The Modern Peep Show

The first movies available to the public were essentially peep shows, where you looked down into a device that was either a Kinetoscope showing a short film strip or a Mutoscope flipping through a series of cards. Some of the very earliest content was scandalous, and sexy shows became so prevalent on the Mutoscope that it became know as a “What the Butler Saw” machine, named for a sexy vignette. You can view Mutoscope content at the main exhibit in the RTF Department of the free Erotic University virtual campus.

Peep Shows later became a part of adult video parlors, usually the seedier ones. You would sit in a booth and be able to flip through dozens of channels, all showing porn. Afraid that anyone might have an orgasm while watching porn, authorities would typically have the doors removed to make sure that adults had no privacy.

The notion of being able to watch just segments and move on when your attention flagged, plus getting to see a lot of variety, made these booths popular. Now, though, anyone with a reasonably zippy Internet connection can get a far better experience with privacy and the ability to go quickly through each movie to see just the segment they want to.

Just as in the old days when you had to keep feeding the slot money, the modern Internet peep shows require that you buy a set number of minutes, and warn you when you get low that it is time to feed the kitty. Some offer the opportunity to purchase a set period of time that you can watch a specific movie. Some may also offer expiring downloads, typically from 7 to 30 days.

Since many people don’t like to buy things online and they have privacy concerns, a number of companies are selling access cards through adult retailers. You buy a card, scratch off the pin number, and view in complete anonymity.

This month we take a look at two of the leading streaming services, and how they compare to each other.

The way they promote Adult Rental is confusing, as they state that they offer unlimited access to 80,000 movies. They are technically a per minute streaming service and do not actually offer unlimited viewing for their basic $19.95, but in practical terms that does not matter. You are paying just .008 cents a minute, with over 400 hours of viewing during your month (sorry- no roll over minutes.) To run out of minutes you need to be prepared to watch 13 hours of porn a day every single day. So, even though it is confusing, for the cost of $19.95 a month you will be able to watch all of the porn you possibly can, which is pretty close to unlimited and is still a very good deal. It is not exactly like Netflix as they promise, but in actual usage you’ll be able to watch all you want during the month as long as you fit some time in for sleeping. They also offer 30 minutes free for 2 days, but after that you are automatically enrolled unless you cancel.

Below each movie are twelve 10 second sample clips. This allows you to get a quick preview of what parts of a movie you want to watch without using up your minutes, even though you probably couldn’t if you tried. For the non-member, though, you only get five views, which seems a bit on the slim side.

They have 84 categories with just shy of 85,000 adult videos to choose from. To put that into comparison with your local rental store, to be competitive it would have to offer month long rentals, deliver them to you the moment you wanted them,  and have a half a mile of shelf space.

Besides the categories, you can also view film listings by Pornstar. It gives a little basic biographic information about them and lists the movies that are available on the service. While they list the Pornstars alphabetically, it is by first name. Go to S, and there are 62 pages, so finding anyone this way is neither fun nor quickly productive. So if I wanted to find a specific porn star, picking one completely at random, let’s say Stormy Daniels, she turns up on page 52 along with 50 other names. When we click on her link, we learn that she was born in 1972 in Baton Rouge, and that she has 218 videos on the service. There is also a photo gallery, which non-members can also access. You can find her classics such as Desert Stormy and Camp Cuddly Pines Power Tool Massacre.

My advice is to forget about the Pornstars category and just do a search. That will get you to her bio page and movie listings much faster. The search engine used to be a bit of a mess. It has been dramatically improved, but it is still primitive. If I wanted to search for Stormy Daniels movies within the category of Bondage (I am thinking of Michael Raven’s 2008 Bound), I can’t. Sure, If I know she did a bondage movie called Bound I could find it, but I could not easily discover it. Nor could I search by Director, even though they are usually listed on the movie page.

They also list Studios, but again, these long lists are not especially useful and you would be better off just doing a search, except that search does not search by Studio.  If you do use the categories, I suggest you switch to the List View which gives you more information.

The New Porn Movies category lists their new acquisitions, but that won’t mean all that much to you since they seem to be all over the map and not sorted by date.  The Top Porn movies I assume are the most viewed, and you can select a variety of dates from yesterday to the last 30 days, which is still not that helpful because all options seem to give you the same endless lists so you can’t actually tell which were the most popular yesterday, or even within the last 30 days.

The time tracking for minutes used was fairly accurate, although constant jumping around may wind up costing you a little, but it will not make any difference really. In one test it shaved off about a minute using our stopwatch test, but in the following test the time credited was less than our actual clock, so it probably works out in the end and with 2,500 minutes it is not really meaningful.

More recently shot titles in HD looked excellent in full screen mode. Older titles in standard definition were acceptable in full screen, but offered a much softer less sharply focused picture. That is to be expected with standard definition video. Fortunately, the majority of titles seem to be in HD. They do not offer 4K movies or VR movies, though.

Adult Rental is inexpensive and a good value but not particularly technologically sophisticated. Search is weak and the categories are awkward to go through. You really need to know the star or the title to find what you want. Still, for a reasonable price you can access all the porn you can possibly consume.

The big dog in the VOD game, as of today they offer more than 223,553 titles. Hot Movies was one of the pioneers in providing pre-paid and branded cards. Unlike some services, they also allow the use of gift cards, which means you don’t have to worry about recurring or false charges on your credit card.

They have a free trial for new users of 20 minutes and a free scene, but that does require a credit card for age verification but does not rebill. While they offer a lot more than Adult Rental, they also cost more (depending upon how you look at it). For  $19.95, you get 240 minutes, a tenth of the minutes that same amount of money gets you at Adult Rental. However, you are not limited to watching them during a single month. These are anytime minutes that do rollover to the next month. If you wanted a similar number of minutes to Adult Rental, it would cost you $199.95 for 240 minutes, but you can take as long as you want to use them up. It would probably take me a year to watch that many minutes, and based on that, Hot Movies would actually be cheaper, but it really comes down to your viewing habits. It should be noted that some videos and scenes are premium titles, which mean they cost more in minutes to view. This is primarily for new releases within the first two weeks. All plans offer a free scene.

They do have a monthly membership for $24.95 a month. You get 310 minutes the first month and then 270 minutes are added each month.

They offer a number of other options. You can purchase a favorite scene outright, which varies slightly in price based on the scene length. For example, a 25 minute scene would cost $4.26 to purchase. You can also purchase lifetime streaming on a title for $9.95, lifetime streaming plus download for $14.95, and 7 day streaming for $4.95. One unique feature I have not seen elsewhere is the All Access Studio pass to all the movies from a specific studio for 7 days for $14.95 and 30 days for $39.95.

In terms of finding what you want, they are far more sophisticated than Adult Rental. They do a much better job in breaking down the categories. For example, the Language category offers 15 sub-options. Group Sex gives you sub-options of threesomes, swingers, orgies and gangbangs broken down into the four obvious variations. You can also view all of these in a straight alphabetical listing. There were way too many categories for me to even count them all. I especially like the Awards category where you can see AVN nominees and XBiz winners sorted by year. It may be the best use of categories I have seen.

Their much more sophisticated search engine seems to work very well, finding listings for every key word I tried, including searching by director. You can filter searches by Category, Director and Studios.

I also really liked the listing of the movies stars with pictures below the title description. Click on the picture for a bio of that performer and a listing of scenes and movies they are in.

There are free 10 second scene previews per title, but fewer than Adult Rental (it varies by movie), and they take much longer to start playing. The video quality is also very good.

They have 245 VR scenes, but you have to purchase them as downloads. Neither service offers 4K.

Basically, it is a comparison between a budget car versus a Lincoln Town Car. Both get you where you want to go, but one offers a lot more options with a bit more cost.

Photo Credits: Feature peepshow image “Man looking through penny peep show, state fair, Donaldsonville, Louisiana, 1938” courtesy of Library of Congress. Photographed by Russel Lee. Image processing and compositing to make peep show title cards clearer by Jeff Booth.