Adult Site Broker Talk Episode 159 with Oliver Carter Author of “Under the Counter”

Adult Site Broker Talk Episode 159 with Oliver Carter Author of “Under the Counter”

Bruce, the adult site broker, host of Adult Site Broker Talk and CEO of Adult Site Broker, the leading adult website broker, who is known as the company to sell adult sites, is pleased to welcome Oliver Carter as this week’s guest on Adult Site Broker Talk. 

Oliver Carter is a Reader in Creative Economies at the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research at Birmingham City University. 

He is interested in how technology can create opportunities for enterprise and the regulation of media. 

His research into Britain’s pornography business has influenced the award-winning documentary series Sexposed as well as the second episode of the 2021 BBC series Bent Coppers: Crossing the Line of Duty

His latest book Under the Counter: Britains Trade in Hardcore Pornographic 8mm Films was published in 2023, and he is currently working on a second volume.

Bruce, host of the show and CEO of Adult Site Broker said: “My interview with Oliver was fascinating. To hear about a time when porn was 100% illegal in the UK and how the business worked in those days was amazing. It’s a landmark literary work about our industry and I know you’ll enjoy this interview.”

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Bruce F., host of the show and CEO of Adult Site Broker said:

My interview with Oliver was fascinating. To hear about a time when porn was 100% illegal in the UK and how the business worked in those days was amazing. It’s a landmark literary work about our industry and I know you’ll enjoy this interview.


Speaker 1 (0s): This is Bruce Friedman of Adult Site Broker, and welcome to adult site broker talk, where each week we interview one of the movers and shakers of the adult industry And. we give you a tip on buying and selling websites. this week we'll be speaking With Oliver Carter, author of Under The Counter. You've probably noticed our new podcast site at Adult Site Broker dot com.

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Check out ASB Cash dot com for more details and to sign up. We've also added an event section to our website at Adult Site Broker dot com. Now you can get information on B2B events on our website, as well as special discounts reserved for our clients. Go to Adult Site Broker dot com for more details. Now let's feature our property of the week. That's for sale at Adult Site Broker. We're proud to offer for sale a network of reality interracial Hardcore porn sites.

The flagship site has reality interracial Hardcore porn with amateur girls, as well as some porn stars. Scenes are shot in public places in beautiful Miami. The second site has big ass white girls getting fucked by black men. The third site is in the BBC niche. The company has been in business since 2013. They shoot in a true reality style that's resulted in some of the most viral adult videos in the last decade. They're currently developing their fourth site, which is a super site for the network.

They're literally a two person operation, so expenses are very low. With the right owner and marketing, there's a tremendous opportunity to grow even more. They currently have over 400 scenes and do over 400 total sales a month. All the traffic is organic, only $619,000. Now time for this week's interview. My guest today on Adult Site Broker Talk is Oliver Carter, the author of the book Under the Counter Oliver, thanks for being with us today on Adult Site Broker Talk.

Speaker 2 (2m 49s): Thanks for having me, Bruce. It's great to be here.

Speaker 1 (2m 52s): It's great to have you. Now Oliver is a Reader in Creative Economies at the Birmingham Center for Media and Cultural Research at Birmingham City University. Ooh, that's a mouthful. He is interested in how technology can create opportunities for enterprise and the regulation of media. His research into Britain's pornography business has influenced the award-winning documentary series Sex Posed, as well as the second episode of the 2021 BBC series, Bent Coppers Crossing, the Line of Duty His latest book Under, the Counter Britain's trade-in Hardcore.

Pornographic eight Millimeter Films was published earlier this year, and he is currently working on a second volume. His blog can be found at under under the Counter dot com. So Oliver, what motivated you to write this book?

Speaker 2 (3m 48s): Well, I suppose there were two motivating factors, really. The, the first one was that when I was writing my first book, which was called Making European Cult Cinema, which was about how fans of a particular form of Italian cult cinema or cycle of Italian cult cinema known as the Gilo, these pulpy murder mysteries that were quite popular in the sixties and seventies and Peter out in the eighties, that were inspired by pulp fiction that were popular in postwar Italy. I was interested in how an economy around these Films grew in the UK, but also in the US as well.

Bruce and what people were doing was using technology and finding ways to create artifacts like mag, like fanzines or documentaries or books or t-shirts, or even bootleg videos because right, those Films weren't widely circulated other than shown in cinemas. And when home videos started, most of the content that was being released was cold stuff, because major studios were nervous about releasing major content on VHS because of fear that no one would go to the cinema.

So to learn about these Films people started writing fanzines, and they were, I suppose, early examples of websites, you know, websites and blogs did the same thing now, but fanzines were doing that job and providing a space to create community, but also, I argue a market as well. And while I was doing the research, I came across these Films that were called the Phantom Killer Series of Films, and that's Phantom Killer, spelled with an F f A N T, om and Killer spelled Kl e r. Okay. And they were supposedly made in Poland by a Polish director, and they were highly sexualized fan interpretations of the yellow.

And they were distributed on, on video initially and then, and then DVD in Britain. But they were distributed with that certificate by certificate, I mean a rating from the British Board of Film Classification. So under the video recordings Act of 1984, no un uncertified video can be distributed in in the UK. And this person was, was doing that. And so I did some digging and I, and it was alleged that these Films weren't made in Poland, but were made in East London because some eagle, I view, had spotted a license plate on one of the cars that certainly wasn't Polish, and it was English.

So, and then noticed that it looked an awful lot, lot like Stoke Newington, which is a location in London. And so I, I emailed the person who I thought might be behind it and expected them to just pop me off, and they said, no, that's me. Let's have a chat. So I had a chat and I got talking to him. He said about how these Films had led to him being employed by the Swedish company Private, to make Hardcore interpretations of, of these sums. And as more sequels were produced, he was drifting towards Hardcore, which, you know, he was distributing effectively without, without certification.

So I was really interested in this. And then he got me thinking, has anyone written anything about the British pornography business? I started to do a bit of digging and found that there were mentions here and there, but there was no real critical interrogation that where people showed their working. And by that I mean were showing the kind of sources that they used to document a business that operated in the shadows that was illicit, that was legally problematic to sell pornography in Britain until 2000. And even then when it was, it was finally permitted to distribute Hardcore pornography in the UK, it was still placed under tight constraints.

So I was really interested in that. And the second motivating factor, I suppose, and I talk about, it's in the, in the preface to the book, my own experience as, as someone growing up at this time in the nineties, and I have to say small scale would be far too larger term to describe what I was doing, but I was bootlegging pornography, much like Terry Stevens, a Former guest, many people involved in, in the Britain trade prior to Yes. Where were, were bootlegging. And it was a very scarce artifact.

So the only way you could get hold of it was through people who were bootlegging. Then you'd bootleg again, and I'd sell a few copies at school by connecting two VHS recorders together, one blank tape, put the other one in. And to do that, you had to be buying content so you'd, you'd buy it from mail order companies. And this one company called Your Choice, where you would send a check for 25 pound, which was not an insignificant turnback in the 1990s, and you'd order a title and then a few weeks later, magically you sent this check off to Amsterdam.

But a package with a British postmark would appear in your letterbox with the tape in. So there was someone who was accepting orders in Amsterdam where it was legal to, to distribute and cell pornography, but what they were doing is they had cells operating in the UK who were agents acting on their behalf and were bootlegging and sending the titles through the UK postal system.

Speaker 1 (8m 51s): It was probably Terry.

Speaker 2 (8m 53s): Well, well, the funny story, Bruce, is that he ended up being employed by them to, to shoot pornography, and they gave his first break in the business. Oh, wow. So to get access to this material was not straightforward. So I became aware of this economy and then while doing this first book, I, I just thought, wow, you know, no one's really written about this time. And it was a really interesting time to think about the lengths that people went to, to access pornography when now all you have to do is load up a computer or a mobile phone and type whatever you wanted to Google.

And it's there and it's a reminder that, you know, pornography was in many countries and still today in some, I suppose, is it can be a scarce commodity. And I wanted to tell that story.

Speaker 1 (9m 34s): Hmm, interesting. So why did you capture porn in the sixties and seventies?

Speaker 2 (9m 40s): Well, it turns out from the research that is when the British pornography business started to grow. And there's something about that period of time Bruce, that that was really significant. And I argue that that period of time witnessed a remarkable change in shift in laws and attitudes towards sexuality. You know, you've got a lot of cultural things happening. So the growth of popular music where you've got people who are singing, you know, rock and roll itself, you know, suggests sex, doesn't it? Yes. But the, the songs like The Rolling Stones, let's Spend The Night Together entering Popular Culture where people who were singing about sex and, and people were, were thinking about sex.

So you've got music, you've got Films. So we started to see nudity on, on British cinema screens, you know, albeit as an alibi in nudist Films, where, you know, you have to show people playing volleyball in order to justify it, to get round, to show that there was a good to it. And that was also, there's a rich tradition of that in, in America as well, and in and in other parts of the world. And, and then you have some, these changes in law. So there was a, there was a law that was introduced in 1959 called the Obscene Publications Act, which was actually intended to be a liberalizing measure to distinguish between forms of literature that were erotic but were not pornography and what would therefore be pornography.

But there was an elasticity in though, in, in that law, and it, it went back to, you know, the 19th century where obscenity law was started and, and the terms, you know, having the tendency to depraved and corrupt became the, what was known as the test of obscenity. And it was the job of the prosecution to prove that a text or an article, a publication could depraved or corrupt its intended audience. And I dunno about you, but your sense, just you and me, you know, our sense of what might be depraved or corrupted would vary based on our backgrounds whatsoever.

So it was a problematic law. And although it was seen to try and control or a growing pornography trade, which was primarily imports in the 1950s and 1960s from from France. So a lot of the trade was concentrated to soho in London. And what was significant about that location was that soho was a melting pot of people from lots of different cultural backgrounds. So what you would have is, you know, people with transnational network, particularly from France, let's say, and they'd be importing, you know, smuggling in French books or French postcards as they were known to be sold at high markup in the bookstores across London's West End.

You've also got other laws. So there's, there's changes to law that are dealing with sex and sexuality. So you've got divorce law, some changes there slightly liberalizing that you've got change in law against homosexuality change is there the contraception pill as well. So there's something about the sixties and seventies, particularly the 1960s where there were these changing attitudes towards sex and sexuality. And I don't think it's a mere coincidence that Britain's porn trade, a domestic production of pornography emerges at this time.

And it's reflected in that content. But there's also another, I suppose, condition and, and that was the Perfu affair, which was a political scandal where a conservative MP named John Perfume was revealed to be having an affair with a 19 year old sex worker named Christine Keeler, who was, was in a relationship with someone called Steven Ward, who was an osteopath, but he was friends with a Russian spy. And he, this story became highly transmitted by the, not just a national media, but the international media and, and placed the lens on London's West end and the sex lives of politicians and what was happening at that period of time in, in 1963.

And it led to the eventual downfall of the then conservative government. So that was also something that just brought attention to London's West End and Britain and, and these changing attitudes in sex and sexuality. So permissiveness, even though that was a term that was used by people who were critics of these changes, was something that was spoken about in the national media. So yeah, there was something really significant of, of cultural and economic change taking place in in the 1960s. It changed slightly in the 1970s where I think people began to look back at the 1960s and regulators started to think, you know, well, you know, we need to try and tighten that belt of morality, which was loosened in the 1960s, so the seventies in Britain, see people trying to navigate that and make sense of what happened in the 1960s.

And that's when you start to see Britain's domestic pornography trade start to contract. But there was a boom in the 1960s.

Speaker 1 (14m 31s): Interesting. How significant was Soho? Cuz you talk about it a lot in this book.

Speaker 2 (14m 38s): Really, really important. Simply put, Soho was the, you know, the epicenter for pornography distribution in Britain at the time. And you know, it's kind of like, you know, all these different red light districts that exist, you know, whether it be 42nd Street around, you know, America's New York, you've got the Red Light District in Amsterdam or, and, and in Denmark as well, very different spaces today than they were back in the sixties and seventies, of course through gentrification and other changes in legislation that sought to, to clean up those spaces or had those consequences of, of tidying up those places.

But soho back in 1960s was, I suppose the 42nd street of Britain, you know, of, of what that was in the seventies, because you had a massive growth of bookshops. And these bookshops in the front will be selling, you know, fairly innocent material. So they'd be selling what would be known as glam mags or nudie mags in the front, alongside books, you know, erotic books. But they would be, you know, roughly within the realm of, of the Obscene Public Publications Act. But there would be a back room. And to get access to that back room, you'd have to speak to the chair who this usually opposing male figure, often not the person who owned the bookstore.

This was person, this was a person who was employed by the owner of the bookstore as a front in case the police raided. So that the owner could say, oh, I didn't know that these things were being sold in this back room. But that's what punters, you know, people would have to do. They'd go and speak to the chair if they liked the look of you, they'd invite you into the back room where you'd look under the Counter, hence the title of the book at what would be in, in the Back Room. So, you know, soho, which is this, you know, hotbed of national attention because of the Perfu affair.

You got the, the jazz sars, a lot of young people going there attracted by the neon lights and the smells of the food that you could get there. One of my interviewees said he remembered being a young man and just a crackle of the neon lights and the smells of all the different food that was being cooked. There was, he just attracted him drew to the area. There were amusement arcades as well.

Speaker 1 (16m 46s): It's like the Red Light district in Amsterdam for sure.

Speaker 2 (16m 49s): Yeah, yeah. And, and that's exactly what attracted people. But these bookstores started to grow and it became the main mechanism for distributing pornography in, in Britain in this concentrated area. So people would travel there, pop their pornography in their briefcases, and go back to the home counties. And then later on, of course, the trade expands and you start to see a move towards mail order where there's fewer overheads of running a shop and it's easier to hide. And, and then you'd also see, you know, sex shops as bookshops moved to sex shops where you could legitimately sell sexualized items or marital aids as they used to call them.

Would it expanded across, across the country. So yeah, it began in Soho and that's what all the, the research, you know, points towards a Soho being this, you know, the epicenter of London's and Britain's sexual economy.

Speaker 1 (17m 42s): So Obscenity law was basically the catalyst for Britain's Hardcore porn business, right?

Speaker 2 (17m 48s): I, I suppose so, yeah. The, the way I term it in the book is that it kind of created an, an institutional framework for the pornography business because because of that looseness of the term obscenity and the fact it was open to interpretation and powers to police it were given to the metropolitan police in, in London, who were known as the obscene publications squad.

Speaker 1 (18m 12s): Yeah, I read about them. Very interesting.

Speaker 2 (18m 15s): Yeah, well, it doesn't change, you know, interestingly, today something just came in my email inbox saying about how a Former metropolitan police officer has been accepting bribes from someone running a sex related establishment in soho to open their premises later. And it's currently at trial at the moment. So even though what I'm talking about in this book goes back to the sixties and seventies, the same narratives are repeating to today. So because the police are in charge of policing this law, and it was a very tight-knit group of people, they decided that the best way to police this law would be to basically allow Hardcore pornography to be distributed, providing the, the police were paid.

So that what they created was, and, and this is not my term, this is a term that's used in all the legal documents, was an informal licensing system where pornographers, whether it be distributors or producers, would pay the police a monthly amount. There was a sliding scale. So the more successful you were, the more money you paid. And so the police per permitted it to happen. And this is not just me making this up, this is, you know, documented evidence that is in about 200,000 pages of legal documents that I scanned, which documented a, an anti-corruption investigation into the Metropolitan Police in 19 72, 19 73 when the British Press revealed the extent of the corruption that was taking place in, in the pornography trade in Britain.

And it transpired that one of the pornographers was having holidays with one of the members of the Metropolitan Police. And of course the police officer said, well, you know, I was undercover, but they weren't. And, and there's, there's lots of stories about goods changing hands. One of the pornographers was a driver for one of the heads of the obscene publication squads, so would drive into crime scenes and things. So it, it was their way to control it and also a way for them to make money from it as, as well, you know, it was a way of control.

And the Obscene Publications Act enabled that because it gave the police powers and then you had the looseness of obscenity. And because of these changing attitudes of the sixties and seventies, it was difficult to pin down what you pornography could be, what, how you would define pornography. But what you would determine would be obscene because people's, you know, the public's attitudes were changing. So yeah, the obscenity law certainly played an important part here.

Speaker 1 (20m 49s): What this reminds me of is in Thailand to this day, all of the nightclubs end up having to pay a monthly fee to the local police. And the local officer takes it and takes some for themself and gives the majority to their higher up, who gives the majority of that to the guy in charge. And eventually it works its way up to the person in charge of the Thai police in Thailand.

This is why these people pay so much money for their jobs. They end up having to pay a lot of money to get these promotions. This is also why police are never fired. They're only reassigned.

Speaker 2 (21m 34s): Yeah. And, and, and you know, this is, pornography was not the only area where police corruption was taking place. It's well documented that there were other areas where this activity was taking place. And I get asked, you know, why, why do you think this would be the case? And I never gotta speak to any police officers during the research apart from Juan. And I said, why did this corruption take place? He said, do you really want me to tell you it's because the pay was crap?

Speaker 1 (21m 58s): And that's the same here, then the police make nothing. So the only way they're gonna make money is if there's some graft. Let's face it. So Films, were not the only items being sold in these shops. Why did you focus on these eight millimeter Films that were referred to as rollers?

Speaker 2 (22m 18s): Yeah, it's interesting that they were called rollers in, in Britain. I didn't realize that until I spoke to people involved in the trade and they were calling them rollers, you know, I always thought they were called stag Films or loops, but in Britain they were called rollers due to the way that they would roll when they were played back through a projector. So it was interesting that the trade had their own term for these, these Films, you

Speaker 1 (22m 38s): Guys have your own word for everything. Come on. My favorite is dodgy dodgy. I love that.

Speaker 2 (22m 45s): That would be certainly a, a catch-all term for the activities that I talk about in the book Bruce.

Speaker 1 (22m 51s): Exactly.

Speaker 2 (22m 52s): But, but yes. So what you're gonna focus on Films Well, what I found really interesting about filming this period is that how difficult it was to make these Films. Like we take for granted how easy it's to shoot content these days. And I'm not necessarily talking about professional content, but you can still have professional aspirations and shoot content using an iPhone. Of course it'll have its limitations.

Speaker 1 (23m 14s): Absolutely. I mean, look at the whole creator space now. A lot of that's done on iPhones.

Speaker 2 (23m 20s): Yeah. And, and, and it's just so, so easy to do. People can run a business from just having an iPad or an iPhone or an Android equivalent. And back with, in the 1960s to, to make an eight millimeter film, it required a certain level of expertise because it wasn't as if you could just go to a film laboratory and say, excuse me, can you please, can you please develop a process and print my 15 minute Hardcore film? They'd call the police. So they had to find their own ways and means of doing it.

But Soho postcards were Hardcore photographs in pack of five that were sold again under the Counter in the back rooms,

Speaker 1 (24m 0s): Kinda like porn trading cards.

Speaker 2 (24m 3s): I, I suppose we could call them that, but they're an extension like French postcards, which were popular. So, and they, they were quite convenient in size so they could easily be hindered or concealed in a pocket. So, you know, we, we must also forget about, you know, the material properties of, of, of pornography and, and how they play an important part in the forms that it takes. And then there was something called type scripts, which was when someone had a hybrid between the Soho postcard and the erotic novel. So you had people hopped upon speed writing really poor erotic short stories.

And what they would do is they would just put in the middle of these, you know, very amateur produced books that were produced on the, what's called a just, which was a, a hand cranked photocopier. They would just put like glued photographs that were completely unrelated to the story in, but they were serving this demand for pornography. And then the economy shifted to Films started to introduced and they were, they were made in Britain and, and, and they were made by, you know, a, a small group of people at first who seemed to have been those who knew how to shoot photographs.

And what they did is they transferred those skills to, to shooting Films. So shooting on 16 millimeter primarily because it was easier to, to edit 16 millimeter film cause it was bigger and it had textual properties that were helpful. And then what they would do is they would reduce the size of the image down onto eight millimeter and distribute on eight millimeter because the eight millimeter market was growing considerably in the, in the 1960s. You know, that was the way that you'd be able to watch short Films at home.

Not like now when you can go onto Netflix or just watch a film so easily. Back then you had these short, you know, cut downs of silent Films, you know, Laurel and Bus Keaton, short glamor Films of about five or six minutes each, which just depicted strip teas. But they were over the Counter goods but very popular. And then you had rollers that start to emerge around 1962 I guess, although it seems that Paul Hardcore was being shot very minimally in, in the fifties, in forties in Britain.

There's a couple of prints that exist at the Kinsey Institute in Indiana, but the growth is around 1962. And those early Films are really interesting cause you've got people who are trying to find, you know, how do you shoot a Hardcore film if you've never seen one before? And that's what you start to see is people playing around with narrative and trying to, you're trying to find ways to represent the sexual act. And what I found more important, more interesting was bringing these to market was really difficult. So you could only produce a small number of these at the, the time because of how laborious it was to do it.

So that's why I focused on Films because I'm really interested in how people use new technologies. So that new technology of the time to create the hard, these Hardcore Films that were known as rollers.

Speaker 1 (26m 58s): Right. So who were the early pioneers in the rulers?

Speaker 2 (27m 3s): So the early pioneers, it seems there are about three or four and, and the first one I found was a guy called Leonard Thorpe. And he was a professional photographer who ended up making Hardcore Films and he would distribute them, it seems primarily for having something called blue movie shows. And these were like popup cinemas of the day. So what he would do is put on a blue movie show in a house and it was very easy to do cause you just have a projector which could be put into a suitcase with some Films take into a house.

And he would show it to people who would pay, I have to say, good money to attend these and to view them. And he would offer, apparently, according to one of the newspaper articles, a voiceover commentary of how he made them some sort of audio commentary that you would have on DVD or Blu-ray. He was doing it porn pornography back then and he was apparently was shooting in color, which suggests that he must have been a highly proficient filmmaker to be able to process and distribute art color. But I've never found any of his Films because these are, no one has credits on these Films, we dunno who made them

Speaker 1 (28m 9s): For good reason. Well,

Speaker 2 (28m 11s): Exactly. You'd be, you could be arrested. And so I was trying to find out who, who made these Films who was behind them. The most important pioneer, I'd say was a chap called Iva Cook. And he's the first person I found in the police document to said, to been involved in making these Films. And he was a professional photographer and he progressed from Soho postcards two i I assumed type scripts. And he seemed to play a central role in setting up this economy. So you see Cook's name appear in so many different cases where people were starting their own businesses and they drew on his skills and he helped you start a number of other operations.

Another guy was called Skinny Ken Taylor, who it was very much a ghost Bruce. I could never find that much about him other than his tantalizing tidbit in one newspaper saying that he was involved in the profumo affair. It was suggested that there was pornography that Stephen Ward was a pornography collector. And there was also ings about how the relationship with the perfu affair to a, a serial murder case as well where some of the victims starred in Hardcore and Glamour Films. So it's interesting that the Perfu affair keeps on coming up again and again.

And he said to have been involved in that. But he was another associate of I cooks. And then I interviewed someone that I called Derek, I can't give his real name, who just stumbled across someone who ran an antique stall in London and happened to have been someone who was making these, he claimed in the 1960s. And he, he gave a lot of insight into how these would be made and talked about something that he termed Garage Labs. Now I'd never heard of the term Garage Lab before, but it was basically someone who would run a processing lab, but it would not be a formal one.

It was like running the back of a shoe shop and they would process anything no questions asked using semi-professional equipment. And that was, you know, a, a really crucial point to me to gimme an insight into how these Films are brought to market. So you were either a technician able to do it yourself, you either paid off people who worked in formal film labs to do it outta hours cuz they ran 24 7 because of, you know, news and things like that. Or you found a garage lab like the one in the back of a shoe shop that Derek used and they would process it for you.

Speaker 1 (30m 27s): Very cool. So tell me about Climax Films. They appeared to predate the infamous Color Climax Corporation of Denmark.

Speaker 2 (30m 37s): Yeah, this was fascinating. And, and I remember when I started the research about in, you know, 20 13, 20 14, and I first saw what these Films looked like and you, they, they started off as being just packaged in blank boxes, you know, faceless boxes. And then someone decided, well we could stick a Soho postcard on the front, but may not even be from the film. But we could very often while shooting the Films, people were taking photographs much like in, you know, that's always been a standard model of practice in the pornography business to, to maximize your profit from one shoot.

So sometimes they'd put just a picture, just a postcard on the front of the box. And then Evan Phillips, the chap started climax, he had this idea now it so happened that Phillips was paying the police for a license. So he had the, you know, the permission from the police. But you know, this was a really significant move. And this is talked about in the police files more than once, that Evan Phillips was the first person in the UK, I dunno how that compares with other countries to brand Hardcore pornography. And they used the term climax and climax Films or climax Films of London as they were known.

And they were presenting these really distinctive orange boxes and they became the most prolific producer of rollers in, in, in Britain. And they've made over well over a hundred titles. And eventually when Denmark legalized pornography in 1969, they moved their operations over to Denmark and smuggled the porn back into Britain because it was just easy to operate. Cause you could use formal laboratories, you could easily operate without police corruption.

And, and I think that there was an opportunity to produce a higher material standard of product that was not just being produced in clandestine conditions. And these Films from 1966 onwards were not just being sold in soho or via mail order. They were being smuggled by agents Denmark. We know that climax was used, I think first in 67 or 68 by, by the TI brothers who were behind Color Climax Corporation.

And, and it was spelled, you know, climax in in Dutch. And then by the 90, late 1960s climax as a brand starts to emerge. So we know that the Tiana brothers, before they started their operations, before they, when they were running bookshops, they were selling these climax Films. And I have a picture of Ys ti I think that's how you pronounce his name at the Danish sex fair, that they started in 1969 to draw attention to this, to legalization and that Denmark were open for business in pornography.

That was the whole purpose of them setting up this sex fair is holding one of the, you know, the, the British climax rollers. And I do wonder if they had some link or they helped to bring climax over from London to Denmark. So if anyone out there has any knowledge of this, you know, I'd love to, to be able to find out more because I did write to the, the last surviving brother, but I received no response. I just love to know about this, this link between climax, you know, where Britain, you know, one of the pioneers in branding in Europe and being the first this space did is he just transformed Britain's economy because everyone then realized, well, it's not sufficient just to put it in a case or a cardboard box rather with a postcard on the front.

I now need to brand as well. So we then start to see by 67 all these other brands start to emerge. And by 19 72, 73, you know, the, the domestic production of pornography reduces markedly by that point. And I'll talk probably about that later if it comes up. And that's because so many brands were, were emerging and producing. So about 1,200 Films were made between the years 1962, I'd say roughly 2, 19 75, 76.

And, and no one's ever said about this in, in Britain. And, and I just, I couldn't believe when I, I was trying to track down this history, trying to history and the, the database kept growing of all these titles and wow, you know, well over a thousand Films were made between in, in and around 10 to 12, 13 years. That, that's quite remarkable considering it was illegally problematic to do so.

Speaker 1 (35m 0s): Yeah, yeah. Well let's talk about that now, the seventies, obviously, as you mentioned, were turbulent period for porn in Britain. The Watford Blue movie trial captures this, doesn't it?

Speaker 2 (35m 14s): Yeah, so the Watford Blue movie trial, I was doing research for the book and I was on a, on a website called Vintage Erotica, which, which, which I suppose is like an ax search as an archive because no one's really thought to collect the, you know, the history of of, of the pornography business because it's being viewed as illicit or othered, you know, for, because of its, it's, I argue it's legally problematic status no one ever thought to collect. Its, its history. And, and part of this job is I've been trying to collect as many trade documents or evidence of formal documents that help to tell the story of the business.

And not just in the UK but across Europe as well. And I know there are some, you know, colleagues like Peter Una who is trying to do the same in, in America and Eric Shaffer and Elena Finkel and another, and, and Maria Larson in Sweden, Clara's, all these different scholars were, you know, we're trying to, trying to do this in lieu of archives. You know, I spoke to an archivist about you, why is no porn in archives? And he said, well, porn is the archives dirty secret. It's there, but they don't tend to tell you that it's there. Yeah. So while I was using these, these I suppose crowdsourced archives of, of pornography, I saw a picture of a performer who, who appears in, in rollers.

And it was taken from a magazine and it said in this, this page taken, scanned from this magazine that this performer, I won't give the name cause I don't give performers names, was good luck to this perform because they're currently appearing in the Watford Blue Movie trial. And I thought, the hell is the Watford Blue movie trial. So I started to speak to a solicitor, a friend of mine, he said, you know, I've got a research assistant, see if he can help you find any information about it. And so I got in touch with this researcher, this, this legal researcher, and he managed to just find a hit on what for Blue Movie trial in a newspaper database.

And then we discovered that there were legal files that documented the case in Britain's national archives, which I never even thought of as, as a resource. And that's where I found all these, you know, loads of different legal documents, including one that was about how the BBC ended up paying for the making of a Hardcore roller, which was a, a a great story. But nevertheless, the what the Blue Movie trial and what's significant about this is that this trial was apparently, according to the press, the biggest obscenity trial of its time in Britain.

And it talked about the activities of a group of people who were making and distributing pornography in Watford. So pornography, moving from Soho to the suburbs, and this chap called Anthony Col. Coborn was, he said to have been the person who was driving this activity. I, I dunno if that's true or not, I do wonder if he was a patsy for someone else. And he started a, a photography studio, which was eventually then used to make rollers when skinny Ken Taylor came back on the scene.

And then he bought a house where a number of the performers lived in like this commune. And it also served as a studio as well. So a lot of the Films were made there and were made in Watford. So you have porn being taken outta the city and moving into suburban space. So the press loved that because that's, you know, porn starting to take over suburbia, but also because the police corruption was being revealed as well. What I think the prosecutors wanted to do was show that they were taking a hard line on pornography and the Watford Blue Movie trial serves as, as, as an example of that.

So the documents show that the prosecutors were very nerves about being able to get a guilty conviction under the Obscene Publications Act because as we've said earlier, it's really difficult at that period in time to define what obscenity was. So what they did is they combined obscenity laws with other laws such as the Sexual Offenses Act. So it transpired that some of those Films that, that were seized, featured a performance had engaging in anal sex, which then between extra sexual couples was criminalized yet until 1994, Bruce until 1994 under the Sexual Offenses Act.

So they managed to prosecute some performers. So there's an example of performers being prosecuted in Britain. Cause it was always assumed that it was fine to make a pornography as long as you didn't distribute in Britain. But no, if you were filming certain acts, you, you, you, you could be prosecuted and also the Postal Services Act, because they were selling the Films via mail order. So rather than obscenity was indecency, which was the, the, the legal term for the postal service, which was perceived to be of a lesser, lesser than obscenity.

So you could probably make a stronger case that something was indecent rather than obscene. So by using a combination of these dis different laws and also merging them with something called the common law. So conspiracy to do these different acts meant that they could gain a guilty prosecution. And that's what they did. All these people were found guilty, they, they all appealed and, and weren't successful. And I argue in the book that this was a major turning point. Cause after 19 72, 73 when this trial happened, sorry, that's when the trade starts to dwindle because you have imports from Denmark being smuggled into Britain, which are of a higher material standard and produced on mass.

So it, it was cheaper to import porn, which was smuggled into Britain via, you know, chicken and bacon lorries, traveling from Denmark to and Crossing the channel coming into Britain or, or coming up up north that it just would come in through different ports. And that was being smuggled and that was deemed a better economic model. So why would you accept, you know, clandestinely produced British port, which had a lower material standard. You know, it was then something that's produced by that time, you know, color Climax had had, and, and Ox trading Theder Brothers company had grown so much their laboratory, it was eventually later used by Hollywood companies.

You know, they had high standard facilities, professional facilities. So there was a major shift then. And I I say the Watford Blue Movie trial is one of those examples of that shift.

Speaker 1 (41m 30s): Yeah. Now in the book you talk about how these debates have particular currency at the moment and not just in the UK. Can you explain that?

Speaker 2 (41m 39s): Yeah. Well, as I said earlier, the the mere fact that someone at the moment is undergoing trial for corruption in Westminster licensing for a sexual aid establishment is you, that's exactly the kind of practices that were taking place in the obscene publication squad where people were being bribed or, or given gifts, lavish gifts to enable them to do trade and, and do business. So you, the fact that police corruption in particularly in Britain at the moment is such a hot topic every week it seems there is some discussion around police corruption.

So, you know, the book tells how, you know, police corruption around pornography and how it helped the business to thrive and, and talks about the relationships that Pornographers had with, with the law and, and the relationships in turn that the law had with pornography and how that evolved and changed over time and how they respond to that. So it still has currency there, but I think it, it, it also has currency in terms of the law. Always say I'm a frustrated lawyer, I always wanted to be a lawyer. And during this book really meant I had to engage with Doctrinal Law and engage with a different legislation.

And there's over 42 laws that are still applicable to pornography in Britain today. And I, I, I talk about this in the book and, and I, I really tried to delve into Obscenity law and its relationship to the porn trade, Britain's porn trade. And you look at these attempts to legislate porn in the sixties, seventies, and indeed eighties, where at the end of the book, I tell how so many new laws were introduced, try and combat the trade. Cause the Obscenity Publications Act was just not fit for purpose. So the strategy was, was not to just let's rip up the obscenity law and start again.

It was no let's just bringing another load of laws to control the trade. And that's what they ended up doing. And it's interesting to see now how this debate around online harms and attempts to regulate, you know, the online consumption of pornography, how in Britain a similar approach is being taken where this, the online safety bill, which is gonna eventually come into law, is just trying to do so much and, you know, situates pornography alongside hate speech and all, all other manners of other online harmful activity.

And you look at it and you think, well, they're constantly changing cuz they just dunno how to, how to regulate it. And the book shows that this has been a problem in Britain that just continues to this very day. And there is no simple way to solve it.

Speaker 1 (44m 8s): No, you're right. And let's face it, I mean, I'm sure you're aware of the attack on porn, the war on porn throughout the world, and the epicenters, the United States of America, supposedly the bastion of freedom, which I have certain questions about, and the religious right and the Republican Party has an all out assault on it between age verification laws and obscenity laws that they're trying to tighten up.

And there's a lot of people that just wanna make porn illegal.

Speaker 2 (44m 43s): It's, it's remarkable when to think that, that this is, you know, taking place at the moment. And if we look at the history, it's, as my colleague Peter A. Luna says, these debates just emerging again and again at just different points in relation to different technologies and and laws. There's a wonderful book called Perversion for Profit by an American scholar called Witness sru. And I really recommend it for anyone who wants to look at that in America, the, the development as you've just said of the war on porn. But we've got that here in, in the UK at the moment.

Pornography is the moral panic around pornography is, is really strong at the moment, particularly around access to pornography. And every porn that I spoke to, you know, who's, who's active today, had no issue around age verification per se. They underst they don't want children accessing their content. What they're saying is that the way they're going about it's the wrong way.

Speaker 1 (45m 37s): It's ridiculous. And what they're doing is they're keeping adults from accessing it because these laws are just so restrictive and they're asking for so much information. When someone goes on a porn site, the last thing they want to do is give too much information. You think people really wanna give their id, their state issued ID on a porn site, they're already freaking out about giving their credit card information and all that. But with all of the identity theft and that and those things going on, do people really wanna do that?

I don't think so.

Speaker 2 (46m 14s): Yeah, data leaks and things like that, you know, where you could have data on people's, you particular sexual proclivities and what they like to, you know, view and access.

Speaker 1 (46m 23s): You remember the Ashley Madison Data Lake?

Speaker 2 (46m 26s): Yeah, of course. That was a major example of how that led to blackmail of people and things like that. Digital blackmail. One of the interesting things today about Soho is that, okay, it's, it's completely different how it was in the sixties, seventies and eighties, but there's still shops that are selling pornography.

Speaker 1 (46m 46s): Well at least it's still staying with its character

Speaker 2 (46m 50s): And, but, but it's survived covid. And you look at some of these shops and I think how do they exist? So someone is still buying pornography and I do wonder if it's a particular age group who feel more comfortable going into a shop to buy physical pornography, which has no trace. If you're paying cash and you haven't got to give your credit card, you haven't got to be nervous about using the computer. So I do wonder if all of this will lead to, you know, again, shifts in the economy where maybe the the material form will, will, will start to become more dominant.

But yeah.

Speaker 1 (47m 23s): Yeah, maybe TPTs will come back. After all. I see you have a second volume of under the Counter. Why don't you give us a little bit of a hint of what to expect?

Speaker 2 (47m 33s): Yeah, so as I said at the beginning, I, I wrongfully thought that I'd be able to cover 1960 to 2000 that period in, in one book. And it became so apparent during the writing that that was not going to be possible. So I've already started on the second volume, so I've got two chapters already. I'm aiming to get it done within about three years. But what the book will do is pick up from where I leave off in 1984, an introduction of the Video Recordings act, which meant that anything released on video had to go through the British Board of Film Classification.

And ostensibly all those laws that were introduced in the early, in the early 1980s that I argue pushed pornography into a black market, which was around bootleg videos. So I talk about that area. I also talk about pornography for export, so that there was an economy of pornography production in Britain, but that was primarily for exports. So working for companies like private and your choice as well. In, in, in the Netherlands, I talked a lot about your choice. It's mail order company where you'd send off your check to a mail order advert and address in Amsterdam.

And magically three days later, once the check had been received by the company, you'd receive your pornography in the Post with a British postmark, which suggested that these of were cells operating in, in the UK selling Hardcore pornography get around customs EVAs laws. So I tell that story there and talk about as a, an example of a, like a transnational company, that that's how they evaded the law to be able to supply pornography, to Hardcore pornography to British people. And then I also talk about the growth of satellite porn.

So there's a short period when satellite television emerged in Britain and people were selling decrypted boxes and cards, which meant you could access European broadcasts of Hardcore pornography, but the, the government shut that down very, very quickly. But that's not a story that's been told, been said much about, so I'm trying to find the people who are involved in that. And then I talk, i, I might talk about The Lovers Guide, which was when there was a series of lovers Guide Films that were released on vhs, which were, which showed Hardcore pornography and were given 18 certificates and sold in shops, but cause it was for lovemaking and promoting that they permitted erections on screen.

So that's an important journey to legalization. And then I talk about Bend Over Lindsey Honey, who was probably Britain's most recognizable transnational pornographer, who was employed by American Studios, began as a, as a protege of the Pornographer. Mike Freeman in the 1980s was a bootlegger in the late eighties and then worked for private making Films and then started the Bend Over character, which was Britain's answer to John Stanos Butman in the 1990s. And he serves as like someone who takes us through to, to legalization in thousand.

So we conducted a few interviews with him on camera and those are drawn on in the book. And then talk about the legal cases that led eventually to the liberalization of the R 18 certificate, which permitted the, the distribution of porn Hardcore pornography in Britain providing that it was sold in license sex shops and was certified by the British Board of Classification. So porn's never been freely available and, and never will, or that you could argue that it's via the internet.

Speaker 1 (50m 48s): Yeah, it kinda is. Well, just a reminder to everyone, you can buy the book at under the Counter dot com, I know you're gonna enjoy it just like I did. Well, Oliver, I'd like to thank you for being our guest today on Adult Site Broker Talk, and I hope we'll get a chance to do it again soon.

Speaker 2 (51m 7s): I hope so, Bruce, thanks very much for your time. And if any listeners have, you know, any histories to share, particularly around British eight millimeter pornography and its circulation in the United States or even across Europe, you know, please just get in touch with me via the website. It's, you're really important, try and collect these histories. So I do rely very, very heavily on, on collectors and people who were alive during that period. So do get in touch. Thank you.

Speaker 1 (51m 31s): Thank you. My Broker tip today is part one on how to buy a site. The first question to ask yourself is what kind of site would you like to buy? Would you like a tube site, a cam site, a dating site, a membership site, a social media site, or something else? If you wanna buy a membership site, what type of site do you want? And in what niche? There are literally hundreds of niches and many sub niches. For instance, let's say you wanna buy a gay site under gay, there's Bears or mature bareback, Asian.

Latino amateur by black Euro and Fetish along with many fetishes under that classification. Plus there's Hardcore jocks, porn stars, solo trans twinks, and uniforms straight has even more sub niches. I can't tell you how many people contact me and just say, I wanna buy a site or I wanna buy a pay site. I need more information than that. How you make this decision should be based on these factors. What interests you, what you enjoy should definitely apply a part and what you buy.

If you like men and wanna make money on a straight site, that's probably a really bad idea. Same thing if you're straight and wanna buy a gay site. So what you like plays a part. What's your budget? This is something you need to establish at the very beginning. Not only do you need to know what it is you're working with, but some classifications of sites are more expensive than others. For instance, if you want a Cam site with any traffic or revenue at all, you're gonna need a lot of money. In fact, to buy any established and successful site will be somewhat expensive.

If you buy a site that's pretty much just a platform without traffic or sales, you're gonna need a huge investment to build it up. In that case, it might actually be as good or better just to start your own site. That way you get exactly what it is you're looking for. We'll talk about this subject more next week and next week we'll be speaking with Daniel Abramovich of VR Bangers. And that's it for this week's Adult Site Broker Talk. I'd once again like to thank my guest, Oliver Carter.

Talk to you again next week on Adult Site Broker Talk. I'm Bruce Friedman.

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