A Love Letter To The 80s At Its Core

Written by BREE MILLS

Critics of the adult industry will say porn isn’t art – but I disagree. In the vast landscape of adult entertainment, certain projects stand out not just for their sex appeal but for their technical prowess, rich storytelling, captivating imagery, and reverence for the high cinema and pop culture that inspires them. An artfully made adult film can elevate the audience’s feeling of titillation to new heights, and a masterfully made one can transcend arousal entirely – blurring the lines between our lust and our other emotions like joy, suspense, empathy, melancholy, yearning, and nostalgia. Girlcore, one of our first-ever Adult Time Original series released in 2018, was my grand attempt at such a project. As the Chief Creative Officer of Adult Time and an ardent enthusiast of filmmaking and challenging the status quo, Girlcore holds a special place in my heart… one I expect it will never let go of. To me it is the ultimate culmination of lesbianism as not just a subject to explore, but an art form in itself. Set as a retro throwback to the beloved yesteryears of the 1980s, Girlcore blends camp, counterculture, and cunnilingus into one trippy ride in a metaphorical DeLorean back to an alternate past where sapphism runs rampant.

Juice With Some Pulp

At its core, Girlcore is a love letter to pop culture, particularly the lesbian pulp fiction stories of the 1950s and 60s. Boasting daring, lurid titles that hook your attention in an instant like “Strange Thirsts” and “Ladder Of Flesh”, these queer chronicles of forbidden attraction between women were a defining part of many lesbians’ journey towards self-discovery. Drawing inspiration from the works of iconic authors and creators of that era, Girlcore reimagines their narratives in a stylized retro 1980s setting – what once was a hidden guilty pleasure, a smutty secret, is now loudly and unapologetically on display with neon colors and bold fashion. The series pulsates with the energy of that bygone era, which may be solidly in our past but remains as fresh as ever in the minds of many. 

In homage to the breadth and variety of the pulp novels that came before, we decided to make Girlcore an anthology series so that we could tackle a diverse range of iconic themes and cultural touchstones. We knew we would have a limited number of episodes – after all, producing a period piece (let alone six!) with all its trappings and extra considerations is EXTREMELY complex compared to our usual present-day content. So for each of those episodes, we wanted to make sure to pack as much juice in as we could: pulp tropes, nostalgic references, current porn trends, carefully crafted visuals, and an all-star cast of the top GG names of the industry.

A Peek Behind The Velour Curtains

If any project was not meant to be rushed, it was this one. It was important to me that we took time and care to develop the series into something truly special, however long it took. Most productions we work on take roughly 3-4 months to go from pre-production (scripts, storyboards, casting, etc.) through to post-production (editing, packaging, etc.) and release. For Girlcore, the series took over 1 year to produce – which is almost unheard of in our industry. I felt so grateful to have been given the luxury of my own timeline and the privilege of steering this ship towards my vision with full creative autonomy, something that unfortunately not as many porn directors can attest to as we’d sometimes hope. I made sure to spend that time wisely, though, infusing each episode with all of the passions and influences that inspire my style as a director. One standout episode from the inaugural season, “A Delicate Vice,” remains etched in my memory as a testament to Girlcore’s raison d’etre – that was the project where I realized, more than ever before, that we could really do porn differently.

The buck didn’t stop after shooting, either. We were determined to capture the look and feel of 80s blockbusters, every way we could think of. This led to a lot of little details that really turned the project “up to eleven”, and cleared any remaining doubt I may have had that we were onto something truly special. The neon intro plate, starting each video’s mood off just right to give audiences that perfect blast from the past feeling; the matte color-grading we used to simulate the aesthetic from films of that era; the individual episode logos, that look like they could’ve been ripped straight off the VHS boxes from your local movie rental chain; and coolest of all was the music, which we licensed from one of my favorite artists pilotpriest who graciously agreed to collaborate with us. These were the same songs I had listened to while penning all the various Girlsway movies I’ve directed over the years, and so it truly put the final touch on making the project a dream come true for me.

The Pop Don’t Stop

Girlcore’s narrative tapestry is woven with threads of familiarity drawing from so many iconic sources in my life. Down to each and every frame, I tried to sprinkle in easter eggs and subtle references from the filmmakers and media that shaped my creative journey over the years. Authors like Ann Bannon and Radclyffe Hall provided the literary foundation upon which Girlcore stands, while filmmakers such as Brian De Palma and David Lynch inspired its visual language. Michael Mann was by far my biggest single influence for the series, and a special shout-out also goes to Andy Morahan who directed George Michael’s “Father Figure” music video – if you watch “Delicate Vice” side by side with it you’ll see that it was a direct homage to the late singer’s video. At the time of filming Girlcore, I was especially intrigued by the idea of taking memorable moments from the cultural zeitgeist and recreating them as adult stories, which you can see not only within the spirit of Girlcore but also some of the projects we later conceptualized around that time in our history (such as our Vivid original parodies “A Cruel Bet” and “My Next Door Crush”).

Girlcore II: Electric Boogaloo

Fan sentiment was through the roof for Girlcore – I was beyond thrilled to see that our lesbian loyals were gushing over the series, really vindicating for me that all our hard work was worth it. For me, the project was already a personal triumph, but to see it resonate with audiences as well was the cherry on top. And so, even though Girlcore was intended to be a limited series of only six episodes, we decided to renew it for a 2nd season. Building upon the success of its debut, Girlcore returned one calendar year later in 2019, expanding on the creative horizons established from Season 1. 

I certainly didn’t have it in me to showrun the entire operation again in the same way I did the first time – we all knew that I couldn’t just disappear under my desk for another whole year! And besides, all our staff was champing at the bit to bring their own 80s inspirations to the table. So for this second wave of episodes, we spread the love between myself and two other directors, and shared the creative process between myself, our marketing team headed by Frank Stacy, and our pre-production team helmed by 3X West. We embraced all the fads and crazes that remain unforgettable to this day: the rock bands, the board games, the technology, the hairstyles…. And to give the season its own special through-line, we titled and themed each episode around a hit 80s song. You see, porn video didn’t kill the radio star – it just named itself after it!

Back To The Fut… I Mean, Present

Girlcore was my passion project, and I say that not only to mean I was passionate to make it but also that it has since fueled my passion to continue on my path as a filmmaker. It shone a light on what the possibilities in adult entertainment could be, inspiring me to keep pursuing bold ideas and never settling. Porn doesn’t need to be any one thing, but it CAN be art – and Girlcore has reaffirmed my belief in the power of porn to break boundaries and ignite conversations just as well as any other art form, even when there happens to be sex involved.

Watch a full Girlcore scene for free here!

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