Darwin Porter has done it again, stretching his talents more into scrupulously researched pop culture cloaked as a tell-all biography. Inside Linda Lovelace’s Deep Throat–Degradation, Porno Chic, and the Rise of Feminism, is more than merely a bio of the most important porn star of the last century; it’s also an expose of the hype and hypocrisy in late mid-century America.
The sexual revolution of the ’60s and ’70s was brought up short by the AIDS epidemic of the ’80s. Looking back, it’s impossible to realize or understand the blow puritanical forces took, spearheaded by the film Deep Throat, followed by the less popular The Devil in Miss Jones and Behind the Green Door. Before Deep Throat, porn was cheap rather than chic, closeted rather than exploited, humorless and strangely asexual. But with Deep Throat, there was a plot, there were jokes, and the age of varicose veined women and men wearing only black socks, rutting away was gone forever. Not to mention the amazing rise of oral sex, spreading the audience’s view of the incredibly variety of sexual experience open to them.
But there is an astoundingly dark side to Lovelace’s story. An innocent young girl gets involved with a thoroughly rotten character whose interest is purely financial, and how this pimp worked Lovelace with literally thousands of men before he discovered blue movies could be an endless source of income. Nothing changed in her life except adding a movie camera to capture the pain and degradation of endless lines of men using and abusing her body for sex. How mob money invested in a full length film that, somehow, brought a picture of the morals and behavior to the screen with a modicum of style and humor, which became the most popular pornographic film of all time.
And how that celebrity brought Lovelace to Hollywood, where her talents tasted the greats of American cinema, again viciously exploited by vile movie stars, where her talented throat became a status symbol to brag about. And, more tragically, there was no exit for this poor woman who died broke.
It was impossible to earn a living without using her body and her mouth, she had no other education, and every attempt at happiness and a shred of dignity was horribly crushed.
Porter’s endless research of the lifetimes of Lovelace include two things of note. First, he has culled together Lovelace’s own words from her four books, Inside Linda Lovelace, The Intimate Diary of Linda Lovelace, Ordeal and Out of Bondage. And the first hand descriptions of her life are heartbreaking. And, touching as they may be, they were written with an eye for the reader to touch himself, so to speak, further exploiting Lovelace. Second, the passing of time has not only allowed Porter greater freedom to pen and honest and true story, but also the ability to name all the Hollywood names who had a hand in the vicious exploitation. Apparently, everyone but Liberace and Lassie sampled Lovelace’s talent.
Blood Moon Productions, the publisher of Porter’s work, has as a dust jacket blurb “Applying the tabloid standards of today to the cover-ups of Hollywood’s deep throated secrets. It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it!” And no one does it like this author. Porter’s delving into the dark and tragic side of popular culture is an invaluable addition to the history of the entertainment world. His ability to research, recall, and report on media stars, to rip away the curtain of lies and deceit that protects the monsters and sexual predators that the public reveres as stars, statesman, movers and shakers of the twentieth century surely is an invaluable contribution speaking to the truth and shattering the perpetrated publicity myths. Inside Linda Lovelace’s Deep Throat–Degradation, Porno Chic, and the Rise of Feminism adds greatly to his previous works, as more and more his subjects are used to explain and illustrate the forces that fueled 20th-century popular culture.
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