Before home computers, before the Internet, there was Linda Lovelace. For those who may have missed the 1970s, Lovelace starred in “Deep Throat,” the first “adult” film to receive mainstream distribution.
Typical porno flicks of the time were sleazy, hurriedly shot and poorly lit. “Deep Throat” was comparatively better, and even had an unusual comic plot. Lovelace was unable to achieve satisfaction in the traditional matter because of — how to put this? — a physical anomaly. Without going into detail, consider the film’s name.
That was humorous, perhaps. But there was nothing funny about her real life. Lovelace later revealed that she was abused by her husband and forced not only to appear in this film, but to perform acts of prostitution, as well.
Her life is the subject of a new biopic, “Lovelace,” which opens August 9 in theaters and on Video on Demand. It is directed by Rob Epstein, 58, and Jeffrey Friedman, 62. The pair are also behind such well received documentaries as “Common Threads: Stories From the Quilt” (an Academy Award winner) and “The Celluloid Closet” (for which they won a directing Emmy). Their first narrative film was “Howl,” which starred James Franco as a young Allen Ginsburg.
Epstein and Friedman spoke to The Arty Semite about tandem directing, casting “Lovelace” and how being Jewish affects their expectations.
Curt Schleier: How long have you two been working together?
Images of Israel usually conjure up holy monuments, the Mediterranean Sea and a land steeped in political turmoil. Now you can add Playboy bunnies to that list.
Playboy Magazine, which is printed in over 30 countries, recently added the Holy Land to its list. On newsstands March 6, and printed only in Hebrew, the magazine features images of beautiful women alongside articles and commentary, specifically selected for an Israeli audience.
Founder Daniel Pomerantz, a Chicago-born business attorney who immigrated to Israel last year, says that he believes Playboy will be a welcome addition to the country. “Israelis love to sit around the dinner table and debate social issues. It’s an integral part of life and is an integral part of Playboy,” Pomerantz said. The first issue features Israeli model Natalie Dadon and an interview with minister Avi Dichter.
The Arty Semite caught up with Pomerantz at the Brown Hotel in Tel Aviv. Decorated with retro-looking brown leather couches and a Motown-era color scheme, the Brown sports a larger-than-life Playboy cover poster from 1970 that reads, “The Girls of Israel.” Pomerantz came dressed in Israeli casual — jeans and a button-down — to talk about his admiration for Herzl, meeting Hugh Hefner, and how to say “bunny” in Hebrew.
Abra Cohen: How did you get the idea to launch Playboy in Israel?
Next time you reach for those Life & Style and In Touch magazines while in the supermarket checkout line, you might want to keep in mind the dark side to those gossip rags — and it goes beyond Tom Cruise’s defamation suit against them for claims that he abandoned his daughter Suri.
An investigation by entertainment and media news website The Wrap reveals that the publisher of these magazines, Bauer Media Group, deals in Nazi-themed material and pornography (sometimes combining the two). Among Bauer’s publications is Der Landser, a German military adventure magazine with World War II stories told through the eyes of Hitler’s armies. Not surprisingly, it is popular with skinheads and neo-Nazis. German magazine Der Spiegel has called Der Landser “a specialist journal for whitewashing the Wehrmacht.”
Bauer is a huge privately held international media empire with 600 print publications, 300 websites, 50 TV and radio stations, and billions of dollars in annual revenue. It claims to have the highest retail sales of magazines in the United States.
Who is Narcissister?
It’s a simple question that’s impossible to answer, especially since the acclaimed 41-year-old performance artist never discloses her real name. In character, she obscures her identity further by performing in wigs and masks — and by covering herself in armor-like plastic body parts.
Trained at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Narcissister warps traditional dance, art, theater, fashion and identity politics into a funny-scary persona that confronts audiences with extreme images, like pulling Russian matryoshka dolls out of her private parts.
But there’s a fierce intelligence and thoughtful agenda behind Narcissister’s work. The Huffington Post described the Downtown star as “part Cindy Sherman, part Pinocchio”; The New York Times characterized her practice, admiringly, as “avant-porn.” Narcisisster’s first solo show, “Narcissister Is You,” is currently running at Envoy Enterprises gallery on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. She spoke to The Arty Semite by email from Los Angeles, where she was rehearsing for a series of appearances.
Michael Kaminer: The New York Times used the word “weirdness” to describe your work. But you’re very matter-of-fact about your practice. Do audiences and media receive your performances in the way you intend?
Henry Winkler is on the phone. Finally. We missed our connection a couple of days earlier and by missed connection I mean he forgot to call. He had two performances of his new Broadway play, “The Performers,” that day — as though that should take priority — and The Forward got lost in the shuffle. Go figure.
When next I heard from the Fonz (yeah, right, make believe you don’t know who that is), he left a contrite voicemail message that he was at the zoo with his grandson. But finally, from a cab on a way to a restaurant, there he was.
“The Performers” takes place on the night of the Adult Film Awards — the Oscars of the porn industry — and Winkler plays Chuck Wood, an aging Jewish star with a large schmekel up for an award. It’s a comeback role for Wood, unlike Winkler, who never went away. He’s been omnipresent as a writer, director, producer and of course actor, most famously of late for his recurring role on the hit TV series “Royal Pains.” While riding through midtown, Winkler spoke to The Arty Semite about the play, winning the Order of the British Empire and the synagogue his parents helped found.
Curt Schleier: Was making Chuck Wood Jewish your idea or was that in the original play?
Rarely has the presence of the Divine Being been so radically affirmed by the actions of a Wired magazine columnist. Having decided that our own created universe was getting perilously close to extinction, Jargon Watch writer Jonathon Keats set up an altar designed to stimulate the Ineffable One into further acts of creation.
The title “Pornography for God” recalls his equal opportunity 2007 piece “Pornography for Plants” (also known as “Cinema Botanica”) which projects explicit images of plants being pollinated onto plants on the floor in the gallery. From November 12, both pieces will be hosted at alternative arts space Louis V E.S.P. Located on an upper floor of a walkup in Williamsburg, Louis V E.S.P. is at the perfect nexus of belief and hipsterdom.
Rather than the prurient delights of pollination, though, this new installation displays images from CERN’s Large Hadron Collider. The two LHC tunnels, Alice and Atlas, have live online graphic feeds of the experiments where they replicate the Big Bang, and these glow through a ghostly altar in front of which votive candles, incense, flowers and other objects are offered. In the tradition of pornographic exhibitions, the show is intended to excite the Creator by showing acts of creation. “I felt sorry for God,” Keats told me, “monotheism must be lonely.”