Hence the Name

by Rich Moreland  August 12, 2011

While I’m enjoying one of those down periods (I’m on hold until a couple of valuable people get back to me on criticisms and revisions of textual stuff), I thought a quick explanation of 3hattergrindhouse might be in order.

Coming up with something unique name-wise that promotes eyeballs to a site is daunting. So, I reverted to my work to find a catchy title and am grateful to a faculty colleague who played with the idea and refined my choice. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the word “grindhouse,” it refers to the legendary adult theater that is contextually important in the storied history of filmed pornography.

Grindhouses have gone the way of rotary phones, though like the printed newspaper, some do survive. Years ago prior to the VCR, many grindhouses were old burlesque theaters that abandoned live shows for film. They became hotbeds of the sexual, at least on film; sleazy emporiums nestled among the neon garishness of urban redlight districts. Grindhouses were the soul of these tawdry and notorious neighborhoods. San Francisco’s “Tenderloin,” Boston’s “Combat Zone,” Baltimore’s “Block” and, of course, Times Square—at least before it was cleaned up—are best known. The most famous of all grindhouses is probably SF’s storied O’Farrell Theater, though the old versions of L.A.’s Pussycat Theater and New York’s Show World probably qualify for that dubious honor.

It was where you went to get off, quite frankly. But times have changed and these days, everyone—male and female alike—uses the internet as their marketplace of sexual entertainment. In fact, it is a personal grindhouse with all the comforts of home, no barker to cajole you, no street hookers to fend off. Modern, clean, and disappears with a click.

Because I love looking at the past and my research is largely historically based, grindhouse seemed a natural moniker for this site. To extend the meaning further, I believe the grindhouse can be a place or a film genre.

The three-hatter is another matter, and it is entirely the matter!

Here’s where it gets a little sticky, pun intended. Movies were informally “evaluated” by grindhouse patrons who, by custom and common etiquette, did not sit in front of, beside, or behind each other. The paying customers were known in the old days as the “raincoat crowd” for obvious reasons (they still exist, a topic for another day). Decades ago most males wore hats and the fedoras and chapeaus conveniently served a vital purpose during the movie. In other words, a bad movie was a no-hatter, a fair one a one-hatter, and two-hatters were pretty good. Of course, the best of all movies were known as three-hatters, a supreme compliment considering that every male’s explosive sexual response requires a refractory period to get going again.

There you have it.

How does it apply to this blog? As I suggested, the grindhouse is indeed a genre of its own and the people who produce adult film are a community all their own. In the coming weeks and months I hope to tell you about some interesting people and how they feel about their industry and their art.

One caveat. I’m no film critic. Quite frankly, I spend very little time watching pornography unless it has some recognized artistic value. The adult industry produces thousands of movies annually and titles like Gangbanged Harem Sluts 7 or Fat Buttz Anal (Just made those names up. Don’t go looking on the internet!) are unlikely to draw my attention unless they feature performers  I know personally.  What I see comes either at film festivals where presentations are often snippets or vignettes, or movies recommended to me by the people who make them.

So don’t expect movie reviews. That’s not my thing. The business of adult film—its history, legal and health issues, and of course, its people—are what I prefer.

I will keep you informed along the way.

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