New York After Midnight/Blue Underground

In what appears to be the first installment of a series of discs preserving episodes of Screw Magazine editor Al Goldstein's infamous late-night public access cable TV show, Blue Underground (or rather, its subsidiary, New York After Midnight) has piggybacked the recent documentary INSIDE DEEP THROAT with this collection of interviews and segments from "Midnight Blue" dedicated to the forgotten people behind the popular 1972 hardcore hit.

Kicking off the program, in an episode originally aired in 1975, Goldstein interviews Carol Connors, the blonde large-cheeked co-star of DEEP THROAT. For those who remember nothing but the Linda Lovelace segments, Connors was the basically mute nurse assistant of Harry Reems' doctor character, and has a few hardcore sex scenes which didn't really titillate that much. She was originally slated to be the lead! Goldstein basically spends time asking Connors how she likes to have men give her head, which gets pretty old, but she retains a great air of class while being slobbered over by Goldstein. Connors reveals that she was a good friend of Linda's (she's not mentioned in Lovelace's bios) and she appeared in a stag film with Linda (which appears to be lost). For some reason, the box copy of this disc says Carol Connors was an "extreme animal lover", but in the interview, she says she would never have sex with an animal, though she admits to jerking off her pet German shepherd when he was young (!). She recommends fans to check out ROAD OF DEATH and SEX AND THE SINGLE VAMPIRE (two terrible softcore films available from Something Weird Video!), as well as a presumably lost film called ZODIAC MURDERS (no relation to ZODIAC KILLER, I'm sure, which she did not appear in). To cap off her interview, Goldstein rudely grabs her tit before Connors performs an erotic tease dressed in (and out of) a nurse's uniform with sexy narration!

An interview with London correspondent for Screw, Tuppy Owens, is less interesting but some of the language she uses which the show got away with airing is pretty incredible! The camera also catches her giving head to cameraman Bennett and swallowing his load while he films it all! Almost more fascinating than Carol Connors' interview is one with long-toothed Helen Madigan (!), a lesser-known porno starlet who appeared in roughies like WINTER HEAT and NIGHT OF SUBMISSION. She also worked with some of the best Manhattan filmmakers, such as Roberta Findlay (MYSTIQUE), Radley Metzger (NAKED CAME THE STRANGER), Abel Ferrara (CONFESSIONS OF A PEANUT BUTTER FREAK), and softcore king Joe Sarno (MISTY). The excerpt seen here is very brief, but it's interesting to see her naturally discuss her sexual preferences. She humorously discusses bestiality as well! Madigan has been forgotten over the years, but she is pretty adorable with her peculiar teeth and winning smile. Additionally, redheaded porno starlet Jody Maxwell gives someone head during a party for the Screw film S.O.S. while singing "Old McDonald Had a Farm"! Maxwell is memorable from THE DEVIL INSIDE HER, GUMS and THE SATISFIERS OF ALPHA BLUE. See "Dr. Infinity" does a Ron Jeremy and performs autofellatio! Commercials are included for an underground sex club, Screw Magazine, a swinger's lounge, and a swinging couple's personals ad. The numbers are blurred and bleeped out, of course.

The episode is preceded by a vintage statement by Alex Bennett, the co-creator of "Midnight Blue," saying the episode with Carol Connors was never going to air and was pre-empted because of censorship issues. Bennett also discusses battles with the FCC and asks viewers to send their complaints to Midnight Blue's offices! New York After Midnight has added subtitles with certain facts about the show and its guests, letting viewers know that Connors starred in 20 films in her career, was married to frequent co-star Jack Birch, became a regular guest on "The Gong Show," and is the mother of current Hollywood starlet Thora Birch (!). Because Birch was a minor during a lot of her career, it sends the mind reeling to think this former hardcore queen had to be present during not only the sets of films like HOCUS POCUS, NOW AND THEN and ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS, but had to be on-set during Thora's nude scene in AMERICAN BEAUTY!

Episode two, also from 1975, finds Goldstein talking to director Gerard Damiano, the bewigged Mob-owned visionary who is there to promote his new film THE STORY OF JOANNA. Mention is made of the pretty scathing New York Times review (which called the film "pretentious"), which leads to Damiano talking about his pride for the film and the direction adult films were taking and spouts about politics of the time. He admits JOANNA was influenced by STORY OF O, discusses the S&M and dark aspects of the film, and the problem with making a hardcore film for couples. Most exciting for me is Damiano's memories of working with Terri Hall, the fragile dark-haired beauty of countless New York City adult films whose ballet scene is the focus of the interview. Damiano does have some questionable quotes, such as him saying that there are no talented actors in the adult field (he worked with several, including Georgina Spelvin, Jamie Gillis, Terri Hall, Harry Reems, Andrea True, Samantha Fox, and Eric Edwards) and his opinion that the Mitchell Brothers can't make a film (BEHIND THE GREEN DOOR fans will beg to differ). Needless to say, this is a far more in-depth and historically important interview than that of the Carol Connors interview, as we get to learn of the porno chic movement from its primary mover-and-shaker. Goldstein looks totally bored as he can't talk about tits and ass as he's used to, and unsuccessfully feigns interest in Damiano's talk of his moviemaking style. Clips (softcore) are included from JOANNA and highlight the beauty and great talents of leading lady Terri Hall and the vicious behavior of leading man Jamie Gillis.

More subtitles reveal interesting factoids, such as the fact that Damiano never saw a dime from any of his Mafia-financed films! Commercials are included for a sex toy called the Orgasmatron (!) and the Eros sex clubs, while folk singer Buzzy Linhart also sings his love for all things dirty. Of course the phone numbers to order are bleeped and blurred out.

Episode three (or rather an excerpt of a 1976 episode) talks to former Lovelace manager Chuck Traynor, the infamous Mr. Lovelace who reportedly beat the shit out of Lovelace and forced her into the many loops and the feature DEEP THROAT as her personal pimp. He talks about the indecency trials which plagued Harry Reems and Linda Lovelace following the success of the film's release. Traynor gives away Reems' real name years before the Internet would (Herb Streicher), but has nothing of real consequence to say about the trial. Still, it's interesting to see the madman who according to everyone involved with DEEP THROAT was a complete control freak! Traynor would later marry and manage Lovelace's hardcore successor, Marilyn Chambers, and today Chambers refuses to talk about him...interesting... The commercials, including ads for escorts, theaters, sex shops, and clubs, are more interesting than Traynor's interview. Yep, those numbers are bleeped and blurred out! A cheesy "Wichman Report" finds a fake reporter giving a stock exchange of "cocks" and "sex" rather than stocks and money, and calls on a hooker to give a special report. Veronica Hart, one of the all-time best hardcore actresses of the Golden Age, personally invites viewers to visit Sexpo '82! One huge surprise: gay porn superstar Roger, aka Tom Garrett, appears in an ad for Bel Aire Escort Service!

Up next is a 1982 interview with superstud Harry Reems, the industry's first male star. By 1982, Reems had retired several times but came crawling back into the industry after legitimate acting and living a normal life failed. What brought him back was the easy money and his addiction to drugs which almost ruined him. He finally settled down with a nice girl and retired to Utah, where he still lives and uses his "Harry Rees" nomme de porn to sell real estate. Big bucks would entice him to talk for the documentary INSIDE DEEP THROAT, but he's notoriously reclusive from reporters and fans. Reems talks about his legal hassles over DEEP THROAT, getting older in the industry, changes in adult filmmaking since 1972, working with Veronica Hart and Kelly Nichols (he's there to promote Gary Graver's SOCIETY AFFAIRS), wood problems on the set of his comeback film, his private sex life, porn star marriages, and his personal thoughts on marriage, staying friends with his ex's and children. Reems is also questioned about Lovelace's claims of abuse and being forced into porn, and recounts shooting a loop with her (which was later incorporated into DEEP THROAT) and the feeling of having Lovelace sword swallow his manhood. The pair discusses Damiano and their other favorite directors, including Robert "Gary Graver" McCallum and Chuck Vincent (they also reveal "Henry Paris" was Radley Metzger by mistake!). This is by far the best interview on the disc because Reems really has a great time discussing working in porn and throws good-hearted insults at Goldstein whenever he gets the chance! Some scenes couldn't be aired (namely the softcore sex from SOCIETY AFFAIRS), resulting in "Visual Portion Deleted by Order of Manhattan Cable" slides and a voiceover by Alex Bennett begging viewers to voice their complaints in the form of letters sent to the show!

There is an UNBELIEVABLE commercial for Synth Coke, which is basically amyl nitrate posing as cocaine! To quote the ad: "Is it coke or is it Synth Coke?" Available at all fine adult stores, don'tcha know! Great ads for vibrators and condoms and the infamous Plato's Retreat sex club are also included, with that bleepin' and blurrin' again! The factoid subtitles return with some cool nuggets of info; did you know Reems was offered the part of the high school coach in GREASE? Me neither, but not surprisingly Paramount nixed it due to his porno reputation.

One of the more interesting segments of the program introduces elderly sex counselor Jackie Park (before Dr. Ruth!), who discusses a man's love for the deep throat technique. Shockingly, she then proceeds to give girls tips on how to give deep throat, going so far as to actually demonstrate on a variety of phallic objects!

Traynor returns in a 1987 review with Goldstein, where, after Lovelace's two bios were published, he is drilled into telling his side of the story. He maintains they got along well until Lovelace began dating her next manager, David Winters, who she also dragged through the mud in her books. He thinks, as many do, that because she tried to catapult her DEEP THROAT fame into legitimate superstardom and failed, she had to find a way to stay in the spotlight. Part of me agrees with this theory, considering that before her death in 2002, Lovelace was making convention and autograph show appearances capitalizing on her DEEP THROAT fame. Traynor also talks about becoming involved with Marilyn Chambers and denies being involved with the Mob or having Sammy Davis, Jr. practice deep throat on him, as Lovelace said in her book "Ordeal." Goldstein says some very ugly things about Lovelace, and even more shocking are the quotes attributed to him following her death in the factoid subtitles! More commercials advertise Screw magazine (one apologizing for the lousy service in the past year), phone sex services, and escorts, and some hardcore scenes from DEEP THROAT are shown with the hardcore blocked out by
a giant blue dot. I personally can't stand Al Goldstein, and have never seen him as anything but a whiny-voiced obese pervert who used his magazine and its reputation to have lots of free sex (or at least trying to). His drooling the women who appeared on his show is not only irritating, but unprofessional and tacky. But I will give him this: these tapes of "Midnight Blue" allow us to take a peek into the personalities of some of porn's best actresses, actors and directors, even if a lot of the topics don't go past what they like to do in bed. So his preservation of these shows is a major accomplishment!

The program opens with a disclaimer explaining that the transfer used the original 3/4 inch master tapes and that there are still imperfections. As the scroll puts it, "you can't shine shit." Truer words have never been spoken! Tracking problems and discoloration are a frequent problem, and the whole program looks like it's been taken from an old VHS tape passed from friend to friend in trading circles. But the fact that the special contains super-rare interviews with the people behind DEEP THROAT erases any shortcomings about quality. The mono audio is pretty weak, so crank it up to enjoy the interviews.

Believe it or not, there ARE extras on this disc, though none are listed on the box or on NYAfterMidnight.com. Two audio interviews by Roy Frumkes are included with Harry Reems and Gerard Damiano. Reems discusses why he uses a pseudonym, working on loops in the early days, how he met Damiano on the set of SEX USA (which was a hardcore variant of the incredible documentary CHANGES), his non-porn work in commercials and stage, the role of DEEP THROAT and DEVIL IN MISS JONES in the porno chic movement, the Mafia's role in porno, and his hatred for DEEP THROAT PART II. Damiano's interview is shorter, but he talks about the mob's role in the industry, creating a hardcore comedy, getting the film released, and the film's runaway success. The interviews are of very poor muffled quality, but are pieces of history worth having. Subtitles would have been great, though.

For the inaugural disc of the Midnight Blue Collection, this is a real corker of a platter and one can only dream of the amazing discs which are yet to come from NY After Midnight! No mention is made of the next installment on the "company"'s website, but
whatever it is, it will be a most welcome addition to any Golden Age porn fan's library!
(Casey Scott)