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A Brief History of MILF Porn

And how the explosion of the genre means nearly every actress is now included, regardless of age.

Last New Year's Eve, the porn studio decided to ring in 2016 with some good old holiday MILF (Mom I'd Like to Fuck) porn. The result was a scene entitled "The Cougar Countdown," published on their MILFs Like It Big channel, in which Jasmine James, a busty woman with dyed red hair, attends her friend's party.Brazzers

Bored and horny, she wanders off in search of "some young fresh meat," as the scene description puts it, and stumbles across her friend's college-aged son jerking off. The mature, older James takes charge of the situation, and goes to town on the young man. In other words, it's your standard MILF plot. But there's just one hitch: In real life, James had just turned 25.

A girl in her mid 20s is not what many think when they hear the word "MILF," which has a number of crude or vague definitions, most specifying an "older" woman, if not an actual mother. But it's fairly common for porn producers to cast shockingly young women as MILFs, cougars, or as the British refer to them, "yummy mummies." This was not always the case, but the rapid ascent of the genre transformed the porn industry's idea of a MILF, as very young performers were even eventually labeled as such.

While there have long been hot "mothers" in pop culture catering to the erotic fetish for sex between young men and older women (think Anne Bancroft in 1967's The Graduate), the history of the term "MILF" is far more recent. The Oxford English Dictionary places its origins in the 1990s, and its first known use online was in a 1995 Usenet group. MILFs fully weaved into the mainstream consciousness via 1999's archetypal teen comedy American Pie.

Prior to the emergence of "MILF" as a term, pornography didn't truck much in performers past their teenage years or 20s. "Forty-plus-year-old performers were virtually considered granny porn," says Jeff Vanzetti of IAFD, which is the adult equivalent of IMDB. But porn always follows the zeitgeist, so the industry got into MILFs in the 2000s. RealityKings led the charge, steadily releasing MILF content since its 2000 launch and ramping up production on a MILF-centric brand, M.I.L.F. Hunter, through 2002 and 2003. Others, such as porn actor Lisa Ann, have pegged the birth of the genre proper to 2005.

Photo from 'A Touch of MILF' via Brazzers

The emergence of the genre conveniently coincided with many big-name porn stars hitting their 30s with devoted fan bases in tow; Jenna Jameson turned 30 in 2004 and kept performing for another four years, and although she never had a major release labeled "MILF" at the time, other well-known performers who approached similar milestones slid neatly into the category. The star power of these performers, as well as their willingness to dive headfirst into MILF territory, helped fuel a rapid spike in the genre's popularity.

"There was a sense at that point that an older woman really brought a lot to the equation," says Chris Thorne, a longtime porn reviewer at xCritic.com, regarding these women's assertive, confident sexual presences. "It was the real tipping point where we started to see people actually seeking out MILF as a true genre."

Almost immediately, though, producers who were trying to satisfy the rising demand for MILF content ran into a problem: The pool of 30-plus performers was simply too small. RealityKings's M.I.L.F. Hunter increased the scale of its distribution considerably, started facing frequent branding imitations from competitors, but according to Mark Spiegler—who founded the adult talent agency Spiegler Girls in 2003—when they sought talent in the beginning, "they were so pressed to get content they shot some of our girls who were 20-year-olds and put them on the site as 36-year-olds."

MILF-labeled content continued to grow rapidly; today, 5 to 6 percent of all videos on Pornhub carry the tag, according to spokesperson Chris Jackson. Its popularity peaked across sites around 2011, but it remains one of the most popular search terms on major porn tube sites. Between outright MILF porn and MILF-adjacent genres (faux-incest, for one), Thorne believes "we are in the golden age of MILF porn."

"Fans like to watch the MILF because she is powerful, hot, and beautiful," says Tanya Tate, an 11-time MILF of the year winner across various adult award shows. Tate started working in porn in 2009 while on the cusp of 30, and quickly was billed as the "hot new MILF."

Tanya Tate photo by Josh Ryan

Even though MILF porn allowed performers to stay in the industry longer or start later, the average porn career still begins and ends early, so the incentives to cast young girls as MILFs remains. As a result, within the porn world, MILF (and similar "older" woman pegs) have come to signify not so much an age bracket, but rather an aesthetic and persona: full-figured and assertive.

There's no cohesive data on the average age of the typical MILF in today's porn, but while the most popular and common performers in the category are 30- or 40-somethings (like 38-year-old Sara Jay or 43-year-old Brandi Love), others land on the age divide in either direction. "Where there was [once] a great divide between 22-year-olds and 35-year-olds," Tate says of the evolution of the industry from the mid 2000s on, "the gap started closing and more women were getting a MILF label. Now it seems if you are not a teen, you are a MILF."

Sometimes, you're a MILF even if you are a teen: Alli Rae was 19 when she was MILF-tagged in a fauxcest scene in 2014's Jerky Wives. On the other side of the coin, 57-year-old porn star Nina Hartley still gets tagged as a MILF

Conversely, those who literally are MILFs might not qualify as a MILF in porn castings or earn MILF content tags. Tate notes that she recently cast 35-year-old Marica Hase as a teen because she maintains the characteristics of that genre—in her words: small, natural breasts, straighter waists, and overall slimmer figures.

In many ways, this mirrors the mainstream entertainment industry: People are cast as whatever you need and whatever they can conceivably play. But the evolution of this flexible age casting evolved oddly in the adult industry—through the necessary deconstruction of an actual age-bracketed niche to fulfill consumer demand. And in many ways, the increasing fungibility of the MILF label has been more constricting than anything else: Its high appeal has led to an overzealous and broad definition that swallowed up most of the middle ground that theoretically exists between "barely legal" and "mature" porn. Nowadays, it seems, everyone loves mom.

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