1-800 Numbers and MTV's 'Undressed': What We Had Before Internet Porn

Today's sexually precocious teen girls don't know how good they have it.

Jul 21, 2011 at 11:02am | Leave a comment

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When my little brother was still a preteen, he ran a tidy little racket ordering pay-per-view porn and charging his friends to watch it, figuring he could tell my dad that the cable company had made a mistake on the bill. I know! Someday Obama is going to write a book called "The Audacity of My Little Brother."

The second thing I thought when my dad told me this was, "Wait a minute! Why are these kids paying for porn? They have the Internet!" (The first was obviously "haahahahahhahahah.") Because, I'm willing to admit here, I am one of many people whose family did not get The America Online until we were practically old enough to buy analog porn. No, spoiled teens of today -- barring the occasional Playboy found mouldering in a toolbox or a creepy cousin's leopard-motif bedroom, we had to settle for things that were Not Quite Porn to slake our burgeoning curiosity.

We had to get creative and make porn out of stuff that wasn't. Stuff like...

Surreptitiously Dirty Books
Seeing a reading Judy Blume in 1990 study hall was the equivalent of seeing somebody wear a raincoat to a movie theater in 1972 Times Square. We know what you're doing there! If you were smart, you'd carry around something semi-high minded -- anything from D.H. Lawrence to Tom Robbins -- so it looked like you were reading out of your age group and not being a stealth perv. Although once somebody saw me reading one of those "Clan of the Cave Bear" books and was like, "Isn't that one of those gross neanderthal sex epics?" Yes! Yes, all right? YES. You caught me.

1-800 Numbers
Do they still even have these? I mean, of course they do. I'm sure people occasionally use phone sex lines when they're staying in a motel in Baker, Calif and the Wifi is down, right?  For the uninitiated, you used to call these and some woman who was a broad Vaudevillian parody of a horny person would say something about how hot ladies were waiting to take your call and then sexily ask you if you had a credit card handy (mmmm yeah no CODs baby). I sincerely wonder what percentage of callers to 1-800-HAND-JOB were me and my friends at a sleepover.


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JPEG and GIF Trading
So, we had a little internet. But I shared a SCREEN NAME (yes) with my family until I got my own (MmeMulder -- I was an exorbitantly cool kid). And who among us did not experiment with cyber sex (Where fore wert thou, Chris Hansen)? You could even get somebody to send you a naughty pictures, albeit one that took forever to download at 34kbps and sometimes turned out to be an inspirational Calvin and Hobbes comic.  Then you had to live with the guilt and the night sweats that the grainy scanned Penthouse pic you got from a "15/m/Ann Arbor" would somehow zombie reanimate out of Trash bin and on to the desktop, predicating an Awkward Talk and the computer's relocation into your mom's room.

Magazines for Middle Aged Women
I don't mean like, Cosmo here. Sometimes REDBOOK got really raw. It would be like, "Dear Redbook, what do I use to get fruit punch out of a white carpet?" And Redbook would be like, "Try stimulating the perineum!"

NOVA
Sometimes NOVA was about like, fiber optics, and then sometimes you'd flip it on and the narrator would be all like, "Tonight: a journey deep inside the human penis."  Wamp, ba na na na naaaa...Wickawicka wamp wamp wamp... NOVA!

Basic Cable
Oh, "Undressed," you epic blue mons (trademark: me) of a show. Hey, I have a great idea. Let's get a bunch of sexy 33-year-olds to put on baby tees and pretend to be college students who alllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllmost have sex. We were like a bunch of "The Notebook" husbands watching this show. Maybe, maybe this is the day. You know what? The first thing I will do when they invent time travel is find preteen me and be like, "They will never show boobs! Go learn long division better so we are not so bad at doing our own taxes." Thank God there was USA Late Night where a bunch of shows masquerading as murder mysteries could be relied on to at least have an epically long implied penetration hot-tub scene. Man. F-- you, "Undressed."

Of course, all this is specific to my generation -- what awakened your adolescent sexuality in the days before easy access to Internet porno?