The Sporadic Beaver

Anatomy of a Sexbook

August 10, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, appendix

I've written about the Beaver Street index, perhaps the only index in any book in which "North, Oliver" is followed by "North, Peter." I've written about the David Foster Wallace-inspired footnotes, in which I detailed the impact of such things as the Traci Lords scandal on "postal workers from Pittsburgh who shot exhibitionist housewives shaving their pudenda for cheap thrills and a taste of 'trailer-park celebrity.'" But I've yet to say a word about a section of the book which some people have told me is their favorite part—the appendix.

Yes, the appendix, so called because, like a human appendix, if you remove it, the book can live without it.

One reason I wanted to write a book like Beaver Street is because I thought, having lived through it, I wouldn’t have to do a lot of research. I was wrong. The more I wrote, the more I realized there were too many things I couldn’t explain. And to explain the history of modern pornography, at least to myself, I ended up tracing that history from cave paintings in the Lascaux region of France, c. 33,000 BC, to the dawn of modern porn: the day in 1983 that High Society publisher Carl Ruderman acquired three 976 lines.

The appendix is a byproduct of that research, kind of a Mel Brooksian History of the World that concentrates only on how pornographers were always among the first to exploit new technology for economic gain. So, until I find the time to expand this appendix into an all-encompassing, thousand page History of Pornography, I’ll leave you with piece of the appendix from 1839 and the Industrial Revolution:

“The development of photography, a fusion of art and science, is attributed to many people, and it’s the greatest piece of moneymaking technology pornographers have yet to see. Though taking pictures is an expensive, complex process, this is hardly a deterrent to the ambitious sex entrepreneur. In fact, it’s as if the first words spoken upon the invention of the camera were: Let’s shoot some porno!