Pornochanchada is the name given to a genre of sexploitation films produced in Brazil that was popular during the 1970s and early 1980s. ‘Chanchada’ means ‘light comedy’ in Portuguese. Pornochanchadas were initially produced in the downtown quarter of São Paulo that was nicknamed ‘Boca do Lixo’ (‘Garbage Mouth’). The genre was usually seen as a part of low-budget films produced there, collectively known as ‘cinema da Boca’ (‘movies of the Mouth’). Later, there were productions in Rio de Janeiro as well, creating the sub-genre ‘pornochanchada carioca,’ which was to find its star in Alba Valeria during early 1980s. Pornochanchadas were generally in line with ‘sex comedies’ produced in other countries, but also featured some Brazilian peculiarities. Despite conditions of strict censorship in Brazil in that era, the state-run film company Embrafilme was generally eager to support pornochanchadas, because they weren’t critical of the government and did not depict explicit sex.
Producers became increasingly dependent on pornochanchadas to compete with American films and to guarantee immediate returns. As the genre’s success grew, the term began to be indiscriminately applied to various types of films that focused on sexual relationships. By the 1980s, with the availability of hardcore pornography through clandestine video cassettes, the genre suffered a considerable decline. After the end of the military regime in 1985, repressive measures on cinema and television were lifted, marking a virtual end for pornochanchada. The Brazilian Constitution of 1988, and the subsequent government’s termination of Embrafilme in 1990, marked the end of the era of nudity and sex as a means of drawing mass audiences to Brazilian movies. It brought to a close a generation of directors, writers and actors associated since the sixties with the Cinema Novo movement, many of whom were involved at one time or another with pornochanchadas.