I’m thrilled to have had the opportunity to interview Eric Danville who has been a journalist for the porn industry and heavy metal world for more than 25 years. Danville is currently the senior editor at Penthouse Forum and author of The Official Heavy Metal Book of Lists and The Complete Linda Lovelace, the biography about Linda Lovelace and the original basis for the film Lovelace. Previously he was the editor at High Times magazine, Screw magazine and Masters of Rock magazine. Here he shares with me the details of his career as a writer and where it has led him.
KBF: When did you first become interested in writing, and start your journalism career covering the adult industry and the heavy metal world?
ED: I was an English major in college, and a friend of mine in our little clique of stupid rebellious English majors suggested I write for the school paper. I did and really got into it, and my stuff got a good reaction. I wasn’t afraid to say fucking anything about anything!
Later on, I had friends at High Times Magazine, and I ended up being in one of their photo shoots. I played someone who was tripping and I had a pot of spaghetti dumped on my head. A year later, they called me and asked for my resume. I sent it and got a job as Managing Editor. I worked there for almost three years.
After that, my sister told me about an ad in the New York Times for a men’s sophisticate magazine looking for a managing editor. She said, “I think that means porn.” I said, “Yeah, it does.” I was like, fuck it. I sent my resume in and got a job at Hawk magazine. This magazine was pitched to me like what Maxim is today but before Maxim even existed. But they ended up getting real nervous with that concept and just turned it into another porn magazine. I didn’t mind the job, but it was too corporate and I didn’t like wearing a tie and all that bullshit. I didn’t like punching a clock and all that crap either. A friend of mine was working at Screw and they needed an editor, so I sent my resume and got that job.
KBF: And, that’s when you worked for Al Goldstein?
ED: Yes, that’s when I worked for Al Goldstein. I was there for seven years, which is a long time to work for Al Goldstein!
KBF: What was it like working for him?
ED: He does occasionally have flashes of humanity! He actually can be a real person. You want to know something though? Seriously, it was the best job I ever had. He held me up to such a high level of accepting responsibility for my mistakes and he always said “Just because they’re dirty words doesn’t mean we spell them wrong!” You know, we came from the Henry-Miller-meets-Lenny- Bruce-meets-Mad-Magazine’s School of Intellectual Eggheadism, because as far as sex goes, he also said to us, “You’re all good writers and you get to do what you want, but if you fuck up, I’m gonna fucking pillory you!” And, I got pillaried a couple of times, but it really builds character to have yourself embarrassed for a month straight in print. It was great. This experience brought out the best in me, to create the type of writerly voice I wanted, and take my writing where I wanted to go.
KBF: When did you write The Official Heavy Metal Book of Lists?
ED: This guy I’ve known since college was an editor over at Hal Leonard Publications, which published the heavy metal book. He knew that I could do a really good research job and gave me the gig for The Official Heavy Metal Book of Lists. It had to be funny and correct and all that shit, too. I got the job basically because I can find any fact and spin some story around it.
KBF: How did you become motivated to write the biography about Linda Lovelace in the first place?
ED: When I started working for Screw I had access to their entire archives of fucking everything. I’d be looking around ’cause they’d encourage you to look at old issues and learn the history of the magazine. As I learned more and more about the Linda Lovelace story, it was really interesting because there were so many crazy sides to it.
KBF: Was there one moment where you thought, “I just want to write a whole book about this”?
ED: Yeah, actually there was. Around 1996 Ron Howard and Brian Grazer had optioned Ordeal to make the biopic film and that was all over the news. “Opie’s going to make the Linda Lovelace story.” I had been working for five or six years at Screw and I wanted to get a straight writing credit, and a friend of mine had Linda Boreman’s (Lovelace’s real name) phone number. I thought, “Wow, I’d like to interview her for something like Vanity Fair.” So I called her up and said, “Look, my name’s Eric Danville and I’m a writer from New York City and I work at Screw Magazine and I would like to interview you for a mainstream piece that has nothing to do with Screw. “
The second she heard I worked for Screw, she’s like, “Goldstein, huh?” and then she says, “Oh, Linda’s not here, this is the secretary. Can I take a message?” But I knew it was her, I knew what she sounded like from watching her movies. I said, “If you can give her that message about a possible interview.” And, then she says, “Well, okay, I’ll give her the message and do me a favor: don’t ever call this number ever again.” I hung up and thought, okay, that was five minutes of my life wasted. But I just kept the research going and focused on what I found interesting about her story.
As I was researching I realized that nobody wanted to talk about her. Jerry Damiano wouldn’t talk to me about her. I asked Goldstein and he wouldn’t talk to me about her. He’ll talk to fucking anyone about anything! He’s like, “No! When you get a publisher, I’ll give you the interview.” I said, “I’m not going to get a publisher until you give me the fucking interview!” I was pissed off because years later when Inside Deep Throat came out all these fucking people were willing to talk about her: Damiano was in it and Goldstein was in it. But this [Inside Deep Throat] did regenerate all this interest in her. This film turned into an exploration of the history of Linda Lovelace and American pop culture.
Part two of this interview will be posted next week. In the next installment you’ll learn more about Danville’s relationship with Linda Lovelace and how he finished The Complete Linda Lovelace with her help.
Check out Eric Danville’s blog at ericdanville.tumblr.com and follow him on Twitter @ThCmpltLndLvlc. The next edition of The Complete Linda Lovelace book will be available this September.