Estimates place the pornographic industry to be worth over 1 billion euro per year.
The market is thriving with pornographic material available to suit all tastes. There are videos, websites, magazines, telephone servies, toys and all manner of pornographic material and services available. A great deal of material is sold in shops and kiosks as well as specialised shops and through mail-order.
During the late eighties and early nineties the traditional "red-light" cinemas showing pornographic films were virtually wiped out by the introduction of videos which could be watched at home. The same problem exists for softcore magazines with Playboy, for example, selling 51,000 copies of it's October 1991 issued compared with average sales of about 120,000 during the late 1970s.
The yearly sale of magazines during the 1990s was about 30 million copies. The internet, of course, has made a huge difference since then.
Despite its reputation, Italian television is risque rather than pornographic and even the most chaste softcore pornography is rare. Late night advertisements for chatlines will feature naked women with pixelated genitalia, for example. On the other hand, post watershed television is likely to baulk at showing a nipple.
Hardcore pornography is, however, available on pay channels.
The sale of material at local kiosks or newsstands is quite open with hardcore material on offer. The law states that the owner of the kiosk is not reponsible for the content of what is sold and thus not liable.
Hardcore pornography involving anyone below the age of 18 is classed as child pornography and is forbidden. The age of consent varies between 14 - 16 years old.
Forbidden pornography includes:
- child pornography
The country blocks access to child pornography websites on the internet.
In 2005, parliament passed a law adding a 25% tax on all hardcore pornography. The industry complained saying they were already paying VAT and it was illegal to tax them twice, but this was overruled.
Pornography is widely accepted in Italy with the anti-pornography movement weak and in public debate pornography is often presented as a symbol of libertion. On occasion even the some members of the church have accepted publically that pornogrpahy within a stable relationship can help improve a couple's sex life.
It is also not unusual for people involved in the pornographic industry to cross over to the mainstream. A number of pornographic actresses, for example, have appeared regularly on prime-time television and some have gone on to careers in the mainstream.
- Alessandra Mussolini, grand-daughter of Mussolini and a politician in her own right has appeared naked in Playboy magazine.
- La Cicciolina, a hardcore pornographic actress, went on to a career of sorts as a politician.
- Milly D'Abbraccio, pornographic actress turned politician
During the 1970s the country produced a lot of softcore material but it was not until the 1980s that hardcore became the trend with films like Il Telefone Rosso by Riccardo Schicchi and starring La Cicciolina.
Whilst production is often of a high standard, many of the films produced today rely on Eastern European actresses. There is a heavy emphasis on anal sex, often with implied force. Another popular theme is age differences.
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