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Organized crime, says a Washington official, dominates the traditional porn industry, as well as massage parlors, topless bars and strip joints. Now it is a growing presence in porn films as well. Ironically, the Supreme Court's community-standards ruling in 1973 gave the mob its first foothold. Fearful of prosecution for interstate activities, many independent producers turned the risky business of distribution over to the Mafia. The mob also began pirating prints, then going to film producers and offering to take over future distribution and call off further piracy. The Mafia is in the business for the same reason as the new pornographers: voyeur sex is enormously profitable. Hardcore 8-mm. home-movie reels, which cost a dollar or two to produce, retail for $16. A peep show minimovie machine, which shows a customer about two minutes of porn for 25¢ or the full twelve-minute reel for $1.50, can gross more than $10,000 per year; most sex shops have several machines. A hard-core porno movie for theatrical showing can be made for $15,000 to $50,000 and return millions.
Whether made by the old or new pornographers, most hardcore movies have kept close to the single proven formula: endless scenes of copulation, strung along in an unnoticeable plot. But now porn-film makers are breaking away from the standard formula. One way consists of cutting out some of the crasser scenes and trying for the lyrical, romantic porn presumably favored by women. Example: the 1974 French import Emmanuelle, with welling music and tugging at heartstrings, started a newly profitable trend toward sleeker soft-core scenes. Another approach provides new jolts for jaded fans. One current porn film, Sweet Movie, features a striptease for children, intercourse plus murder on a bed of sugar, grisly exhumations and a band of rollicking adults who vomit, defecate and urinate on one another to the strains of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. The director, Dusan Makavējev, professes to see the film as socially beneficial. Says he: "It is meant to have a lasting aphrodisiac effect and generally tone up the orgasm."
The taboo currently under the heaviest assault is sadomasochism—sexual pleasure derived from dominating and inflicting pain on a partner or from being hurt. Porn-film makers long avoided "S-M," as it is known in the trade, because they were convinced that it would drive away customers. Now even that is changing. In X-rated movies and throughout the world of voyeur sex, sadomasochism is in. Two current hits, the soft-core Story of O and hard-core Story of Joanna,