More than 10 years after her death, Linda Lovelace may still be America’s most famous porn star (apologies to Jenna Jameson and Traci Lords). That’s an unlikely distinction, since Lovelace – by her own estimation – only worked in the adult film industry for a total of two and a half weeks.
But those two-and-a-half weeks included filming of “Deep Throat,” an adult film that became a pop culture phenomenon after its release in 1972. It was the first adult film to reach a mainstream audience and grossed $600 million at the box office.
There are many reasons why this movie is so popular. Some people describe Deep Throat as the first pornographic movie to try to tell a story, despite its absurdity.
“‘Deep Throat’ has a storyline,” said Darwin Porter, author of “Into Linda Lovelace’s Deep Throat: Fall, Erotic Fashion, and the Rise of Feminism.” “I mean, not a big conspiracy, but a conspiracy.
“It also had a certain comedy aspect to it, which was very unusual and strange (for porn at the time),” Porter told CNN.
Porter said Deep Throat also benefited from the legal and moral crusade against the film.
“A lot of people wanted to ban [the film], first of all the government and of course New York City Mayor John Lindsay,” Porter said. “When (Lindsay) banned it in New York, he made the film famous in America.”
Hustler Magazine editor Larry Flynt offers a simpler explanation for the film’s broad appeal. He told CNN it was a fascination with Lovelace’s gift of the specific sexuality implied in the movie’s title.
Flint told CNN, “I think it’s the unique talent shown throughout the film that generates a lot of excitement.” The massive success of Deep Throat may lead some to imagine its star living a glamorous life Life. But that’s far from the case, as evidenced by the recently released biopic Lovelace, starring Amanda Seyfried.
The film actually presents audiences with two versions of Lovelace’s story. Much of the film was manipulated into porn by her then-husband, Chuck Traynor. But in a darker version of the events shown by Lovelace’s point of view at the end of the film, she is essentially portrayed as a sex slave.
Neither situation is pleasant. Flynt, who said he knew Lovelace and Traynor, seemed to believe in the dark version.
“She was just being used at every turn,” he told CNN. “It’s not that she wakes up every morning thinking, ‘I can’t wait to get to work in the morning’. That’s not the case.”
“This coercion has always been there,” he said. “I think she’s very controlled by Chuck (Traynor). … That’s why I call him a pimp.”
But not everyone is so black and white, including actor Chris North, who plays deepthroat producer Anthony Romano on Lovelace.
“I don’t know if she was pushed in at all,” North told CNN. “It’s hard to fully believe the situation when you can read and see her.”
Porter believes Lovelace was forced to do porn “to a certain extent.” Lovelace has shown significantly more free will in the three years since “Deep Throat,” the writer said, saying the actress used her fame to walk with celebrities.
“She’s dating top Hollywood stars and no one is forcing her to do that,” Porter said.
Porter claims that many Hollywood celebrities – including John Wayne, Burt Lancaster, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin – are eager to find out if Lovelace’s sexual skills live up to the legend.
Porter said it was another member of the Rat Gang that helped her get to Hollywood’s A-listers.
“Sammy Davis Jr. has done more than anyone to make her the queen of porn fashion,” Porter said.
“He suggested that it might be trendy to date Linda Lovelace. He was actually her publicist.”