Ordeal – a review


Ordeal is a gut-wrenching read. Linda Boreman’s story brings to mind Tina Turner’s: young woman without a great deal of life experience falls under the influence of a person who does not have her best interests in mind. Through fear and torment, she eventually believes herself to be powerless to escape a living nightmare.

I have to admit that I have never seen Deep Throat, and that I’m very distantly aware of the controversy this booked stirred. That is to say that the simple sum-up information has always sounded like, ‘She claimed to have only performed sex in Deep Throat because a gun was held to her head,’ ‘No one believes it,’ and ‘Later it was found to be untrue.’ Or maybe I’m mistaking that with, Later it was found to be true.’ Either way, the story is tragic and it’s clear that Linda Boreman, aka Linda Lovelace, believed every word written.

I didn’t feel comfortable just reading the book in light of its controversy. I looked up names and found an interview with the late and great Marilyn Chambers. She states in this interview that Chuck Traynor–Linda’s menacing Svengali and the creator of what Linda describes as the “Linda Lovelace doll”–was not, with her, the way Linda portrayed him. She does use the term “Svengali-ish”, but she states that she was not in any way forced to do sex acts, and in fact, wanted to be with Traynor because he was a relentless promoter and she wanted to be a big star.

It’s a good book, I think. Years later–both Traynor and Boreman deceased–I doubt anyone really ponders it the way they did back in 1980 (when the book was published), but there’s no reason to believe that two human beings cannot come together in a kind of ‘perfect storm’ relationship. As it is told, Linda was a woman used to being hit in the face and emotionally and intellectually disregarded by her mother. She was used to abuse and when she met Chuck Traynor, he was doing financially well. Through his past as a pimp, his counseling her to leave her family and live in his care, and his running out of money, the relationship became strained and, finally, abusive. There’s no reason–just my opinion from reading the book–to believe it’s not true. We all exist as a version of ourselves from one person to another because we adapt to people: mind, body and spirit. We are not unbending blocks, but equal parts–literally and figuratively–mass, liquid and air; capable of transforming ourselves by taking what is our basic nature and blending it into new shapes presented by new relationships.

Linda Boreman was not a strong woman when she met Chuck Traynor. Completely at his mercy, she was little more than a robot. It’s a sad prospect that any human being can go through something like this.

It also reminds me of an article I read just yesterday, because Traci Lords was the featured interview, and she is another tragic example of someone led in an unwanted direction at a vulnerable time in her life.

In light of a highly publicized Steubenville, Ohio rape (Traci’s hometown), she had this to say about rape in general for The Daily Beast:

“We need to shine the brightest light on [rape]. The daylight is really the best disinfectant.”

I agree. I strongly feel that rape and violence can be greatly reduced just by talking about our personal and collective ills. Like a flesh wound that can only heal after toxins have been released, we need to stop being embarrassed by the conversation of abuse and sex. More men and boys that feel comfortable coming forward about molestation will be less likely to follow routes toward priesthood and perpetuating crimes because they are not dealing with their trauma in healthy ways. Likewise rape needs to be pried from the hands of bureaucrats with a political sales pitch, and academics with an unattainable idea about a world where no one is allowed to photograph or film sex at all. These messages shame people and keep these problems hidden.

But I’d like to take it a step further. We should be talking about sex, period. Not just the horrors of human sexuality, but also the celebratory bliss of consensual experience, regardless of the dirty details. It shouldn’t matter what sex you are, either. It seems to be the case with porn that for every traumatized person who runs from the business feeling completely abused and humiliated by their time in front of the camera, there are a number of mature men and women who choose to be in porn, are content, and who have to suffer more than their fair share of unwanted shame just because their lives don’t provide a likewise, corroborative story. I think talking about all of it would benefit society and the adult industry as a whole by making sure the people who represent the industry truly want to represent the industry and aren’t just falling into it. Information = self-wareness, etc.

Linda’s perspective turns quite judg-ey in the end towards famous people who recognized her from Deep Throat (Rex Harrison, among others). But I think it proves that we are all interested in sex in some way, and certainly aren’t all creeped out by it. It was the first big crossover porn film, and it’s hard to watch the community of creative types, excited about Linda’s mainstream prospects as a fellow artist, dwindle because the corporate powers that be weren’t willing to risk their reputations to further her career. She does admit that there were a lot of “decent” people who were genuinely interested in her and not at all expecting her to be a “freak”.

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Author: Julie Meadows

Francophile, oenophile, French Scrabble advocate and future zombie apocalypse survivor.

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