They don't make 'em like they used to. In the '70s and early '80s, when pornos could be viewed in your local, legitimate movie theater, plots were wild and the pubic hair was even wilder. And that's the way comedian Dave Attell likes it.

In his new, eight-episode Showtime series, Dave's Old Porn (Thursdays, 11:30 p.m.), the 46-year-old veteran of spank houses reviews and celebrates the adult film industry's "Golden Era" with other comedians (Whitney Cummings, Daniel Tosh, Adam Carolla) and porn stars (Ron Jeremy, Seka, Belladonna). On what must be a very moist, sticky couch, they discuss forgotten fuck flicks Mystery Science Theater-style so all you dudes pulling yourselves feverishly to scenes of depravity at your computers can see what hot, hilarious brilliance you've been missing.

When we heard about what is obviously the greatest television show ever conceived, we immediately got on the phone with Attell to talk about how the hell he got this show green-lit, the best worst porn plots, and how his porn consumption has changed over the years.

Interview by Justin Monroe (@40yardsplash)

Complex: How did Dave's Old Porn come about?
Dave Attell: I created the idea of the show with Stewart Bailey, who is now the executive producer on The Carson Daly Show. We’ve been working on this idea for like four years. We took it to one network and they liked it but they couldn’t show porn, they realized. It’s cool that we’re doing it at Showtime because at Showtime we can take it to the next level. It is porn, but we’re not allowed to show porn, if you know what I mean, so we show everything up to penetration. They got this, the right way. It’s uncensored, very unscripted.

It’s more of a porn party than a porn history—it’s nothing like that. It’s about comics coming out and talking about the clips like Mystery Science Theater, and then at the end of the show we bring out one of the stars, one of the legends that we were watching, and we talk to them about their movies and we’ll watch some scenes with them like a play-by-play.

And another cool thing about doing it with Showtime is that, not only is it not restricted, but it’s on-demand, so when you get home at night.... This is the kind of show that I’d want to watch if I came home after a night of boozing or whatever. You’re sitting there like, “Ugh, I’m such a sad loser,” and then you turn on the TV and see me, a sadder loser.

Yeah, one who’s having a grand old time talking about retro porn with a bunch of comedians and porn stars.
Yes, and I’m gonna actually try to do the ultimate and shoot a load on my own face. [Laughs.] How old are you?

Thirty-one.
This is gonna blow your young mind, when you see all this scary, filthy, dirty retro porn.

[Laughs.] Are all of the pornos featured in Dave's Old Porn actually from your collection?
I had some of the titles but I can’t say I owned all of them. I thought I had a pretty decent porn collection until I started [doing research for the show]. I’m older than you; I have that old duffel bag full of VCR tapes that I would shuffle from one place to another. The thing was sad. I have hundreds of retro tapes, but I got more into retro as we started doing the research—and I did tons of research, if you know what I mean.

Hence the four years of "development."
Yes, there were a lotta breaks, a lotta lube. The real hero of the show is lubricant.

Who were your favorite "Golden Age" porn stars when you were watching originally?
Well, some of the legends that we have on the show: Ron Jeremy, Nina Hartley, and Seka, Paul Thomas, who’s an AVN award-winning director. They’re all AVN award-winning people. It really was like a sense of awe of meeting Nina Hartley, who’s not only a great porn person, but also a great actress and writer—she’s a renaissance woman, she’s done so many different things.

It was cool to meet these people finally after seeing them all these years in their movies. It was even cooler having them watch themselves in these movies. They’ve done so many movies. They’re like, “I forgot I did that! I don’t even remember that scene.” It’s pretty amazing to watch them watch themselves. It was definitely like a Make-A-Wish Foundation kinda thing.

 

I love retro Euro porn because it’s sexy, it’s fun, it’s a foreign language, and they’re overacting. There’s so much acting being launched all over your face.

 

Were they critiquing their work?
Well, they gave us a lot of insight into porn and doing porn, the do’s and don’ts. Nina gave us the etiquette on a three-way, stuff like that. It was really cool to hear their professionalism about it. But remember: This is a time before Twitter and the Internet. I guess back then, all people had was porn—and nobody shaved. It was a wilder time.

Were you "star struck" to finally meet these people who you’d seen naked and having sex for so many years?
Yes. Every comic loves porn, because we’re on the road so much. To finally meet these people who helped us get through many a road gig is pretty cool. I felt like we all talked the same lingo, since they’re free agents too. They never know what they’re gonna do next week, and business is pretty rough and tumble. As you know, in the porn business, everybody’s illegally downloading, so there’s not much money to be had. A lot of people, they had to start whole new careers.

I guess the coolest part of the show is that, I’m the host of the show but it really is more of a free-for-all, it’s unscripted. We had lots of great comedians on: Whitney Cummings, Chelsea Handler, Margaret Cho, Jim Norton, Bill Burr, Adam Carolla. All these comics had their different take on porn, from the dirtiest, filthiest guy, Jim Norton, to dainty, super sexy, and funny Whitney Cummings.

Chicks like porn, and they are really cool with watching it, and it was great hearing their take on the scenes, because what you like, they don’t like, but what they like, you’re like, “You like that?” It was very refreshing. Whitney and Chelsea and Margaret are so cool. We were just very lucky to get them. It wasn’t a sausage fest. That’s what I’m trying to tell you.

That’s good to know. So were you able to glean any insights into how you might get your woman to watch porn with you?
Uh, no, it was none of that. There was really no redeeming quality to it. But another cool aspect was, since it is all retro porn from the golden age of the early '70s to the early '80s, from film to video, we brought in the porn stars of today—Belladonna, Kristina Rose, Bobbi Starr, all amazingly cool AVN-winning hot performers. For them to watch this stuff, they found it, like, quaint, ‘cause they’re so used to today’s porn of, like, pile-driving and it’s all about dropping bombs—you know what I’m talkin’ about—loads on this and that. [Laughs.]

These porns had stories and there’s like exterior shots. [The newer porn stars] were like, “I can’t believe they could shoot in the park! We can’t even shoot in the parking lot." So it was like a more free time. Porn was still underground and kind of seedy, but it was also kind of arty. But now it’s a business and these girls are very intelligent and they get it.

Nowadays, everyone is pushing boundaries further and further. To them, was retro porn almost Victorian in its propriety?
Exactly. It was like taking them to a Renaissance fair. [Laughs.] And what really blew them away is the no shaving, 'cause they’re all.... They’re into hair now, like, hair has come back. You live in Brooklyn, right? You know hair is back. [Laughs.] But it’s not back the way it was then—it was like outta control, like “Occupy Wall Street.” That’s a little too much, but it’s very cool to hear these girls talk about that stuff.

 

Did any of the comedians surprise you with what they were into?
It’s amazing how everyone has their favorites fetishes; we did a whole fetish show with Chelsea Handler and we went through all the whipped cream and the bondage and all that stuff. And then we brought out the Sklar brothers, who are twins, which I think is a fetish. It’s a fetish or a miracle, because most of us are never gonna bang twins. You have to be Charlie Sheen or somebody to do that. The rest of us, we can only dream.

 

Nothing disturbs me. I’m from the filthy, dirty generation. There was no chance for changing and you just got wasted and waited for the next Peter Gabriel album to come out.

 

How has your porn consumption changed over the years?
Well, you wanna know what happens? You watch enough porn and you go right back to magazines. I had to reset my dick. I had to go back to magazines, which is really…talk about old-timey. My rod is used to wi-fi, high speed, not waiting for me to turn a page.

My favorite porn stuff, beside the retro, I love Euro porn, especially from that era, because it’s sexy, it’s fun, it’s a foreign language, and they’re overacting. There’s so much acting being launched all over your face. [Laughs.]

In talking about these movies, did you avoid discussing the darker aspects of the porn industry?
We talked a little bit about it with AIDS. A lot of [the actors] got out of it before the whole AIDS thing, but it wasn’t that kind of a show. Like I said, it’s not really about the history of porn. It was more just about the celebration of it, actually more of a tribute to the people that made these porns.

The weird thing is that, while we were making the show, two legends who we tried to get to do the show died. John Leslie was a huge director and performer in porn for years and years. He passed away, and so did Jamie Gillis, who is kind of like the father of gonzo porn, that Boogie Nights kind of porn. Every movie we’d do, there would be a person or two that the porn stars were like, “Oh, they’re no longer with us. He just passed.” So it was kinda sad, but we tried to pay tribute to them as much as we could, because the show is a celebration or a tribute, not a “porn is bad” [statement]. Porn is great.

What was your favorite cheesy, convoluted old porn plot?
It’s cool when they do genres. I have so much porn that I have pornographic westerns, I have pornographic science fiction movies, like Ultra Flesh (1980). Another great sci-fi thriller horror porn would be The Ultimate Lover (1990), with Nina Hartley, Eric Edwards, and Tracy Adams. It’s kind of like a sexy Frankenstein’s monster thing, and they create the ultimate fuck machine.

A lot of these movies have been redone and redone and redone, but that was cool how they were always trying to do these different genre things in the movies. Prisoner Of Paradise (1980), one of Seka’s movies, is about, like, super hot German Nazis on a tropical island, and John Holmes [playing a shipwrecked World War II sailor] comes in and saves everybody. It was like tons of explosions in it, and you don’t really see that [production value] in porn now, I mean, like, car chases and stuff like that. It’s pretty high-end.

You used to see these movies in theaters; porn used to be a group sport, now everybody’s playing alone online. I remember going to porn theaters, especially in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco, and sitting there, and there was every porn stereotype: the sticky seats, the guy in the raincoat....

But the good stuff would be in a real movie theater. Devil In Miss Jones (1973) was a groundbreaking movie, and it came out the same year as The Exorcist. It was shown in a movie theater, like, on Broadway, with The Exorcist and a bunch of other movies. It was like the midnight movie. That’s pretty wild. It was before Cats and Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark; you look at Times Square now and you’re like, “What?!”

Was watching porn in a theater just slightly disturbing?
Nothing disturbs me. I’m from the filthy, dirty generation. There was no chance for changing and you just got wasted and waited for the next Peter Gabriel album to come out. No, just from being on the road, it made me feel good. I love the dirty, filthy stuff. If you know my act, I’m not really a family act. The [male comedians] who watch it with me [on Dave's Old Porn], especially Norton and Greg Fitzsimmons, they are such funny, wickedly sick guys that they dug it right away. Bill Burr and Adam Corrolla are really, really funny guys, but I think they still have a soul. [Laughs.]

So did you ever get into a Paul Reubens situation in the porn theaters?
Did I jerk off? No. We used to have this thing, the buddy booth, where you go in and you jerk.

So never in the theater seating?
Mmm, I don’t think I could do that while I was ushering. [Laughs.] No, I don’t think I ever did that. I’ve rubbed many out to the porn I’m talking about. At first you see retro and you’re like, “Oh, that’s sick! That’s so fuckin’ hairy and weird! Ugh!” And then after a while you’re like, “Oh my god, it’s great!” You get into it. It’s like Rosetta Stone, where you learn the language.

Did any of these porns inspire you to make a personal porn with a convoluted plot?
No. I think if I was gonna go into porn, it would be with animals. It wouldn’t be so much that I would be fucking animals, but I’d be watching them. I’d deliver a pizza with, like, a turtle being fucked by a dog. “Who ordered the…? Oh my god!” You know, that kind of stuff. But I really do enjoy not only human sex but also animal sex. I think that’s very cool to watch too.

What was your first interaction with a porn star?
Ron, I know for years, just from doing comedy. He’s always come to the comedy clubs. He’s a fun, cool guy. But I never got to meet the other ones until I hosted the AVN awards in 2010. I met a whole bunch there.

It was really cool to hang with the porn stars, and it was really cool to see them win their awards. I have to say that, I’m not a great host, but that show is really great because it is so twisted and way more fun than the Oscars or the Tonys or whatever could ever be. So I like that it’s a wild event, and they just let it get as wild as possible, 'cause that’s their big day. My first interaction? I would say that was it. I’m not a musician. I don’t meet ‘em every day. [Laughs.]

But Ron is a very good dude, and he is the porn star of the millennium. He’s super cool and he’s done both straight, "legitimate movies," as they call them, and adult films, and he also has a Master’s degree in education—and he’s an Eagle Scout, I believe. [Laughs.] He’s just amazing. People shouldn’t take them all as just what they see. Here I am preaching about porn, but all I want to do is have a big porn party. Everyone’s invited!

Ron, a.k.a. the “Hedgehog,” is great because average guys can relate to him.
It doesn’t feel like he’s better than you. He is the everyman of porn. He’s the Mike O’Malley of porn.

There should be a monument to him somewhere.
Exactly, a sticky monument.

What have you learned technically, skill-wise from watching these old porns?
Well, what I’ve noticed from their technique is that it’s not so much about power, it’s about position, and I personally, since I’m old, like the girl on top, 'cause then all you have to do is not die. That’s in my act, but it’s true. You just lay there. But these guys, they always seem like they pick the right, amazing angle so they can do it. Today, it’s like all upside-down crazy. I think it’s like pool, it’s positioning—positioning the ball into the pocket.

The porn stars of yesteryear are a little like the athletes back then: They were normal. Now they’re all freaks of nature holding these crazy positions. It looks like they’re doing hard work.
The best thing, like you said, is that Ron and most of them just look like every dude. Now they’re all cut and they look like ultimate fighters; it looks like a cage match. The girls are all tatted up and hardcore and the dudes are all ripped—and I like that too, but back then, you see a guy with a gut, and you’re like, yeah. Bill Burr was like, “Look at this guy. He looks just like any guy.” So it’s perfect.

Interview by Justin Monroe (@40yardsplash)

For more info on Dave's Old Porn, visit davesoldporn.com, sho.comthe show's Facebook page, or follow @oldp0rn on Twitter.