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The adult entertainment industry has titillated, teased, and intrigued people all over the world for decades. From the well-worn pages of your father’s Playboy magazines to today’s smartphone apps that provide porn on demand, the world of adult entertainment is a world filled with beautiful people having sex with other beautiful people on camera, with the money in free-flow and the glamour in abundance. 

But behind the scenes of a world filled with all this perceived prestige lies a dark and seedy underbelly filled with the worst elements of society. From an overabundance of easily-accessible illicit drugs to shady business practices filled with stolen money, to outright illegal practices involving human trafficking, the porn industry is filled with pitfalls, traps, and downfalls that few, if any, outside the industry truly understand. 

These ten porn documentaries give a rare glimpse inside the world previously unknown to the general public. Let’s take a sobering look inside the world of adult entertainment with the following films. 

The ‘After Porn Ends’ Trilogy

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Perhaps most notable for its most infamous star — Stormy Daniels, aka the porn star involved in a scandal with outgoing US president Donald Trump — the After Porn Ends trilogy takes a rare glimpse inside the world of retired porn stars. What happens when the cameras stop rolling and the lights go down? After Porn Ends answers that question. Sometimes, the answer is a positive one — Johnnie Keyes, of Behind the Green Door fame, is now a jazz singer who runs a youth outreach center with his son in Seattle.

Other times, however, the answer is nothing short of depressing. Would you have thought that Janine Lindemulder would have gone to jail over a custody battle? While the first installment — released in 2012 — wasn’t well-received by critics, the subsequent installments released in 2017 and 2018, respectively, were a certified hit. And while, certainly, the format isn’t to everyone’s liking, the After Porn Ends trilogy is nothing short of addictive. 

Hot Girls Wanted

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Over the past decade, porn has become more mainstream. Yet, with this mainstream acceptance of the adult entertainment industry comes the lure of false promises — and this is especially true when we consider how porn influences young and impressionable minds. Enter, then, Hot Girls Wanted. Featuring Teen Mom star Farrah Abraham and Keeping Up With The Kardashians star Kim Kardashian West, Hot Girls Wanted originally intended to focus on the sexual appetites of male college students.

It didn’t take long, however, for the focus to shift to the sheer number of aspiring female porn stars. This documentary, which is nothing if not sobering, chronicles their subsequent ascent from aspiring adult film star to “professional amateur” porn star. It also spawned a six-part television series — Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On — which offered an at times clinical look into the intersection between sexuality and technology. 

Rocco

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Love him or hate him, Rocco Siffredi is a legend in the porn world. And for the first time in history, he takes a critical look at himself in his self-produced documentary, Rocco. Chronicling his last year as a professional porn star, Rocco paints the so-called “Italian Stallion” as a three-dimensional character, rather than as a parody of a porn star.

Even though he has more than 1,300 credits to his name, and has been in front of the camera since the 1990s, Siffredi is a man with dreams and ambitions that extend beyond the world of adult entertainment. Most notably, Rocco is a cinematic work of art, with film noir sensibilities and gorgeous shots that, on their own, make for a compelling documentary. 

9 to 5: Days in Porn

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Unlike most of the porn documentaries on this list, 9 to 5: Days in Porn was shot by a German crew, who take a decidedly European approach to their filmmaking. Focusing on the burgeoning adult entertainment industry in Southern California’s San Fernando Valley, 9 to 5: Days in Porn took five years to create — and the comprehensive nature of the filmmaking paid off, with dividends.

In addition to focusing on the bonafide stars of the industry, the film focuses on the wannabes, the shady directors, and the various hangers-on that pollute the industry and, ultimately, give it a bad name. The good, the bad, and the ugly are all shown in equal measure in this film, and that’s what makes it one of the most authentic adult entertainment documentaries on this list. 

Kink

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Directed by A-list Hollywood superstar James Franco, Kink can best be described as “the real 50 Shades of Grey.” When the EL James novels — which are nothing short of bad Twilight fan-fiction — became popular, the mainstream interest in BDSM exploded in kind. The problem was, of course, that James painted a completely false and inaccurate picture of the reality behind BDSM — and it’s these myths that Franco busts, quite ably, with this lavish documentary.

Focusing on the stars of the fetish-porn website Kink.com, Kink takes an unflinching look into the often-misunderstood world of bondage and other “non-conventional” porn routes, and proves that these avenues are perhaps the least exploitative avenues of all. Kink is one of the few documentaries that educate as well as enlighten, and it’s well worth checking out for that reason alone. 

Respectable: The Mary Millington Story

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In the 1970s, Mary Millington attempted to shatter the stereotypes surrounding British people being staid and puritanical with her porn career. Respectable: The Mary Millington Story shows how she did just that, with a softcore career that seems tame by 21st century standards.

Considered one of Britain’s most famous porn stars, Millington was bucking both societal norms and tax problems when she, unfortunately, died by suicide at just 33 years old. Featuring rare photographs and never-before-seen interviews, Respectable: The Mary Millington Story is one of the few porn documentaries that show beauty and tragedy in similar lights, with the end result being a gorgeous film in a class by itself. 

Mostly Sunny 

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One of the most popular adult film stars of the 21st century is none other than Sunny Leone, and she’s the subject of the Mostly Sunny documentary. Even though she retired from the industry in 2013, her films remain some of the most popular films of the new millennium, and in fact of all time. And while she had a great career in the adult side of the industry, Mostly Sunny depicts her successful attempt at rebranding herself as a legitimate Bollywood actress.

This documentary, if nothing else, proves that there is, indeed, life in the entertainment industry that doesn’t just encompass pornography, and the stigmas once attached to porn stars are slowly, but surely, falling away. Mostly Sunny proves that adult film actresses can have “legitimate” careers because of, and not in spite of, their porn star past. 

Wadd: The Life & Times Of John Holmes 

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Considered a legend by both mainstream and porn standards for his rather prodigious body parts, Wadd: The Life & Times Of John Holmes features testimony from friends, family, and even enemies of this iconic adult superstar. Before porn was mainstream (and digital, for that matter), Holmes’ name was a trending topic thanks to his penis that, allegedly, measured 14 inches in length (and was even insured by Lloyd’s of London for a whopping $14 million!).

But Holmes’ life was more than just his most famous body part — prior to his untimely death from AIDS in 1988, he was the most prolific adult film star of the 20th century, and is credited with helping to usher in the “new” attitudes on pornography. Featuring interviews with similarly-legendary porn stars, Wadd: The Life & Times Of John Holmes offers a rare glimpse into a previously-unknown world. 

Porn Star: The Legend Of Ron Jeremy

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These days, Ron Jeremy is embroiled in legal battles stemming from non-consensual sex. But before he was a societal pariah and an alleged rapist, he was an adult film legend. Porn Star: The Legend Of Ron Jeremy takes an unflinching look at the hard-scrabble life of a “Jewish guy from Queens” (as Jeremy refers to himself) and alternates between depicting him as a schlub and an ubermensch.

If nothing else, Jeremy serves as an inspiration for other similarly-depicted men — hairy, overweight, and classically ugly – and gives them hope that they, too, can gain access to gorgeous, well-endowed women who want nothing but sex from them. Over the course of 25 years, Jeremy has racked up more than 1,600 credits, and while it’s hard to watch at times given his current predicament, it’s required viewing for anyone who wants an honest and unflinching look into the adult entertainment industry. 

Louis Theroux: Twilight Of The Porn Stars

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In 1997, British-American filmmaker Louis Theroux launched the Louis Theroux’s Wild Weekend series, which was in a similar vein to Girls Gone Wild and other first-person documentary films and television shows. And while Theroux made a fortune off that series, Louis Theroux: Twilight of the Porn Stars shows the follow-up. Specifically, it focuses on how the industry has changed radically — dwindling budgets, the rise of free Internet porn, and changing societal norms have all but bankrupted the industry. Nevertheless, Theroux continues to flourish thanks to his documentaries, which focus on subsectors of the industry such as the female bodybuilding fetish scene. 

Some of these porn documentaries show a positive side to the industry, while others are decidedly negative in their depiction of the scene. Either way, each of these adult film industry documentaries is informative, revealing, and — ultimately — a cinematic masterpiece. Add them to your must-see list today!

Author: Rosanna DiPietro has worked almost exclusively in the sex and relationships sector for twenty years. She specializes in fetish, kink, and the history of porn movies. She’s based in Los Angeles.

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