1. Barbara Nitke’s intimate photo series is part of her long-standing defence of the freedom of expression.
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).
3. Nitke’s work features famed porn stars such as Ron Jeremy, Vanessa Del Rio, and Nina Hartley.
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.
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.
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.”
“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.”