A look at Toronto’s surprisingly soft porn underbelly.
It’s not for nothing that Toronto is sometimes known as “Hollywood North.” It’s possible to see Bay Street double as Wall Street on prime-time television, or watch a movie where characters stroll amongst a disguised 416. Companies like eOne Films and Nelvana maintain Canadian offices, and Canadian actors routinely make their way south to Los Angeles to try their hand at the big show after getting some success here at home.
But Los Angeles also has something else. Since the 1970s, the San Fernando Valley has been home to North America’s largest porn industry. Thousands of scenes are shot there every year, and what comes out of the Valley is largely what North America—and perhaps the world—thinks of when their minds wander to dirty movies. At its peak, L.A.’s porn industry brought in over $10 billion each year (including sales from films, print publications, sex toys, and in-room hotel movie purchases), although it’s difficult to track because not all sales are monitored. L.A. porn is a massive economic driver and an influential aesthetic. Chances are, if you’ve watched porn on the internet, it was produced in “San Pornando Valley.”
If Toronto is Hollywood North, and Hollywood itself has a robust porn scene, does it follow that Toronto has the same?
It’s tough to say how many pornographic films are shot in Toronto each year. The Ontario Film Board reviews titles that are produced for DVD or video-on-demand releases, but those numbers have dropped since websites have come to the forefront. The law takes a neutral perspective on homegrown porn: unless it’s considered “obscene” or involves children, there’s no federal-level injunction against creating or consuming it. From a practical point of view, however, there are some stumbling blocks to create local content.