I FIRST MET LINDA AT THE 1972 HOLLYWOOD PREMIERE OF "DEEP THROAT."
I had never been to a porn theatre, nor had I ever seen one. I remember it took place at a seedy part of Santa Monica Blvd. It was a famous porn theatre, and I remember being terrified to sit in a seat. I was taken by a publicist, because they wanted my reaction in my Hollywood Reporter column. Once you were seated, a scantily-clad girl distributed paper bags that said, "Deep Throat." Inside was a towel (!), lubricant, and some other things I can't remember. I was just stunned. About half the audience was filled with properly dressed Hollywood press people and the usual VIPs, and the other half looked like hookers and pimps. That's the only was to say it.
Then in came Linda Lovelace, whose armed was gripped by her "manager," Chuck Traynor. I'll never forget the look in her eyes. She was on another planet. Here eyes were dull. She looked numb and was trying to smile. She walked right by me, and for some reason, she looked down and said hello to me. Through those eyes I saw sweetness and was suddenly very sad.
The movie started and I was shocked and mortified throughout. Enough said. After it was over, Linda was mobbed by men. I could literally see her alternately being shoved and dragged by her "handlers."
I edged closer to her. For just a second her guards were busy with a crowd, and I was able to talk to her. "How are you handling all this? I asked. "I don't know," responded dreamily. "I'd like to interview you," I said. "You seem nice," she said. "But I'll never get away." And then she was yanked from me.
Several years later I got the following call from Valerie Harper:
"I'm at Diane Ladd's house and you've got to come over right away. Linda Lovelace Marchiano needs a liver transplant or she'll die. We need to raise the money this afternoon!"
So, of course I jumped into my car and raced over. The Diane Ladds and Valerie Harpers of the world are kind, strong people who stand up for anyone they believe has been wronged. I love that about them, and through the years it has been a privilege to be included in their activist circle. We spent the afternoon on the phones and raised a lot of money.
Before Linda became famous, she was in a car accident and was given a tainted blood transfusion that contained HepC. She got her transplant. But the years of her being used and ravaged took their toll. She got into all kinds of substance abuse and I don't know if she every fully kicked it. She did get married, have children and become an anti-porn crusader.
In 1986, she testified before the Meese Commission, "Virtually every time someone watches that movie, they're watching me being raped." In the Toronto Sun on March 20, 1981 she said, "It is a crime that movie is still showing; there was a gun to my head the entire time."
And more testimony:
When in response to his suggestions I let him know I would not become involved in prostitution in any way and told him I intended to leave, [Traynor] beat me up physically and the constant mental abuse began. I literally became a prisoner, I was not allowed out of his sight, not even to use the bathroom, where he watched me through a hole in the door. He slept on top of me at night, he listened to my telephone calls with a .45 automatic eight shot pointed at me. I was beaten physically and suffered mental abuse each and every day thereafter. He undermined my ties with other people and forced me to marry him on advice from his lawyer. My initiation into prostitution was a gang rape by five men, arranged by Mr. Traynor. It was the turning point in my life. He threatened to shoot me with the pistol if I didn't go through with it. I had never experienced anal sex before and it ripped me apart. They treated me like an inflatable plastic doll, picking me up and moving me here and there. They spread my legs this way and that, shoving their things at me and into me, they were playing musical chairs with parts of my body. I have never been so frightened and disgraced and humiliated in my life. I felt like garbage. I engaged in sex acts for pornography against my will to avoid being killed... The lives of my family were threatened.
She eventually died from another car accident. I don't know if she was drug-free or not. I have a feeling that the new movie opening this week will do her justice. I can't wait to see it, and I hope I'm right. Rest in peace, Linda.