On Golden Porn: The stars of adult’s classic era recall the rosy days of working blue

American culture is riddled with golden ages of many things: Television, design, aviation, hip hop, comic books, Broadway and muscle cars, to name a few.

Pornography lays claim to its own magical period.

For followers of the genre, the 1970s through the early ‘80s were a special time. Adult films had actual plots and were shown in theaters, and the sex—fairly tame by today’s standards—was performed by a small handful of talents recognizable to an ever-increasing audience. In 1973, the New York Times dubbed it all, “porno chic.”

A half dozen of those now AARP-eligible stars of yester-porn showed up at the Cupcake Theater in North Hollywood last month to discuss their lives and careers during that so-called golden age. Plenty of diehard fans made the scene as well, and they weren’t necessarily who you might expect.

“You don’t always see a little old lady walking down the street and think, ‘Oh, I wonder if she’s going home to watch porn?’” said self-described little old lady Julie.

She and her husband Bob have been married for 50 years. They still hold hands as they walk. Wearing matching hoodies, they looked more like they were on their way to a Christian seniors chili cook-off than an evening of mingling with pioneers of porn.

“We’ve enjoyed the films for probably 15 or 20 years and recognize a lot of the names,” said Bob, “and thought it would be interesting to come and hear their back stories.”

They weren’t the only ones. The theater lobby was packed with folks getting steeped in fuzzy blue nostalgia, swilling drinks as they chatted and snapping photos with the women and men they’d been watching have sex for almost 50 years.

There were no hipsters here, no irony, and no sense of sadness or sleaze. The vibe was respectful, almost reverential.

An older fan named Willivado Delgadillo stood in the lobby clutching a freshly signed, black and white 8×10 photo of someone he said was very special to him.

Veronica Hart is my favorite,” said Delgadillo. “Her sparkling laughter, her intelligence, and her naughtiness. I was talking to her right now and said that she was very important to me for my emotional upbringing. I didn’t realize that until later, but I just happened to have married someone just like her.”

“Old naughty girls, that’s what they call us,” said Hart, 60, gesturing at the grand dames of adult in the room. “These are the old naughty girls!”

Then Hart laughed and Delgadillo was right; her laugh sparkled.

“I’m very thankful if people liked anything that I did,” she said. “There’s people my age that grew up with me. There’s a lot of guys that said I was their first, which is really nice to pop somebody’s cinematic cherry.”

After 38 years as an actress, producer and director, Hart said she’s finally retiring.

“Have I loved my life? You betcha. I’m very happy.”

The adult industry veteran belies the long-held stereotype of the damaged porn casualty.

In 1974, Rhonda Jo Petty chose porn, too. She said she left in 1986 to “raise kids and horses.” This was back when the industry had just gone to video and the breadth of titles were displayed on the shelves of mom and pop shops. By comparison, last year Pornhub—the Internet’s most viewed adult site—reported 23 billion visitors.

“It’s different nowadays, yes,” said Petty. “They’re not making movies like we did and not running from the cops like we did, not living underground like we did. Everything was cash then, and the money was really good. I liked the money.”

Her take on the pornography of today?

Petty shakes her head in disgust as she exhales a thick plume of cigarette smoke.

“I don’t even have a word for it.”

Compared to the untold legions of nameless people currently appearing in literally billions of hours of X-rated video, Petty described the troopers of the old days as a supportive, close-knit community.

Porn’s all-time #1 star Ron Jeremy and his non-porn niece Becca Hyatt. (Photo: Peter Gilstrap)

“We all knew each other. We’d go to dinner at the producer’s house. We all passed each other in the night somewhere. It was a small family.”

Speaking of family, Becca Hyatt came all the way from Austin, Texas to attend this event.

“We do a California road trip every year, “then we come and see my uncle in L.A.”

And who is her uncle?

“Ron Jeremy.”

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(Banner image (L-R): Amber Lynn, Rhonda Jo Petty and Veronica Heart).