Soft-core pornography (antedating to May 1964) - response the Gareth Branwyn

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sun Nov 29 23:06:51 UTC 2009

At 5:45 PM -0500 11/29/09, Wilson Gray wrote:
>Has anyone come across a more objective, non-circular definition than
>"less obscene than hard-core pornography"
>from which it follows that hard-core pornography is
>"more obscene than soft-core pornography"?
>One definition that I came across somewhere about fifty years ago is
>that a pornographic representation, in order to be regarded as
>hard-core, must contain a photograph or other representation of at
>least one ithyphallic male figure.

So lesbian hard-core pornography is an oxymoron?  Seems like a
dubious proposition to me.  And with a little imagination I can
visualize (or even audiolize) other examples of HCP that wouldn't fit
the proposed mold.


>I just threw that in FWIW. I'm not looking for an argument or even a
>discussion. If, for some reason, someone should ask me to distinguish
>between the two forms of pornography, that is the answer that I would
>give. So far, no one has asked me to make such a judgment. But, of
>course, you never know.
>On Sun, Nov 29, 2009 at 12:55 PM, Garson O'Toole
><adsgarsonotoole at> wrote:
>>  ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>  Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>  Poster:       Garson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
>>  Subject:
>>               4=29_=96_r?= =?windows-1252?Q?esponse_the_Gareth_Branwyn?=
>>  On Sun, Nov 29, 2009 at 12:01 AM, Gareth Branwyn
>>  <garethbranwyn at> wrote:
>>>  ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>>  Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>>  Poster:       Gareth Branwyn <garethbranwyn at COMCAST.NET>
>>>  Subject:      Origins of "soft core," "Yippies," "Twinkie defense"
>>>  I am currently editing an article by Paul Krassner (of "The Realist"
>>>  fame) in which he claims to have coined the terms "soft core
>>>  porn" (1958), "Yippies" (1967) and "the Twinkie defense" (which he
>>>  says he made up in 1979 during the trial of Dan White for the double
>>>  execution of SF Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk).
>>>  Does anyone here know more about the origins of these terms? I assume
>>>  he made up Yippies, or was at least involved in the coinage, since he
>>>  was a co-founder of the Youth International Party. His telling of it
>>>  in this article makes it sound like he came up with both Youth
>>>  International Party and Yippies (in that order), but I've read other
>>>  accounts that say Anita Hoffman came up with Youth International Party
>>>  after Yippies was coined, so that the group would have a more formal
>>>  name for mainstream press purposes.
>>>  Any other information folks here might have would be greatly
>>>  appreciated.
>>>  Gareth
>>  Gareth Branwyn,
>>    Hi. Thanks for your interesting questions. I claim no expertise but
>>  I am willing to perform some searches for you if you wish.
>>  The Oxford English Dictionary does have some etymological information
>>  about the term soft-core pornography. The earliest citation currently
>>  is in the year 1966.
>>  (OED SECOND EDITION 1989) soft-core attrib. [after hard-core
>>  (pornography): see hard core (b) s.v. HARD a. 23b], (of pornography)
>>  less obscene than hard-core pornography;
>>  1966 N.Y. Times 25 Sept. D 15/4 The *soft-core pornography of
>>  advertisements like 'Have you had any lately?'
>>  The online archive of The Realist contains an earlier instance of the
>>  term in an issue dated May 1964.
>>  "Soft-Core Pornography of the Month" (comic strip title), Page 13, The
>>  Realist editor Paul Krassner, Num. 50, May 1964.
>  >
>>  There are also matches to the collection of issues of The Realist that
>>  have been scanned for the Google Books Archive, but this collection is
>>  incomplete and the issues appear to be dated 1968 and after.
>>  Can Paul Krassner supply you with a citation to a written document for
>>  his claim of the 1958 origination of the term "soft-core porn" or
>>  "soft-core pornography"? If the citation is to a 1958 issue of the
>>  Realist then it should be checkable because the issues are available
>>  at the archive.
>>  When did Krassner first claim to have originated each of these terms?
>>  Is there a citation to an interview where he claimed that he created
>>  these terms?
>>  Garson
>>  ------------------------------------------------------------
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