The Sporadic Beaver

On Newsworthy Books, Richard Nixon, and John Lennon

July 18, 2015

Tags: Ozy, Richard Nixon, Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Deep Throat, Watergate, Bild, Hollywood Scandals, Reelz, John Lennon, Nowhere Man

Before Ozy called to talk about the history of pornography in America, I'd never heard of them. But that's not surprising. So fragmented and expansive is the media today, even a high-profile news site can slip beneath my radar.

In any case, adhering to my philosophy of treating like Oprah everybody who wants to talk about my books, I spoke at length to Ozy, and when they ran the story, "How Nixon Shaped Porn in America," about the connection between Watergate and Nixon's efforts to ban the film Deep Throat, I was amazed by the results.

Not only was Beaver Street prominently featured, but the story was shared a respectable 1,760 times (and counting) on Facebook; was published in the popular German tabloid Bild as “Mister President wollte eigentlich das Gegenteil ... Wie Nixon dem Porno zum Durchbruch verhalf” (roughly translated as “Mr. President wanted the opposite of it... how Nixon helped porn to its breakthrough”); and was cited in the Washington Post and Baltimore City Paper.

That Beaver Street has remained in the news for more than four years in an environment where just about everything is forgotten within 24 hours is nothing short of miraculous. But apparently, that’s how long it’s taken the media to catch on to one of the book’s central themes: The biggest crooks—notably Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew, Edwin Meese, and Charles Keating—cry “Ban pornography!” the loudest.

And speaking of books that people keep talking about long after publication, on Tuesday, July 21, at 10 P.M eastern time, and Saturday July 25, at 2:30 P.M. eastern time, the Reelz channel will broadcast the John Lennon episode of Hollywood Scandals, in which I discuss my Lennon bio, Nowhere Man. Click here to find the show on your cable or satellite system.

Scenes from a "Deep Throat" Panel

October 7, 2014

Tags: Deep Throat, Kristin Battista-Frazee, The Pornographer's Daughter, Strand, Eric Danville, Beaver Street, Linda Lovelace, Richard Nixon

I was among the people who Kristin Battista-Frazee asked to participate in a panel discussion at the Strand bookstore, in New York City, to launch her memoir, The Pornographer's Daughter. This honest and unadorned depiction of what it was like to grow up with a father who was a major distributor of Deep Throat provides an intimate, behind-the-scenes look at the fellatio flick that changed the way America saw pornography. Joining us on the panel were Dr. Belisa Vranich, who moderated, and Eric Danville, author of The Complete Linda Lovelace.


I’ve posted two short clips of my performance on this memorable night. In the above video, I read a key passage from Beaver Street that explains how Richard Nixon helped make Deep Throat the 11th-highest-grossing movie of 1973. And in the clip below, I talk about the possibility that Linda Lovelace was forced at gunpoint to perform in the film that made her America’s first porno superstar.


Click here to see the complete discussion.

Like Stepping into a Literary Salon of Yesteryear

September 19, 2014

Tags: Strand, Kristin Battista-Frazee, The Pornographer’s Daughter, Deep Throat

My panel discussion on Deep Throat, porn, and pop culture, at the Strand, on Friday, September 26, 7-8 PM--a launch event for The Pornographer’s Daughter by Kristin Battista-Frazee--will be held in the store's Rare Book Room. Below is the Strand's description of that room--a description that I think would entice any book lover to want to spend time amidst the priceless volumes and listen to four provocative authors talk about how, with a little help from Richard Nixon, a dirty movie changed America.

Stepping into the Strand's Rare Book Room is like stepping into a literary salon of yesteryear; leather-bound classics line the walls from floor to ceiling and natural light inundates from all angles. A charming and airy loft-like space with original floors from 1901, the historic room is home to an array of one-of-a-kind treasures--from proofs and first editions, to signed and inscribed books and papers. One day you may find The World as I See It, inscribed by Einstein, and the next a Christie's catalogue on Princess Diana's dress collection, signed by Diana herself. The collection is ever-changing--in quantity, style and subject--in the spirit of the dynamic and diverse nature of the Strand.

Hope to see you there.

Even Nobel Honorees Do It

September 10, 2014

Tags: Kristin Battista-Frazee, The Pornographer’s Daughter, Deep Throat, David Koechner, Strand, Eric Danville, Beaver Street, Linda Lovelace, Paul Slimak, Erich von Pauli, Agnes Herrmann, Mary Lyn Maiscott, book promotion


Ever since YouTube achieved global dominance, book trailers have become de rigueur for every author, from Nobel laureates, like Mario Vargas Llosa, to self-published scribblers who give away their e-books on Amazon.

A well-done trailer can create awareness that a book exists and can attract media attention, which can lead to… more media attention, which can be helpful if you've written a book that's worth reading.

The Pornographer’s Daughter, by Kristin Battista-Frazee, is a memoir that vividly depicts the trauma and chaos of growing up with a father who was a sex-club owner and a major distributor of Deep Throat, the fellatio flick that changed everything.

To promote The Pornographer’s Daughter—and her September 26 panel discussion about pornography’s impact on pop culture (in which I’ll be participating), at the Strand, in New York City—Kristin has released the above trailer, starring David Koechner, best known as Todd Packer on The Office and Champ Kind in Anchorman and Anchorman 2.

Koechner plays two roles in the trailer: himself and a character named Gerald “T-Bones” Tibbons, an obnoxious reporter who interviews Kristen about The Pornographer’s Daughter even though he hasn’t read it and thinks it’s a filthy book, like Fifty Shades of Grey.

Kristin holds her own against both incarnations of this bona fide comic heavyweight. And maybe the trailer will persuade you to venture out to the Strand to see our porn panel, which also includes Eric Danville, author of The Complete Linda Lovelace, and will be moderated by Dr. Belisa Vranich, author of the self-help book Get a Grip.

In the meantime, for your edification, please contrast and compare The Pornographer’s Daughter trailer with my own trailer, below, Erich von Pauli on Beaver Street: Episode 1—there are four episodes altogether—starring Paul Slimak as renegade Nazi Erich von Pauli. Shot on a budget of approximately £1, a few months before Beaver Street was published in the U.K., the video features Agnes Herrmann’s voiceover and Mary Lyn Maiscott’s performance of the Beaver Street theme song (with apologies to Ray Davies and the Kinks).

Gerald Tibbons, meet Erich von Pauli. Long may you run.


Delighted to Be Invited or: Deep Throat + 42 Years

September 3, 2014

Tags: Deep Throat, Kristin Battista-Frazee, The Pornographer’s Daughter, Strand, Eric Danville, Beaver Street, Linda Lovelace, Patti Smith

The Strand might be the best bookstore in New York City, if not in the entire country. It's been around for 87 years, the last 57 at its current location, at 828 Broadway, on the corner of 12th Street.

Despite the digital upheaval now roiling the book world, the store continues to flourish and remains the go-to performance space for such literary luminaries as Patti Smith and Junot Diaz.

I've spent many entertaining hours browsing the Strand's aisles, in search of reasonably priced out-of-print books. And whenever the pile of books on my coffee table gets out of control, the Strand is where I go to convert them to pocket change.

These are among the reasons why I’m delighted to have been invited to participate, on Friday, September 26, from 7-8 PM, in a launch event at the Strand for The Pornographer’s Daughter, a memoir by Kristin Battista-Frazee, whose father achieved notoriety in the 1970s when he went from being a respectable Philadelphia stockbroker to a major distributor of Deep Throat, the dirty movie that changed everything.

Here’s my mini-review of Kristin’s book:

An honest and unadorned depiction of what it’s like to grow up in a house where hardcore pornography and live sex shows pay the bills. Set in a twilight zone somewhere between All in the Family and The Sopranos, the cast features a father facing federal obscenity charges in Memphis, a mother washing down Nembutal with shots of Wild Turkey, and a daughter taking it all in with the eye of a budding journalist. It’s miraculous that Battista-Frazee was able to persuade her family to tell her in such unsparing detail what went down when she was a child. The most surprising plot twist, however, is that Battista-Frazee emerged from the chaos and trauma to lead a shockingly normal, middle-class life.

Deep Throat expert Eric Danville, author of The Complete Linda Lovelace, will join us for a free-wheeling panel discussion about porn’s impact on American pop culture, moderated by Dr. Belisa Vranich, author of Get a Grip.

If you’d like to attend the event in the third floor Rare Book Room, please buy The Pornographer’s Daughter or a $15 Strand gift card, which is good toward the purchase of Beaver Street or any other book in the store.

There will be wine.

Return of the Beaver

September 9, 2013

Tags: Beaver Street, Nowhere Man, Bobby in Naziland, Amazon, Kindle, Eric Danville, Lainie Speiser, Deep Throat, The Rialto Report

It's been nearly seven weeks since I last posted here, and the ninth day of the ninth month (see Nowhere Man) seems like an auspicious day to declare an end to summer hours. Regular readers of what used to be The Daily Beaver will notice the name change. I'm now calling this blog The Sporadic Beaver, which means that I'm no longer going to post Monday-Friday, but will make the effort to post at least once every week.

A lot has been going on since July 24:

· I’ve given the complete Bobby in Naziland manuscript to the Mistress of Syntax, who has read the entire thing. I’ve since been working on corrections and rewrites.

· The Beaver Street Kindle edition was re-released on Amazon U.S. and Canada, and last week it was the #1 “Hot New Release” in pop culture books in the U.S., and the #2 “Hot New Release” in art books, behind Gertrude Stein’s The World Is Round, in Canada. This is my first #1 anything in the U.S. since September 2000, when Nowhere Man was riding high on numerous bestseller lists.

· In other Amazon news, the secretive company has made the Kindle edition of Beaver Street unavailable in the U.K., telling me that they “don’t have the rights to sell it.” This is what Amazon U.S. told me last year about the print edition of the book—before the threat of a public protest against Amazon censorship persuaded them to make the book available. Perhaps the Brits will sort this one out, though they’ve given no indication that they’re capable of doing so.

· I’ve been kicking back in Machiasport, Maine; Saint Andrews, New Brunswick; and Greenacres, Florida, doing my best not to think about Amazon or any of the other routine aggravations that the publishing industry is so good at generating.

· Eric Danville, Lainie Speiser, and I have been preparing for our next group reading on Tuesday, September 17, at 8:00 P.M., at the 2A bar in the East Village. The theme is politics, and I’ll be reading from the Lockhart Commission/Deep Throat/Watergate section of Beaver Street. Stay tuned for more info, and in the meantime, you can listen to Eric talk about Deep Throat on The Rialto Report.

Happy Anniversary, Deep Throat

June 7, 2013

Tags: Linda Lovelace, Deep Throat, Eric Danville, Bloomsday on Beaver Street, Richard Nixon, Watergate, Lexi Love, Lainie Speiser


Amanda Seyfried shows off her porno skills in Lovelace
.

How did an hour-long loop shot in six days for under $25,000, about a woman whose clitoris was in her throat, earn over $600 million, and become the eleventh-highest-grossing film of 1973? How did the ability to swallow an enormous penis without gagging become, that same year, America's #1 topic of dinner-table conversation? How did buying a ticket to a dirty movie become an act of revolution and political protest? And how did Linda Lovelace become the world's first porno superstar?

Blame it on Richard Nixon. It was June 19, 1972, exactly one week after Deep Throat premiered in porn houses across America (and three days after Bloomsday), that the Watergate story broke on the front page of The Washington Post, and Nixon, in an attempt to distract the country from the emerging scandal and unraveling cover-up, ordered the FBI to shut down every theater showing Deep Throat, to confiscate every print, and to arrest the actors and the filmmakers responsible for it. And "Deep Throat" became not only the title of a film and a renowned sex act, but the code name for Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein's FBI source, who was feeding them the information they needed to bring down a president.

We will be celebrating this anniversary on Bloomsday on Beaver Street II, as Eric Danville, author of The Complete Linda Lovelace, the book that was the original inspiration for the forthcoming film Lovelace, starring Amanda Seyfried, reads from a collection of over-the-top vintage 1970s flyers advertising the late deep-throat artist’s 8mm loops. And we will come to a deeper understanding of how, though Ms. Lovelace’s athletic skills, Deep Throat would become a cultural touchstone, its commercial success in the pornographic arena still unsurpassed.

Joining Eric will be authors Robert Rosen and Lainie Speiser, adult actress Lexi Love, and a host of musicians and actors. The event is free, and you can download your invite here. Hope to see you on Sunday, June 16, at the Killarney Rose on Beaver Street, for the best Bloomsday party in New York City.

There Will Be Porn Stars

April 25, 2013

Tags: Bloomsday, Beaver Street, Eric Danville, Linda Lovelace, Deep Throat, Lainie Speiser, Bobby in Naziland, James Joyce, Nora Barnacle, Ulysses

As this cruelest month winds down, I find myself thinking seriously about what, exactly, is going to happen, on June 16, at the second annual Bloomsday on Beaver Street event, at the Killarney Rose, in downtown Manhattan. Last year was easy. My book had recently been published in the U.S., and Bloomsday was a book launch party celebrating not only Beaver Street, but other literary works, like James Joyce's Ulysses, that had once been branded pornographic and banned.

This year, I'm expanding the theme to include other authors whose works lend themselves to what is actually being celebrated on June 16, the day that Ulysses takes place. On that day, in 1904, Joyce had his first date with his wife-to-be, Nora Barnacle, and to put it in the most explicit terms, she gave him an epic handjob.

This much is definite:

Eric Danville will be reading from his book The Complete Linda Lovelace, which he’s now revising, and will re-release in September to coincide with the release of Lovelace, starring Amanda Seyfried as the deep-throat artist. I suspect that Danville will read, among other things, a zombie story he’s working on titled “Dead Throat.”

Lainie Speiser, author of many books about sex, will read from her latest work, Confessions of the Hundred Hottest Porn Stars.

There will be porn stars present. Musicians will perform. Byron Nilsson will MC, read, and sing.

I will again be reading from Beaver Street, this time a historical (rather than a personal) passage. And I will also, for the first time in public, read from my novel-in-progress, Bobby in Naziland, for which I offer no apologies to James Joyce for the subtitle, “A Portrait of the Author as a Young Jew.” He would have understood.

Mark your calendars now, and stayed tuned for more news about additional performers.

It's Complicated

January 24, 2013

Tags: Linda Lovelace, Eric Danville, Deep Throat, Andrea Dworkin

In an earlier post, Throat, I'd written about Eric Danville reading from his book The Complete Linda Lovelace. The event was a celebration of Deep Throat's 40th anniversary and the reissue of the book. I'd said that the upcoming film, Lovelace, starring Amanda Seyfried, was based on the book.

I'd like to issue a correction. As Danville reported on his blog yesterday, the just released Lovelace is not based on The Complete Linda Lovelace, though it was originally supposed to be based on the book. As for what happened and what the film is based on, well, it's complicated, and Danville explains it at some length in his own post.

Suffice it to say, lawyers were involved, producers were involved, demands were made, and most telling of all, the late Linda Lovelace’s “confidant and advisor” Catharine A. MacKinnon was involved. MacKinnon, as I explain in Beaver Street, is a radical feminist lawyer best known for her association with anti-porn activist Andrea Dworkin, who’s best remembered for dedicating her life to outlawing pornography and for equating sexual intercourse with rape. In 1980, Lovelace (her real name is Linda Marchiano) denounced Deep Throat and became an anti-porn crusader.

This should give you some idea of what Lovelace is about. So, if you want to see what sounds like, according to critics, an OK movie set in the world of XXX, then see Lovelace. But if you want accurate history, then read a book. May I suggest The Complete Linda Lovelace by Eric Danville.

A Certain Type of Father

June 14, 2012

Tags: Bloomsday on Beaver Street, James Joyce, Ulysses, Deep Throat, Watergate, Irwin Rosen, Mary Lyn Maiscott

Bloomsday on Beaver Street is a celebration of many things in the spirit of James Joyce: the U.S. publication of Beaver Street; other works of literature, like Ulysses, that the more close-minded among us have deemed pornographic; the 40th anniversary of the premiere of Deep Throat; and the 40th anniversary of Watergate, which gave rise to that other Deep Throat. (I write about all this in Beaver Street.)

As if that’s not enough to celebrate, this Saturday, June 16, is also the eve of Father’s Day, and Beaver Street is dedicated to my father, Irwin Rosen, who passed away in 2005. I dedicated it to him because I think he would have enjoyed the book, and I explain why in the Prologue, titled “A Kid in a Candy Store.”

My father used to own a candy store on Church Avenue, in Brooklyn, around the corner from where we lived. I spent a lot of time there, working and hanging out, and one of the things I witnessed was the passion that my father and his pals expressed for books like Tropic of Cancer and Last Exit to Brooklyn—so called “dirty books,” many originally banned in the U.S., that he displayed on a special rack in the back of the store. Beaver Street, I think, would have earned a coveted slot in that special rack.

In honor of Father’s Day, the Prologue is one of the two passages I’m going to read Saturday night. And I’d like to suggest that if you have a certain type of father, Beaver Street, now available in paperback and all e-book formats, just might make the ideal Father’s Day gift. If you buy the book at the event, as a bonus you’ll receive absolutely free a copy of Blue Lights, Mary Lyn Maiscott’s CD, which is dedicated to her parents; the title song is about their wartime romance.

So please join us on Beaver Street to celebrate more things than we can keep track of. It’s going to be fun.

Throat

June 11, 2012

Tags: Deep Throat, Linda Lovelace, Eric Danville, Watergate, Bloomsday on Beaver Street

It's impossible to write about the history of pornography, or even the history of 20th century America, without talking about Deep Throat, the movie. In the world of XXX, Deep Throat was the atomic bomb, the event that changed everything and whose impact continues to be felt today.

In the Beaver Street Prologue, I describe how Ronald Reagan’s attorney general Edwin Meese used underage porn star Traci Lords “as a weapon to attempt to destroy the porn industry as revenge for every legal humiliation pornographers had inflicted on the government since Linda Lovelace and Deep Throat shattered box office records in 1973.”

Later in the book, I explain how Richard Nixon, in an attempt to distract the country from the emerging Watergate scandal, ordered the FBI to shut down every theatre showing Deep Throat, confiscate every print, and to arrest the actors and filmmakers responsible for it. The result: Lovelace became the world’s first porno superstar, buying a ticket to a dirty movie became an act of revolution and protest, and Deep Throat became the eleventh-highest-grossing film of 1973.

As if Bloomsday on Beaver Street, the New York launch event on June 16, didn’t have enough cosmic significance swirling around it, it also happens to be taking place four days after the 40th anniversary of Deep Throat’s New York premiere and three days before the 40th anniversary of a story that ran on the front page of The Washington Post, about the arrest of five men with ties to the Republican party caught burglarizing the Watergate Hotel, thus giving rise to that other Deep Throat, the one of Woodward and Bernstein fame.

All of which is to say, last night, in celebration of this 40th anniversary, I went to 2A, a bar in the East Village, to hear Eric Danville read from his book, The Complete Linda Lovelace. The book will be reissued in September, and the reissue will coincide with the release of Lovelace, starring Amanda Seyfried, which is based on the book.

Danville is somebody I’ve been aware of for years but had never actually met until last night. We were in the same New York Times article, published ten years ago, “A Demimonde in Twilight.”

Danville was dressed motorcycle-style for the event, “Live to Write/Write to Live” inscribed across the back of his denim vest. As his image was projected larger than life on the wall of a building across the street, he read from his Lovelace book for a full hour, to an appreciative crowd that include the son of Deep Throat director Gerard Damiano.

When it was over, I congratulated Danville on his performance and his stamina.

“One hour is a long time to read,” I told him.

“My throat,” he said, “was dry.”

This is, I imagine, a problem that never troubled the late Linda Lovelace.