Young Nympho, I from ‘American Ecstacy’

Photographer Barbara Nitke captures a scene never shown in adult films – a glimpse of utter and complete exhaustion. In the 1980s, Nitke was paid to produce publicity stills on hardcore porn shoots in New York City. The period was towards the end of the Golden Age of Porn, though the day to day life of cast and crew were unglamorously grueling. Shoots lasted from a few days to several weeks with at least 20 people working 16 hour days with very low wages and no overtime. Films were generally shot in the summer with no air conditioning for fear the sound would be picked up by the mics. Lunchtime consisted of a loaf of Wonder Bread and cold cuts with pizza to follow for dinner.

It was in these weary and frazzled marathons that Nitke began to notice moments of something more. Whether a few naked girls huddled together with a glazed expression or an actor caught in a surreal pause waiting for the director’s cue, Nitke found fleeting glimpses of humanity and compassion despite the subject matter. The experience convinced Nitke to be a photographer and she found the job  “the most exciting, boring, stomach-turning, splendid subject I could ever hope to photograph.”

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