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A Brief History of Porn: A Multimedia Lecture by Sam Benjamin

November 17, 2011, 7:00 P.M.

The Ray Stark Family Theatre, SCA 108, George Lucas Building, USC School of Cinematic Arts Complex, 900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007

Cinematheque108 invites you to a special multimedia lecture by Sam Benjamin, author of the forthcoming book, "American Gangbang: A Love Story" (Simon and Schuster, 2011)

A Brief History of Porn

Introduced by Jon Wagner, Professor of Critical Studies at California Institute of the Arts, a former Director of the the MFA Writing Program at CalArts, and a Visiting Professor of Film Theory at USC.
7:00 P.M. on Thursday, November 17th, 2011

The Ray Stark Family Theatre

George Lucas Building, SCA 108
900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007

Prior to the event, we will have copies of American Gangbang: A Love Story, a memoir by Sam Benjamin, for sale in front of the theater.

About the Event

"A Brief History of Porn" is a multimedia lecture delivered by Sam Benjamin, author of the forthcoming book, "American Gangbang: A  Love Story" (Simon and Schuster, 2011), a true memoir of Benjamin's five-year stint as director and performer in Los Angeles's adult film industry.

Pornography has always been the impoverished cousin of Hollywood; as such, it has great potential to shed light on both the art of film and issues of viewership, if one chooses to look slightly below its abject surface. “A Brief History of Porn” is designed to outline the roots and evolution of contemporary pornography, finding as its origin the Roadshow films of the 1940's, the nudist films of the 1950's, and the shock-oriented "exploitation" films of the '60's.

As we progress through 1970’s “Porno Chic” to the sleeker, more video-dominated 1980's, short non-explicit clips, accompanied by lecture, will illustrate the texture and import of this oddest of genres. Particular attention will be paid to production value, geographical locus, technology, and narrative.

As a participant in the genre, Benjamin's cache of personal experiences will assist him in explicating the more recent decades - including the bleak 1990's, which saw the rise of a degraded yet pervasive "star system," and the 2000's, during which conditions of reception changed drastically, as Internet entered the picture.

Defined principally by the obviousness of its commerce-driven motive, pornography is transparent - but delightfully so. The cheapness of its production achieves, on occasion, a kind of backwards perfection, and the accidental beauty of its dolt-as-auteur soundtracks fairly demands close inspection. All adult film is “outsider art,” but it takes the right set of eyes - and the right historical context - to put it into useful perspective.

"A Brief History of Porn" is a fun, thought-provoking, non-X-rated lecture for inquisitive students seeking to expand their historical knowledge base of contemporary American film.

Length: Approximately one hour.

About Sam Benjamin

Sam Benjamin was born in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. From 1995 to 1999, he attended Brown University. Upon graduating, he received the annual William J. Weston Award for achievement in Film and Video. Post-school life led Sam to Santa Cruz, California, where he first conceived of his pornographic destiny. He would create "feel-good" erotic films - adult movies that actually had some sort of plot - and sell them on eBay, garnering a modest fame for his efforts, revolutionizing a dying genre, and making a small killing in the process.

Benjamin worked in porn for three years; became rich; found porno love; broke his heart; burnt out; quit the biz; cleared his head; atoned for his sins; returned home; applied to graduate school.

Sam Benjamin graduated from the California Institute of the Arts in 2005, with a joint degree in Critical Studies and Integrated Media. He has been a guest lecturer at NYU and will speak extensively this fall at universities across the United States.


About Cinematheque108

Cinematheque108 is an alternative screening series sponsored by the Critical Studies Department at the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts. The series offers a rare selection of events that highlight noteworthy experimental, documentary, and/or foreign films, many of which can not be seen anywhere else. Cinematheque108 is an educational forum that aims to expand understanding of alternative film and media. All screenings are free of charge and open to the pubic.

About Parking

The USC School of Cinematic Arts is located at 900 W. 34th St., Los Angeles, CA 90007. Parking passes may be purchased for $8.00 at USC Entrance Gate #5, located at the intersection of W. Jefferson Blvd. & McClintock Avenue. We recommend parking in outdoor Lot M or V, or Parking Structure D, at the far end of 34th Street. Please note that Parking Structure D cannot accommodate tall vehicles such as SUVs. Metered parking is also available along Jefferson Blvd.

Contact Information

Name: Alessandro Ago