Deep Throat

linda lovelace

Deep Throat is a 1972 American pornographic starring Linda Lovelace (Linda Susan Boreman). One of the first pornographic films to feature a plot, character development and relatively high production standards, Deep Throat earned mainstream attention and launched the ‘porn chic’ trend despite the film being banned in some regions and the subject of obscenity trials.

The 61-minute movie is intended to be humorous, with highly tongue-in-cheek dialogue and songs; fireworks going off and bells ringing during Lovelace’s orgasms. The film’s popularity helped launch a brief period of upper-middle class interest in explicit pornography referred to by Ralph Blumenthal of The New York Times as ‘porno chic.’ Several mainstream celebrities admitted to having seen Deep Throat, including Martin Scorsese, Truman Capote, Jack Nicholson and Johnny Carson.

The film’s title soon became a pop culture reference, most notably when then–Washington Post managing editor Howard Simons chose ‘Deep Throat’ as the pseudonym for a Watergate informant, many years later revealed to be W. Mark Felt.

The movie was produced by Louis ‘Butchie’ Peraino (listed in the credits as ‘Lou Perry’), with all of the production cost of $22,500 + $25,000 additional for music, coming from his father Anthony Peraino , a member of the Colombo crime family. The film was distributed by a network of Mafia-connected associates of the Peraino family.

Estimates of the film’s total revenues have varied widely: numbers as high as $600 million have been cited, which would make Deep Throat one of the highest grossing films of all time.

Roger Ebert noted as well in his review of ‘Inside Deep Throat’ — a 2005 documentary about the film’s cultural legacy — that many theaters that screened the film were mob-connected enterprises which probably also ‘inflated box office receipts as a way of laundering income from drugs and prostitution’ and other illegal activities.

In her first two biographies, Linda Boreman characterizes making the film as a liberating experience; in her third and fourth biographies (written after alleging abuse, rape, and forced prostitution in the porn business), she charges that she did not consent to many of the depicted sexual acts and that she was coerced to perform by her abusive husband, Chuck Traynor, who received $1,250 for her acting. She also claimed that Traynor threatened to kill her, brandishing handguns and rifles to control her.

In 1986, she testified before the Meese Commission that ‘Virtually every time someone watches that movie, they’re watching me being raped.’ While the other people present on the set did not support the gun charge, crew members confirmed in interviews that Traynor was extremely controlling towards Boreman and also hit her on occasion.

In 1976, there was a series of federal cases in Memphis, Tennessee, where over 60 individuals and companies, including the Perainos and actor Harry Reems, who stared in the film, were indicted for conspiracy to distribute obscenity across state lines. Director Gerard Damiano and Lovelace were granted immunity in exchange for testimony. The trials ended in convictions.

This was the first time that an actor had been prosecuted by the federal government on obscenity charges. Though, Lenny Bruce had been prosecuted in the 1960s by local authorities. Reems became a cause célèbre and received considerable support from Hollywood circles. On appeal, he was represented by Alan Dershowitz, and his conviction was overturned. The Perainos and some other major players connected to organized crime received short prison sentences.

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