Damiano, director of "Deep Throat," Dies at 80

Gerald Damiano, 80, Adult Filmmaker
He made other films and held other jobs, but Gerald Damiano will always be known as the man who made "Deep Throat." Produced for a mere $25,000, the film grossed as much as $600 million—though the profits went to the mobsters who financed it, and not to the man who made it in a Miami motel room.

"Deep Throat" opened in Times Square in June 1972, spawning a phenomenon called "porno chic." It was the first porn flick that people took their dates to see; celebrities thought it was de rigueur to attend. Banned in 23 states, a target for feminists and a symbolic totem in the culture wars that were escalating as 1960s hedonism met Nixon-era backlash, this movie, about a woman with a misplaced sexual organ that inspired her to crave oral sex, turned Linda Lovelace into a star, got Harry Reems prosecuted by the Feds, ushered porn into the mainstream—however briefly—and, of course, became the nickname of Watergate's whistle-blower. Damiano, the man behind it all, a former hairdresser from Queens, died last week at 80. It was never his intention, but his dirty little movie set off an epic battle about American sex and culture that is still a long way from being settled.

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