11 Mainstream Hollywood Movies About Porn

I have a great love of two forms of entertainment: porn (obvi) and horror movies. The two of them have a really congenial relationship—both existing on the fringes of what’s considered socially acceptable. Several adult film stars have had parts in horror movies, and there have been some scream queens (like Linnea Quigley and Michelle Bauer) who have a history peppered with porn. But one thing I hadn’t seen is a horror movie about porn. I hadn’t seen it, that is, until the release of X (by director Ti West of House of the Devil and The Innkeepers). In honor of two of my favorite things being blended together and put on the silver screen, I thought it’d be fun to discuss some of the other times porn was a part of mainstream movies! The last couple years (as you’ll see) have just been a booming year for the integration of adult entertainment topics in mainstream movies and television.

1. X (2022)

X poster

Like I mentioned earlier, this is a horror flick about people making a porno. The film takes place in 1979, and the aesthetic puts it squarely in the Golden Age of porn. A group of Texans make their way to a boarding house on a farm in rural Texas to film what they think will be the next XXX masterpiece, The Farmer’s Daughters. The movie is as sexy as it is scary, and the cast look like they were born to portray 70s porn performers. Mia Goth’s character Maxine Minx feels perfectly in line with the Gloria Leonards and the Linda Lovelaces of the past. She’s a fucking sex symbol and she will not accept a life she doesn’t deserve!

2. Pleasure (2021)

Pleasure poster

This movie is somewhat controversial in adult circles. Director Ninja Thyburg ingratiated herself and embedded herself into the porn world for Pleasure—a story of a young Swedish woman who moves to Los Angeles and aspires to porn stardom. It was intended as an honest portrayal of the industry and the people both in front of and behind the camera, and some of the participants from inside the porn world feel as though the film was a damaging misrepresentation. Others have defended the artistic vision and portrayal of the industry. Regardless of its accuracy, it warrants a spot on this list. It has won several awards (and been nominated for many more), and features several porn stars like Evelyn Claire, Dana DeArmond, and Aiden Ashley.

3. Red Rocket (2021)

Red Rocket poster

Directed by Sean Baker, who also directed films about sex work in Tangerine and The Florida Project, Red Rocket is a very well-received comedy about a porn star who travels back from the Valley to his hometown in Texas. It’s a slice-of-life piece that portrays people in a very humanistic way—warts and all. It was nominated for the Palm D’Or at Cannes and won for Best Actor at the Independent Spirit Awards. And if talk about Texas and porn are still on your mind after reading this, we’ve got you covered (insert rimshot) with the studio Texas Bukkake.

4. Boogie Nights (1997)

Boogie Nights poster

This is THE quintessential porn-in-mainstream movie. Released in 1997, the Paul Thomas Anderson movie starred Mark Wahlburg as he finds his way into porn as “Dirk Diggler” in the late 70s. It captures the highs and lows of the industry as it made its way out of the Golden Age and into an era punctuated by the transition from film to videotape, following several characters through tough situations and (often) tragic outcomes. An all-time classic with a stellar cast, Boogie Nights has become a cultural touchstone. It also features talented actor beauties in Julianne Moore and Heather Graham.

5. Zack And Miri Make A Porno (2008)

Zack and Miri Make a Porno poster

Kevin Smith is best known as the director of hit comedies like Clerks and Dogma. In 2008, he cast funnyman Seth Rogen and the breathtaking (and hilarious) Elizabeth Banks as roommates and best friends who are struggling for money. Their solution to pay rent? Film an amateur porn! What could possibly go wrong?

6. The People Vs. Larry Flynt (1996)

The People Vs Larry Flynt poster

This 1996 film by Milos Forman (Amadeus and One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest) spawned something of a renaissance for the biopic. It starred Woody Harrelson as Larry Flynt, the polarizing founder and owner of Hustler and focused on the history of his game-changing magazine and the drama ensuing from his highly publicized obscenity and free speech court cases. Hole frontwoman and widow of Kurt Cobain, Courtney Love portrays Larry’s wife, Althea.

7. Inserts (1975)

Inserts poster

Porn has been around as long as being able to make images and words has been around. There’s cave painting porn and Grecian pottery porn. And when motion pictures were invented? You better believe that one of the first things done with it was that porn began to get filmed. This 1975 film starred Richard Dreyfuss (yes, the same year as Jaws), Bob Hoskins, and Jessica Harper (just before her starring role in Suspiria). Dreyfuss plays “Boy Wonder,” a director who is struggling to transition from silent films to ‘talkies’ and so, instead, begins filming pornos. Believe it or not, we have several of these old, historic dirty movies in our vintage. Pay special attention to the flicks from Historic Erotica and Gentlemen’s Video.

8. Orgazmo (1997)

Orgazmo poster

Almost a total flipside version of depicting the porn industry from Boogie Nights (they came out the same year), Orgazmo is a hilarious gross-out comedy from the minds behind South Park and Team America (and my personal fave, Cannibal: The Musical from Troma). Trey Parker (co-writer and director of the movie) plays a naive Mormon who turns to porn for noble fundraising reasons. The movie featured some of the biggest names in adult at the time, including Chasey Lain, Jill Kelly, and Juli Ashton.

9. Meet Monica Velour (2010)

Meet Monica Velour poster

Here’s a lesser-known one for you! Tobe is an awkward dweeb (think Napoleon Dynamite) who has an obsession with porn actress, Monica Velour. When he finds out she’s feature dancing in Indiana (which is far from him) he sets out on an odyssey to catch her in person. But things are not always what we fantasize, and it seems that Tobe’s visions and thoughts of Monica are her stage persona… and from decades ago! Tobe takes it upon himself to insert himself into her life and the struggles she is dealing with. Kim Cattrall, who is most famous for Sex And The City and Big Trouble In Little China (but also went nude in a funny and sexy and LOUD role in Porky’s) stars as Monica.

10. The Girl Next Door (2004)

The Girl Next Door Poster

The Girl Next Door is a cute (albeit super unrealistic) romantic comedy starring Emile Hirsch as a high-strung high schooler who falls for his neighbor. What he doesn’t know at the time is that his neighbor (played by the heaven-sent Elisha Cuthbert) is actually a porn star! Wacky, right? As you can imagine, all kinds of antics and misunderstandings and gossip comes about when the two get involved with each other. And if you’re looking for your own girl next door? Take your pick!

11. The Notorious Bettie Page (2005)

The Notorious Bettie Page poster

One of the most important women in the last 100 years on the evolution of sexuality and erotica is the one-and-only fetish model/pinup, Bettie Page. Director Mary Harron (who did American Psycho and I Shot Andy Warhol) cast Gretchen Mol as the pinup queen in this sexy and intriguing biopic of Bettie’s fascinating life. We actually have our own (much more sexual) biopic of Ms. Page in Bettie Page – Dark Angel. In addition to having a major influence on the look and activities of many modern-day porn stars, Page has been a direct source of fascination in porn and has several movies about her. Some of them include Bettie XOXO, The Reincarnation Of Betty Paige (and its sequel), and Paging Betty Page.

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