The Sporadic Beaver

A Film We Made in 1971

August 4, 2015

Tags: 1971, Brooklyn, City College of New York, Erasmus, Facebook, filmmaking, Watergate


In the spring of 1971, when I was a freshman at City College, my friend Jayson Wechter asked me if I'd like to play the lead role in a film he was making. He called it When Ya Gotta Go…, and it was about a guy who was trying to go to the bathroom but was constantly interrupted.

It sounded like fun and I agreed to do it.

Financed by a film cooperative, Jayson shot the movie at my house, in Brooklyn, where I was living with my parents, and cast it with an assortment of our friends and neighbors.

It’s a silent film, as sound syncing, in 1971, was a technological hurdle not easily overcome on a low budget. I’d also like to point out that I didn’t do nudity at the time, even if it was crucial to the plot, and that very brief glimpse of tuchas you’ll see was provided by a stand-in.

Over the ensuing decades, Jayson and I fell out of touch, and I pretty much forgot about the film. Then, through Facebook (naturally), I reconnected with Neil Zusman, the longhaired hippie on the left, in the above thumbnail. He had a digital copy of When Ya Gotta Go… and sent it to me.

How amazing it was to see myself in this time capsule, in my old apartment, with old friends and acquaintances, all of whom I’d lost touch with. If any of you happen to be reading this, here’s what I remember about you then and know about you now:

Jayson, who once made the news for pieing Watergate conspirator Charles Colson, is a private detective living in San Francisco.

The late Arthur Kirson, who plays the insurance salesman, was an English teacher at Erasmus Hall High School, in Brooklyn, and also faculty advisor to the student newspaper, The Dutchman.

Ethel Goodstein, the piano player, was my classmate at the City College of New York School of Architecture.

Neil, a classmate at Erasmus, is a Web designer, filmmaker, and teacher living in Ithica, New York.

Carey Silverstein, the other longhaired hippie, was a classmate at Erasmus and is now a rock musician living in Toronto.

Brian Rooney, the plainclothes narc, was my down-the-hall neighbor in Brooklyn.

Abby Bogomolny, who provided the music, was a classmate at Erasmus.

I don’t know who Mike Cramer (music) or S.K. Schwartzman (actor) are.

Perhaps some of you will now emerge from the mists of time to fill me in on what’s been happening for the past 40-plus years. I’m all ears.

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.

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.

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.