Ex-porn king Al Goldstein tells the story of Deep Throat
One of the most famous cable public-access series ever, "Midnight Blue" was the invention of the filthy publisher of Screw magazine, Al Goldstein, a brusque, low-rent Hugh Hefner, whose circle of associates included porn stars, hookers, escorts and basically anyone else who enjoyed sex. Goldstein would frequently interviews these people in ways that went beyond blue. Trying to think of a question he asks that could be printed by a family-friendly outlet is an exercise in futility. Swearing to him is what breathing is to the average person.
The show, which aired on New York's Manhattan Cable from 1975 to 2002, was a direct reflection of the man who gave birth to it: A mix of filthy comedy, sex-related chats and just-plain weird segments. Though no actual sex is seen, full-frontal nudity abounds, and the act of sex is shown, with any genital contact obscured. As a result, you get to enjoy porn starlet Jody Maxwell performing fellatio while singing "Old McDonald Had a Farm" and a flexible man named Dr. Infinity doing the same thing but without a song and without anyone else around.
The episodes chosen for this collection, which apparently is the first in a series for NY After Midnight, were selected for their connection to Linda Lovelace's star-making turn in the porn film Deep Throat, which has had something of a renaissance, thanks to a re-release in 2005. Thus, we get episodes featuring interviews with two of the film's stars, Carol Connors and Harry Reems, the films director, Gerard Damiano, and Lovelace's husband and business manager Chuck Traynor, along with a couple of other gems, like pornster Jackie Park discussing the pros and cons of the film's titular technique and how to achieve it through training.
Each of the four main interviewers has a fascinating story, from Connors' sexual appetite (and maternal connection to actress Thora Birch) to Reems' retirement and Damiano's business struggles. Traynor, who was accused of abuse by Lovelace, is possibly the most interesting, but he's such a pal of Goldstein, who had no love for Lovelace, that the questions are more of the fawning type.
Though much of the series is extremely dated, one bit of the series that's still relevant today is the first episode, which features an explicit interview with Connors. The episode that originally featured the interview, along with a lengthy striptease, was rejected by Manhattan Cable, enraging the "Midnight Blue" crew, who responded with this backlash, hosted by the show's executive producer Alex Bennett. In it, bits of the banned episode are compared to episodes that previous aired, raising questions as to how one episode aired and the other didn't. In the end, the FCC is once again the culprit, then, as it is now.
While the series is the main attraction here, the best part of these DVDs is the original advertising that aired with the episodes. Selling everything from full-service massage parlors to sex toys to swingers clubs, hookers, and most incredibly, fake cocaine, these ads are a memory of a bygone era, one that included the legendary Plato's Retreat, who have an ad on this DVD. If anyone wants to go on a sex sightseeing tour, the addresses for most of these places, which are certainly all gone, are included, though the phone numbers are edited out. This is the most entertaining part of this DVD, and for anyone who has grown-up with a Disney-fied/Giuliani'd New York City, it should be a real history lesson.
And speaking of history lesson: NY After Midnight, an off-shoot of niche DVD studio Blue Underground, has done all viewers a great service, providing non-optional subtitles, which fill in some of the backstory behind the people being interviewed, for those who aren't in-the-know. The subtitles even have a sense of humor, and make for a better all-around viewing experience.
The audio, a Dolby Digital 2.0 presentation of a mono mix, is similarly aged, yet decent, with an undercurrent of noise and crackling. The sound is flat and appropriate for this low-budget presentation.
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