This "golden age" lasted from the 1970s through the late-70s or early 1980s.Sex films of this era had specific storylines, plots, and promotional budgets. Such performers include Peter Berlin, John Holmes, Ginger Lynn Allen, Porsche Lynn, DesireƩ Cousteau, Juliet Anderson ("Aunt Peg"), Lisa De Leeuw, Veronica Hart, Nina Hartley, Harry Reems, Seka, Annette Haven and Amber Lynn.Examples include Marilyn Chambers (Behind the Green Door), Gloria Leonard (The Opening of Misty Beethoven), Georgina Spelvin (The Devil in Miss Jones), and Bambi Woods (Debbie Does Dallas).

The pornography industry in the United States was the first to develop its own movie star system, especially for commercial reasons.

In other countries, the "star" system is not common, with most actors being amateurs.

The use of pseudonyms has remained a tradition in the industry, and actors would perform under a number of pseudonyms, depending on the genre of film, or changed a pseudonym when the previous one ceased to be a draw card.

Arguably the first pornstar to become a household name was Linda Lovelace (the pseudonym, of Linda Susan Boreman) from New York City, who starred in the 1972 feature Deep Throat.

Pornographic films are characterized as either "softcore", which does not contain depictions of sexual penetration or "extreme fetishism", and "hardcore", which can contain depictions of penetration or extreme fetishism, or both.

The genres and sexual intensity of films is mainly determined by demand.

The number of pornographic film actors who have worked in the United States can be indicated by number of actors tested by Adult Industry Medical Health Care Foundation (AIM).

When in 2011 its patient database was leaked it contained details of over 12,000 pornographic actors that it had tested since 1998.

Exceptional performance of pornographic actors and actresses is recognized in the AVN Awards, XRCO Awards and XBIZ Awards.

The AVN Awards are film awards sponsored and presented by the American adult video industry trade magazine AVN (Adult Video News). The AVN Awards are divided into nearly 100 categories, some of which are analogous to industry awards offered in other film and video genres, and others that are specific to pornographic/erotic film and video.

A pornographic actor (or actress for female), or porn star, is a person who performs sex acts in film that is usually characterized as a pornographic film.