The Eve of Porn: Linda Lovelace



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In 1972, Deep Throat, the tale of a woman whose clitoris was located in the back of her throat, became a trailblazer of the pornographic genre. Performing acts of graphic sex on camera, including the signature act of “deep throating,” Linda Lovelace, born Linda Boreman, became a household name. Considered “Porn Chic,” screenings of Deep Throat were attended by celebrities from Jackie O to Jack Nicholson. Linda became both the girl everyone wanted to attend their party and the girl that everyone wanted to have sex with, a star studded list including Hugh Hefner, Ted Kennedy and Paul Newman.

Lovelace had become such a well-known celebrity that in 1973, Milton H. Greene (1922-1985), one of the most celebrated photographers in the world, known for the “Black Sitting” of Marilyn Monroe, agreed to shoot Lovelace. Never before exhibited, these “Lost Images of Linda Lovelace” had long remained under ownership of a Polish financial institution and a private owner for nearly four decades before going on auction in 2013. Purchased by Yuliya and Kevin Mattei of YK Gallery, Inc, the couple entered into a partnership with Joshua Greene’s The Archives, LLC, which since 2006 has been working on the restoration and marketing of a 60,000-image collection created by his father, Milton H. Greene.

Alongside these photographic treasures, the exhibition features photographs of Lovelace taken before her Deep Throat fame, including pornographic images of Linda and her husband-manager, Chuck Traynor. Traynor and Lovelace had a complicated relationship, and years later Linda would assert that Traynor had forced her at gunpoint to perform in Deep Throat as well as earlier stag loops she was featured in. While Traynor acknowledged incidents of abuse, he claims he in no way forces Lovelace to participate in the production of pornography. He did however credit himself for her fame, and has been quoted saying, “There never was a Linda Lovelace. I’m Linda Lovelace. Linda Lovelace got where she got because of my brain, not because of her throat.” These and other rare photographs and ephemera on loan from Eric Danville, one of Lovelace’s biographers and the author of The Complete Linda Lovelace, help tell Linda’s complicated story.

Lovelace, once the poster child of pornography, later denounced her participation in the industry in her 1980 book, Ordeal. A deeply polarizing book, Lovelace’s initial fans turned on her for renouncing porn. The feminist anti-porn movement, and individuals such as Gloria Steinem and Andrea Dorkin from the organization Women Against Porn, applauded her for validating their efforts. Porn became both the subject of free speech debates and a civil rights issue in the 1980s, with Lovelace caught in the middle. Footage from the forthcoming documentary, Linda Lovelace’s Loose Lips, created by Legs McNeil, the author of The Other Hollywood, and Alex Chmaj, helps round out Linda’s legacy of proclamations and reversals, which spanned the instrumental decades of the porn industry’s inception. The documentary, scheduled for public release in late 2013, includes segments from Linda’s last interview on camera before her untimely death in 2002.

But while much has been said, books have been written and films created, the public is only left with more questions. Did Linda bite from the apple of porn willingly or was she forced?

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