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Author of The Pornographer's Daughter providing commentary on pornography, life and much more.

Filtering by Tag: Gloria Steinem

Eric Danville Interview Part Two

Kristin Battista-Frazee

Lovelace_200dpi_Cover
Lovelace_200dpi_Cover

Here is part two of my interview with Eric Danville, author of The Complete Linda Lovelace. Detailed here is Danville's personal collaboration with Linda Lovelace on this book and his experience as the first creative force behind the upcoming  film Lovelace. KBF:  Eventually you had a rare opportunity to personally collaborate with Lovelace.  When did your relationship with her turn from that phone call where she pretended to be a secretary to talking to you regularly, and contributing a great deal to your book?

ED:  I worked on the book on and off for about three years, and I gathered up all these magazine articles, books and movies.  I read her Meese Commission testimony and some other public testimony about pornography.  As I was getting close to finishing the book I called her again.  I thought she got screwed in the media. She'd been saying this shit about pornography for a long time, and it wasn’t just like she just decided to flip for money. So when I called her I said, "Linda, I called three years ago and you told me never to call, but don’t hang up the phone!  I got something that I want to tell you."

So I told her one of the things that really struck me in Out of Bondage was when she said that all these people write books and articles about her, especially when the Deep Throat anniversary comes up, she always gets blindsided with the story and then reporters call her up. I told her, "Look, I want you to have a heads-up.  I am publishing this book and I'd like to interview you for two hours.  You can say whatever you want, slam the business, I don’t care what the fuck you say. I’m not going to edit it, and I'll let you see it if before it goes to print, whatever you want. This is your chance to get it all out.  She says, "Well, it sounds like you’ve got a million dollar proposition.  We should get together and talk.  I like to judge people face to face.  I want to see what you're about."

So I traveled to Englewood, Colorado, to meet her, right outside of Denver.  She picked me up at the airport and drove me back to her place. On the way she says, "Well, do you want a beer or something?" I'm like, "Yeah, sure," so we stopped at a liquor store.  She says, "Do you want one or two?" And I said, "Oh, two."  She says, "What do you drink?" I said, "Heineken." So she comes back with two six packs of fucking Heineken, and I’m like, “No, I meant just two bottles!”   We just went back to her place and got real drunk.  She could put it away.  Better than I could at the time, and that's saying something.

KBF:  She drank you under the table?

ED:  Yeah, pretty much.  Finally, she says, “Okay, I’ll talk to you for the book.” Three months later I went out again and did the interview with her and it was the last chapter of the book. It was the first time she spoke to someone from the porn business on the record in 25 years.

KBF:  What was her frame of mind during the last session you had with her?

ED:  By then we had become pretty good friends, and we would talk pretty often. If she had something to say, she would give me a call.  If I'd just want to see how she was doing, I’d give her a call.  If she was drunk and depressed, she'd give me a call at three in the morning, or something like that.  We'd gotten to be pretty good friends, so I could really just ask her anything.  In fact, when we sat down I asked, “Do you want to see the questions beforehand so you can think of where you want your answers to go?" She said, "No, I've been doing this for long time. It's okay." And I asked, "Is there anything you want to clear up that I absolutely I cannot say?" She said, "No, you can ask whatever you want."  By that time she really trusted me.  She even said that to me, "Look, I feel very safe around you. I think I can trust you to do this, so let's get it down and out of the way."

Joe Bob Briggs said it was the most revealing interview that she had ever done, and I think he was right.  I asked her stuff that I always wanted other people to ask her but they never did, some of which was her claim of being a rape victim and protesting against pornography.  I asked her, "Why didn't you ever go into rape counseling? Why did you focus all your energies putting down the porn business when even you say it wasn't the porn business that was victimizing you, that it was this guy, Chuck Traynor. Your story is one of domestic abuse and rape. And, she said, "Well, you know, becoming a rape counselor takes time and money and you have to go to school," and she'd already hooked up with Gloria Steinem and the feminist cult.  So, she didn’t think of it in terms of her own career, or what she could have done to help people.

KBF: Do you think Gloria Steinem manipulated her to take a position against porn?

ED: “Manipulated”? No, I don’t think Gloria sat her down and said, “Okay, Linda, here’s the script.” I think they were both coming from the same point of view by that time, but I do think that Gloria and Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon and such definitely exploited her position and history to get their own agenda across.

KBF:  You published the first edition of The Complete Linda Lovelace in 2001 and you have a new edition coming up soon, when will it be released?

ED:  Sometime in September.  Lovelace will be out this fall although the movie is not based on the book at all.

KBF:  In the very beginning producers came to you, correct?

ED:  Yes.   The first draft of the screenplay was going to be “based on the book by Eric Danville.”  I was a character in film, and it was literally taken from my book.  It was going be her story as told though interviews to Phil Donahue, Tom Snyder and me, from 1973 all the way up until the 2000s. The producers got in touch with Linda's estate, and they lawyered-up with Catharine MacKinnon.  When I heard they were in touch with MacKinnon, I thought, "Oh, I see this whole thing going in a very bad direction."   MacKinnon knew Linda had contributed to my book and promoted it with me, and she (MacKinnon) was not pleased. After that, the Hollywood people wouldn't return a fucking phone call and all of a sudden they were rewriting the script.

One person told me it [script rewrite] was because James Franco wanted it. When James Franco was attached the project, or when anyone is attached to one of these projects, they have their people read the script and all this shit.  It's never final until they wrap it.  Then all of a sudden I’m out of the script but, it was still going to be based on the book.  And then their lawyer says, "Oh, well, we're not sure about parts of this book or if we can insure this.  I was like, "Fuck you. You know this book's been out for ten years! If anyone was going to sue me they would have done it already. The interviews are uncopywritable, no one's got a problem with it, and the book covers are all fair use.    Then they said, "Here's what we'll do:  we'll say that the thing is based on your book," and then the lawyer comes back and says they can't even do that.  So I got a decent amount of money to be a consultant, which basically meant I had a couple of phone calls with Epstein and Friedman. I spoke to them about Linda for about an hour.  They had copies of my book so they could pull whatever information they wanted for that, and then it became what it became.

KBF:  Have you seen the Lovelace movie?

ED:  I’m contractually not allowed to see it before it opens, but I can go to an opening or a screening. I think I’m gonna pass though.

KBF:  Why do you think it's taken so long for this movie to be made?

ED:  Because it's a real nasty story, you know? And forget about the fact that Linda's dead now, and she died in this horrible car accident after having kidney failure and the whole fucking thing, you know. It's not a happy story and there's no way to tie it up in a neat little bow at the end unless you did what I suggested in the book, which is make her escape from Chuck Traynor the story because that leaves her at a high point.  It's a bummer of a story, and Americans don't like bummer stories.

 Check out The Complete Linda Lovelace blog at ericdanville.tumblr.com and watch for announcements about the next edition of The Complete Linda Lovelace book due out in September.

Unforgettable

Kristin Battista-Frazee

My grandmother Maria has always been enamored with exotic wildcats. One day when I was very young she decided to satisfy her eccentric desire and bought from an exotic pet breeder an ocelot to keep as a pet, despite the fact that she lived in the very heart of the city, in  South Philadelphia.  For nearly 18 years, “Kitty” became a fascinating part of my family— she ate raw chicken, and sometimes leather gloves and collars, wrestled a Thanksgiving turkey to the ground and scared off burglars and my mother’s and aunt’s dates.

When Kitty sunned herself in the store window of the All in One Studio, the family photography business, she transformed the storefront into a zoo. People pressed their noses to the glass in shock when they realized they were not looking at a typical house cat. I was never allowed too close to Kitty. I would play with her by sliding a rolled up magazine under the kitchen door just to see her huge paws lunge from underneath the crack and would quickly touch them. I remember her gorgeous thick tawny colored coat with swirls of black markings that changed from stripes to spots. From what I could see from afar her underbelly was a rich cream color.

My grandmother’s personality mirrors Kitty’s wildcat traits in many ways. Like an ocelot, she is fiercely protective of her young, territorial and nocturnal (she used to work the night shift as a hotel operator). Also, despite an ocelot’s small size, they are strong and excellent hunters. My grandmother is small too, standing only 5 feet tall.  But she is wiry, and notorious for throwing a good punch. The legendary family stories about my grandmother hitting a large, belligerent customer square in the nose and chasing down a bike thief solidified her larger-than-life character for me. 

I was never scared of her, though, and most of my memories of my grandmother are of tickling and playful declarations like, “I’m gonna eat you up.” As I got older, she gave me valuable advice about men. She quoted from the book, The Natural Superiority of Women, by anthropologist Ashley Montagu, and agreed with its tenet that women are biologically superior to men. “It’s all about the Y chromosome,” she told me. Women were the kinder, gentler sex and men were the true savages. On the other hand, she’d ask about the latest guy I was dating and at times said, “If he doesn’t treat you right, I’m gonna hunt him down and kill him.” I would always laugh, but a part of me sort of believed her.

Given my grandmother’s strong feminist views, when my father, her son-in-law, entered the porn business and was prosecuted in the Deep Throat case, she definitely wasn’t happy about it. She had been influenced by women’s rights activists like Susan Brownmiller and Gloria Steinem who claimed that pornography encouraged violence against women. My grandmother had to know everything my father was up to in order to inform her opinion and make up her mind. She went to see the movie Deep Throat and even clandestinely visited my father’s strip club The Golden 33 in downtown Philadelphia. She trekked to the club on Locust Street, which at the time was not a nice neighborhood, and asked a man she met on the street to escort her inside because she felt it was improper and unsafe to go in alone. Hiding in her trench coat with the collar pulled around her cheeks and carrying a big umbrella (that doubled as a potential weapon), she slid into a chair at a small table to observe, to make her own judgment about what was going on.

She never revealed to my father that she made this visit. She disapproved of his career but strangely they liked each other. Maybe it was because my father was Italian or that his entrepreneurial spirit reminded her of her father, my great grandfather, who was a bootlegger and bar owner in the 1920s.

I asked my dad once, “Wasn’t she (my grandmother) a pain in the ass?” My father laughed and responded, “Yes, but that was what I liked about her. She had a lot of spunk.” He always had a great deal of respect for her strength and so do I. I only hope I have half of her guts and steely will. She is truly one of the most unforgettable characters in my book and a big part of my story and my life. This past February she turned 90. Happy birthday Grandma! There will never be another one like her.