In my youth magazines were often shared amongst the older boys that had been taken either from parents or from the local drugstore. These magazines often featured blonde bombshells on the covers that looked as if they were not wearing any clothes, but positioned in an angle where the reader would be unable to see the naughty bits.

I was curious as to what the terminology for these kinds of photos were, if you please. An old chap has let me know they are called risque photos, but I'm not too sure what that means even if it does sound the slightest like what I am looking for.

For note, this question was made entirely for research purposes.

  • 4
    I'd call it softcore pornography.
    – EFrog
    Jan 6, 2015 at 8:02
  • 2
    softporn was the term I grew up with.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jan 6, 2015 at 8:04
  • 5
    Dirty bits are just places that haven't been washed.
    – user63230
    Jan 6, 2015 at 8:15
  • 7
    I have a really hard time imagining what you are describing. Any chance you could include some examples of what you mean in your question?
    – oerkelens
    Jan 6, 2015 at 11:04
  • 2
    Is it essential to your question that pictures of men who are naked but don’t reveal the ‘dirty bits’ not be included in this term? Because otherwise, I can see no earthly reason for specifying photos of women. Jan 6, 2015 at 13:34

7 Answers 7


I think you are looking for glamour photography. It is also used as a euphemism for erotic photography and until late 20th century, it was referred to as erotic photography.

Glamour photography is a genre of photography in which the subjects, usually female, are portrayed in erotic or exciting ways ranging from fully clothed to nude but in ways that either may conceal or may otherwise not especially draw attention to the subjects nipples and vulva.


  • 3
    Can we put a photo to give a better idea? :)
    – ermanen
    Jan 6, 2015 at 13:31

I think risqué / risky is actually the best term.

Straight from French risqué meaning 'a risk, risky' and defined by the OED as

3. [After F. risqué.] Bordering upon, suggestive of, what is morally objectionable or offensive.

The reason I think this fits so well is the cover of a 'dirty mag' usually remained within the boundaries of decency, you could see no more than you would at a swimming pool or beach, but the pictures inside the magazine had crossed over 'the line' showing everything in full detail (I won't post example photos).

So the cover pictures are risqué while the contents are pornographic. (Or at least so I am led to believe, I only ever read the reviews of sports cars in them).


The word which seems close is "titillating". Titillating is defined as "used to describe sexual images or descriptions, etc. that intentionally cause excitement, but not in a serious way" (Source: Cambridge Dictionaries).

Although it does not explicitly define that model has to be naked in the picture with bits not visible but it comes close to what is meant I think.


My recollection was that it was called cheesecake. And if it was a guy in a similar pose it was referred to as beefcake.


The best way to distinguish the "old-school" type of photos, is to use an old-school type of word. "Pin-ups", "pin-up girls", or vintage, or, "vintage-style pin-ups," would convey your meaning. (Pin-up, of course, due to the popularity of these images with soldiers and sailors during WWI and WWII, and the practice of pinning them up over one's bunk.) ,


I like Boudoir Photography for its more positive connotations, although it's implied bedroom setting may not be precisely applicable to your question.

I would post a definition, but I am not googling that right now. Feel free to edit this post with one.


Soft porn or softporn is the term I grew up with in the 70s and 80s.

Macmillan Dictionary defines it as

films, magazines, photographs etc that show sexual images but not sexual acts

The "dirty" mags were placed on the high racks in the local newsagents, "boobs" were often shown on covers but rarely genitals. By the way, instead of saying "dirty bits", which sounds distasteful, I would opt for naughty bits which is (or was) a typical British English euphemism for sexual organs.

If the images of the women depicted only showed them half-naked then these are called topless photos. The exclusive purpose of these images is to sexually arouse the reader and this term seems to fit the OP's request.

The terms erotic and nude (art) photography can refer to artistic images of naked men or women in seductive, and provocative poses. Although the latter is a recognized art form it can include full frontal nudity, which some might object to and find offensive.

  • Has not the term 'soft porn' moved on to mean anything at all provided the depictions are not of any illegal practices? As I understand it (I may be wrong, I am not an expert) depiction, for example of couples, or multiple persons, engaged in sexual activity, either in picture or video format is 'soft'. It becomes 'hard' (and quite rightly illegal in most countries) where images of under-age children are involved, or sado-masochistic practices are depicted. That I understand it is the current distinction between hard and soft porn, but I would be glad to be corrected if I am wrong.
    – WS2
    Jan 6, 2015 at 12:35
  • This is a quotation taken from the OED, dated as long ago as 1977. It is from The Lancet, the Journal of the British Medical Association A distinction could be drawn between erotic art (or soft pornography)..and hard pornography, which by connecting sex with violence, hatred, pain, and humiliation, stimulated gratification of sexual desire in deviant ways.. The OED itself does not attempt to define 'soft' and 'hard' porn.
    – WS2
    Jan 6, 2015 at 13:00
  • @WS2 hardcore porn is the depiction or filming of two or more consenting adults (i.e. 18+) who engage in explicit sexual acts. That's my understanding, whereas soft porn has less graphic, crude photo shots and may or may not include images of naked male "actors". Soft porn is closer to The Sun page three topless girls than the infamous sex tapes/videos of certain female celebrities in recent times. It is a subjective area, but I think most people would agree that full nudity is not hardcore porn.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jan 6, 2015 at 13:02
  • Where would such distinction be documented? As you will see from my post The Lancet seemed to have accepted as early as 1977 that hard involved violence, hatred, pain, humiliation,...deviance. I am not making a case for anything here. As far as I'm concerned much of what passes for soft is highly exploitative and demeaning of women. But it isn't necessarily nasty.
    – WS2
    Jan 6, 2015 at 13:10
  • Mari-Lou and @WS2 In my head, the difference is not between hardcore porn and soft porn, but rather between hard and soft porn on one hand versus hardcore and softcore porn on the other. Hard/soft here refers to the distinction WS2 mentions, whereas hardcore/softcore is the level of graphicness in the material. A 14-year-old page-three girl would be softcore hard porn (if we accept that the girl’s age by itself would be enough to land it in the ‘deviant’ category), while most run-of-the-mill explicit pornography is hardcore soft porn. Jan 6, 2015 at 13:38

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