February 03, 2005 12:00am
Inside Deep Throat Review by Tod Hunter
by: Tod Hunter
Inside Deep Throat
The new documentary Inside Deep Throat was produced and directed by two gay men, Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato (the film screened in Hollywood as part of the Outfest Wednesday series at the American Cinematheque Wednesday night), and at the beginning it looks like a snooty Hollywood documentary with an impressive pedigree (Universal Studios, Imagine Entertainment, HBO Documentary Films, and a company called "World of Wonder" that I don't think is the company that made the Teddy Ruxpin dolls in the '80s, but you never know.)
It starts with talking-heads interviews with an impressive list of personalities talking about Deep Throat and what it meant to them: John Waters, Larry Flynt, Erica Jong, Dr. Ruth Westheimer. Charles Keating expresses his displeasure while standing in front of a religious statue that may well have been purchased with the money he stole from Lincoln Savings. Bill Maher, Alan Dershowitz, a young AL Goldstein, Camille Paglia, Hugh Hefner. Norman Mailer. Gore Vidal. Dick Cavett says he never saw it.
Right when it looks like it's turning into let's-talk-about-'70s-porn night at Elaine's, Barbato and Bailey throw us a curve: They find Gerard Damiano and get new interview footage of him. They reveal he used to be a hairdresser, and they also show a mid-'70s interview where he is asked point-blank if he thinks Deep Throat is a good movie, he contemplates for a moment and replies "No." The film delves into Linda Lovelace's past, talking with her sister and a high-school friend. Lovelace's relationship with the shadowy Chuck Traynor is brought up, along with the revelation that Harry Reems was hired as a PA on the Florida shoot.
The '70s Porno Chic trend is explored, with clips of jokes by Bob Hope and Johnny Carson, plus clips of Rowan and Martin's Laugh-in and Sanford & Son. Also, reminiscences by Georgina Spelvin and Andrea True. That party doesn't last long - although there is an allegation that porn was shot on the Paramount lot, and that from Peter Bart, who ought to know - and we meet federal prosecutor Larry Parrish, a plain-spoken man who made a call-it-creative federal prosecution of Deep Throat, focusing on actor Harry Reems. Parrish got Reems convicted, thoroughly enraging most of mainstream Hollywood. The conviction was later overturned.
That just scratches the surface: The documentary is filled with details like Damiano expressing his pride that he got some stock footage of rockets - from the Us government, yet - to intercut with the images of Lovelace's orgasm scene at the end of Deep Throat. The revolt of feminists against pornography is illustrated by Susan Brownmiller confronting Hugh Hefner on the Dick Cavett Show and Brownmiller taking offense when Hefner refers to "girls" who fought for sexual equality ("Women" Brownmiller tut-tuts.) Linda Lovelace herself takes issue with porn on the Donahue show and with Tom Snyder on one of his late-night shows, illustrating the still-active unholy alliance between those feminists who are anti-sex and anti-sex religious fundamentalists. The small interesting side facts will keep you thinking for days. The music is from the '70s, some lifted from the Deep Throat soundtrack, others from the pop charts. (Andrea True, speaking of More More More: "I sang 'How do you like it, how do you like it, more more more.' that was it.")
It ends with two chilling moments, one where it's revealed that the laws used to suppress Deep Throat are still on the books, and a final comment from Larry Parrish, still a prosecutor, saying that "If we could get the terrorists to go away, we could free up the Justice Department..." his follow-up, "...to prosecute porn," is inferred.
Although Barbato and Bailey sometimes use cheap shots like letting the camera run after somebody says something stupid, Inside Deep Throat introduces a series of unforgettable characters, and tells a story of recent, almost forgotten history. If you have read this far, you already have an interest. Go. It opens in limited release February 11.
Bottom line: This is the movie that everybody in the Adult Industry ought to see.
Here is the official Website for the movie:
Porn. Politics. Mainstream.