Linda Lovelace Survived “Throat” Preem … Barely

by Glenn Lovell

Confession time: Yours truly filed the very first review of “Deep Throat,” the 1972 porno that’s back in the news thanks to “Lovelace,” the biopic starring Amanda Seyfried as Linda Lovelace and Peter Sarsgaard as Chuck Traynor, her abusive Svengali.

Just out of graduate school, I lucked into a job at the Hollywood Reporter, then located on Sunset Boulevard. Though I was hired as a copy editor to rewrite press releases, I got my shot at reviewing when the venerable Arthur Knight quit in protest over a friend’s firing. I reviewed television, nightclub acts and a lot of bad blaxploitation, like “Trouble Man” and “The Big Comedown.”

On a Thursday morning the city editor called me over and handed me an invitation. It was to something called “Deep Throat,” screening thaDeep-Throat-poster_lt evening at the Pussycat Theater on Santa Monica Boulevard. At the bottom of the flier: “This film is rated ‘X’ for explicit sexual content.”

When I reminded him that it was HR’s policy to not review hardcore porn, he waved me away. “I know, I know, but we’re covering this one anyway ‒ as a favor to a friend who manages the theater.”

It wasn’t a black tie/klieg light kind of affair, but the premiere did boast in-person appearances by Lovelace, costar Harry Reems and director Gerard Damiano, a former hairdresser who would later make “The Devil in Miss Jones.” As we passed into the theater we were handed cardboard boxes marked “Deep Throat Survival Kit.” They contained throat lozenges, chocolate-covered bananas, multicolor prophylactics, and rocket-shaped lollypops. (What do you think one of these babies in mint condition would fetch on eBay today?)

I can’t remember much about Lovelace, except that she was almost pathologically shy. Before the movie, she fielded questions from the stage ‒ by whispering her answers into the emcee’s ear. The press was told that “Miss Lovelace will be available for questions after the screening ‒ so stick around.” She wasn’t. We didn’t.

Seated behind me at the screening were Laurence Harvey and Joanna Pettet, who were working on a film together at the time. They bolted after about 20 minutes.

My four-paragraph review ran under the headline “Porno Film with Touch of Humor.” I noted that the “uniquely talented” Lovelace “proves she can moan and gyrate with the best of ’em as ‘the girl who untangles her tingle.’” The review went on to predict healthy box office. Something of an understatement. “Deep Throat,” which earned upwards of $600 million on a $47,000 investment, ranks as one of the top-grossing indies of all time.

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