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A History of X: 100 Years of Sex in Film Hardcover – September 1, 1999

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 252 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (September 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573926787
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573926782
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,013,827 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A history of pornographic film that achieves neither coherence nor climax, Ford's book suffers from the disregard for narrative and production values typical of pornography. Though Ford (who runs two Web sites covering the porn business) makes sporadic efforts at delineating the development of sex in film, such attempts tend to get derailed by his rambling, defensive discussions of favorite porn figures and by collections of often contradictory quotations, grouped approximately by topic. Even when a particular subject catches Ford's interest?the Cosa Nostra, for instance, discussed at length in Chapter 5?he fails to shape it into a readable story. Nonetheless, such interludes of relative lucidity offer a welcome respite from Ford's offensive generalizations about, among others, Jews ("Though only two percent of the American population, Jews dominate porn"). Perhaps most disturbing of all, Ford doesn't appear to be especially well-informed on his topic: he barely mentions gay porn and the vast majority of his many, many plot synopses are quoted from other sources. He's not even clear on whether porn should have plot and character or whether they're just annoying distractions. Finally, there's not much new ground covered here. Even porn devotees will find little of interest, unless the pictures (not seen by PW) prove more alluring than the text, which reads like a very rough draft.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.


"...a thoroughly fascinating read." -- Contact Publications, February 2000

"...aggressive, eloquent, he's...the industry's Matt Drudge." -- The Weekly Standard

"...fascinating and inherently readable -- who knew there actually existed an 'art porn' movement in the late '70s?" -- Daily Californian

"...fascinating for its glimpses of those involved in the industry." -- The Chronicle, January 14, 2000

"...he breaks legitimate stories that have a huge impact. Meet Luke Ford, chronicler of the porn world." -- Online Journalism Review

"...interesting and surprising insights..." -- Bookviews, July 1999

"Hot stuff or legitimate cultural inquiry, this is a worthwhile book." -- Booklist, March 1, 1999

More About the Author

I was born in Kurri Kurri, Australia, on May 28, 1966. I moved to California's Napa Valley in May 1977. I have lived in Los Angeles since March 1994.

Here are my books:

* A History of X: 100 Years of Sex in Film (1999)
* XXX-Communicated: A Rebel Without A Shul (2004)
* The Producers: Profiles in Frustration (2004)
* Yesterday's News Tomorrow: Inside American Jewish Journalism (2004)
* Lives on the Edge: Profiles in Sex, Love & Death (2006)

I write a bunch of blogs, including Lukeford.net. You can find me at Facebook.com/lukecford

Customer Reviews

2.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Lori Selke on December 28, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The PW review really summed it up -- this book is poorly edited, incoherent, meandering, and filled with shameful generalizations about the nature of men, women, and sex (and Jews, and...). If it weren't about the only book out there that even bothers to attempt to review the history of porn movie making (with most of its focus on the California era of the 70's through the 90's), it would deserve one star -- or less.
As it is, its facts are wrong, its gossip misleading, and its author clearly conflicted about his love and loathing of sexually explicit entertainment. But it is an interesting enough read (perhaps in the train wreck sense) that I finished the book. I didn't learn much more than I already knew, however. The shame of it is, this could have been a really good book, had some editor taken Ford firmly in hand and made him shape his chapters into a coherent form. It's not for nothing that the man has earned fame as a porn industry watcher; Ford has a trashy tabloid style that certainly grabs the attention (and there's nothing wrong with trashy tabloidism in its place!). But instead of guidance, he was handed a book contract and allowed to ramble without rein. The result is sad and unworthy of being clad between two covers. Blog-like ramblings on a website are one thing; I expect more rigorousness from a book I'm supposed to pay for.
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 26, 1999
Format: Hardcover
The Publisher's Weekly review says it all: let me add that Luke Ford's "A History of X" must rank as the most poorly written and worst edited book ever published; I cannot recall ever having read a worse book all the way through (yet I did, in widely spaced sessions, read it all the way through -- I did not abandon it, which is one of two good things I can say about the book).
Aside from the author's lack of coherence and a pitiful grasp of syntax, there are numerous errors (Ford simply can't add; when he mentions the passage of time, it is enough to strain credulity). The errors (I am a professional editor by the way) are SO numerous, I started underlining them after the first two dozen pages to calm my rage. An extremely inept writer, Ford uses liberal doses of quotations that sometimes fill half the page (albeit, in different blocks on the same page) as he seemingly is unable to paraphrase or mold source material into his own voice. Ford will present a quote and not even try to interpret it or question its validity. For instance, he uses a quote saying that John C. "Johnny Wadd" Holmes (whose woebegone life inspired the film BOODIE NIGHTS) was a true bisexual who willingly engaged in homosexual acts in his gay films, a questionable assertion; I have read more than once that Holmes despised being reduced to making gay pornos and had "elevator trouble" on the sets.
Other examples of a questionable use of quotes come in his recap of the career of Russ Meyer, the most respected (by the mainstream; I don't know if that is true with industry insiders) pornographer ever to make a dirty movie. In his discussion of Russ Meyer's BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS on pp.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Michael J Woznicki HALL OF FAME on March 11, 2000
Format: Hardcover
One of society's most controversial areas of discussion is pornography. Most books written about that industry usually trash the filmmakers, actors and actresses calling them depraved, perverted, and indecent and morally corrupt. Luke Ford delves into the industry with a brash, unbiased viewpoint to give you a first hand look at what goes on.
Talking about Marilyn Chambers, John Holmes, Traci Lords, Linda Lovelace Ginger and Amber Lynn, Ford shows the behinds the scenes stories of how these people got into the business and what they are doing to promote their work.
Ford, who amazingly enough does not work in the pornography industry, takes an almost unheard of position of impartiality, to show you that everything you have heard may in fact not be the whole truth. Ford's ability to be objective throughout the book is a refreshing change.
Although this book is graphic in some parts and the details may take you a step back when you read them, the book does give the reader a new insight into the pornography industry. Whether you agree or disagree with what these people do for a living, The History of X may have you thinking a whole new way.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 18, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Somewhere, buried in this book, is some interesting, little-known information. This author would seem to have a lot of the inside dope on the subject - he's obviously followed the subject for many years. So it's worth a read if you are REALLY interested and can manage the author's, uh... "style."
Because this author can't write worth beans. Everything previously reviewers have alleged about him is true, and more. If there was *any* copy editing or checking involved, it's not obvious. This book IS rambling, discursive, contradictory, aimless, and badly organized.
A passion for pointless footnotes masks not only all this literary chaos but also a very weird, murky, attitude that can only be described as self-loathing. It's like the old crime magazines that used to glorify sex and violence by publicly deploring it - in lengthy and graphic detail. Why somebody who so clearly despises his topic should spin his wheels so furiously about it escapes me.
If you can find this book at a library, yard sale, or etc. it might be worth reading once over lightly. But pay full hardback price for it only if you've got money to burn.
As somebody has already written: surely there must be a better basic source on the subject?
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