First, let’s start with this assurance: we are not playing a joke on you. There really is a film called “Linda Lovelace for President.” And believe it or not, it is a genuinely entertaining experience starring the most famous woman in the history of pornography.
In 1972, Linda Lovelace emerged from total obscurity to global celebrity thanks to a 60-minute porno flick called “Deep Throat.” This was not the first X-rated film to (pardon the pun) penetrate the mainstream culture, but it created a sensation which caught everyone by surprise â€“ not the least being the mobsters who put up the $22,000 budget and earned back an estimated $600 million in profits. For Lovelace, the daughter of an NYPD officer, the notoriety of “Deep Throat” made her the most famous woman in the world. She appeared on Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show” and showed up on the red carpet at the Academy Awards. She was the focus of attention at the opening day of the racing season at Ascot, even though British censors forbid the import of “Deep Throat.” She even wound up on the New York Times best-seller list with two jokey books bearing her byline.
Unfortunately for Lovelace, she was unable to score an impressive encore. She starred in “Deep Throat Part II,” but that was released as an R-rated flick and bombed with audiences. Her attempts at starring in dinner theater and a nightclub revue were disastrous failures. In 1974, she made headlines again: only this time she was arrested for drug possession in Las Vegas. Although “Deep Throat” continued to draw audiences, Lovelace’s fame was quickly petering out.
Lovelace’s last attempt to maintain her stardom was “Linda Lovelace for President.” The film offers an amusing spoof of the political climate of the era, as political forces in a demoralized America search for an inspirational leader who can revitalize the country â€“ and wind up with Linda Lovelace as their candidate! Remember that this was a time when the presidential campaign was between Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, neither of whom were celebrated for their inspirational qualities (let alone sex appeal).
A great deal of “Linda Lovelace for President” is turned over to a band of characters (or caricatures, to be precise) who serve as Lovelace’s advisers. There is a jive-talking black nationalist (complete with afro and dashiki), a strong-arm feminist, a fey homosexual given to fruity one-liners, a dopey neo-Nazi who paints “Adolf Loves Eva” graffiti on walls, a wily Chinese (a white actor in yellowface) who fractures English while doing everyone’s laundry, and a creepy would-be pedophile who looks a lot like Richard Nixon (and who always gets pummeled by the teenage girls he tries to seduce with candy). The humor here is politically incorrect to the extreme, but it is often hilarious in a Mel Brooks-style crudity. At one point the homosexual brags about a campus escapade by announcing how he “turned that fraternity into a sorority” while the feminist forces her way on the black nationalist, calling him “you black white trash” while pushing herself on top of him.
Throughout the film are unexpected cameo appearances by ex-Monkee Mickey Dolenz as a myopic bus driver (he gets to drive a toy bus across a naked woman’s body), Scatman Crothers as a rhyme-talking pool hall hustler, Joe E. Ross (“Car 54, Where are You?”) as a Washington dirty trickster and one-time kiddie show host Chuck McCann in three roles (including a Mafia hitman who blows himself up with dynamite). The funniest cameo, though, belongs to former JFK imitator Vaughn Meader as a preacher who grabs Lovelace’s bare bottom and start singing: “I’ve got the whole world in my hands!”
The movie also pokes fun at the icons of the mid-1970s, including Alice Cooper, Mark Spitz, Marjoe Gortner and Euell Gibbons. The film’s opening credit sequence is a hilarious spoof on “Patton,” with Lovelace posing in front of a flag wearing an Army helmet, a rifle belt â€“ and nothing else! There is also a totally bizarre interlude where Lovelace’s campaign bus encounters a group of incestuous hillbillies who have a potty-mouthed talking chimpanzee as a pet.
And Linda Lovelace? There are plenty of jokes about her claim to fame, including the slogan “A Vote for Linda is a Blow for Democracy.” But when she has the screen, she is able to hold her own with a wonderful light comedy performance. Many of her critics always claimed Lovelace was neither attractive nor talented, but in this film she is both. It is a pity that she did not have better management or better luck, because she had the capacity to cross into mainstream entertainment.
Unfortunately, “Linda Lovelace for President” was a major commercial failure. It was released in X, R and PG versions, but the film offered no appeal to porn fans (who expected more naughty action) or regular audiences (who thought the film was porn and thus avoided it).
After the film closed, Lovelace faded from sight, only to re-emerge in the 1980s as an unlikely feminist spokeswoman against pornography. She authored two autobiographies where she claimed she was physically and emotionally abused during her years in the skin trade (these claims were vigorously and widely refuted by nearly everyone who worked with her). Her later years were unpleasant due to poor health (she contracted hepatitis during a liver transplant) and financial problems. At one point she worked as a cleaning lady in a Denver office building — a far distance from the Oscar red carpet or opening day at Ascot. Linda Lovelace died at the age of 53 on April 3, 2002, from injuries suffered in a car accident.
As for “Linda Lovelace for President,” the film turned up briefly on home video in the early 1980s and again in 2000 from a Canadian company (which used updated cover art including a poster reading “More Bush, Less Gore.” Strangely, the film never had an official DVD release. Why the film is not available is unclear; most likely there is a problem regarding who owns the rights to this independently financed production. Bootleg videos of the film are in circulation, though the film’s obscurity has kept demand for this title low.
In view of today’s political scene, it is not a bad idea to seek out “Linda Lovelace for President.” It may not be the savviest political satire ever made, but at least Linda Lovelace was the one political candidate who put her money shot where her mouth is!
IMPORTANT NOTICE: The unauthorized duplication and distribution of copyright-protected material is not widely appreciated by the entertainment industry, and on occasion law enforcement personnel help boost their arrest quotas by collaring cheery cinephiles engaged in such activities. So if you are going to copy and sell bootleg videos, a word to the wise: don’t get caught. The purchase and ownership of bootleg videos, however, is perfectly legal and we think that’s just peachy! This column was brought to you by Phil Hall, a contributing editor at Film Threat and the man who knows where to get the good stuff…on video, that is.
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