Before pornography there were stag films…
Our generation knew little to nothing about sex and were ignorant of pornography. As teenagers we thought the old 8 pager as they were known were exciting. There were actually eight page pocket size books with sexual illustrations that by today’s standards were silly.
For pure sexual fantasy underground film makers produced silent 8mm black and white grainy film of sexual acts. They were called "stag films" and you had to know somebody who knew somebody to rent one for "entertainment". Believe it or not my introduction to a stag film was in 1948 at the home of our sponsor at our Boys Club. “Would you guys like to see some stag films?” Believe it or not I thought he was going to show us films of the Chicago Stags of the Basketball Association of America.
There wasn’t television or movies, only the radio if we wanted to listen to a game. The team played at the Chicago Stadium, 1800 W. Madison in Chicago. Their inaugural season was exciting and had some of the great players of that era. That is what I thought our sponsor meant. After all we lived in the ignorant age of sexual discussion. The subject was not discussed in the home but on the corner deli where the "boys" hung out.
So, our group of boys walked to the sponsors apartment on Central Park Avenue, lst floor. In the old west side apartments they had their version of a sun room. The lights were shut off. An 8mm movie projector was set up and film strung though to the projector. And then the shock of what we saw hit us. After all we thought we were going to watch basketball films of the Chicago Stags. How ignorant we were.
The black and white screen’s first scene was of a pizza delivery boy delivering to a beautiful lady's apartment. Without wasting any time or film the next scene was of the woman naked alongside the naked pizza delivery boy. Wow! We had never seen a nude lady and then we thought we were seeing angels. The pizza boy’s "apparatus" was enlarged and then we all wondered what was this strange scene playing out in front of our eyes…after all most of us were only 16 at the most. Frankly we were awed at the sight of a man and woman being intimate in sexual acts we didn’t understand. For a moment I forgot about the basketball game I thought I was going to see and went into wonderland. In fact we fantasized about delivering pizzas and having a beautiful women open her door and welcome us into her apartment.
The films were short in length and then we had to light up the room so the next film could be wound into the projector, lights turned off, and the next grainy black and white film was shown. Frankly the movies were disturbing to me and several of the other boys and we left.
As we walked along Douglas Blvd on Chicago’s West side there was silence among us. Each boy had his own thoughts about they saw. Some of us were angry we didn’t see the Chicago Stags and others were saying what they would have done. You can figure out what a 16 year old boy in an age of sexual ignorance was thinking. That was Chicago Then.
In today’s world you can turn on the TV, go to a movie, watch it on your version of an Ipad or computer. Then in 1954 Playboy entered the scene and the sexual revolution was under way. As I reflect on our first experience I realize how antique it was and the fact that our boys club sponsor showed them to us. I wonder to this day what would have happened if he were discovered showing illegal stag films to us boys who were introduced into the world of sex.
Memories light the corners of my mind, and I hope yours too!
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