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Most performers use a pseudonym and strive to maintain off-screen anonymity.
The use of pseudonyms has remained a tradition in the industry, and actors would perform under a number of pseudonyms, depending on the genre of film, or changed a pseudonym when the previous one ceased to be a draw card.Exceptional performance of pornographic actors and actresses is recognized in the AVN Awards, XRCO Awards and XBIZ Awards.The AVN Awards are film awards sponsored and presented by the American adult video industry trade magazine AVN (Adult Video News). The AVN Awards are divided into nearly 100 categories, some of which are analogous to industry awards offered in other film and video genres, and others that are specific to pornographic/erotic film and video.Production of erotic films commenced almost immediately after the invention of the motion picture.The first erotic film was the 7-minute 1896 film Le Coucher de la Mariée directed by Frenchman Albert Kirchner (under the name "Léar") which had Louise Willy performing a bathroom striptease.The pornography industry in the United States was the first to develop its own movie star system, especially for commercial reasons.
In other countries, the "star" system is not common, with most actors being amateurs.
Irrespective of the genre, most actors are required to appear nude in pornographic films.
In pornographic films directed at a heterosexual male viewer, the primary focus is on the women in them, who are mostly selected on their on-screen appearance or physical appeal and for their willingness and ability to perform the required sexual acts.
"Moving pictures" that featured nudity were popular in "penny arcades" of the early 1900s which had hand-cranked films and rotoscope (Holmes-style Stereoscope) glasses.
These penny arcade attractions featured topless women, full frontal nudity, and even sexual coupling.
The 1970s have been called The Golden Age of Porn, a time when pornographic films were shown in public theaters and accepted (or at least tolerated) for public consumption.