Tuesday, February 21, 2006

And Speaking of Anti-Porn Myths: The Truth About Linda Lovelace

Not to think that I'm obsessing with piling on Biting Beaver and her totally whack antiporn cult-like thinking...but when she quoted in the essay that I referenced in my previous post the abuse of former 70s porn legend and Deep Throat star Linda Lovelace as prototypical of the innate rapicty of men in porn over women, some bells went off in my brain. And sure enough, I found something that, if proven out, kicks the props clean off Beeb's arguments.

Sheldon Ranz is a progressive Jewish journalist and porn auteur who was one of the first to interview Nina Hartley back in her early days as a porn actress; he also was an activist involved with feminists who challenged basic antiporn theory during the Meese Commission days of the 80s, when Lovelace had published her classic tomes to her sufferings as a porn starlet, Out of Bondage and Ordeal.

In an exchange with antiporn activist Stan Goff that was originally posted to Goff's Feral Scholar blog in response to Goff's brusk dismissal of Nina for having the gall of defending her profession as anything other than a front for patriarchy, Sheldon frontally addressed the issue of Linda Lovelace's abuse and the role of porn in causing it....and his findings are as stunning as they are suprising. It seems that the just-so story of Lovelace as a innate victim of porn may be a bit contrary to the reality.

Here's Sheldon's quote (responding to Goff)



[...]

Stan, I’m not sure what you meant by others being taken aback by your reference to Chuck Traynor as a pimp or ‘pimp-husband’. I certainly didn’t deny that he was either. I only saw that reference in the context you used it and therefore understood why Ernest Greene thought you were saying something similar about his relationship to Nina Hartley.

There’s no question that Traynor abused Linda Boreman, but did he force her to do porn? The evidence for that is increasingly shaky and reasonable people, even feminists like Carol Queen, are well within their rights to voice skepticism of her claims.

Did you know that an unmarried Linda Lovelace returned to porn in the January 2001 issue of the XXX-rated magazine
Leg Show, in which she was featured both on the cover and inside in an interview and brand-new softcore pictorial, proclaiming how fabulous she felt and looked at the age of 50? When she died, she was in the midst of collaborating with a former writer for Screw magazine, Eric Danville, on a worshipful retrospective of her porn career called The Compleat Linda Lovelace. During the interview, she denounced Gloria Steinem and other anti-porn feminists for not helping her out financially as they had originally promised and retracted some of the charges she had made decades earlier against the adult film industry.

Lovelace’s
Ordeal and Out of Bondage were actually written by Mike McGrady, a writer for Newsday whose foremost claim to fame at that time was concocting a hoax called Naked Came the Stranger. This purportedly non-fiction book chronicled the adventurous sex life of a suburban housewife named Penelope Ashe, who is listed as the author. “Ashe” was actually McGrady and another Newsday writer, and a different writer penned each chapter. McGrady later was furious at Henry Paris’ hardcore adaptation of the book and developed an animus toward porn. This bias is clearly reflected on nearly every page of his Lovelace books. I suspect that folks like Carol Queen wondered about her association with a known hoaxer and the credibility of anti-porn memoirs printed by then-porn publisher Lyle Stuart.

In the books, Lovelace (McGrady) made a number of dubious claims. As part of her forced entry into porn, she claimed that Traynor hypnotized her to help her deep-throat without choking. As any licensed hypnotherapist will tell you, it is impossible to be hypnotized successfully against one’s will. That means that, prior to the hypnosis, she was willing (but not able). She also states that no one connected to “Deep Throat” came to help her when she was being beaten by Traynor in a room right next to the film set. But according to Harry Reems in a 1986 interview with Adult Video News, when Chuck and Linda wanted to be alone together, they went to a room on another floor of the same building, so that her screams (if any) could not have been heard by the cast or crew. What Reem said is crucial because Lovelace went out of her way to praise him as a good and trustworthy fellow. On the other hand, the reliability of her recollection is tainted by her own remarks in the books that she was then stoned on marijuana and percodan.

Then there were those infamous “bruises” – how often did she tell the media and other receptive audiences that anyone watching the movie could see the bruises on her body, especially the legs, implying that porn audiences are rapists-in-the-making because they were masturbating to the visible signs of her ordeal? Well, I saw the movie - several times, in fact - and the only visible “sign” was a symmetrical birthmark on her upper left thigh. When other people pointed this out to her over the years, Linda would then turn around and say that director Gerald Damiano’s make-up talent disguised the bruises. Sure enough, McGrady had already written that down to set up her alibi. And it needs to be stressed that Lovelace herself admitted just before her death that she hadn’t seen “Deep Throat” until 2001!

Based on the available evidence, Traynor beat Lovelace to get her to quit porn due to his fear that she would leave him because folks like Harry Reems could please her but he could not (Traynor had major problems getting it up).

Lovelace was able to finally leave Traynor precisely because of the celebrity that she achieved as the first big porn star. Hugh Hefner gave Linda sanctuary when she was on the run from Traynor, and without demanding any sexual favors from her. Far from being a victim of porn, it liberated her from an unpleasant, abusive relationship. When audiences saw her smile in “Deep Throat”, her joy was genuine, in part because she was interacting with people other than Traynor. And, as perverse as it might seem, because Linda came from a very sexually repressed Catholic background, she was willing to go so far as to do things that were shocking and inappropriate, such as bestiality. The more extreme the repression, the more extreme the liberation. But as long as she was associating with anti-porners who were dangling cash in front of her, you would not hear her say that.

And what dividends did the Dworkinites accrue as a result of their promise of $$? She testified to the Meese Commission that she was a victim of the porn industry and that snuff films do indeed exist. The feminist movement became harshly divided over pornography when Lovelace became a handy tool for anti-porn feminists to beat into political submission feminists against censorship. When Harry Reems and other folks from the porn industry donated money to Linda because of her health problems, she never bothered to send them thank-you notes.

No doubt some legal authorities work themselves up into a self-righteous frenzy cracking down on the porn industry because they feel they are rescuing other Linda Lovelaces. Contrary to your other assertion, Stan, no, porn does not enjoy state protection. Obscenity laws still exist, and as long as they do, adult pornography will never be decriminalized any more than being gay was in the days when sodomy laws were deemed constitutional.



Not that this will change Beeb's mind one bit, since I'm sure that she will simply invent other strawwomen for her class of victims needing rescuing from the evil male porn monsters..but at least you know a different side of the story.

:-)

1 comment:

Bitch | Lab said...

Thanks for that Anthony! I so fucking love you for taking time to be involved and be informative, in spite of a busy schedule!