BWW Reviews: THE DEEP THROAT SEX SCANDAL Heats Up the Zephyr Theater

Freedom of speech is the political right to communicate one's opinions and ideas. The term freedom of expression is sometimes used synonymously, but includes any act of seeking, receiving and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used. In practice, the right to freedom of speech is not absolute in any country and is commonly subject to limitations, as with libel, slander or obscenity.

But who decides what's indecent?

"The Deep Throat Sex Scandal," the new play by David Bertolino about the making of the famed, groundbreaking, 1970s pornographic film "Deep Throat" and the subsequent controversy and obscenity trial the film ignited, is making its West Coast Premiere at the Zephyr Theatre for a six-week engagement beginning January 31, 2013, directed by award-winning adult film writer-director Jerry Douglas. It is a sinfully entertaining play about freedom, truth, justice, and porn.

The mood of the mid-1970's is set from the time you arrive with protestors carrying signs against smut and porn in front of the Zephyr Theater. It's all part of the show and great PR for passers-by wondering what all the fuss is about - just as the obscenity trial was great PR for the film. Estimates of the film's total revenues have varied widely: numbers as high as $600 million have been cited, which would make "Deep Throat" one of the highest grossing films of all time. The film's title soon became a pop culture reference, most notably when then-Washington Post managing editor Howard Simons chose "Deep Throat" as the pseudonym for a Watergate informant.

The attitude of "if it feels good, do it" was gaining strength in young American hippie culture when the film premiered, in a time when oral sex was illegal in most of the country. Harry Reems (Marc Ginsburg) was just an actor looking to make a few bucks and Linda Lovelace (Natasha Charles Parker) was the mousy wife of the overbearing Chuck Traynor (Alec Tomkiw) who was looking for an easy way to cash in on his wife's "special" talent, which he was more than happy to develop with her.

Enter Gerry Damiano (Herschel Savage), the self-proclaimed "P.T. Barnum of the 70's" who recruited them to make one of the first pornographic films to feature a plot, character development and relatively high production standards. The 61-minute-long movie was intended to be humorous, with highly tongue-in-cheek dialogue and songs; fireworks going off and bells ringing during Lovelace's orgasms. It was great to see clips from the movie during the play, even while the same scenes were being filmed in front of us. "Deep Throat" earned mainstream attention and launched the "porno chic" trend despite, or due to, the film being banned in some regions and its being the subject of obscenity trials.

I must commend all the actors in the show, but especially Frank Blocker from the original NYC cast in the role of Larry Parrish, the right-wing Memphis prosecutor who aimed to take down the entire adult film industry following in the footsteps of President Nixon's call to end smut. Blocker is a delight to watch as he weaves his good-ole country boy courtroom charm with great bravado.

Marc Ginsburg along with Michael Rachlis and Natasha Charles Parker deserve great praise for their unselfconscious baring of body and soul. Be advised no one 18 and under will be admitted as the play does contain full frontal nudity, both male and female. And we can surely thank "Deep Throat" for paving the way for this type of freedom of expression.

Adult film stars Veronica Hart and Herschel Savage are part of the on-going, eight-actor company and the play will have different guest cast members every week: Amber Lynn and Bill Margold (Preview week January 24-27); Sally Kirkland and Bruce Vilanch (January 31-February 3); Nina Hartley and Christopher Knight (February 7-10); Georgina Spelvin and Ron Jeremy (February 14-17).

I was fortunate to see Sally and Bruce in the show - what a treat! I would love to repeat Sally's lines for you as they had the audience literally rolling in the aisles. But I don't want to spoil the fun! Just see the show and be prepared for a non-stop trip into the swinging 70's. Performances are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 7 p.m. at the Zephyr Theater, 7456 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles. Tickets are available online at www.deepthroattheplay.com or by calling 800-838-3006.



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From This Author Shari Barrett