"My name is Linda Boreman, I was once, or formerly known as Linda Lovelace, the survivor of Deep Throat."
This is the sentence, spoken on camera by the lady herself, that opens Linda Lovelace's Loose Lips: The Last Interview With Legs McNeil, a ninety minute long piece that is made up of interview footage the journalist/author and ‘pop culture historian' shot with the late starlet best known for starring in one of the most profitable films in the history of the known universe, Deep Throat. Recently the subject of a Hollywood bio pic starring Amanda Seyfried simply titled Lovelace, this documentary presents the woman in her own words… for better or worse.
Legs' narration explains how and why this footage came to exist and gives us a rundown of what we're about to see and from there, we launch into the footage itself starting with a credits sequence that explains, very quickly, the history of Deep Throat and the porno chic boom. It's a montage of clips and sound bites and when it's done we get Legs talking about the variations that exist of her story. He starts with the known facts, giving some information on her family background, her move to Florida, her involvement with Chuck Traynor and all that sort of general biographical information you'd expect. Lovelace explains how there was no sex when she first got with Chuck, noting that he was a gentlemen while clips of other commentators, including FBI agent Bill Kelly, talk about his involvement in the sex industry. We learn about the car accident that hurt the Boreman family and landed Linda in the hospital, after which Traynor decided to take her to New York City. At this point, he basically got her involved in making hardcore porno loops. The involvement of the Pereino crime family is discussed and Sharon Mitchell shows up to note that Butchy, their contact, was a sweetheart. But they were a Brooklyn based mob family that did make porno movies and Traynor went to them to get in on this.
At this point, Deep Throat director Gerard Damiano is introduced. We learn how he and Linda Boreman were put in touch, how this movie would be shot with a decent budget on location and archival clips of her late co-star Harry Reems give some background on what it was like on set. Lind had a talent for oral sex, and they were only too happy to take advantage of that. Three weeks later, Damiano comes back to the producers with a script called Deep Throat. Boreman talks about reciting ‘Mary Had A Little Lamb' for her audition, proving she had the ‘fresh girl next door' look that was at odds with the crime family's intentions of casting a big breasted blonde in the lead. At this point, the popularity, success and controversy surrounding Deep Throat and its massive theatrical success is covered, including the fact that it made Johnny Carson's monologue, which at the time was about as mainstream as you could get.
So now, about twenty-five to thirty minutes in, the background information we need is covered. At this point the movie shifts gears to Lovelace's celebrity status, the rise of the porn star as a sex symbol, and some of the issues that arose, that being who got what cut of the movie in each theater that it played in and the charges that were laid down against various participants in the movie that wound up becoming a massive censorship case. Lovelace talks about her involvement in Deep Throat II but doesn't have much to say about it, calling it ‘crazy.' The sequel flopped and was re-released in an R-rated version that failed to catch on, but despite all of this, Lovelace was still a celebrity. She talks about meeting Clint Eastwood, we hear about the soft film Linda Lovelace For President (which also flopped) and then from there, just before the half way mark of the movie, Boreman talks about Traynor's abuse. How he wouldn't let her talk to parents or friends, how he pointed guns at her, how he kicked her with steel toed boots and chocked her when she didn't do what he wanted her to do. She claims he pimped her out and as the documentary moves forward, things get sketchy. The Linda Lovelace who seemed such a happy, gleeful and willing participant in the porno chic explosion claims she was forced into it and that had she not participated in what she participated in, she'd have been killed.
Is it revisionist history? Did Lovelace actually get forced into becoming the most famous oral sex queen of all time or did she decide that she wanted to distance herself from her past. She wrote a book about sex in the seventies and talked about how she liked it and then wrote a book years later about how she was forced into it. Those around her pretty much unanimously claim she was pretty happy doing what she did on camera, but she claims otherwise. The middle part of the movie covers all of this, it lets her speak, in her own words, about what she ‘went through' and how the media reacted to all of it. The details get fuzzy. Her story, while convincing in many ways, contradicts her previous statements and the statements of those who were there with her. Was she a ‘survivor' or was she a professional porn star? The feminist movement latched onto her, and she to the movement, and she became a key figure in the anti-porn movement of the eighties. The last half of the movie talks about some of the holes in her story, with Legs coming out and calling her story ‘passive aggressive wish fulfillment.'
To conclude that ‘Linda is full of shit' Legs talks about Marilyn Chambers, who appears on camera and talks about how she hooked up with Chuck Traynor after he and Linda were on the outs. The Mitchell Brothers, who made her a star, were supposedly behind this collaboration, while Chambers talks about her intentions to move to mainstream movies and how Traynor was behind her on this. She married Traynor, and calls it turbulent, but the fact that he went on to manage her after Lovelace and claims to have not been abused the way Lovelace was, well, it does at least make a contrasting character study to the one Lovelace provides. As the documentary comes to a close, we get more contradictions to Lovelace's testimony regarding a cabal of child pornographers (pre-internet), borderline snuff moviemaking and other horrible things and then we learn how ‘the ordeal was over' and she returned to the porn industry.
The Conclusions section, which makes up the last fifteen minutes of the film, McNeil talks about Lovelace passing a polygraph test and how this was possible despite the fallacies of her testimony. He and other interviewees talk about how she wanted the American dream, the house with the white picket fence with the happy kids running around, and how she convinced herself that what she was telling people was true. He makes the case that she couldn't say ‘no' to people, while clips of Lovelace talk about how she did what she had to do to survive. Her strict ‘good girl' Catholic background is covered and the shame and guilt that came from the likes of Al Goldstein holding up pictures of her and a dog came to surface, she more or less moved into a fantasy world filled with denial and the inability to take responsibility for her own actions.
"Every time someone watches that movie, they're watching me being raped."
Lovelace claims, in her final interview, that ‘to this day I've never watched a pornographic movie.' This seems unlikely, as do most of her claims. She's anti-porn but not necessarily pro-censorship. She's a feminist but also a submissive. She's a victim, but also an opportunist. When the documentary closes with Legs asking ‘What did being Linda Lovelace do to your life' she responds:
"In certain periods of my life there were certain times when, in the beginning, it gave me a bit of protection. Had Linda Boreman been shot and killed in the Holiday Inn in North Miami there would have been no questions asked. But if Linda Lovelace had of been shot in L.A., there would have been some investigating so I gained a little bit of protection from it, cause I feared Traynor, terribly."
This clips finishes the piece by letting her talk about her father, the noble traffic cop and how wonderful her family life was but McNeil talks about how she was caught up in extremes, the most successful porno actress of all times who had sex with dogs on camera who wound up a Long Island housewife years later. Mythology, he calls it. And he's probably not very far off the mark at all.
Loose Lips arrives on DVD framed at 1.78.1 with some of the fullframe archival footage windowboxed with black bars on the left and right side, as it should be, and other parts cropped (but not stretched) to fit the 1.78.1 format. Video quality isn't particularly exciting. The archival clips look like the soft, fuzzy, VHS sourced clips that they are while the newly shot stuff, recorded on what would appear to be consumer grade DV, is merely adequate. It's watchable enough, just go in with your expectations in check.
English language audio options are provided in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo… and that's it. No alternate language options or subtitles are provided. The audio quality is occasionally a little iffy but it stems back to the VHS sourced archival tapes that make up the bulk of this feature. For the most part though, with a couple of minor expectations, the audio is fairly well balanced and easy enough to follow. It's pretty much all dialogue, so don't expect a whole lot of music or effects here.
There's an animated menu and chapter selection here, but no actual extra features to speak of.
Linda Lovelace's Loose Lips: The Last Interview With Legs McNeil doesn't really shed a whole lot of new light on Lovelace's history, as controversial and fascinating as it is. Much of what's covered here has been covered in documentaries like Inside Deep Throat, but her story remains an interesting one. Some of the clips here? If you're a connoisseur of the back story you've probably seen a lot of them but this is still worth seeing for those with an interest in the case. It's a little rough around the edges and not the most polished of documentaries but it's interesting enough and stands as testimony that Lovelace's story will likely never be one hundred percent explained and therefore remain a subject of interest and controversy for some time to come. Recommended for those with an interest in the history of pornography, a solid rental for everyone else.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.