Arrow presents Deep Throat.

‘Deep Throat’ Has Never Looked Better

The HD version of Deep Throat (1972) is debuting on Adult Empire VOD. That makes it the ideal time to look back at the legacy of an adult classic that runs hard and deep.

Original VOD release:

2024 remastered version:

Why is Deep Throat famous?

Forget Pirates, Taboo, Flashpoint, Behind the Green Door, and Debbie Does Dallas.

Director Gerard Damiano‘s Deep Throat is, quite possibly, the most famous porn movie ever made. It defined an entire era to such a degree that its title is now a part of the cultural lexicon. Former first lady Jackie Kennedy was photographed on her way to a screening of the movie. Watergate reporter Bob Woodward used the movie’s title as the nickname for an FBI source. Linda Lovelace became one of the most celebrated stage names in porn history. And the movie coined the name for a scandalous sex act, helping oral sex move out of the shadows and into the sexual mainstream.

What is the story behind Deep Throat?

Deep Throat‘s plot is relatively simple, telling the bizarre, humorous story of a woman with a biological oddity that means deep-throat fellatio is the only way she can reach orgasm.

Deep Throat‘s production, meanwhile, has a notoriously complicated history, clouded over the years by different accounts of its genesis.

It’s generally accepted organized crime supplied the movie’s original funding, although late director Gerard Damiano’s family emphasizes that he himself did not realize that at the time. His goal was to make a memorable movie. Working as a hairdresser, Damiano frequently overheard the sexual frustrations of his clients. He saw the potential in sexually explicit cinema, which to that point had been little more than cheaply assembled bootlegs and stag film loops. As obscenity laws loosened and the sexual revolution continued to stoke the country’s libido, Damiano decided to undertake an ambitious adults-only project.

The idea for Deep Throat came to him when he saw actor Linda Lovelove (born Linda Boreman) demonstrate her astonishing oral sex skills in an audition.  “He met Linda and was inspired by her. You could say that she was his muse,” Gerard Damiano Jr. said in a 2022 interview.

Her ability to fellate well-endowed co-stars with astonishing depth and ease stunned Damiano and his entire crew. “What she was doing was so unique I could build a whole film around it,” he said in Inside Deep Throat, a 2005 documentary.

To spotlight Lovelace, he concocted the story idea of a women whose clitoris is located at the back of her throat, meaning she can achieve sexual satisfaction only with the deepest of oral sex. He pushed for the provocative title Deep Throat over alternate, tamer suggestions, including The Sword Swallower.

Actor Harry Reems, originally engaged as a production assistant, soon showed sufficient onscreen mettle to merit an upgrade to full co-star. Shooting took place in New York and Florida in early 1972. After several months of editing, this modestly budgeted erotic adventure found distribution in adult movie cinemas.

By the following year, it had become a cultural phenomenon and political flashpoint. “Deep Throat was an epochal moment in the history of modern sexuality. It was the first time that respectable middle-class women went to porn theaters. It really broke down traditional codes of decorum,” said writer Camille Paglia in 2005.

Such was the demand for Deep Throat that, when a non-hardcore movie erroneously ran in its place, police had to intervene after Greek audiences smashed the windows of the theater in protest. (This calls to mind an amusingly similar Onion parody that appeared a quarter century later.)

What is Deep Throat‘s legacy?

The movie’s mix of comedic tropes and hugely explicit sex set in place a porn formula that continues to this day. As the New York Times put it in 2013, “Deep Throat, which had set design, occasional costumes, dialogue punctuated by borscht-belt humor and an actual plot of sorts, was Cinema.”

Reports of the movie’s grosses often run as high as $600 million, equivalent to the original box-office haul of Titanic, but were likely more in the range of $100 million — still stratospheric for the day. The movie was such a phenomenon that it seemed, however briefly, that hardcore movies might become a part of the American mainstream.

At least two major criminal trials ensued over issues relating to the movie’s supposed violation of obscenity laws. By the the time the dust settled, anti-porn forces had won the battle but lost the war: porn did not become mainstream, but Deep Throat and the hardcore legions it sired were here to stay.

What happened to Deep Throat‘s actors and director?

Lovelace’s own story, tragic in many ways, was the subject of several books and a major Hollywood movie. She died in 2002 of injuries sustained in a car crash. Actor Harry Reems survived an obscenity trial relating to the movie before starring in a run of adult projects in the 1980s. He died in 2013, just a few months before a Linda Lovelace biopic (featuring Adrian Brody as Reems) debuted.

Director Gerry Damiano went on to direct other adult classics, including The Devil In Miss Jones. When he died in 2008, industry legend Nina Hartley paid homage to his even-handed directorial presence: “He was definitely in charge of the set without being a tyrant or in any way less than a really cool, fun guy.”

Where can I watch Deep Throat in high definition?

Despite its remarkable history, Deep Throat has not always been well treated on home video. Due in part to mainstream stigmas surrounding adult material, porn movies have rarely been subject to the same painstaking film preservation and restoration accorded to Hollywood classics. Poor image quality has bedeviled many classic porn videos. In 2013, AVN’s Mark Kernes wrote an op-ed in favor of the movie’s inclusion in the Library of Congress’s National Film Registry, a campaign still championed by Damiano’s children.

Deep Throat‘s 50th anniversary helped generate enough interest to bring this classic into the modern age with a new restoration, which was exhibited in cinemas across the country.

For Deep Throat‘s Adult Empire VOD incarnation, an original film print was scanned and cleaned to present this classic film much as it would have looked in its original screenings.

Do your own deep dive on Deep Throat today.

Watch the remastered version of Deep Throat! Learn more here.

Additional sources: A Brief History of Oral Sex by David DePierre, CBS News, “Deep Throat 50th Anniversary Interview,” Inside Deep Throat (2005) documentary, The New Encyclopedia of American Scandal by George C. Kuhn, Rialto Report archives

 

 

 

 

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