Dependable Erection

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Another man done gone

Gerard Damiano 1928 - 2008
Gerard Damiano, director of infamous 1970s pornographic film Deep Throat, has died in Miami at the age of 80.

Made in 1972 for £25,000, it was the first "porno" widely seen in cinemas and made an estimated $600m (£382m).

The title - a reference to fellatio - was subsequently used as a pseudonym for the whistleblower who spilled the beans about the Watergate scandal.

Quote of the decade:
"My father never dreamed that it would get that kind of attention," said Damiano Jr.

For all its success, however, Deep Throat was not his father's favourite. "He was fond of it for what it was," he continued.

"But in terms of film-making he would never call it a great film."

I've managed to make a few acquaintances in the adult biz over the years. Here's an appreciation of Damiano from one of them:
"Deep Throat" No More

by Carl Nutsak

Gerard Damiano, the man who wrote, produced and directed "Deep Throat," died from complications of a stroke at age 80.

According to the trade journal Adult Video News (AVN), "Gerardo Rocco Damiano was born Aug. 4, 1928 to an Italian-Catholic family. His father died when he was six, and his mother never remarried. Damiano joined the Navy at 17 and served for four years, later studying X-ray technology on the G.I. Bill."

By 1956 he owned a beauty parlor New York. The conversations among his female clientele led Damiano to the belief that there was a market for sexually explicit movies for mainstream audiences. Or at least the ladies who had their hair done in his part of The Bronx.

"Deep Throat," an adult film first released to theatres in 1972, is why you can even talk about porn today, let alone access it. It was sassy, clever and low-budget. Along with "Behind The Green Door" and other "golden age" films made years before the VCR, these films combined humor, plot and wildly explicit sex. Mainstream critics hailed it as "porno chic." It can be argued that because of these films' entertainment value, prosecutors, judges and juries found it harder to called these movies "obscene." For a brief time, porno chic was the subject of conversation on TV talk shows, cocktail parties and of course––magazines like Playboy and Penthouse.

"Deep Throat" was shot in six days in the Miami area for next-to-nothing and frankly, parts of it look it. This may be independent film-making at its grittiest. It is believed the film has grossed over $600 million in screenings, VHS/DVD sales and rentals. Damiano allegedly sold out his interest in the film for $25,000.

Linda Lovelace starred in "Deep Throat," the film was written specifically for her and her ability to, as I like to say, "do stuff."

"Deep Throat" entered popular culture during the Watergate era as the handle for FBI informant W. Mark Felt, as described in the book and movie "All The President's Men." Felt did not disclose his status until 2005, but I don't think it was because of Linda Lovelace.

I first saw "Deep Throat" on 3/4" U-matic tape at a back office in a cable-tv company I worked at in the mid-1970's. I was eighteen or nineteen, and being able to watch this stuff in mixed company was quite a novelty. It's still a funny movie.

A year or two later I saw other Damiano films like "Devil In Miss Jones" and "Story of Joanna" in Times Square. Believe it or not, one of the screenings was a combination date/class assignment. My then-girlfriend was taking a communications class at Hofstra University and each student was instructed to take in at least one adult film. Now that's a liberal education.

Damiano the actor makes a brief appearance in "Devil In Miss Jones" as a nut case with no interest in sex, locked up with a perpetually horny Georgina Spelvin. Even with such a down-beat ending, films like "Devil" had their tongue planted firmly in cheek. There was a festive air to what was going up on that very large screen.

Because of ever-narrower market niches and "tastes," I'm not sure if a lot of today's porn has the same effect. A lot of it is pretty gross. However, I am looking forward to seeing "Who's Nailin' Paylin?" on a DVD screener sent to my attention. It's a Larry Flynt production, so you know it'll be classy.

In case you're wondering what kind of a life a pornographer like Damiano had, AVN adds, "Damiano married porn actress Paula Morton in 1975, and the couple had two children, Christar and Gerard, Jr. The family moved from New York to Fort Myers in the '70s. Although Damiano and Morton eventually divorced, they remained close until his death."

Rest well, Gerry. You've seen it all and shown it all.



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