'Deep Throat' Star Linda Lovelace Took Porn Mainstream

PHOTO: Lost photos from 840 negative transparencies of Linda Lovelace are on exhibit at the Museum of Sex in New York.
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Before there was Jenna Jameson and before Traci Lords, there was Linda Lovelace, star of the first porn movie to go mainstream -- "Deep Throat," released in 1973.

Today, "Deep Throat" is most associated with Woodward and Bernstein's anonymous news source in the 1972 Watergate scandal. But then, the plot-driven story of a woman who could achieve orgasm through only oral sex, was a cultural moment that forever changed Americans' view of pornography, according to curators at the Museum of Sex in New York City.

"Deep Throat" was the first such film to be reviewed by The New York Times, and it opened the doors for women to enjoy and experiment with their sexuality. Some have said, in retrospect, that it improved marriages.

Amanda Seyfried plays Linda Lovelace in film.

As a result, the retail value of pornography grew exponentially, especially with the advent of home movies, cable, satellite, hotel sales and the Internet. Various reports from 2001 to 2009 in the New York Times, Forbes magazine and PBS' "Frontline" estimate the value of the industry to be anywhere between $10 billion and $13 billion.

Now, lost photos from 840 negatives and transparencies of Lovelace have surfaced and are on exhibit at the Museum of Sex. They were taken in 1973 in a three-day photo shoot with Milton Greene, the photographer most famous for his portraits of Marilyn Monroe.

Gallery owners displaying the collection say it paints a more serious portrait of the controversial woman who first embraced pornography, then railed against it.

"Even in the late '70s, porn was almost embarrassing -- a seedy guy in a trench coat sneaking into an adult theater on 42nd Street," said Kevin Mattei, who with his wife, Yuliya, own YK Gallery Inc. "The movie was a hit and shown in a real movie theater," said Mattei. "It was Ed McMahon's favorite movie and Johnny Carson spoke about it. It was no longer for guys in trench coats. It was something that was culturally accepted."

When the photos of Lovelace, whose real name was Linda Susan Boreman, came up for auction last July, the couple entered into a partnership with Greene's son, owner of The Archives LLC, which, since 2006, has been working on the restoration and marketing of the photographer's 60,000-image collection.

Greene, a fashion and celebrity photographer, took thousands of shots of Marilyn Monroe. He was only 26 when his images of the sexy Hollywood actress were published in Look magazine.

"I am happy that this has come full circle," Greene's son, Joshua Greene, told ABCNews.com. "This body of work has never really been seen. It was a part of my father's life, and he died in 1985, before he was aging and got sick. This was a really good opportunity for him, though the pictures never saw the light of day. ... I am very proud they are now getting exposure."

Joshua Greene was a 19-year-old assistant to his father on the photo shoot, helping to drape the newly famous porn star in plastic wrap and in another shot, to throw water on her body. "I started working with him in the darkroom at 11," he said.

Lovelace was naked in many of the photos, but not all, posing with an array of hats, flowers and fabric. Poses were "very tongue in cheek," he said.

"The idea was to give her a makeover -- a new look," said Greene, who still retains about 1,000 of the estimated 2,000 pieces of film.

Greene said Lovelace, who in the movie performed oral sex, was "soft-spoken and a little shy" but after working with his father and only a handful of production assistants, was "comfortable in her own skin."

After the photo shot, Milton Greene pitched the images to Hugh Hefner for Playboy magazine, but Hefner turned him down. "He felt they weren't seedy enough," said his son.

"My father had great respect for the star," he said. "She had elegance and grace with no underlying or slutty issues or energy. Nothing like that. She was top-notch."

Lovelace, who died in 2002 from injuries sustained in a car accident, left a small body of work. After starring in the hardcore "Deep Throat," about a woman born with a clitoris for tonsils, she did an R-rated sequel and another 1976 film, "Linda Lovelace for President."

She published two autobiographies advocating for porn but later renounced them. After having two children, she left pornography. By the 1980s, she had become active in the feminist anti-pornography movement.

But her impact was lasting.

"When the film came out in the '70s, we were getting off the age of hippies," said gallery owner Mattei. "That's when we started to see things open up a bit when Linda Lovelace did 'Deep Throat.' It was right after the free love marijuana smoking of the 1960s. Everyone was craving something sensational.

"The critics were reviewing it because the public was clamoring for it. They were unafraid of the negative reviews," he said. "Celebrities went to see it. People showed up at the theater and brought friends and a case of beer, and afterward they would hang out. People recruited others to see the movie -- Frank Sinatra, Vice President Spiro Agnew, Truman Capote and Sammy Davis Jr.

"Once that barrier broke, women began to use their own sexuality. Slowly but surely the taboo was broken down."

But one year after "Deep Throat" was released, Lovelace made a couple of other poorly received movies and her acting career was over. She had money and marital troubles and alleged drug use.

The tasteful Greene photos, many fully clothed, are a reminder of a time gone by, as well as the aspirations of a woman who wanted to do more with her life, said Mattei.

"She was going to use her 15 minutes of fame to become a star," said Mattei, "to do something different than spread her legs on camera."

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