The rise and fall of erotica

Steamy soft-core cinema is phenomenally popular in Indonesia, but the government is slowing down production.

Published February 17, 2000 5:00PM (EST)

Indonesia is a predominantly Islamic nation, but its
attitude regarding the depiction of naked human flesh is considerably looser than in uptight Taliban-controlled Afghanistan or in prim, women-in-veils-please Saudi Arabia. Truth be told, this huge archipelago is
inhabited by millions of Muslims who have a fervid affection for homegrown soft-core erotic films, reports the Jakarta Post.

Non-sexy celluloid receives scant attention, while turgid throngs of viewers flock to soft-core cinema. Classics of carnality like "Metropolitan Girl" seduced 200,000 spectators in Jakarta alone.

The production of Indonesian erotica climaxed in the 1970s and early 1980s, an era that ejaculated more than 100 steamy titles per annum. The bulging growth of the industry was eventually slapped down in 1984
by a government-sponsored anti-pornography campaign and again in 1988 by Islamic religious leaders who censored two frisky films, "Revenge of
the Southern Sea Queen" and "The Result of Being Flirtatious."

In 1994, the Indonesian government tried to strap a chastity belt on the bawdy business again by condemning more than 40 films as pornographic, including "Stained
Bed," "The Alluring Widow" and "The Pleasure of the Taboo." But the official castigation failed to dry up the public's panting interest. Horny hordes beat a path to the flesh films anyway and several enticing features had sold-out runs for two months.

Economic crises in 1997 finally wilted Indonesia's porn production to today's 27 tawdry titles annually.
Sexy starlets who strip and simulate shagging are also being carefully watched by authorities. Several have been
reprimanded in the past year by Jakarta police
for their provocative magazine poses.

By Hank Hyena

Hank Hyena is a former columnist for SF Gate, and a frequent contributor to Salon.

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