Zephyr Theater Presents DEEP THROAT SEX SCANDAL, 1/24-2/17
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by samantha vega
The Deep Throat Sex Scandal, a new play by David Bertolino about the making of the famed, groundbreaking, 1970s pornographic film "Deep Throat" and the subsequent controversy the film ignited, will have its West Coast Premiere at the Zephyr Theatre for a six week engagement, beginning performances January 24, and opening January 31, 2013.
The production is directed by award-winning adult film writer-director Jerry Douglas, and will have different guest cast members every week: Amber Lynn and Bill Margold (Preview week January 24-27); Sally Kirkland and Bruce Vilanch (January 31-February 3); Nina Hartley and Christopher Knight (February 7-10); Georgina Spelvin and Ron Jeremy (February 14-17). Adult film stars Veronica Hart and Herschel Savage are part of the on-going, eight-actor company.
In The Deep Throat Sex Scandal, the true story will be revealed: In 1972, a hairdresser from the Bronx made a little movie that grossed over $600 million (possibly the most profitable film of all time) and ignited the sexual revolution. The Deep Throat Sex Scandal takes audiences behind the scenes, into the secret world of adult filmmaking and introduces them to the legendary Linda Lovelace and Harry Reems. The play follows the bizarre journey from the creation of the movie, through the raids, arrests and the banning of the film, to the political fallout of the ensuing courtroom drama, which helped expand the career of high-powered attorney Alan Dershowitz.
Bertolino said of the trial, "Anyone who claims to value freedom of speech, but then believes sexual expression isn't protected, has now violated the most important principle of this freedom, which is that no man should be allowed to determine the fare chosen by another man for his personal consumption. This trial wasn't just about sexual free speech, but rather the slippery slope of censorship that starts with Nixon banning pornography because of its putative effects on society, and quickly escalates to Nixon silencing his political enemies under the cloak of protecting some other societal need."
The Deep Throat Sex Scandal contains adult themes and nudity; no one eighteen and under will be admitted. Tickets are available online at http://www.deepthroattheplay.com or by calling 800-838-3006. Special Guilty Pleasures premium-priced packages are also available. Performances are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 7 p.m.
The Deep Throat Sex Scandal contains adult themes and nudity; no one eighteen and under will be admitted.
Backstage called The Deep Throat Sex Scandal "a slyly subversive comedy about America's need to both indulge in and restrict access to pleasure" and said that playwright David Bertolino's message of tolerance is "a powerful argument for taking the play seriously ... although those who would control our minds and hearts seem to be in ascendancy once again. The Deep Throat Sex Scandal reminds us that the battle against repression is worthwhile and winnable." The New York Times declared that the show has "a professional cast willing to bare all!"
William Margold, adult film star, director and activist, as well as former director of the Free Speech Coalition, writing for The LAXPRESS described The Deep Throat Sex Scandal as a "Painfully insightful production about a time when freedom of expression was something to talk about ... but was also very hard to swallow. And the real tragedy of that era was that many of those who had something to say ... said nothing at all when asked to speak up ... for fear of being ostracized by their peers. In a society that is drug-infested, violence-wracked, and polluted by chemical greed ... no one has ever died from an overdose of pornography."
The first half of The Deep Throat Sex Scandal deals with the human drama and humorous making of the film. The second half details the lengths to which the film and in particular, one of its performers, was prosecuted or more accurately "persecuted" in the sanctimonious name of decency. When an overly zealous United States government went after the movie, and Harry Reems became an innocent victim of society's guilty pleasures, only a few liberal-minded souls -- including Oscar winners Warren Beatty, Tony Bill, Richard Dreyfuss, and Jack Nicholson -- rose to his defense; as they were realistically fearful that "The Inquisition Against X" would eventually be exacted upon all the other letters in the entertainment alphabet.
The Deep Throat Sex Scandal took five years to bring to the stage – and in 2010, when it opened Off-Broadway, David Bertolino's play had been through 14 drafts, 24 backers who invested close to $700,000 to mount the show, and featured a professional cast willing to strip to nothing.
Bertolino, a Boston-born costume salesman and developer of Spooky World (a Halloween fright park in Boston) was at an adults-only trade show in 2007 selling his costumes from a booth, when he happened to talk with the salesman of the nearby Arrow Productions booth. The Arrow rep was interested in selling Bertolino's sexy nurse uniform with Linda Lovelace's name printed on it. Bertolino immediately said, "We can't do that, we'd be sued," to which the Arrow rep countered with, "My boss owns the rights." And in fact, Arrow Productions owned the rights to Deep Throat, among many other classic adult titles. Bertolino then met Raymond Pistol, owner of Arrow, and Bertolino began to realize there was a play about the most famous sex movie of all time and the First Amendment.
One of the most famous films ever made – Deep Throat brought story, developed characters and higher production standards to pornography – and found a huge audience, media attention, and brought pornography to large audiences. The media labeled it "porno chic," despite the fact that the film was banned in many places in the United States and became the object of obscenity trials.
Deep Throat, the title, became a pop culture reference of the times – like lava lamps, eight-track tapes, black light posters, the Z Channel, "Oh, Calcutta!" and Ford Pintos, and it found its place with the contemporary films of the time as well –- "A Clockwork Orange," "The Godfather," "Cabaret," "Last Tango in Paris," "The Exorcist," "Dirty Harry," "Sunday Bloody Sunday," "Carnal Knowledge," "Fritz the Cat," "The Exorcist," and "Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex." The nation was listening to "Let's Get It On," "Touch Me in the Morning," "Me and Mrs. Jones," "Little Willy," "Love Train," and "Last Night I Didn't Get to Sleep At All."
Deep Throat found its greatest fame when Woodward and Bernstein of the Washington Post, used the name Deep Throat as the pseudonym for their Watergate informant (later found to be W. Mark Felt). The film was banned in numerous communities in the United States and eventually found its way to court in obscenity trials. The ensuing publicity only made the film more popular, where it could be seen.
Dave Itzkoff, in New York Magazine wrote, "It wasn't until New York law enforcement took notice that Deep Throat became a blockbuster. The World Theater was raided three times in a single month. And by the time a New York judge ruled the movie obscene the following spring, the publicity surrounding its legal troubles had helped earn Deep Throat nearly $2 million in the city and made pornography a national obsession. Jackie O. saw it. Johnny Carson referenced it in his monologues. Ralph Blumenthal wrote in the New York Times that Deep Throat had become the "premier topic of cocktail-party and dinner-table conversation"; members of the newsroom staff had viewed it en masse.
Prosecutors went after the film with a vengeance – in August 1972, after a New York jury found the film not to be obscene, they went after different subjects – charging Mature Enterprises (owner of the World Theatre) for promotion of obscene material. Judge Joel J. Tyler then ruled the film obscene in March 1973 – fining Mature Enterprises $100,000, a fine later reduced on appeal. It became the most inexpensive publicity campaign in history, as the film went on to eventually gross $600 million on its original $25,000 investment – the most popular X-rated film ever made.
More cases followed – including federal cases in Memphis, Tennessee, where over 60 individuals and companies – including Deep Throat actor Harry Reems – were indicted for conspiracy to distribute obscenity across state lines. Deep Throat director Gerard Damiano and star Linda Lovelace exchanged testimony for immunity. Reems' indictment was the first time an actor was prosecuted by the federal government on obscenity charges since Lenny Bruce in the '60s. Reems then became a cause célèbre receiving much support from the Hollywood community. A young lawyer named Alan Dershowitz led the defense, and his conviction was overturned during an appeal.
Itzkoff, in New York Magazine said, "Reems immediately went to work to clear his name, setting up a legal-defense fund and retaining Alan Dershowitz for a possible appeal. He was the beneficiary of fundraising events thrown by the likes of Warren Beatty and editorials penned by writers across the political spectrum. A year later, he was finally granted a new trial (on the grounds that Deep Throat had been made before the Supreme Court's 1973 "contemporary community standards" ruling) and his conviction was overturned. 'Had Harry Reems been imprisoned, actors would be terrified to do anything even vaguely romantic,' says Brian Grazer, who produced the documentary Inside Deep Throat. 'All our rights in the area of freedom of speech would have contracted.'"