Combing through the archives for some vintage articles on the retro niche, which I believe we'll see sparking more interest in the near future... ;-)
“Vintage” porn starts about the time of photography, when that was invented in the 1880s, and becomes “retro” towards the end of the 1930s. But as our CozyFrog.comfriend Titmowse  pointed out, this is a matter of generational perspective: “My idea of Retro is probably some 25 year-old’s impression of Vintage. The period from 1930-1965 could be defined either way I suppose.” But there’s been porn ever since the cave paintings of course. The really old stuff pre-dating 1800 can be called Ancient or Antique depending on exactly how old it is.
Like anime/hentai, vintage/retro porn has a broad popularity with a fiercely loyal fan base, making for exceptional retention rates. RetroRaunch, for example, boasts the highest subscriber-retention rates in the industry. Some members have belonged to the site since its launch in 1997. [Lynn 2005] Also like anime/hentai, vintage/retro is best regarded as a genre rather than a market or a niche, since both genres can encompass any niche and sell to any market, while remaining distinctly unique.
Story content goes nicely with Retro, especially if you’ve got someone who can write romance erotica. Women enjoy Vintage/Retro content because it’s less degrading than some of the porn of today. BDSM and Fetish lovers dig the underwear from the quirky fifties and previous eras. So do Goths. Mature lovers like Vintage/Retro porn as well as softcore fans. Even Gay men and Lesbians love the oldies. [Titmowse 2004]
Porn Resource’s Marie  mentioned the popularity of vintage content within the online gay industry: “I saw one of the leaders of the gay porn industry share some of his findings. He even admitted that he had thought that the idea of producing a retro gay site was a waste of time and money, but the dollar signs that keep rolling in on very limited traffic have made him change his mind.”
Paul Interlandi of retro content company Arrow Productions thinks that the product itself accounts for some of the recent upticks in sales. "People are attracted to older porn because it actually has stories. It's more erotic, as opposed to today's porn, which is made mostly to shock." [Ochs 2005]
Compared to “reality porn” which has very little to do with reality, vintage porn definitely has a real and genuine quality that many surfers find refreshing. Marie thinks that is why there is an increasing demand for retro porn: “A few sponsors and webmasters are actually finding that all that stuff shot back in the late sixties through to the early eighties is becoming much more popular. Back then many of the women who worked as models and actresses looked like real women. They had some pussy hair, they really did enjoy what they were doing, and that came across clearly in the images and movies from that time.” [Marie 2005]
Hester Nash, webmistress of RetroRaunch, goes further than that, stating that many of the photos aren't of models at all: "It's the ultimate amateur site. People have sent in photos from stashes of amateur erotica found when going through parents' or grandparents' bedrooms after they die. Others have stumbled across Uncle Joe's collection when helping him pack to move to a retirement community. Widowers have sent Nash photographs they took of their wives 60 and 70 years ago.” [Lynn 2005]
A review of RetroRaunch (Adult Stars Magazine) also draws attention to this genuine quality: "After looking at the naked bodies without plastic tits, enhanced thighs and all of the other plastic girl accessories, I started to appreciate the real bodies, in true human proportions, even in black and white."
In an interview, Hester Nash reports that her subscribers are drawn to both the content and the styling of the shots on her site. "I think people love the black-and-white photography. It's not as in-your-face. It's not as tacky as a lot of modern, color porn can be. It seems less lurid." [Ochs 2005]
Many observers also say they learn something from these sites by getting a first-hand glimpse into the past. Nash’s content spans more than a hundred years, with some images pre-dating the Civil War as well as drawings first published hundreds of years before that. "People need to understand politically and socially that porn was not born yesterday, that it's fundamentally harmless, and that people have been looking at it forever." [Lynn 2005]
According to listings in the Google/DMOZ adult directory, most (85%) vintage/retro sites are free or AVS/AEN sites. In fact, there are relatively few pure pay sites — most being rather small AVS/AEN member sites or else a minor component of more general-interest sites.
There is also rather wide latitude in what qualifies. All the following descriptors might fall into the category: classic, erotica, pin-up, glamour, burlesque, and porn stars. “Retro” itself refers to the 1960s, 70s, and 80s but isn’t strictly defined. And there are many sites featuring models who like to dress up like Marilyn Monroe or wear clothes from the 40s. These are often considered vintage/retro, as are many stockings or undies sites. There is money to be made in vintage and retro - and it's often all about success in prospecting for content.
Sources and Additional Reading:
Titmowse. “Retro Smut Lovin’! Part 1,” Cozy Frog 09/24/04a. http://www.cozyfrog.com/guides/other/articles/RetroSmut1.asp.
Titmowse. “Retro Smut Lovin’! Part 2,” Cozy Frog 10/22/04b. http://www.cozyfrog.com/guides/other/articles/RetroSmut2.asp.
Regina Lynn. “This Old Porn Is New Again: RetroRaunch,” Wired News 09/09/05. http://www.wired.com/news/culture/0,68790-0.html.
Marie. “It’s Time We Went Retro,” Porn Resource 02/09/05. http://www.pornresource.com/article/2052.
Stephen Ochs. “Retro Porn,” Xbiz 10/17 Top /05. http://xbiz.com/article_piece.php?cat=36&id=10823.
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