Rated X: A Journey Through Porn

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This is the story of director Dag Yngvesson’s journey to find out about the porn industry which had fascinated him ever since he saw his first movie as a teenager. The quest to find out what the business was like begins when he realizes that he was living only 10 miles from the industries center in the San Fernando Valley in California. Not knowing what to do or where to start he calls up William Margold who had starred in the first film he saw (he found his name in the phone book and just called him). Margold, still in the business (having begun in 1969 and continuing on in one form or another) invites Dag over, and it isn’t long before Dag is going down the rabbit hole into the middle of the world of adult films.

The film is arranged more or less to follow the director down the rabbit hole. We watch as he meets people in the industry, many of whom will not talk to him without having their face somehow obscured (indeed the director of one film threatens to kill him if he films his face since his parents don’t know what he does.) We see how the films are made and distributed. We see some good people and some sleazy people (The casting agent who insists on sleeping with all the girls on the spot on film is a major slime-ball). Mostly we see lots of people doing a job, that just happens to be having or filming sex. Its not particularly erotic, it just sort of is.

The fact that it just sort of is is really nice. This is neither the “porn is bad” histrionics that films like Not a Love Story, a different film called Rated X from many years ago, Gregory Darks Fallen Angels or anything anti-industry forces ever produced like some of the bad TV movies, nor is it a smutty “this can be fun” that films like Screwed, Boogie Nights or the Ron Jeremy biography make it out to be.

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