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11 Vintage Behind-The-Scenes Photos Of The "Golden Age Of Porn"

Photographer Barbara Nitke documented the American porn industry between 1982 and 1991, and an exhibition of her work has made its U.K. debut in Brighton. NSFW.

1. Barbara Nitke’s intimate photo series is part of her long-standing defence of the freedom of expression.

Barbara Nitke/American Ecstasy/One Eyed Jacks Gallery

In 2001, Nitke filed a lawsuit, along with co-plaintiff the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, challenging the constitutionality of the Communications Decency Act, a federal statute prohibiting the publication of obscenity on the internet (Nitke v. Gonzales).

2. The photo exhibition “American Ecstasy” is at the One Eyed Jacks gallery in the city of Brighton, U.K.

Barbara Nitke/American Ecstasy/One Eyed Jacks Gallery

3. Nitke’s work features famed porn stars such as Ron Jeremy, Vanessa Del Rio, and Nina Hartley.

Barbara Nitke/American Ecstasy/One Eyed Jacks Gallery
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Barbara Nitke/American Ecstasy/One Eyed Jacks gallery

Nitke said she remembers film shoots that lasted anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks, with a crew of at least 20 people and huge movie cameras, with care going into the script, acting, lighting, sound, and editing — aspects Barbara attributed to porn productions being just like real movie making.

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Barbara Nitke/American Ecstasy/One Eyed Jacks gallery

We usually shot in the summer, and then couldn’t run air conditioning because the sound mics would pick up the noise. We bitched and complained about the working conditions, but in the end most of us didn’t care. We were filled with dreams of our future glory as famous artists, directors, and producers — and of course the thrill of our current outlaw status. We were part of an elite corps who shot live sex for a living, in all its natural, dysfunctional glory. We were cool beyond words.

Via Barbara Nitke
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Barbara Nitke/American Ecstasy/One Eyed Jacks gallery
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Barbara Nitke/American Ecstasy/One Eyed Jacks gallery

8. Barbara remembers 12- to 18-hour days, at very low wages, with no overtime pay and lunch as “a loaf of Wonder Bread laid out on a table with a bunch of cold cuts in sweaty white deli paper, followed by pizza for dinner eight or 10 hours later.”

Barbara Nitke/American Ecstasy/One Eyed Jacks gallery

“American Ecstasy” is the result of 12 years work as a set photographer in the industry, showing a unique behind-the-scenes glimpse at this pre-internet “Golden Age of Porn”, which Nitke describes as: “the most exciting, boring, stomach-turning, splendid subject I could ever hope to photograph.”

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Barbara Nitke/American Ecstasy/One Eyed Jacks gallery
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Barbara Nitke/American Ecstasy/One Eyed Jacks gallery
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Barbara Nitke/American Ecstasy/One Eyed Jacks Gallery

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Matt Tucker is the UK picture editor for BuzzFeed and is based in London.
 
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