Linda Lovelace - The Evil That Led a Young Girl to Become an Adult Film Star
Linda Boreman-Marchiano, aka Linda Lovelace, is best known for her leading part in the first adult movie to hit mainstream; Deep Throat. Years later, she made what seemed to be, a 180-degree turnaround & became an anti-pornagraphy advocate, gaining the support of feminist leaders such as Gloria Steinem & Andrea Dworkin.
In 1980, Linda wrote her autobiography entitled Ordeal, where she shares her story about the abuse she suffered at the hands of her husband & manager, Charles "Chuck" Traynor. Many critics have spoken up against Linda's claims of abuse but for the most part many who knew her were aware of the vicious cycle in which she was caught. Many wondered why she looked as though she was enjoying herself performing sexual acts in front of the camera if she were really being forced to act at gun point. Others wondered why she didn't leave Traynor if he really was a sadist who subjected her to gang rape for money & brutally beat her if she refused.
These do seem like logical questions. However, when you are exposed to a life full of abuse - mental, emotional and physical - the answers to questions as to why an abuse victim puts up with such demeaning treatment becomes much more complicated.
Linda Susan Boreman was born on January 10, 1949 in Bronx, New York. Her father, John, a police officer & her mother, Dorothy, a waitress were strict conservative Catholics. Although Linda gave birth to a child at 19 years old whom she gave up for adoption, growing up attending Catholic school, she was so conservative she thought about becoming a nun. Among her peers she earned the nickname Miss Holy-Holy. Linda's home life was not a pleasant one, being subjected to regular beatings by her mother. Her father, who chose to turn a blind eye to these beatings, spent most of his time after work at the local pubs & would come home drunk which led to vicious fights with Linda's mother. Linda recalled one incident where her mother pulled a butcher knife on her father while Linda sat at the top of the stairs crying & praying for them to stop fighting.
At the age of 21 Linda was in a serious car accident which caused severe damage to her liver & spleen, resulting in her having to move back in with her parents to recover. One would think that at the age of 21 the dynamic with her mother would have changed somewhat. On the contrary, Linda's mother still had considerable control over her. A parent has every right to enforce rules within their home even if their offspring are legally adults. However, I think most people would agree that slapping or beating your 21 year old daughter when she misses a curfew of 11:00pm is crossing the line. Some may find this scenario hard to believe but it really is not that far-fetched. Having been raised in a family involved in a religious cult, I experienced such treatment both as a child and an adult. While living at home at almost 20, I was still required to ask permission to go places with friends & if they didn't know or care for the friends I wasn't allowed & I had a curfew of midnight. If I missed that curfew & tried to reason with my parents that I was legally an adult & shouldn't be subjected to this treatment, there was hell to pay, often physical.
Linda first met Chuck Traynor through one of her girlfriends while she was still living at home. Chuck introduced himself as a professional "photographer." He was tall, good-looking, in his late twenties & drove a Jaguar; very few naïve young girls would not have been impressed with him. Chuck had even managed to charm Linda's parents. After only a short time of dating & learning how unhappy she was at home, Chuck managed to convince Linda to move in with him, promising to take care of her the way she deserved. This promise couldn't have been farther from the truth. Not only was he not a professional photographer, Chuck Traynor had formally run a prostitution ring & had a criminal record for drug dealing. At the time Linda met him, he owned & ran a bar. When finances started to become an issue, Chuck decided to go back to prostitution & he was going to use Linda.
Life with Chuck Traynor
Even before Chuck convinced the producers of Deep Throat to cast Linda as the star, he had full control over her in every way possible. According to her autobiography, Ordeal, Linda fully believed she was garbage; on a daily basis Chuck made sure to tell her how useless she was, often calling her c--- instead of using her name.
The first "trick" he scheduled completely blinded-sided her. He drove them both to a motel where 5 businessmen waiting for them. Linda initially had no idea why she & Chuck drove to this motel or why they were in the company of respectful looking business men who wouldn't give the time of day to someone like Chuck. Within a few minutes of their arrival, Chuck had Her in the bathroom, a gun pointed at her, demanding her to strip down. He informed her that he had no qualms about killing her with the men in the other room; they were respected businessmen with families, they would deny having been at a hotel with a hooker; no one would come to her rescue. From there, Linda was violated by these "men" in every way possible, while the man who promised to take care of her stood guard outside the room. Afterward, he berated her for crying while all of this was happening & complained that he had to give one of the johns a discount because she wasn't enjoying herself.
There were some unsuccessful escape attempts. At one time she did go back to her family's house. However, between Chuck convincing Linda's mother how sorry he was & her mother believing marriage is forever & that she needed to go back to her husband no matter what the situation, she simply didn't have the strength to fight back. Another escape attempt was made, during a trick she was to work with another girl who ended up blowing the whistle on her. Another time she had help from an old school friend whom she stayed with for a few days until Chuck threatened to kill Linda's family & her friend. These escape attempts led to a horrific punishment at a "party" led by a sadistic dominatrix. The show/punishment that was performed became so brutal that one of the party attendees demanded the woman abusing Linda stop & send her to the hospital. She wasn't taken to a doctor for several days & Chuck would berate her for having bled and cried during the show.
It wasn't until some time after Deep Throat was filmed that Linda finally got the courage to leave Chuck for good. Deep Throat is a ridiculous film about a woman who discovers that her clitoris is, for some reason, located in her throat. The only way she is able to climax is through oral sex, which of course Chuck taught her to do masterfully. Deep Throat became one of the first adult movies go mainstream becoming one of 1972's top ten highest grossing films beating out Hollywood classics like Cabaret.
During the filming, Linda did have some hope for her future as Chuck didn't have as strong a hold over her as he did in their previous projects. Prior to Deep Throat, there were other extremely low budget film projects where Chuck still had a say over everything & was permitted to point his gun at her & threaten her without repercussions. Deep Throat had a much larger budget & those who invested in the film had much more to lose, so during this time Chuck found himself relegated to gopher. After the success of Deep Throat, it wasn't long before Linda became a somewhat respected celebrity, receiving invitations to parties at the Playboy mansion & becoming friends with Sammy Davis, Jr. It was meeting people like this, people who showed her respect & treated her like a human; people who reinforced that she could do so much more with her life, that she started to slowly build some confidence.
In the summer of 1973, while she was rehearsing for a musical in which she would star, Linda made her final escape. Checking herself into the Beverly Hills Hotel using an alias - Chuck at the other end of the city having no idea where she was - Linda describes that moment in Ordeal, as a "heady" feeling. She was on her own, not accountable at that moment to anyone. It was a freedom she had never known. It was a long time before she was rid of Chuck for good as he spent a lot of time searching for her like a madman. By the time Ordeal was published, Linda still had no idea what finally made him quit chasing after her; one could only hope he received a long overdue beating that scared him off. She would never see the money she made from Deep Throat & several years later married Larry Marchiano, a construction worker, with whom she had three children. Sadly, their marriage ended in 1996. Eventually, Chuck married & managed the career of Marilyn Chambers, the Ivory Snow girl who would go on to star in Behind the Green Door, another mainstream adult film.
In the 1980s after the release of Ordeal, Linda began speaking up about her experience with Traynor & the adult film world. She appeared on various talk shows such as & joined the feminist anti-pornagraphy movement, even testifying before the Attorney General Meese's Commission on Pornography in 1986. On April 3, 2002, Linda was involved in another car accident, suffering massive trauma & internal injuries. She died on April 22, 2002 after being taken off life support.
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What Is Going Through the Mind of an Abused Person?
To those who have never experienced abuse either as a child or as an adult, the story of Linda Boreman-Marchiano seems very far-fetched & to this day she does have her critics; many of them. While I am a full believer that we all are responsible for our own lives & have to answer for ourselves & our actions, but I am also aware that the damage that abuse does to a persons' psyche is enormous.
Although my experience with abuse never led me even close to a fate such as Linda's, while reading her biography I did recognize many similarities. I, too, became involved with an abusive older man, naively believing this was a better alternative than living in an alcoholic & abusive home with relatives heavily involved in a religious cult. I was told throughout my life that I was not allowed to move out of the house until I was married, so when I saw the chance, I took it. While my husband at that time was not a pimp or pornographer he did have a criminal record which made it difficult for him to find steady work & at times the burden was put on me to make ends meet. Not an easy task for a 21 year old with no skills or college degree.
He also did what he could to undermine my self-esteem, telling me I was fat when I was actually very thin, that I wasn't smart & he made sure I was aware he had been with girls prettier than me in his past. I truly believed I was worthless. When I went out, I was sure people were staring at me, not because they thought I was attractive, but because they thought I was ugly. Furniture was thrown at me if I spoke back to him, one time he even spit in face during an argument. At times he would make demeaning jokes about me to others to which I would laugh while the others would squirm uncomfortably. Why did I laugh? I didn't want to be put through hell when I got home later.
Why didn't I leave immediately? Not only did the religion in which I was raised speak against divorce, I truly believed I had nowhere to go & would never be able to find someone who loved me. I truly thought I was alone in all of this & there was nowhere to turn. Don't ever forget that most abuse victims are afraid to speak about what they're going through. They either feel that no one will believe them, or that they deserve what they get from their partner, or they may have been threatened that if they say anything, they or their loved ones will be killed. Many times it's all of the above. When your self-esteem is at an all-time low and you feel you have no self-worth, there's no telling what an abuser can lead you to believe or do. You don't always know who you can trust & abusers have a tendency to isolate their victims from everyone they love.
It wasn't until I finally opened up to a couple of people who I am friends with to this day that I finally got up the nerve to leave after four long years. Please, keep in mind that it is not always easy dealing with a friend or relative who is in this type of relationship. Most of the time they are either too afraid to leave their partner or their self-esteem is so shot they don't know how to leave, so it takes a lot of patience to deal with them. Even long after I got out I felt guilty; that I wronged him by leaving. I had to go through many years of therapy to finally realize I was the wronged party, not him.
If you are involved with an abuser or know someone who is, please, be aware that there are organizations that can help & everything is kept in confidence. While the authorities can only do so much, these organizations are more than willing to assist in any way. No one - whether it's a woman, man, or child - deserves to be treated as an object or a piece of property or piece of garbage for someone else's use.
(c) 2014 Brenda Thornlow
Brenda Thornlow was voted one of the 50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading for 2015. She is the author of the new fiction series My Life as I Knew It; The Revolving Door; A Godless Love and her memoir, My Short-Lived Life at Being Perfect. Available at Amazon. (Link below)
© 2014 Brenda Thornlow