@HardcorDecor Celebrates the Lavish Settings of Vintage Porn Mags

A self-proclaimed "Proustian porn reverie", Hardcor Decor slakes our thirst for both vintage interior design and good old-fashioned smut.

Pornography might still be taboo, but it’s also more ubiquitous than ever before. Ever since the digital revolution of the late ‘90s, the world has been flooded with pornographic imagery, and while it’s hard to argue with the old mantra that “sex sells”, the sex that’s being sold to us is largely homogenous — and bizarrely, more and more divorced from actual sexual experiences. Luckily, many are challenging this narrative. Queer and feminist adult filmmakers are leading the charge towards a more inclusive and sexually varied future. Conversely, in his quest to break the chokehold of mainstream porn over our sexual imaginations, @hardcor_decor is looking to the past.

The wide-angle images of Hardcor Decor present a world of erotica unknown to most of its followers (which include Vetements and Balenciaga stylist Lotta Volkova). The erotic world of Hardcor Decor is centred not on the act of sex itself, but the location. Rather than the contemporary cliché setting of a high school locker room or a clinically anonymous apartment, Hardcor Decor highlights the lush, maximalist settings of ‘60s and ‘70s skin magazines. With the use of some selective cropping, @hardcor_decor manages to present the desirable design schemes and a sneak peak of the action, all without upsetting the powers that be at Instagram.

Much like our current sexual climate, ‘60s and ‘70s skin mags were produced in the midst of the sexual revolution. These images embrace that newfound sense of sexual freedom — and, dodgy haircuts aside, offer a more authentic glimpse into lived sexual experience than much of the hardcore porn of today. There’s also an element of romance and nostalgia in these images. As @hardcor_decor told Sleek, “‘70s European porn, in particular, seemed to be almost an unintentional time-capsule snapshot of a bygone majestic era”. While we can’t say that the whole era casts a purely romantic shadow over our own, part of Hardcor Decor’s appeal is undoubtedly an element of wistful nostalgia. It purifies the passage of time, skimming off the less palatable aspects of the epoch, leaving us with pure pleasure and titillation.

The sense of nostalgia and sumptuous interior design are undoubtedly responsible for some of this pleasure, but the locus of Hardcor Decor’s appeal is the sex that’s happening just outside of the frame. Ultimately, it’s the contrasts that appeal — the rift between what’s shown and what’s not, between the explicit and the kitsch, between the porn we see today and the sensuality which was lost in the passage of time.

The man behind Hardcor Decor — a 53-year-old graphic designer who wishes to remain anonymous — revealed that his exploration of vintage porn was inspired by a very modern phenomenon: sexting. “The genesis of Hardcor Decor came about close to 2 years ago when I was living in New York and beginning a long-distance relationship with my girlfriend in Sydney,” he said. “We are both retro-obsessives, and would scour Tumblr retroporn for our mutual amusement and augmented sexting! The more ‘60s and ‘70s images I found, the more I was captivated by the amazing backgrounds.”

Hardcor Decor is not alone in his retro obsession. The internet blew up in 2016 over a Hollywood mansion that was left unchanged since the ‘60s; recent fashion collections have also looked back, drawing influence from the ‘60s and ‘70s, and most recently, the ‘80s too. As Hardcor Decor reasons, “Perhaps it’s an age thing — as a child of the ‘70s, I remember those wallpaper patterns, that furniture, so there’s an obvious affection. Call it a Proustian porn reverie.” Whilst a large portion of his audience may not have been around in the ‘70s to soak up the settings in the flesh, we’re glad to share in Proustian daydream.

A particularly nice touch of Hardcor Decor is the #LPrecordsinretroporn tag. This flourish is the only clue about the man behind @hardcor_decor; he designs album artwork and posters, and is an obsessive vinyl collector. He tells us, “it’s hilarious having a design presence out there running in tandem with @hardcor_decor, while the two worlds have little, or no idea of each other”.

He concludes, ‘it’s definitely a labour of love, and hopefully a little tribute to whoever those photographers and models were! So, no ambitions per se, although if Gucci needed an art director for a ‘60s/’70s porn inspired shoot?!…” Watch this space.

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