Here is part two of my interview with Eric Danville, author of The Complete Linda Lovelace. Detailed here is Danville’s personal collaboration with Linda Lovelace on this book and his experience as the first creative force behind the upcoming film Lovelace.
KBF: Eventually you had a rare opportunity to personally collaborate with Lovelace. When did your relationship with her turn from that phone call where she pretended to be a secretary to talking to you regularly, and contributing a great deal to your book?
ED: I worked on the book on and off for about three years, and I gathered up all these magazine articles, books and movies. I read her Meese Commission testimony and some other public testimony about pornography. As I was getting close to finishing the book I called her again. I thought she got screwed in the media. She’d been saying this shit about pornography for a long time, and it wasn’t just like she just decided to flip for money. So when I called her I said, “Linda, I called three years ago and you told me never to call, but don’t hang up the phone! I got something that I want to tell you.”
So I told her one of the things that really struck me in Out of Bondage was when she said that all these people write books and articles about her, especially when the Deep Throat anniversary comes up, she always gets blindsided with the story and then reporters call her up. I told her, “Look, I want you to have a heads-up. I am publishing this book and I’d like to interview you for two hours. You can say whatever you want, slam the business, I don’t care what the fuck you say. I’m not going to edit it, and I’ll let you see it if before it goes to print, whatever you want. This is your chance to get it all out. She says, “Well, it sounds like you’ve got a million dollar proposition. We should get together and talk. I like to judge people face to face. I want to see what you’re about.”
So I traveled to Englewood, Colorado, to meet her, right outside of Denver. She picked me up at the airport and drove me back to her place. On the way she says, “Well, do you want a beer or something?” I’m like, “Yeah, sure,” so we stopped at a liquor store. She says, “Do you want one or two?” And I said, “Oh, two.” She says, “What do you drink?” I said, “Heineken.” So she comes back with two six packs of fucking Heineken, and I’m like, “No, I meant just two bottles!” We just went back to her place and got real drunk. She could put it away. Better than I could at the time, and that’s saying something.
KBF: She drank you under the table?
ED: Yeah, pretty much. Finally, she says, “Okay, I’ll talk to you for the book.” Three months later I went out again and did the interview with her and it was the last chapter of the book. It was the first time she spoke to someone from the porn business on the record in 25 years.
KBF: What was her frame of mind during the last session you had with her?
ED: By then we had become pretty good friends, and we would talk pretty often. If she had something to say, she would give me a call. If I’d just want to see how she was doing, I’d give her a call. If she was drunk and depressed, she’d give me a call at three in the morning, or something like that. We’d gotten to be pretty good friends, so I could really just ask her anything. In fact, when we sat down I asked, “Do you want to see the questions beforehand so you can think of where you want your answers to go?” She said, “No, I’ve been doing this for long time. It’s okay.” And I asked, “Is there anything you want to clear up that I absolutely I cannot say?” She said, “No, you can ask whatever you want.” By that time she really trusted me. She even said that to me, “Look, I feel very safe around you. I think I can trust you to do this, so let’s get it down and out of the way.”
Joe Bob Briggs said it was the most revealing interview that she had ever done, and I think he was right. I asked her stuff that I always wanted other people to ask her but they never did, some of which was her claim of being a rape victim and protesting against pornography. I asked her, “Why didn’t you ever go into rape counseling? Why did you focus all your energies putting down the porn business when even you say it wasn’t the porn business that was victimizing you, that it was this guy, Chuck Traynor. Your story is one of domestic abuse and rape. And, she said, “Well, you know, becoming a rape counselor takes time and money and you have to go to school,” and she’d already hooked up with Gloria Steinem and the feminist cult. So, she didn’t think of it in terms of her own career, or what she could have done to help people.
KBF: Do you think Gloria Steinem manipulated her to take a position against porn?
ED: “Manipulated”? No, I don’t think Gloria sat her down and said, “Okay, Linda, here’s the script.” I think they were both coming from the same point of view by that time, but I do think that Gloria and Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon and such definitely exploited her position and history to get their own agenda across.
KBF: You published the first edition of The Complete Linda Lovelace in 2001 and you have a new edition coming up soon, when will it be released?
ED: Sometime in September. Lovelace will be out this fall although the movie is not based on the book at all.
KBF: In the very beginning producers came to you, correct?
ED: Yes. The first draft of the screenplay was going to be “based on the book by Eric Danville.” I was a character in film, and it was literally taken from my book. It was going be her story as told though interviews to Phil Donahue, Tom Snyder and me, from 1973 all the way up until the 2000s. The producers got in touch with Linda’s estate, and they lawyered-up with Catharine MacKinnon. When I heard they were in touch with MacKinnon, I thought, “Oh, I see this whole thing going in a very bad direction.” MacKinnon knew Linda had contributed to my book and promoted it with me, and she (MacKinnon) was not pleased. After that, the Hollywood people wouldn’t return a fucking phone call and all of a sudden they were rewriting the script.
One person told me it [script rewrite] was because James Franco wanted it. When James Franco was attached the project, or when anyone is attached to one of these projects, they have their people read the script and all this shit. It’s never final until they wrap it. Then all of a sudden I’m out of the script but, it was still going to be based on the book. And then their lawyer says, “Oh, well, we’re not sure about parts of this book or if we can insure this. I was like, “Fuck you. You know this book’s been out for ten years! If anyone was going to sue me they would have done it already. The interviews are uncopywritable, no one’s got a problem with it, and the book covers are all fair use. Then they said, “Here’s what we’ll do: we’ll say that the thing is based on your book,” and then the lawyer comes back and says they can’t even do that. So I got a decent amount of money to be a consultant, which basically meant I had a couple of phone calls with Epstein and Friedman. I spoke to them about Linda for about an hour. They had copies of my book so they could pull whatever information they wanted for that, and then it became what it became.
KBF: Have you seen the Lovelace movie?
ED: I’m contractually not allowed to see it before it opens, but I can go to an opening or a screening. I think I’m gonna pass though.
KBF: Why do you think it’s taken so long for this movie to be made?
ED: Because it’s a real nasty story, you know? And forget about the fact that Linda’s dead now, and she died in this horrible car accident after having kidney failure and the whole fucking thing, you know. It’s not a happy story and there’s no way to tie it up in a neat little bow at the end unless you did what I suggested in the book, which is make her escape from Chuck Traynor the story because that leaves her at a high point. It’s a bummer of a story, and Americans don’t like bummer stories.
Check out The Complete Linda Lovelace blog at ericdanville.tumblr.com and watch for announcements about the next edition of The Complete Linda Lovelace book due out in September.