American Ecstasy – Barbara Nitke on the Golden Age of Porn

By on February 6, 2012

NEW YORK (February, 2012) – Launched with no fanfare, Barbara Nitke’s crowdsourcing campaign on Kickstarter raised over $9,000 in the first few days. Firm in her belief that there is a large audience for the book, she intends to self publish American Ecstasy, and take it directly to the public. The book is a memoir in pictures and words of the twelve years she spent working as a stills photographer on porn movie sets in New York in the 1980s.

“It’s hard to imagine now,” Nitke says, “but back in the 1980s people lined up outside of real movie theatres to watch feature length sex flicks. It was the Golden Age of Porn. There was a thriving X-rated movie industry in New York City, and that was where I got my start as a photographer.”

Her American Ecstasy book is a nostalgic view of those heady days. The photographs, while undeniably sexual, reach far beyond the usual sex machine image of the industry to reveal the touching humanness of the actors. Often shot between takes, when the actor’s porn star masks were down, the images are deeply intimate. Disheveled, semi-naked starlets huddle together between takes, staring out into the distance with combat soldier stares. A paunchy director, wearing a baseball cap, comes into the frame to give Nina Hartley a few notes on her performance. The actor underneath her keeps right on going.

The book also includes stories Nitke wrote of the day-to-day life on the sets, and clips from extensive interviews she conducted with the porn stars of the day. In an essay for the book, art critic Arthur C. Danto writes, “From reading these verbal ‘shots’ of life in the porn world, one realises that the scenario is as rigid as those of commedia dell’arte. Instead of Columbine and Pierrot, one has the needful housewife and the pizza boy, delivering initially the pie, and then himself…”  He also compares her photography with that of Robert Mapplethorpe.

Nitke is seeking $25,000 to self publish the book, and is offering rewards for those who contribute, which range from classic postcards to prints of the photos, and of course copies of the book itself.

Campaign and project video –
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1990714042/american-ecstasy-photo-book

Barbara Nitke, http://www.barbaranitke.com, is a New York art and commercial photographer best known for her compassionate view of alternative sex. Her career has taken her from behind-the-scenes of hardcore porn sets in the 1980s, to fetish in the 1990s, and into the private lives of sadomasochists for the following decade. She also does photography for mainstream television shows and the fashion industry. Her work has been shown and collected worldwide.

Contact Barbara Nitke
917-670-4304
Barbara@BarbaraNitke.com

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