnilingus, fellatio, or ejaculation. Depictions of erections of the penis may not be allowed (see Mull of Kintyre Test), although attitudes towards this are ever-changing.[1] Commercial pornography can be differentiated from erotica, which has high-art aspirations.[2]

Portions of images that are considered too explicit may be obscured in a variety of ways, such as the use of draped hair or clothing, carefully positioned hands or other body parts, carefully positioned foreground elements in the scene (often plants or drapery), and carefully chosen camera angles. Sexual acts depicted in softcore pornography are usually simulated (or at least not showing penetration) by the actors as several takes are needed before wrapping.

Pornographic filmmakers sometimes make both hardcore and softcore versions of a film, with the softcore version using less explicit angles of sex scenes,[3] or using the other techniques to "tone down" any objectionable feature. The softcore version may, for example, be edited for the in-house hotel pay-per-view market.

Total nudity is commonplace in several magazines, as well as in photography,[4] Nude scenes are increasing more and more in today's films[5] and television.[6] Nudity and sexual content is also accessible on the Internet.

Regulation and censorship

Softcore films are commonly less regulated and restricted than hardcore pornography, and cater to a different market. In most countries softcore films are eligible for movie ratings, usually on a restricted rating, though many such films are also released unrated. As with hardcore films, availability of softcore films varies depending on local laws. They may be available for rent alongside non-softcore material in a video rental store venue, or available through online retailers. In some more restrictive jurisdictions such films may only be available in a sex shop. In countries which allow the rental of softcore films, there may be restrictions on the open display of the films. Also, the exhibition of such films may be restricted to those above a certain age, typically 18. At least one country, Germany, has different age limits for hardcore and softcore pornography, softcore material usually receiving a FSK-16 rating (no one under 16 allowed to buy) and hardcore material receiving a FSK-18 (no one under 18 allowed to buy). In some countries, broadcasting of softcore films is widespread on cable television networks,[7] with some such as Cinemax producing their own in-house softcore films and television series.

In some countries, images of women's genitals are digitally manipulated so that they aren't too "detailed".[8] An Australian pornographic actress says that images of her own genitals sold to pornographic magazines in different countries are digitally manipulated to change the size and shape of the labia according to censorship standards in different countries.[9][10][11]


Originally, softcore pornography was presented mainly in the form of "men's magazines", when it was barely acceptable to show a glimpse of nipple in the 1950s. By the 1970s, in such mainstream magazines as Playboy, Penthouse, and Hustler, no region of the body was considered off limits.[4]

After the formation of the MPAA rating system in the United States and prior to the 1980s, numerous softcore films, with a wide range of production costs, were released to mainstream movie theatres, especially drive-ins. Some, such as Emmanuelle[12] and Alice in Wonderland,[13] received positive reviews from noted critics such as Roger Ebert.

From the 2000s, relaxed standards for cable television has allowed for the production of a number of television series with sexually explicit or violent content to air that would have been restricted to the softcore movie market in the past.

See also


  1. ^ Dubberley, Emily (2005). Carly Milne (ed.). Naked Ambition: Women Who Are Changing Pornography. Carroll & Graf Publishers. ISBN 0-7867-1590-1. OCLC 62177941.
  2. ^ "Pornography". Encarta. Archived from the original on October 31, 2009.
  3. ^ Amis, Martin (March 17, 2001). "A rough trade". Retrieved April 10, 2009.
  4. ^ a b "P20th Century Nudes in Art". The Art History Archive. Retrieved July 19, 2009.
  5. ^ Couzens, Gary (July 26, 2001). "Sebastiane (1976) (review)". DVD Times.
  6. ^ Williams, Rhys (June 8, 1999). "The censor goes public". The Independent (London).
  7. ^ Battista, Kathy (2011). "Cindy Hinant's make-up, glamour and TV show". Phaidon. Retrieved November 23, 2014. Similarly, Softcore are pornographic images obscured to the point of obliteration, give the appearance of grey monochromes. The sexually charged imagery only emerges in feint detail within intimate distance.
  8. ^ The Labiaplasty Fad? - Sex. Hungry Beast. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. April 15, 2010.
  9. ^ KATY MARRINER. "The Vagina Diaries - a study guide" (PDF). Australian Teachers of Media magazine. ISBN 978-1-74295-374-8.
  10. ^ "Labiaplasty and Censorship - is there a link?". Mamamia.
  12. ^ Ebert, Roger (January 1, 1975). "Emmanuelle". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved March 18, 2008.
  13. ^ Ebert, Roger (November 24, 1976). "Alice in Wonderland". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved March 18, 2008.
Angel of H.E.A.T.

Angel of H.E.A.T. is an American science fiction softcore sex comedy film directed and produced by Myrl A. Schreibman.

Aphrodite (film)

Aphrodite is a 1982 French–Swiss soft-core sex film directed by Robert Fuest. The film is inspired by the novel Aphrodite: mœurs antiques by Pierre Louÿs and stars Valérie Kaprisky and Horst Buchholz. The story follows a group of visitors who come to an island where they are involved in different sexual liaisons.

Aphrodite was the final theatrical film by Robert Fuest. The film was shot in a studio at Hauts-de-Seine in France. The film is a French-Swiss co-production between Films de la Tour and Scipion Films.Aphrodite was released in France on 7 July 1982. The film was released in France on VHS in 1985.

Black Venus (1983 film)

Black Venus is a 1983 softcore erotic melodrama film directed by Claude Mulot. It purportedly is based on an unspecified short story by Honoré de Balzac. It was produced by Playboy Enterprises and originally aired in an edited 80-minute version on the Playboy Channel; an uncut English-dubbed version was released on DVD in 2006.

Blue Hustler

Blue Hustler is a subscription based premium adult entertainment television channel distributed throughout Europe and Israel via digital cable and satellite television. It is owned by the Dutch-based company Sapphire Media International BV.

Blue Hustler offers softcore pornography aimed at a hetero male audience. It is the sister channel to Hustler TV and Hustler HD who specializes in hardcore pornography.

Club International

Club International is a British magazine that depicts nude pictures of women. It is a sister magazine of American magazine Club.

Cum shot

A cum shot is the depiction of human ejaculation, especially onto another person. The term cum shot is usually applied to depictions occurring in pornographic films, photographs, and magazines. Cum shots have become the object of fetish genres like bukkake. Facial cum shots (or "facials") are currently regularly portrayed in pornographic films and videos, often as a way to close a scene. Cum shots may also depict ejaculation onto another performer's body, such as on the genitals, buttocks, chest or tongue.

The term is typically used by the cinematographer within the narrative framework of a pornographic film, and, since the 1970s, it has become a leitmotif of the hardcore genre. Two exceptions are softcore pornography, in which penetration is not explicitly shown, and "couples erotica", which may involve penetration but is typically filmed in a more discreet manner intended to be romantic or educational rather than graphic. Softcore pornography that does not contain ejaculation sequences is produced both to respond to a demand by some consumers for less-explicit pornographic material and to comply with government regulations or cable company rules that may disallow depictions of ejaculation. Cum shots typically do not appear in "girl-girl" scenes (female ejaculation scenes exist, but are relatively rare); orgasm is instead implied by utterances, cinematic conventions, or body movement.

Emmanuelle (film)

Emmanuelle is a 1974 French film directed by Just Jaeckin. It is the first installment in a series of French softcore pornography films based on the novel Emmanuelle. The film stars Sylvia Kristel in the title role about a woman who takes a trip to Bangkok to enhance her sexual experience. The film was former photographer Just Jaeckin's debut feature film and was shot on location in Thailand and in France between 1973 and 1974.

Emmanuelle was received negatively by critics on its initial release and with a more mixed reception years later. On its initial release in France it was one of the highest grossing French films. Columbia Pictures released both original version and English-dubbed version in the United States theatrically, making it the first X-rated film released by the company. The film was popular in Europe, the United States and Asia and was followed-up in 1975 with Emmanuelle, The Joys of a Woman. Several other films influenced by Emmanuelle were released including the Italian series Black Emanuelle.

Escort (magazine)

Escort is a British men's adult magazine, or softcore magazine, which falls under the description of pornography, or erotica. The title is one of a set of magazines from Paul Raymond Publications, other titles including Men Only, Razzle and Club International. The origin of these titles lies in businessman Paul Raymond's expansion from strip club management into magazine publishing in the 1960s.A monthly pin-up magazine with the title Escort was published between 1958 and 1971. Ten years later Paul Raymond began publishing a top-shelf magazine with the revived title. By 2012, Escort was in its 32nd year, or volume. The content is a combination of photographs and text, with the photographs almost entirely being those of partially or completely nude women.

Escort specialises in pictures of amateur (i.e. non-professional) models, some of which are sent to the magazine by readers - these are affectionately known as "readers' wives". It often features photo-shoots taken in an "ordinary" location like a pub, or outdoors at a place familiar to British readers. In 2013 the magazine was described by Pierre Perrone, a former magazine editor for Paul Raymond Publications, as "downmarket".Up to and including vol. 15 (1995), Escort had a distinctive 'cut-out' cover, which folded out into a poster; this 'cut-out' design allowed a few smaller pictures on the contents page to be visible, thus giving a sneak preview of other women posing in the magazine; one of these smaller pictures was usually that from the magazine's regular 'Girls of ...' feature showing women posing at various locations of that issue's chosen town.

Escort is published by Paul Raymond Publications which also releases other similar titles including, Club International, Mayfair, Men Only, Men's World, and Razzle. Escort is generally available in most newsagents, although some larger retailers require a modesty bag in order to protect minors from seeing gratuitous flesh on display on the cover. Escort also has a digital identity on the official Paul Raymond website, where the hardcore imagery not found in the print version is also shown. As from 2013, the magazine is also available in digital format exclusively on the Paul Raymond digital newsstand.

Gilgamesh Night

Gilgamesh Night (ギルガメッシュないと / ギルガメッシュ・ナイト) was a softcore porn Japanese variety TV show broadcast from October 1991 to March 1998. Airing Saturdays at 1:15 a.m. on TV Tokyo, the hour-long show helped launch the career of one of its late hosts, Ai Iijima, who afterwards moved into a more mainstream career.

Hustler HD

Hustler HD or Hustler HD 3D is a subscription based adult entertainment pay television channel distributed throughout Europe via digital cable as naxoo (in Switzerland) and satellite television. The channel broadcasts in HDTV and 3DTV format. It is owned by the Dutch-based company Sapphire Media International BV.

Hustler HD and Hustler TV offers hardcore pornography aimed at a straight male audience. It is the sister channel to Blue Hustler who specializes in softcore pornography.

Hustler TV (Europe)

Hustler TV is a subscription based adult entertainment pay television channel distributed throughout Europe via digital cable as naxoo (in Switzerland) and satellite television. It is owned by the Dutch-based company Sapphire Media International BV.

Hustler TV and Hustler HD 3D offers hardcore pornography aimed at a straight male audience. It is the sister channel to Blue Hustler who specializes in softcore pornography.

Ken Park

Ken Park is a 2002 erotic drama film written by Harmony Korine, who based it on Larry Clark's journals and stories. The film was directed by Clark and Edward Lachman. The film is an international co-production of the United States, the Netherlands, and France. The film revolves around the abusive and/or dysfunctional home lives of several teenagers, set in the city of Visalia, California.

Men Only

Men Only is a British soft-core pornographic magazine published by Paul Raymond Publications since 1971. However, the title goes back to 1935 when it was founded by C. Arthur Pearson Ltd as a pocket magazine (115×165 mm). It set out its editorial stall in the first issue:

'We don't want women readers. We won't have women readers...' It sought 'bright articles on current male topics'.Humour was at the heart of the title, though from the start it carried fiction, wide-ranging articles and plates of 'art' nudes. Covers were initially text-only, then carried caricatures of famous people and photographs in the late 1950s. It published colour illustrations of models by artists such as Dickens and Vargas (as published in Esquire in the US), on a page labelled 'Let's Join the Ladies'.

When Pearson closed the Strand Magazine in 1950, it was castigated by The Economist for concentrating its resources on London Opinion and Men Only. Men Only had coloured frontispieces and rather trivial main pages.Another pocket title, Lilliput, was better known but Men Only took over London Opinion and then Lilliput in 1960. All these titles were affected by the growth of television; C. Arthur Pearson was taken over by Newnes, which became part of International Publishing Corporation (and was later renamed IPC Media) in the mid-1960s. It also lost readers to titles such as Haymarket's Man About Town (later Town) and Playboy. In response, Men Only adopted a larger format and more pin-ups but was still mainly in black and white with a colour pin-up centre spread. It was sold on to City Magazines.

In 1971, Paul Raymond, who ran night-clubs in London's Soho district, relaunched Men Only as the start of a top-shelf publishing empire and it was the main competitor to Mayfair during the 1970s and 1980s (Raymond latterly took over Mayfair).

Over the years, models featured in Men Only have also appeared in different photo-shoots in Club International (a title bought from IPC). The early issues of Men Only often contained serious articles and interviews, though since the 1980s these have largely been omitted. Photographers from the early years included Fred Enke and R.B. Kane, and more recently Bob Twigg.

Between January 2007 and December 2008, Men Only ran the full-colour comic strip Brit Starr by writer John A. Short and artist Gabrielle Noble. The strip spoofed current celebrity culture in one-page erotic gags.The publishers of Men Only also publish Club International, Escort, Mayfair, Men's World and Razzle. Their magazines are generally available in most newsagents, although some larger retailers require a modesty bag to protect minors from seeing gratuitous flesh on display on the cover. As from 2013, the magazine is also available in digital format exclusively on the Paul Raymond digital newsstand. Men Only also has a digital identity on the official Paul Raymond site, where the hardcore imagery not found in the print version is also shown.

Modern Man (magazine)

Modern Man (subtitled "The Adult Picture Magazine") is a now defunct monthly men's magazine founded in 1951 and run until 1967. Predating Playboy, Modern Man focused on items of interest to adult men, with an emphasis on soft-core pornography, sex, humor, automobiles and popular culture. It featured photographs of many well-known models and actresses, including Marilyn Monroe, Pat Sheehan, Bambi Hamilton, June Blair, Tara Thomas, Jayne Mansfield, and Mamie Van Doren, as well as questionable look-alikes.

Play-mate of the Apes

Play-mate of the Apes is a 2002 American direct-to-DVD erotic film directed by John Bacchus. It is a parody of the Planet of the Apes media franchise and was released seven months after the Tim Burton-directed 2001 remake of the first film.

Sexploitation film

A sexploitation film (or "sex-exploitation film") is a class of independently produced, low-budget feature film that is generally associated with the 1960s, and that serves largely as a vehicle for the exhibition of non-explicit sexual situations and gratuitous nudity. The genre is a subgenre of exploitation films. Sexploitation films were generally exhibited in urban grindhouse theatres, the precursor to the adult movie theaters of the 1970s and 1980s that featured hardcore pornography content. The term soft-core is often used to designate non-explicit sexploitation films after the general legalisation of hardcore content. Nudist films are often considered to be subgenres of the sex-exploitation genre as well. "Nudie" films and "Nudie-cuties" are associated genres.

The Fruit is Ripe

The Fruit Is Ripe (German: Griechische Feigen or "Greek Figs") is a 1977 German softcore erotic comedy film directed by Sigi Rothemund.

Tomb of the Werewolf

Tomb of the Werewolf is a 2004 film directed by Fred Olen Ray. It is the twelfth and last in a long series about the werewolf Count Waldemar Daninsky, played by Paul Naschy. The film contains a number of adult sex scenes bordering on softcore pornography.

Vanessa (1977 film)

Vanessa is a 1977 German softcore erotic melodrama film starring Olivia Pascal and directed by Hubert Frank.

Opposition to
See also
Nude recreation
Depictions of nudity
Nudity and sexuality
Issues in social nudity
By location
Social nudity advocates
See also

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