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Tag: history of pornography

Before Playboy, there was Flossie

Sixteen-year-old boys loved her. Parents of 16-year-old boys did not.

Yes, long before Hugh Hefner donned his trademark smoking jacket, before Larry Flynt shocked a nation with Hustler, there was Miss Flossie Lee. In the 1890s, the Augusta, Maine, entrepreneur ran Art Photo Co., a corporation that promised to send photos of “the best female models” for a buck. Purportedly, the photos of scantily clad women were intended for “art studies, and as models for the student in figure work, or the young artist who finds the living model a too expensive luxury. . .”  But what they really were was porn.

Judging from the documents at the National Archives at Boston, Miss Flossie Lee was the victim of her own success. She operated without any evident complaint in Maine, then she decided to go for the big time. “I am the acknowledged belle of my own city, and have beaux by the score,” she writes in an ad, “but wish to extend my acquaintance over the whole country.” The trouble was that shipping obscene material across state lines was a Federal offense.

Congressmen complained. The Assistant Attorney General was peppered with letters from the Post Office inquiring what sort of action could be taken against Miss Lee and her “forbidden circulations.” One man wrote the Secret Service Department in the U.S. Post Office asking … [ Read all ]