Is there really a sleazy world of underground pornography like in the film "8MM"?

The movie 8MM, starring the ever-charismatic Nicolas Cage, is about a detective trying to figure out if a “snuff film” is real or not. In the course of the movie he gets drawn into this totally seedy, Hollywooded-out world of “underground porn”, shown as some kind of catacomb of dark, grimy basements inhabited by people dressed in outlandish S&M outfits and peddling cardboard boxes filled with Polaroid photos and homemade hardcore bondage and rape movies.

What I want to know is, does this scene actually exist? Or is it completely the creation of the people who made 8MM? I fully believe that such a sleazy porn underworld existed in the '70s and '80s, and maybe, since this film was made in the late '90s, the internet hadn’t completely taken over yet, necessitating the existence of such a porn scene. But today, in 2009, are there secret hardcore-porn flea markets guarded by armed goons and populated by leather-wearing, tattooed bondage freaks?




What are you doing with your other hand?

Its clear due to his location that he’s on the back nine somewhere, trying to make a one-handed putt while wirelessly trying to answer your question with the other hand.

It’s quite a sacrifice, and you could at least show some gratitude.

Slight hijack…

Even in the movie “8mm” itself, it’s stated repeatedly (and correctly) that there’s no evidence that snuff films have ever really been made, and that the few supposed snuff films on the market are phony.

That’s not to say that some psychopaths haven’t videotaped their crimes, and shared the videotapes with other sickos. Its IS to say there’s no profit to be made through such films, and so porn studios have never tried to make or sell them.

Okay, back to the OP’s main topic.

No, I’m not asking if snuff films exist or not. (I’m sure that topic has been discussed here, at great length, numerous times in the past.) It’s the whole aesthetic of the sleazy porno-underworld presented in that movie that I want to know about. Namely, if it actually exists or if it was completely a creation of Hollywood, the same way they create all kinds of outlandish things.

I don’t know about everything the movie covers, but the porn industry around that time was certainly seedy.

Linda Boreman, popularly known as Linda Lovelace in the film Deep Throat (also known as W. Mark Felt), would later become huge in the anti-pornography movement.

Wikipedia. The whole article reads like tragic stuff.

According to legend, “Debbie” from Debbie Does Dallas either died of a drug overdose in 1986 or now has a completely different life as an anonymous homemaker in Iowa.

One of the most famous male, uh, actors from that era, John Holmes, was once charged-but-dropped-but-somehow-connected-with the Wonderland murders (see Boogies Nights).

I would imagine relatively cheap video production hardware for production and the Internet for distribution have pretty much have pretty much obviated the need for professionals (sleazy or otherwise) for porn manufacturing and distribution, and judging by what available on a google search, except for child porn and bestiality relatively little of this has to be done “underground”.

Still… for anyone curious, a here’s a link to the Straight Dope column on the subject, Is there such a thing as a snuff film?.

While not particularly conclusive, Paul Reubens’ 2002 near-arrest for possession of child porn does seem to at least indicate that there are places where one can go to to buy and sell arcane erotica:

You can, but in country whee people are being arrested for getting photos of their grand kids taking a bath processed at WALNMART it’s a pretty dangerous hobby.

And just before her death she became sharply critical of the anti-pornography movement, saying they had used her more than the porn industry had. (Her account of her experiences during the filming of Deep Throat, incidentally, was strongly disputed by many others who were involved in it.)

She seems to be an easily-manipulated sort of person who would have had a sad life whatever she ended up doing. That’s not necessary a reflection on the porn industry.

I have read Lovelace’s supposed account of how Deep Throat went down and I think it is almost all bullshit.

I think if they were really that desperate to the point where they had to force her to perform at gunpoint, they would have found another actress. God knows there are women out there who actually want to be gangbanged by eight guys, as hard as that may be for some people to believe. There are women who are perverts. There are chicks who would be game for the most extreme sexual stuff, of their own accord, without needing coercion let alone a gun to their heads.

It sounds like Lovelace was very embarrassed and shamed at what she had done voluntarily - after the fact - and then decided to make up a big story about how she was forced to do all of it, to try to excuse her behavior instead of just owning it. Remember she was raised very strict Catholic.

I know, I know, I know - this same kind of accusation is made against rape victims by men who insist that they weren’t really raped and they were “asking for it.” I know, it can be a disingenuous tack to take. But really - when you spend some time thinking about the whole situation with Deep Throat, it starts to make sense and Lovelace sounds less and less like an innocent victim and more like an attention-seeker.

Yes. One example is that it is a well known fact that pedophiles have underground porn networks.

I reading LL’s wiki bio the vibe is more that she was a not too bright, seriously hardcore drug addict married to an abusive and exploitative asshole. The gun to the head while filming claim seems like an over the top BS CYA move, but on the other hand she fucked a dog. How in the world do you decide that’s a good idea unless someone is threatening you?

You would be amazed at the things people do of their own volition. There are people who fuck animals willingly.

Imho, there’s no new porn. The only shocking porn is the one you didn’t have the imagination to type into a search engine.

I’d say “8mm” draws on idioms and archetypes of the pre-net porn world. Before it was possible to access such pinnacles of human achievement as goatse and 2G1C, it would have been plausible to think that such things WOULD be going on in some shadowy “underground” world nobody “normal” knew about. In the age of the 'net, pretty much the one thing left for this sort of distro would be that which portrays actual illegal acts (such as CP – and if the same pattern holds as for similar crimes against children, it’s likelier for the culprits to be trusted members of the family/neighborhood circle than some gang of white slavers…)
Pretty much by the reasoning that anything that is illegal or universally socially censured does not disappear but instead becomes clandestine, there has always been underground porn (as there is underground lit), but, it ALSO it has always had a mystique that it’s a bigger and worse conspiracy than any of the mundanes can imagine. This is kinda understandable in an ontological sense, as a precursor of net-age’s “Rule 34” (“There is porn of it. Whatever ‘it’ is”) . If you can imagine that there is someone out there so sick he gets his jollies from X Y or Z atrocity, then OMG, sexual desire is so mighty and overriding someone must be seeking to make it real and “they” – the ever inevitable “they” – must be running a network to get new victims and get away with it!

One has to realize that some of the perversions we consider a sign of how bad things are today are nothing new. If you read De Sade’s Julliette or The 120 Days of Sodom, you’ll find that (1) much that he was writing about 200+ years ago would be on and beyond the edge WRT bizarre illegal sexual conduct today AND (2) he already was imagining networks of the rich and powerful getting together for rape/scat/torture/sodomy/blasphemy/pedophilia/murder orgies in their chateaux and abbeys.
Thing is… there are serial torture-killers in the world. But is it plausible that “Hostel” describes a common ocurrence?

I boldfaced your own answer to the question. See also “carny geek”.

The more bizarre part of it is that in any case Deep Throat set the wheels in motion for the rise of “legit” hardcore… which still involved a lot of unsavoury characters and behaviors (already referenced, John Holmes’ linkage to the Wonderland incident) but appearently no gun-to-head scenarios.

This is known as Rule 34.