When I was a kid growing up in Edinburgh during the 1970s, I became aware of a cinema called the Jacey on the city’s main thoroughfare Princes Street. It was difficult not to be aware of the Jacey—with its brightly lit foyer, white-painted exterior and beautiful French-styled windows—it looked like some kind of respectable brothel or a dodgy gentleman’s club—which wasn’t too far away from the truth, as the Jacey was an adult cinema showing imported Scandinavian porn and American sexploitation movies.
Outside, directly visible to all passing trade, were small framed windows where customers could view the promotional photographs, lobby cards and posters for the forthcoming attractions. Like many inquisitive schoolboys, I stopped here on the way home from school (for purely educational purposes, of course…) to view the photos of scantily clad men and women in black & white or garish colors frolicking as nature intended. This display became like a kind of barometer for me as it reflected the “atmospheric” changes in public taste for adult entertainment. At first, there was the innocent healthy lifestyle documentaries on nudist camps with fit youngsters playing games, stretching muscles and touching their toes. Then the more specialized films from Sweden with young blondes quieting their existential angst with spontaneous sexual adventures with strangers. Then American movies that mixed bad sex with bad acting and bad dialog. On occasion, there were screenings of arthouse films by Pasolini (Canterbury Tales) and Fellini (Satyricon)—perhaps the titles had suggested more than these films delivered? The Jacey closed around May 1973, its last double-bill was I Am Sexy and Do You Want To Remain a Virgin Forever?
As this “golden age” of seventies blue movies waned there arrived the awful British sex comedies that regularly starred Anthony Booth (father-in-law of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair) and a host of respected character actors (including Beryl Reid, Roy Kinnear and Richard Briers), and even employed the writing skills of Monty Python’s John Cleese and Graham Chapman.
The audiences seemed to change too—from old men to liberated and progressive young couples to teenage boys their first flush of lust. This was a time when virginity was still considered “sacred” and sex before marriage was generally discouraged—which made having a porn cinema on Edinburgh’s most famous and busiest street an odd comment on what was deemed acceptable. Edinburgh was then a very genteel city, and “sex” for most of its middle class citizens was what the coal was delivered in.
Then again, apart form their saucy taglines, most of these films rarely had anything as explicit than can be found on the pages of Tumblr today. This collection of 1970’s sexploitation posters covers all the bases—from nasty stag films, to smut movies starring Batman‘s Adam West, to the saucy comic Brit flicks.
More after the jump…