Gerard Damiano (1928-2008) was a director and writer of erotic films. His works included Deep Throat, The Devil in Miss Jones, Memories within Miss Aggie, The Story of Joanna, Let My Puppets Come, Odyssey, and The Satisfiers of Alpha Blue. Originally a hair-dresser and then the owner of beauty salons in Queens, he overheard sexual gossip by his clients, and this led him to conclude that an erotic film that appealed to couples would be successful. He also stated that being a hair-dresser gave him a deeper understanding of women. He began in films as a crew member for sexploitation movies, before moving onto erotic films in the late 1960’s. From 1969 to 1991, he directed more than 50 films. Occasionally, he also appeared in small roles in his movies.
Deep Throat was his most famous film. The premise of this comedy was that a woman was unable to have an orgasm. She discovered that her clitoris was actually in her throat. She could only climax through fellatio in which the erect penis reached down into her throat. Linda Lovelace and Harry Reems starred. Shot in Miami and New York City in six days, it cost $25,000 and went onto gross, by some estimates, over $600 million. The budget was supplied by the Columbo crime family. Plot, character development and high production values were featured for the first time in an erotic film. It was prosecuted for obscenity several times, sometimes winning, sometimes not. It was also condemned by religious groups and damned by feminists. (Linda Boreman, appearing under the stage name Linda Lovelace, claimed that she had been forced to perform in the film by her abusive husband). The XRCO Hall of Fame inducted it as their first film. Dubbed “Porno Chic” and the “Gone with the Wind of pornography”, it was wildly popular with the public.
I felt a lot of respect for Damiano’s work. He was one of the pioneers of the erotic film as art. Deep Throat was cheesy but funny. The Devil in MissJones was a tragic depiction of lust. The Story of Joanna was a seductive exploration of submission. Odyssey was a fascinating look at sexual difficulties. (It was the first erotic film I ever saw).