First on-screen stripping. Just one year after the public debut of a projected motion picture in Paris in 1895, somebody was using the technology to make softcore porn. “Le coucher de la mariée,” or “Bedtime for the Bride,” was a seven-minute short film that showed a couple of newlyweds in their honeymoon suite. The climax of the film, so to speak, involved the female newlywed removing her jacket, dress, underskirts, and blouse. She doesn’t get fully nude, but she gets pretty close.
First porno. In the early 20th century, movies that showed real people getting really naked and having real sex were called “stag films.” Generally not screened in theaters, they were traded via an underground network and shown for an appreciative audience at bachelor, or “stag” parties. The first one known to exist was called A Free Ride, and it was shot in the sexy, romantic, forests of suburban New Jersey.
First sexy cartoon. An independently—and anonymously—made cartoon from 1929 called Eveready Harton in Buried Treasure marks the first time filmmakers made cartoon characters get it on.
First sex scene. Made in Czechoslovakia (because Europeans have historically been a bit more libertine than Americans), the 1933 film Ecstasy starred Hedy Lamarr as a woman who dumps her old and impotent husband for some virile young dude. The movie showed them having sex, although the camera stayed almost entirely trained on Lamarr’s O-face. (Ecstacy also contains the first on-screen depiction of a female orgasm.)
First X-rated cartoon. Ralph Bakshi’s 1972 feature-length Fritz the Cat, based on the character created by often-dirty underground cartoonist R. Crumb, got the adults-only X-rating, probably because of the scene in which Fritz the Cat has group sex.
First “regular movie” with un-simulated sex. Melvin Van Peebles wrote, directed, and starred in the hit 1971 “Blaxploitation” movie Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song. The sex scenes are real—Peebles really did have sex with with co-stars. After filming wrapped, he applied for worker’s compensation because he’d contracted gonorrhea on the set.
First mainstream movie with female nudity. The 1960 British voyeur thriller Peeping Tom was the first film to ever depict a woman without any clothes on the top half of her body. The first American movie with nude boobs was the 1963 film Promises! Promises! It starred former Playboy Playmate Jayne Mansfield.
First mainstream movie to show pubes. The influential 1966 Italian film Blowup depicted sex, drugs, jazz…and a shot of a woman’s pubic hair.
First mainstream movie with male nudity. The Swedish-made romp I Am Curious (Yellow) was an arthouse hit in America in 1967. There was a lot of sex and nudity, including one scene in which star Lena Nyman kisses a guy’s flaccid penis.
First NC-17 movie. The MPAA’s “X” rating had been completey co-opted by the porn industry by the late ’80s, so a new designation was needed to indicate legitimate movies with very, very adult themes. NC-17 was created, and the first film to get it was Henry & June, an erotic drama about novelist Henry Miller (Fred Ward) and his many threesomes with his wife, June (Uma Thurman) and fellow writer Anais Nin (Maria de Medeiros).
First NC-17 movie with a wide release. The first NC-17 movies played in arthouses and small theaters. The first adults-only film to play in malls and multiplexes was the classic 1995 bad movie Showgirls.