Sex World

A curated selection of adult films comes to Letterboxd, along with a new opt-in feature to see associated diary entries and reviews.

TL;DR — For members who opt in, Letterboxd now offers a curated list of adult films to log, review and add to lists. Not your thing? Ignore the new option and your experience will remain mostly unchanged, aside from (possibly) the occasional pixelated poster.

Today, we have officially imported more than 1,500 adult films to Letterboxd, along with an opt-in setting that members can turn on to view and interact with these titles.

The film selection, spanning a half-century of adult filmmaking, has been curated by an expert panel of Letterboxd members, following community feedback about our handling of adult titles. Our thanks to Yann Gonzalez, Juan Barquin, Elizabeth Purchell, Katie Rife and Justin LaLiberty for spearheading this process over the past few months. Thanks also to our behind-the-scenes crew, our friends at The Movie Database, and several other members for their support and assistance.

A new option in Settings lets you see adult content in search and in your feed.
A new option in Settings lets you see adult content in search and in your feed.

The curated titles—with more still to come—include historically, culturally, controversially and artistically significant adult films, in genres including sexploitation, kink, all-male, cult, fetish, porn parodies, hardcore classics and more.

Some of these newly added film pages will, finally, round out several directors’ filmographies on our service. For example, Justin LaLiberty has curated a list for us of 30 notable adult films by genre filmmakers, which includes X-rated films by Wes Craven, Roberta Findlay, Abel Ferrara, William Lustig and Stephen Sayadian (whose Fantasia Festival masterclass this week is being covered for our Festiville HQ by Juan Barquin).

Many of the titles will plug holes on Letterboxd around the history of queer cinema, because, as Elizabeth Purchell observes in her essay for us, “you can’t talk about the history of queer cinema without also talking about the history of ‘all-male’ cinema”. For filmmaker Yann Gonzalez (Knife+Heart), the addition of specific adult films from the 1990s means he can at last celebrate the 90s goddesses who got him through his teen coming-out; and for Katie Rife, it is an opportunity to bring feminist adult filmmakers into the light.

In short, we aimed to include legacy and modern films that adult cinephiles would expect to see, without flooding Letterboxd with a tide of web and video porn. A job that, in LaLiberty’s words, is “one that requires a deft hand and not an algorithm to assess”. It’s important to the curation panel that we note that qualifiers like ‘canon status’, quality, theatrical release and sales figures, are not the sole barometers for inclusion, since adult films don’t always operate with traditional release plans, and often include works by and for marginalized communities.

If something is missing today that seems to fit our catch-all definition, it is probably because there is still more work to do. Our curation panel compiled a master list of titles, and helped us improve the The Movie Database pages for these (and more). This took months of work to prioritize and improve the TMDb content for the selected films, including fleshing out cast and crew credits, synopses, studio and production information, sourcing high-quality poster and (for some) backdrop images, and much more. It is thanks to the work of archive and restoration houses such as Vinegar Syndrome that this process has been made smoother for many titles. (If you’re interested in what constitutes an adult film on TMDb, there’s more about that here and here.)

How it works

By default, the ‘Adult’ setting is disabled for all accounts. With the setting disabled, you won’t see adult titles in search, and reviews (or comments) for these titles from members you follow won’t appear in your activity feed.

Adult titles will be identified by a red ‘Adult’ tag on our website (and in a future update, our apps). If you happen upon an adult title with the setting disabled (for example, in a list, on a cast or crew page, or when browsing a member profile), the film’s poster will be pixelated. To comply with platform rules, the posters of all adult films will be pixelated in our apps, regardless of your ‘Adult’ setting.

An example of an adult film’s page for members who don’t opt in.
An example of an adult film’s page for members who don’t opt in.

We’ve approached this with open minds, respectful of members’ reasons to want to both discover and avoid adult titles on Letterboxd. We know you’ll have more questions than are answered here, so we’ve gathered several others into an FAQ.

Finally, a note about being cool. Our community policy also applies to anything you write about adult content. Thirst is fine, straight-up misogynistic, homophobic, racist or other flavors of objectification isn’t, but how to judge the balance in a review of a cult sexploitation classic? We expect to discover the limits of our current community policy, and for that and many other reasons, it is, as always, a living document.

Huge thanks to you, the ever-amazing Letterboxd community, for working with us on this and every new thing we do. Let the money shots commence.

Header image from ‘Knife+Heart’ (Un couteau dans le cœur, 2018), written and directed by Yann Gonzalez. Title taken from Anthony Spinelli’s 1978 sci-fi feature, ‘SexWorld’.


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