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Does the world need a Linda Lovelace biopic? How about two?


Sarah Cheverton
WVoN co-editor

American actress Sarah Jessica Parker is set to play Gloria Steinem in one of two new biopics of Linda Lovelace.

Mainstream reporting has centred on the rapidly changing casts: Demi as Gloria, Mary Louise Parker as Gloria, or Chloe Sevigny as a journalist?

But as my baffled, tired eyes attempted to focus in on the headlines, I couldn’t help but wonder: does Hollywood not have any sense of irony?

And is Tinseltown likely to do anything but further sensationalise the complex life of a woman primarily remembered for her role in one of the most controversial porn films ever made?

Both biopics claim to highlight the abusive relationship at the centre of Linda Susan Boreman’s life, or, as she is more commonly known, Linda Lovelace.

She was only 23 years old when she starred in Deep Throat, after being led into the industry by her husband, pornographer Chuck Traynor. Before casting her in Deep Throat he had previously starred Linda in bestiality porn film, Dogfucker.

Accounts of Traynor’s brutality to Boreman are numerous, both from her own account and others. There is little doubt that, like many women, she was heavily coerced into the porn industry.

Boreman’s third autobiography, Ordeal, tells of this coercion and relates accounts of violence, gun-threats, rape and forced prostitution. The bruises appearing on Boreman’s thigh in ‘Deep Throat’ are often attributed to her husband.

Whilst the film itself would go on to be judged as ‘obscene material’ by Judge Joel J. Taylor – a move said to have boosted the film’s popularity further – even more obscene is the story of how this young woman came to be in it.

Boreman wrote of her time in the porn industry: “I have never been so frightened and disgraced and humiliated in my life.”

But throughout her life she found herself adopted and then dropped by many forces larger than her. Pornography was one such force, but another, she came to feel, was feminism.

Boreman was, for a time, an important figure in the anti-pornography movement. However, her accounts of coercion and violence often conflicted with those of others in the industry. Like many women leaving porn, her voice was often undermined or ignored.

In The Other Hollywood, Boreman described her experiences of the feminist movement:

“Between Andrea Dworkin and Kitty MacKinnon, they’ve written so many books, and they mention my name and all that, but financially they’ve never helped me out. […] They made a few bucks off me, just like everybody else.”

And more than anything, Boreman’s life is a tale of people doing exactly that.

Deep Throat itself was funded by organized crime, namely from the Peraino family, who gave approximately $22,000 to make the film.

Boreman received approximately $1,200, but later stated the money had been taken by her abusive husband, Traynor.

She died in 2002 following a car accident, without seeing a cent of the millions of dollars made from the film that secured her notoriety. She was in failing health, suffering the effects of poor breast implants and a blood transfusion that left her with Hep C.

So what can we expect from ‘Lovelace’? Or from its fellow biopic, ‘Inferno: a Linda Lovelace Story?

The descriptor of ‘Lovelace’ reads: “Story of Linda Lovelace, who is used and abused by the porn industry at the behest of her coercive husband, before taking control of her life.”

And with Sarah Jessica Parker involved, it wouldn’t surprise me if it turns into a remake of Erin Brockovich with porn – the story of how coercive blow jobs changed the life of one woman, and the world.

I will be impressed if Hollywood is prepared to turn its cruel lens upon itself to reveal the complexity of Linda Boreman’s life without reducing her to a 2D cardboard cut-out.

And I’ll be really impressed if it can draw parallels with the still dangerous and coercive world of hardcore pornography today.

In many ways, these two biopics seem set to be variations on a theme of using the life of Linda Boreman to make money.

But I think there was much more to her than Hollywood knows how to handle.

In 1997, she said: “I look in the mirror and I look the happiest I’ve ever looked in my entire life. I’m not ashamed of my past or sad about it. And what people might think of me, well, that’s not real. I look in the mirror and I know that I’ve survived.”

And if either of these movies leave their audience with a sense of this side of Linda Boreman, it will be my hat and not my clitoris you’ll find in my throat.

  1. I really can’t see SJP giving this role the depth it deserves, but maybe we will be surprised by hollywood? Ha.

  2. I don’t think the world or anyone else needs this film and it should not be made out of respect to the woman who cannot even protest or prevent it. Perhaps it was time we started to boycott Hollywood rubbish by refusing to pay for or watch the stream fn discriminatory crap that we are presented every day.

  3. vicki wharton says:

    SJP is a clothes horse – just what kind of film is Hollywood going to trump up here with a Sex in the City celebrity. I bet my bottom dollar that the porn industry will be airbrushed to within an inch of its life and Linda Lovelace will be portrayed as a loser who brought her life on herself.

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