The Big Book of Porn front cover

The Big Book of Porn front cover

By Seth Grahame-Smith
Published in 2005 by Quirk Productions, Inc.

When I first started thumbing through the pages of the Big Book of Porn, I didn’t want to like it. For one thing, despite its title, it didn’t take long to notice that it contains almost nothing that is actually porn. Another thing I noticed was how slickly printed this book is. One wonders who had more input in the final product: the author or the art director. Every page is printed in full vibrant colors on heavy slick paper using designs that seem inspired by Adobe Flash, a fact which didn’t bode well for the actual words.

The book begins with a timeline of important events in the history of pornographic movies. While I might have omitted some events Grahame-Smith includes and included others he omits, this is hardly worth quibbling over and sets a good tone for the rest of the book.

The second section is devoted to reviews of classic porno films. It’s here that the omissions and inclusions bug me as Grahame-Smith’s tastes stay consistently mainstream and relatively tame. Each title includes a blurb that lists its director, cast, running time, fetishes covered, and memorable quote. Maybe I’m jaded, but facials and girl/girl just don’t rise to the level of fetish in my book. There’s little on his list that is surprising or even outré which is a shame. Still, this is a handy reference of older titles that are worth watching. Grahame-Smith also uses this section to highlight some more recent pornographic films that he thinks will become classics and a pair of “weird” classics. There is also a guide for caring for your porn included in this section which seems out of place.

Grahame-Smith next turns his attention to listing significant mainstream actors, actresses, and directors. These biographies were thorough but left me wanting more which is always a good sign. Once again in an attempt to stay current, he lists five current actresses who may reach the list someday. That left me wanting less.

The fourth section is devoted to the various genres of porn and places to procure porn. His survey of porn genres is akin to a guided tour of what you will find if you visit your local adult video store. (Or maybe it’s just the local stores I patronize?) At any rate, I have no idea who needs help finding adult movies. Or at least, I can’t imagine how anyone who couldn’t find it already would benefit from the advice in this book.

After a tour of the world as it relates to their laws and consumption of pornography, the book includes a lengthy section on how to make your own porn. Though I can’t imagine ever wanting to make my own homemade adult movie, if I ever do I will make a point to consult this book as the advice seems straightforward and beneficial.

The book concludes with a glossary of terms related to sex and pornographic movies. This is the book’s best moment. Instead of limiting the glossary to standard terms, it includes several which were quite unique. My personal favorite is “Hunting Bin Laden” defined as “Flooding on of your partner’s orifices with liquid, either through an enema or by urinating into them.” It was nice to know there was a common term for that. I personally always called it jet skiing after the text following an advertising store sign “WATER SPORTS ARE HERE!”

I wish that coverage was more inclusive – there’s not any meaningful mention of gay porn and the even the straight porn is limited to the most mainstream of stuff. However, Graham-Smith is such a fantastic writer he easily overcomes that limitation. He manages to write about porn in a manner that is funny without being corny or juvenile. In anyone else’s hands, this book would have turned into a cheesy mess.