Throttling Throat

What's on Trial with Deep Throat
By JANET MASLIN  |  May 12, 2008

This article originally appeared in the May 8, 1973 issue of the Boston Phoenix.

D eep in the land of the sun
E ach day like each other one
E very sexual encounter was lacking
P erhaps it is her that is slacking
T o the doctor she went
H er whole problem she spent
R eached a climax—of course
O nly one thing…the source
A ll of you will agree…Throat!
T hat Deep Throat should happen to me!”

—A Poem; from the official Deep Throat press booklet

By the time the second day’s worth of somber, clinical courtroom haggling over the fate of Deep Throat had rolled around, psychosexual wear and tear was beginning to take its toll on the attorney for the Prosecution. Fred Kellogg, the young but ultraserious jurist in question, was cross-examining a defense witness, Reverend Ron Mazur, a sex educator at U. Mass (and author of something called Common Sense Sex), when Kellogg began inquiring as to just what Rev. Mazur thought the “main thrust” of the film had been. The Reverend seemed a trifle surprised, but after musing on the thrust issue for a while he offered some observations about the educational value of the film as a whole. He said he found its chief merit to be that of allowing audiences “to laugh about the forbidden.” Attorney Kellogg, not about to settle for that, brought up a specific instance in the film wherein two women invite countless men over for pure purposes of a good time. “Now, what about that!” Kellogg snapped triumphantly, “Would a normal girl ever do that?”

The Reverend, not purporting to know very much about normal girls, merely looked surprised. He did say that he felt certain scenes in the film had sexist overtones; but Attorney Kellogg, looking unsatisfied, pressed still further onward. “What scenes can you cite,” he inquired, “that do not have the negative values of brutality, sexism, and sex without love, instead of possible educational value?” Reverend Mazur just looked weary and said, for the umpteenth time in response to essentially the same question, that the film “allows us to laugh at ourselves.” But didn’t Mazur think, persisted Kellogg, that the film was then guilty of foisting sexism and sexist ideas upon the public? This time Mazur sighed audibly before mustering his energies for a reply: “Since the public is rampant with sexism already, I believe not.”

Hippies, Leftists, and Anarchists
That was just about the high point of the trial, at least as far as I could tell. True, I’d only been around for one out of three days’ worth of testimony (last Monday), and on the previous Thursday I’d missed hearing a prosecution witness named Dr. Levin, a sociologist who claimed to be an expert in the field of underground newspapers, and sexual standards thereof. Dr. Levin, who had been studying such rags as Avatar and the Village Voice from 1957 through 1970, had concluded that the readers of those papers were primarily “hippies, leftists, and anarchists.” Dr. Levin had apparently made for the high point of the prosecution’s case. Their only other witnesses had been Dr. Cohen, a psychologist, and John Lord, a BU film professor and former writer for the Today show, so it was a shame to have missed Levin. Although Professor Lord, who I’d also missed, had testified about his own filmmaking credentials (he’d made a little something called “Four Days to Omaha”) and his own expertise in the dirty-picture field (he had seen one other one, once, in Scottsdale, Arizona) before going on to make the point that there’s never been frontal nudity shown on television (there has)—so I’m sure he must have been worth watching as well.

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    This article originally appeared in the May 8, 1973 issue of the Boston Phoenix.

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