New film explores 'Deep Throat' star
03:17 - Source: CNN

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Story highlights

More than 10 years after her death, Linda Lovelace remains a porn icon

Over the course of her career, she embraced and denounced "Deep Throat"

Some, like Larry Flynt, believe Lovelace was used as a sex slave by her husband

CNN  — 

More than 10 years after her death, Linda Lovelace probably remains America’s best known porn star (apologies to Jenna Jameson and Traci Lords). It’s an unlikely distinction given that Lovelace – by her own estimation – only spent a total of two and a half weeks working in the adult film industry.

But those two and a half weeks included shooting “Deep Throat,” the X-rated film that turned into a pop culture phenomenon after its release in 1972. It became the first adult film to cross over to mainstream audiences, earning an astounding $600 million.

There are many reasons the film became such a breakout hit. Some have described “Deep Throat” as the first porno film that attempted to tell a story, albeit a ludicrous one.

” ‘Deep Throat’ had a plot,” said Darwin Porter, author of “Inside Linda Lovelace’s Deep Throat: Degradation, Porno Chic and the Rise of Feminism.” “I mean, not a great plot, but a plot.

“It had certain comedy overtones to it, too, and this was very unusual and bizarre (for a porno film at that time),” Porter told CNN.

Porter says “Deep Throat” also benefited from a legal and moral crusade waged against the film.

“So many people wanted to ban (the film), beginning with the government and certainly Mayor John Lindsay of New York,” Porter said. “When (Lindsay) banned it in New York, he made the movie famous all over America.”

Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt offers a more straightforward explanation for the film’s broad appeal. He told CNN it amounted to fascination with Lovelace’s gift for a particular sex act suggested by the film’s title.

Flynt told CNN, “I think it’s the unique talent shown during the film is what piqued a lot of excitement.”

The huge success of “Deep Throat” might lead some people to imagine that its star led a charmed life. But that was far from the case, to judge from the recent biopic, “Lovelace,” starring Amanda Seyfried in the title role.

The film actually presents its audience with two versions of the Lovelace story. For most of the film, she is shown as being manipulated into porn by her then-husband, Chuck Traynor. But in an darker version of events shown toward the film’s end from Lovelace’s point of view, she is depicted as essentially a sex slave.

Neither scenario is a happy one. Flynt, who says he knew Lovelace and Traynor, seems to believe the darker version.

“She was just being used every step of the way,” he told CNN. “It wasn’t something where she’d wake up every morning and think, ‘I can’t wait to get to work in the morning.’ That wasn’t the situation.”

Flynt said Traynor prostituted Lovelace, forcing her to make adult films.

“That type of coercion did exist,” he said. “I think she was being very much controlled by Chuck (Traynor). … That’s why I refer to him as a pimp.”