Thursday, December 18, 2014

Case Study No. 1748: Ralph E. Whittington

The Daily Show: Librarian's porn collection
No description available.
Tags: The Daily Show (TV Program) porn Pornography (Film Genre)
Added: 4 months ago
From: Darth Yucko
Views: 3

[scene opens with Jon Stewart sitting at the news desk, speaking directly to the camera]
JON: Historically, librarians have played a respectable and conservative role in our society. Mo Rocca meets a Washington DC archivist who breaks that stereotype.

Stacks N' Racks
Produced by Liz Layton
Edited by Mark Paone

[cut to footage outside of the Library of Congress]
MO: [in voice over] The Library of Congress. The largest library in the world.
[cut to the reporter ("Mo Rocca, Correspondent") walking outside of the Library of Congress]
MO: Hundreds of miles of shelves of books, covering every subject in the history of the world ... except one.
[cut to an exterior shot of a residential home]
MO: [in voice over] But that subject does have a place in this Clinton, Maryland home.
[cut to inside of the home, as an older male librarian (short brown hair, suit, red tie) walks down a flight of stairs into the basement]
MO: [in voice over] Library of Congress employee and archivist Ralph E. Whittington has been compiling his private collection here for thirty five years.
[cut to the reporter and the librarian sitting on his bed, as several shelves filled with boxes can be seen in the background]
MO: Would you describe yourself as a hardcore archivist?
RALPH: I ... I'd consider myself an erotic archivist.
[cut to a shot of his business card ("Ralph E. Whittington, Erotic Archivist")]
RALPH: [in voice over] My business card says that.
[cut to the librarian pulling out a box from the shelf labelled "Anal Intruder"]
MO: [in voice over] Call it erotic. Call it adult. Call it legally questionable. Ralph is chief librarian of his own library of pornography.
[cut to the librarian pulling out another box labelled "Adult Baby Fetish"]
MO: [in voice over] Covering every corner, crack, crevice, and fold of this wide-open subject.
[cut to a shot of several VHS boxes (with titles like "The Fine Art of Anal Intercourse" and "How to Enlarge Your Penis"), then back to the two sitting on the librarian's bed]
MO: This is your library's main reading room?
MO: And it's also your ...
RALPH: Bedroom.
MO: In your mother's basement?
MO: Yeah ... So, how much smut are you hoarding in your mother's basement?
RALPH: I guess five hundred videos ... Thousand or so magazines.
[cut to an elderly woman ("May Whittington, Ralph's Mother") knitting on the couch, then to the reporter interviewing her]
MO: Does the sea of pornography ever distract you from your crocheting?
MAY: No.
[cut to a shot of the camera panning across several boxes of pornographic material piled up next to the couch where she is knitting]
MAY: [in voice over] He doesn't bother me with that. I'm upstairs and he's downstairs.
[cut back to the reporter interviewing the mother]
MO: When Ralph was born, and you held him in your arms and you looked into his eyes ... did you say, "One day this kid'a mine is gonna be hoarding a basement full of smut?"
MAY: Oh no. I never thought of such a thing then.
[cut back to footage of the reporter and the librarian looking over his collection]
MO: [in voice over] Ralph is not just hoarding smut ...
[cut to the librarian in front of an old-style card catalog in his basement, flipping through hand written cards for each item in his collection (like "Black Bun Busters, 1985" and "Blazing Zippers")]
MO: [in voice over] Implementing the same system he uses at the Library of Congress, he catalogs and files every choice piece of porn.
[cut back to the reporter interviewing the librarian]
MO: I'd like to talk to you ... about poontang. Is it one word, or two?
RALPH: "Poontang" is one word.
[cut to the reporter and the librarian speaking upstairs (as the mother sits and knits on the couch behind them)]
MO: What about the title "Happy Ass Lesbians?" Will we file it under subject "Ass" or "Lesbians?"
RALPH: "Lesbians."
MO: Could it be cross-referenced under "Ass?"
[cut to Mo holding a VHS tape entitled "World's Biggest Gangbang"]
MO: So "The World's Biggest Gangbang" is going to appear in the performer index under "Chong" and under the subject index under "Gangbang" and under the title index under "The World's Biggest Gangbang" ...
RALPH: "World's," yes.
[cut to Mo holding a VHS tape entitled "Knocked Up & Horny"]
MO: This title really says it all.
RALPH: Oh yes.
[cut to footage from the 1975 adult film "Let My Puppets Come" (featuring actual marionette puppets)]
NURSE: Nurse Mackringle never shrinks from a challenge!
[the male patient puppet sprouts a (pixelated) erection, then cut back to the reporter holding a VHS tape of the movie]
MO: So puppets are not just for kids. Tell me about it.
RALPH: The reason why I bought it, it's the only X-rated film that has puppets as the actors.
[cut to more footage from the film, then back to the librarian flipping through more catalog cards (this time in his mother's kitchen)]
MO: [in voice over] Librarian, archivist, fan.
[cut to the librarian moving around more boxes in the basement]
MO: [in voice over] Ralph E. Whittington has immersed himself totally in his passionate pursuit.
[cut back to the reporter interviewing the librarian]
MO: Would you describe yourself as hands-on?
RALPH: Uh, n-now I do, 'cause I made an X-rated film with Chessie Moore.
[cut to footage of the librarian (completely naked) undoing a woman's bra, from "Ralph E. Whittington Meets Chessie Moore" (1995)]
MO: [in voice over] This is a dream come true?
[cut back to the reporter interviewing the librarian]
RALPH: Dream come true.
MO: What is it about Chessie Moore that ... captivated you?
RALPH: [pause] Availability.
[cut to the reporter interviewing the mother]
MO: What does Mama Whittington think of her son's collection?
MAY: Well ... I feel that he's his own man.
[cut back to footage of the librarian's X-rated video (where he's sucking on the heel of the woman's shoe)]
MAY: [in voice over] I feel that ... he could have done worse.
[the librarian (in the adult movie) turns to the camera and waves]
RALPH: The end!
[the scene fades to white, then cut back to Jon Stewart at the news desk]
JON: Y'know, I gotta say ... In a weird way, i-it makes me feel better about myself.



Library of Congress librarian Ralph E. Whittington collects porn and lives in his mother's basement.
Air Date: November 2, 1999



The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Season 3 Episode 0
Stacks N' Racks

Aired Weekdays 11:00 PM Mar 25, 1999 on Comedy Central

With 500 pornographic films and approximately 1,000 erotic magazines in his collection, Ralph W. Whittington is a hardcore archivist.



One man's labor of lust / Retired librarian spent decades, $100,000 cataloging porn
Peter Carlson, Washington Post
Published 4:00 am, Tuesday, August 27, 2002

2002-08-27 04:00:00 PDT Clinton, Md. -- In Ralph Whittington's kitchen, family photos are stuck to the refrigerator with colorful magnets. Dangling from a cabinet is a little wooden sign that reads, "Lord, Help Me Hang In There." And below the sign is a heaping helping of hard-core pornography.

Whittington sifts through the pile of smut with the close attention of a retired Library of Congress curator, which he is. There's an old peep-show film. There's a video called "Tijuana Tushy," which is labeled "Shot Live at a Filthy Whorehouse in Tijuana!" There's an old copy of a magazine called -- well, actually you can't print its name in a family newspaper.

"This is just a tiny sample of the stuff in my collection," he says. "The important thing is the diversity. That's where my collection stands out."

He steps into the dining room, and on top of the wooden dinner table is a collection of framed photographs of Whittington posing with some of the greatest porn stars of all time -- Vanessa Del Rio, Ginger Lynn, Jenna Jameson.

Whittington smiles nostalgically. "Of course, these photos are all copies," he says. "The museum has the originals."

That's right. The Museum of Sex -- a serious, academically credentialed museum opening in Manhattan on Sept. 23 -- has purchased all of Whittington's grip-and-grin photos of porn stars.

The museum also purchased -- for a sum that remains secret -- nearly everything else in Whittington's world-famous porn collection, which had filled almost every inch of his modest brick house in Clinton.

Whittington, 57, is thrilled. He figures this vindicates his 30 years of curatorial labor in the vineyards of smut. "This should give me a little credibility," he says.

Whittington's 85-year-old mother, May, who lives with him, is also thrilled.

"It got to the point where he had too much," she says. "He couldn't keep it clean."

Ralph Whittington learned his archival skills while slaving for Uncle Sam. For 36 years -- until his retirement in 2000 -- Whittington worked at the Library of Congress. Along the way, he was given the responsibility of overseeing the library's collection of phone books.

"I was in charge of every phone book in the freaking world," he says.

He learned how to organize, catalog and archive a collection. And he took those skills home, where he was building a couple of archives of his own. The first was a collection of R&B and doo-wop music, which now includes 5,000 records. The second was pornography.

Whittington started collecting smut just for his own, um, edification. But then, in the early '70s, he had an epiphany: The Library of Congress was collecting nearly every variety of printed matter -- even phone books -- but not porn. Apparently, it was up to him to preserve America's X-rated heritage.

"All I did was use the same techniques that archivists use for other subjects on this subject," he says. "I hope you'll convey to your readers that I'm serious about this. This isn't brain surgery, but I'm not just a guy with a lot of big-breast magazines."


"The key is the diversity of the collection," he says. "To be blunt, most people buy for their own gratification. But I would spend money on stuff I didn't even like. I like high heels and big legs but I collected everything -- except gay porn and child porn."

Not only did he collect this stuff, he also cataloged it, indexed it and cross-referenced it. In 30 years, he estimates, he spent $100,000 on porn.

In 1976, his wife left him, taking their 2-year-old daughter. Whittington says he dealt with the pain of divorce by spending quality time with his porn collection. "It kept escalating," he says, "and when my wife left, it escalated some more."

For decades, Whittington toiled in utter obscurity. Then in 1996, documentary filmmaker Jeff Krulik made a short movie on Whittington titled "King of Porn." Soon, he was featured in Spin magazine -- which dubbed him the "Librarian of Sexual Congress" -- and on the Comedy Central network's "Daily Show."

"I wish you could have seen his house before we took all the stuff away," says Grady Turner, executive curator of the Museum of Sex. "The place was packed to the rafters -- literally."

A museum-world veteran, Turner's the man who bought Whittington's porn collection. It will assist the museum in its mission, which is, he says, "to bring the best of contemporary scholarship on sex and sexuality to a larger audience."

Turner first learned of the Whittington Collection last year, when Whittington offered to sell it to the museum because it was getting too big for his house. Turner traveled to Clinton to check out the collection and was astounded.

"It's an incredible time capsule of a period in American pop culture when pornography went from an under-the-table, plain-brown-wrapper kind of thing to the mainstream, where you could buy it in any community," Turner says.

Whittington's collection captures the era when court decisions made most pornography legal and the advent of the VCR took porn out of peep shows and made it a multibillion-dollar industry.

"This is a collection you could not make now," Turner says. "It will be a primary source for historical research and a great repository of pop culture."


The collection -- 500 boxes stuffed with photos, films, magazines and the kind of sexual knickknacks you cannot describe in a family newspaper -- filled two huge trucks. When they parked on Fifth Avenue to unload, even jaded New Yorkers stopped to gawk.

"When a U-Haul opens its doors in Manhattan," Turner says, "and people start unloading boxes marked 'Gangbang' and 'Obese' and 'Ginger Lynn,' you draw a crowd."

Five years ago, when May Whittington was 80 and widowed, she moved in with Ralph and found herself sharing a home with a world-class porn collection. At first she wasn't too happy about that, but gradually she changed her mind.

"It's something he loves," she says. "You see men his age going to bars or on dope. But he's home day and night. That gives me peace of mind. . . . He's not doing anybody any harm, and he's not doing himself any harm."

Her granddaughter feels the same way. "I suppose I could be offended as a woman, but I don't have a problem with pornography," says Amanda Whittington, 28, who works as a portfolio accountant. "I think it's a strange little hobby, but I know my dad, and once he starts collecting something, he becomes the quintessential librarian."

Although the Museum of Sex hauled away more than 75 percent of his collection, Whittington is still putting the finishing touches on the rest of it, and his bedroom is full of boxes not yet complete.

He picks one box off the floor. It's labeled "Chessie Moore No. 3," and it's one of his favorites. He opens it and pulls out a huge white bra that Moore, a semi-famous porn star, autographed for him.

He tells a story: He read that Moore had a "special fan club," and he joined so he could see just how special it was. It turned out that it was very special indeed, so he flew to Florida to meet Moore and then, believe it or not -- well, actually this is the kind of story that you can't tell in a family newspaper.

"It was just unbelievable!" he says.

No comments:

Post a Comment