One of Canada’s largest peepshow and erotic film collections, spanning the entire pre-home video era, is now accessible for research at the Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies at the University of Toronto. Donated by media archivist Albert Steg and the George Eastman Museum, The Erotic Film Collection, part of the Bonham Centre’s Sexual Representation Collection, consists of a diverse range of hardcore and softcore pornographic film and ephemera, including 1,824 8mm films, 863 16mm films, 203 super8 reels, 302 paper pamphlets, 20 books, 7 card decks, 1 box of peepshow stills, and 1 box of assorted correspondence. Highlights from the collection include two prints of El satario, the world’s oldest extant pornographic film, silent era stag films, pre-war hardcore films, coin-op peepshow films, and films featuring brown, Black, and trans performers from Latin America, East and Southeast Asia, the United States, and Canada.
The collection includes examples of the major modes of pornographic film production, exhibition, and distribution of the era, including legal peepshow films, (originally) illicit stag films, feature-length films shown at grindhouses, and mass-produced, commercially sold 8mm films aimed at the home market. Documenting the transformation of sexual mores throughout the 20th century, the collection charts the entire evolution of the peepshow format from its “softcore” roots to “hardcore” genre. The collection also traces the history of stag film from its professional and semi-professional 35mm origins to amateur and prosumer 16mm formats. The preservation of such a wide range of ephemeral, amateur, and orphan histories enables researchers to better understand the history of film and media, sex work, gender, race, pleasure, sexuality, media consumption, and global sexual commerce. For inquiries regarding specific collections or related materials, please contact the Sexual Representation Collection Archives Director, Professor Patrick Keilty.
The Bonham Centre thanks the University of Toronto Libraries, Archive/ Counter-Archive, the Cinema Studies Institute at the University of Toronto, the Knowledge Media Design Institute at the University of Toronto, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council for their support to preserve and process the collection.
A finding aid will be available shortly on the main Sexual Representation Collection page.