Wednesday, April 16, 2008

1884 Adult Film Now Earliest Known Motion Picture

15 April, 2008 (Lynchburg, VA): Film historians have discovered a motion picture recording that predates French inventor Louis Le Prince’s Roundhay Garden Scene, the previously oldest known film, by 4 years. More shocking than the discovery itself is the content of the film, described by researchers as “explicitly pornographic.” The nearly dissolved, 12-second filmstrip is of a young Victorian woman engaging in adult relations with at least two gentlemen and an individual of undetermined gender. A team of historians from Liberty University discovered the film while gathering research for a project on late 19th century pornography and novelty gifts.

The film is credited to inventor and pornographer Aberdeen Hicklin of Skunkhollow, Arkansas. Hicklin made the recording using a crude camera-projector that was remarkably similar to Le Prince’s own design. Dates on related material discovered with the recording suggest that it was filmed in 1884. According to a primitive screenplay recovered, the film was titled Cleveland Steamer due to it’s depiction of a promiscuous secretary’s encounter with a group of reporters while on presidential candidate Grover Cleveland’s campaign train.

A pornographer by trade, Hicklin had earned a reputation as an innovator in adult entertainment by cornering the pornographic stereograph market. His top selling adult stereo card series “Young Harlots Gone Mad with Typhoid Fever” and its follow up “Daisy does the 1876 World’s Fair” made Hicklin one of the most successful pornographers of the late 19th century. Unfortunately, his success came to an abrupt end in 1889 when he continued to break new ground by becoming one of Arkansas’ first automobile fatalities.

Following Hicklin’s death, the groundbreaking film was stored along with his other belonging in a surviving family member’s attic where they remained until being sold at an estate sale last month. A Lynchburg businessman and pornography enthusiast, who chose to remain nameless, purchased the film along with several pornographic stereo card sets, including a never before seen, less than accurate pictorial of Custard’s Last Stand entitled “Little Big ‘N Horny.”

In recent decades, the adult entertainment industry has been at the forefront of new technology ranging from VHS to the Internet. In fact, many credit the industry as key factor in the VHS victory over Betamax. With this new discovery, researchers can now trace pornography’s influence on film all the way back to the earliest days of the medium.


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