Movies & TV Shows That Take You Inside The Porn Industry

Twenty years ago, a 27-year-old director named Paul Thomas Anderson decided to turn a lingering obsession of his into a full-length feature film. That obsession of his was L.A.'s porn industry, and his 150-page script told the story of a restaurant busboy (Mark Wahlberg) endowed with a 13-inch penis, who's eventually shaped into a porn star name Dirk Diggler. Anderson's movie, Boogie Nights, gave a thrilling and gritty perspective to Hollywood's more "mature" underbelly.
"I felt it should maybe resemble my personal experience of watching a porno film: incredibly funny one second, turns me on the next, then incredibly depressing and so on, up and down," Anderson told Grantland of the movie.
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As Todd Williams, a production assistant for Boogie Nights, said, "The whole 'porn is cool' thing hadn’t happened yet." With the The Deuce, a drama about the burgeoning days of the porn industry, now airing on HBO, we can safely say that the "porn is cool" thing — as in, looking into the history of it — is in full force. Here are other movies and shows which illuminate the biz.
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Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On

This Netflix original docuseries looks into the mechanics of the modern porn industry, and the women who star in and direct movies. The six episodes look at many different facets of porn, like the recruitment process, the industry's racial biases, and the pitfalls that some actresses face.
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Hardcore (1979)

Hardcore is like Taken, except that it's set in the 1970's, the father, Jake Van Dorn (George C. Scott), is a conservative businessman from Michigan, and his daughter, Kristen (Ilah Davis), goes missing in Los Angeles during a church-sponsored trip. A private investigator uncovers proof of Kristen performing in a porn video with two men. Determined to rescue her, Jake sets off travels through seedy L.A. with a growing sense of dread: His daughter may be found among these people.
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Boogie Nights (1997)

Hollywood had already made stories of small-town kids succumbing to the glamour and gaudiness of fame, à la A Star is Born. With its focus on L.A.'s porn industry, Boogie Nights exposed a different set of Hollywood pitfalls. Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds) is a porn director who notices busboy Eddie Adams (Mark Wahlberg), and grooms Eddie into becoming Dirk Diggler, a star in his films. Eddie starts performing in the '70s, back when porn was still played in theaters. By 1983, the movie's end, the industry has transitioned to home video, and actors like Dirk are left to grapple with their fading relevance.
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Wonderland (2003)

Boogie Nights is very loosely based on the story of real-life porn legend John Holmes, but Wonderland is Holmes' real-deal biopic. Val Kilmer plays the notoriously well-endowed porn performer who becomes suspect in a horrific series of murders committed on L.A.'s Wonderland Avenue, leaving four members of the Wonderland Gang dead. The crime was supposedly orchestrated by a nightclub owner and local crime figure, but remains unsolved to this date. Like the crimes it depicts, Wonderland is grisly and unforgiving in its portrayal of the porn industry — and in Holmes' ultimate demise.
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Inside Deep Throat (2005)

Released in 1972, Deep Throat was the first adult film to feature an actual narrative — as in characters, action, and plot, not just sex. Remember: During the '70s, porn movies were shown in movie theaters. Deep Throat made $600 million in box office revenue. As a result, Deep Throat became a hallmark of the so-called "Golden Age of Porn," and caused Linda Lovelace's career to skyrocket. Unlike the biopic Lovelace, which focuses on Lovelace herself, this film looks at Deep Throat's impact on the porn industry's trajectory here on out.
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Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008)

Just because Zack (Seth Rogen) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks) have been friends forever doesn't mean filming a porn movie together won't mess up their dynamic. It certainly will. In this Kevin Smith film, the two friends decide to make an amateur video together in the hopes of raising some money, and helping them climb out of debt. One of the most endearingly cringeworthy movie sex scenes ensues, with Zack as a repairman stumbling onto Miri, the seductress. It's not a blisteringly accurate peek into porn industry, but it's a fun movie.
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Humpday (2009)

This movie will probably remind you of Zack and Miri Make a Porno, in that its premise is about two long-time friends making an adult video together. But the similarities end there. After a series of increasingly drunken dares, Ben (Mark Duplass) and Andrew (Joshua Leonard), who are both heterosexual, agree to submit an original film to the HUMP! festival for amateur pornography. Humpday actually shows the incredibly tense dance of awkwardness and yes, a bit of attraction, that happens when the two friends actually film their entry in a hotel room.
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Finding Bliss (2009)

Imagine telling your parents that your first real post-grad job was editing porn films. After a year temping as a traffic cop, Jody (Leelee Sobieski) relents and takes the only job offered to her: Editing videos at Grind Productions. After the day has wrapped up, Jody stays late and films her own indie project. As Jodie becomes acquainted with the actors and directors at Grind, she confronts her own sexual hangups. Who knew a porn set would be the perfect setting for a rom-com?
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Don Jon (2013)

Jon (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) wants to be in a relationship — he really does. But he can't pull himself away from his computer screen, where the women are plentiful and able to do whatever he wants them to. Then, Jon starts dating Barbara (Scarlett Johansson), a traditional woman who wants Jon to have nothing to do with porn. While watching Jon struggle to balance reality and the life inside his computer, Don Jon will make you wonder just how porn is impacting relationships.
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Lovelace (2013)

Seeking '70s-era mustaches? Get 'em here. Lovelace is a biopic about Linda Lovelace, the star of the movie Deep Throat, an adult film so popular that even Roger Ebert wrote a review. Though Deep Throat went on to have a reputation as a cultural touchpoint, Lovelace was burned from the experience. She was abused and manipulated by her acquaintances in the industry, and ended up a feminist anti-porn activist.
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The Deuce (2017-present)

None of the shows and films on this list would be possible without the events depicted in The Deuce, an HBO show which premiered this fall. Back in the '70s, Times Square was a neon-tinted den of iniquity. The streets were parades of peep shows and lawlessness. Now that the region has since been cleaned up and taken over by Disney, the days when Time Square was still called the Deuce are legendary. The Deuce brings those days to life in order, and explains why the region was fertile ground for the birth of the porn industry.

Each of the characters, from the prostitutes to the bartenders with mob connections, becomes involved with the budding industry in this fascinating (and feminist) show.
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