This book was recommended to me by LAINIE SPEISER, an author whose book CONFESSIONS OF THE HUNDRED HOTTEST PORN STARS, I reviewed here last October. This book, described as “the essential encyclopedia of Linda Lovelace, everything you ever wanted to know about the most famous porn star in the world” was written/compiled by Eric Danville, who is described as “He worked as an editor for High Times Magazine, for Al Goldstein’s Screw (he ghost wrote everything for Goldstein) and then to presently for Penthouse Forum and Girls of Penthouse. He also published The Heavy Metal Book of Lists.”
I have to say that, in what will probably seem surprising to those who know how much I love porn and how long I have been watching it (starting at a much younger age than I should have – that’s all I’m saying about that), I have never seen DEEP THROAT, and I did not know anything about Linda Lovelace before I read this book. I knew her name and had heard of the film, because it’s one of those “classic” vintage porn films that has entered the public conscious, like Debbie Does Dallas or The Devil and Miss Jones, but I never got around to getting the film myself (although I’m definitely tempted to now).
This isn’t a literal biography, like I initially expected it to be. Danville describes it was a bio-bibliography, in that it is a collection of news articles, essays and interviews with and about Lovelace, plus reviews of her films, along with Danville’s personal thoughts and observations. There’s also quite a collection of pictures (many of which are NSFW, so if you get the ebook be careful which computer you open it on). And scattered throughout of multiple barcodes that are supposed to open links to other articles and interviews, including audio files, but I haven’t tried any of those, so I can’t comment on that. The book is broken into 7 chapters.
This chapter is quotes from and comments on various news articles about Linda Lovelace and Deep Throat, from Spring 1972, soon after the film was released, up to Lovelace’s death in 2002. The most prominent and recurring figure in this chapter is the late Al Goldstein, whose original review of Deep Throat (in which he never actually referred to Lovelace by name), published in Screw magazine, is credited with helping make the film a success in the first place. A series of follow-up interviews and articles by Goldstein are described (including one where, on suggestion of Lovelace’s then-husband Chuck Traynor, Lovelace actually gives Goldstein a blowjob, which neither Lovelace nor Goldstein enjoyed). Other porn magazines, like Playboy, Penthouse, Swank and Oui are also represented, as are mainstream publications like Esquire and The Washington Post. There’s even an article written by a young Bill O’Reilly. Yes, THAT Bill O’Reilly. It’s notable that in the earlier interviews and articles much effort is made, both by Lovelace and the writers, to present her as the insatiable sex-kitten that she appeared to be onscreen. Salacious questions are asked about her sexual activities and preferences, which she answers with stock replies confirming her lack of inhibitions. Not much different from how you see must porn stars acting online today via social media, presenting an image for their fans. Much is also made of the rise of “porn-chic”, with celebs like Frank Sinatra admitting to loving Deep Throat. Lovelace even appears on the cover of a Black magazine with Smokey Robinson, and speaks of private sexual encounters with Sammy Davis Jr.
But then Goldstein seems to turn on Lovelace, and later articles for Screw are more critical of her. He is the one who discovers proof that Lovelace had starred in a bestiality film where she had sex with a dog. I repeat: SHE HAD SEX WITH A DOG. Oh my. Further articles deal with her allegations of abuse by Traynor and her eventual turn against the porn industry, joining leading members of the anti-porn feminist movement, only to eventually feel used by them as well. And there are articles covering her death, most of which seem to go out of their way to present her as a tragic figure who met a sad end, a characterization which Danville disputes. All in all, this is a particularly informative chapter, which sets the tone for the rest of the book.
This is short chapter, reviewing the various “stag films” (or “loops”, short little vignettes shot on 8mm) that Lovelace shot before Deep Throat. None of them sound very appealing. Herein are descriptions of sex acts including standard male/female copulation, lesbianism, threesomes, fisting, foot-fetish, water sports (that’s where people piss on each other, in case you didn’t know), and even the infamous bestiality (seriously, GROSS). It’s a short chapter, because Lovelace really didn’t do many of these types of films (Danville says that altogether the films would take less time to watch than it would to watch Titanic, so that’s less than 3 hours worth of film). And that was probably the biggest surprise to me in reading this book, learning that Lovelace’s career in porn was so relatively short, with Deep Throat being her only full-length major porn film (she made two other films, including a sequel to Deep Throat, but they were both R-rated, without any hardcore sex). All these years I just assumed that she’s been in a lot of films, and that Deep Throat was simply the most famous. But it looks like it’s the most famous because that’s all she really did.
This chapter chronicles the porn industry’s attempts to cash-in on the success of Deep Throat and popularity of Linda Lovelace in the immediate aftermath of that film’s release. It talks about the two R-rated films I alluded to, Deep Throat II, and Linda Lovelace For President, and several other XXX films that were thrown together with previously-filmed scenes, and even Lovelace look-alikes used just to exploit her name. And this includes an extremely poor-taste film made after Lovelace’s death, where a man has sex with a woman who is in a coma on life-support in a hospital (just like the real Lovelace was for 8 days before her death). It also includes the full written decision by a former NY Judge, Joel J. Tyler, where he explains exactly why he ruled that Deep Throat is indeed obscene. That’s kinda funny to read, at least for me. I’ve always found that whole “no redeeming social value” standard used in obscenity cases to be absurd.
4/THAT’S ALL SHE WROTE
Four autobiographies of Linda Lovelace have been published (although Danville says that Traynor ghost-wrote the first one, and exactly how much of the other three did Lovelace actually write is probably up for debate as well), two of them (INSIDE LINDA LOVELACE and THE INTIMATE DIARY OF LINDA LOVELACE) were released while she was still in the porn biz, and the last two (ORDEAL and OUT OF BONDAGE) were written after she’d gotten out and turned against the industry. This chapter includes reviews and articles about those books, and also covers other books written over the years about porn, specifically that so-called golden era of porn that Deep Throat was a part of, as well as the novelizations of Deep Throat and it’s sequel, and Linda Lovelace For President (novelizations of porn films?!? Now I’ve heard of everything). Regarding the Lovelace bios, the first two seem much like her early interviews, written to cash in on the success of the film and therefor portray her as a overly sexual (“I cum 50 times a day” she claims in one book). Most interesting, this chapter includes a transcript of a polygraph test that Lovelace was given before the release of ORDEAL, as her publisher wanted to make sure that she was being honest, due to the fact that she makes some pretty serious accusations against many people in this book. You definitely need to read that part.
5/WRAP HER UP
This is the music chapter. It covers the original soundtrack to DEEP THROAT, it’s re-issued version which includes all the dialog from the film, as well as the music, and lists a plethora of songs in multiple genres by singers and bands that were inspired by Linda Lovelace. Some songs are cheap parodies, others are serious musical compositions. I haven’t heard of any of the songs listed in here, maybe one day when I have time I’ll try to looking some of them up and giving them a listen.
6/SO HELP ME GOD
The two things that Linda Lovelace is most famous for, and the reason her name still resonates today in a way that I don’t think even contemporaries like Marilyn Champers or Bambi Woods does, is because of her performance in the infamous film DEEP THROAT, and then the 2nd half of her public life, where she become an anti-porn activist, working alongside such noted figures as Andrea Dworkin and Catharine A. MacKinnon (whom Danville describes as “radical feminists”, a personal judgment which I’ll live to the readers to decide whether that’s fair or not). This chapter provides the complete transcripts of Lovelace’s sworn testimony before the Minneapolis City Council in December 1983, where she publicly campaigned in favor of an anti-porn bill that was before the council), along with photocopies of the handwritten notes that she wrote to prepare herself for the hearing. Then there’s the complete transcript of her testimony before the Meese Commission in Washington D.C. in 1984. It is riveting stuff, and worth buying the book just for this one chapter, in my opinion.
7/SPEAK OF THE DEVIL
The final chapter is the transcript of Danville’s interview with Linda Lovelace, her last interview before her death, done in April 2000. In this, which covers a variety of topics, and proves himself to be a capable journalist. Although he is clearly pro-porn, and by this point Lovelace is adamantly anti-porn (I almost feel guilty referring to her as “Lovelace” by this point, as she was using her real name Linda Boreman), he never really gets antagonistic with her, even when they are disagreeing about things. It’s a very good interview, which ends this book in a high note.
I don’t know if my review adequately does this book justice. I’m not sure any review could. There’s just so much information available in it, that you really need to read it all for yourself. Eric Danville has done an excellent job in compiling all of these articles and putting them together in a way which gives the reader a clear linear look into the life of this remarkable woman and the role that this one film had in shaping her and our society (for better or worse) over the course of 3 decades. Whether you are a consumer of pornography or someone who is opposed to it, I think you will enjoy this book if you give it a chance, purely for the historical value. I know that same may find that a strange claim to make, but It’s like reading a book about Richard Nixon and the other “Deep Throat.” Even if you’re not into politics, you know that series of events was important and worth reading about, so I look at this the same way. There is foul language and, as stated early, x-rated pictures, so it’s not for the easily offended. But I enjoyed it and give it a Chacebook rating of FIVE STARS
You can purchase the book, either as a downloadable .pdf which you can read on your computer or tablet, or a printed copy, straight from Eric Danville’s blog.