Midnight Blue: The Deep Throat Special Edition

Midnight Blue 1Synopsis: Nobody Went Deeper Inside DEEP THROAT Than MIDNIGHT BLUE!

From 1975 to 2002, MIDNIGHT BLUE was late-night cable’s most depraved cavalcade of politics, pornography and perversion hosted by controversial Screw Magazine publisher Al Goldstein. In this premiere volume – featuring segments now shown uncensored for the first time ever – meet the real legends behind DEEP THROAT in graphic and shocking interviews that go far beyond any other adult documentary:

Carol Connors, Harry Reems, Gerard Damiano, Chuck Traynor… And much more, including the show’s original commercials for swinger clubs, adult toys and escort services that dropped jaws – and pants – all over New York City and lit the fuse on the battles against the FCC that still rage today!

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Midnight Blue: The Deep Throat Special Edition 7.0

eyelights: the in-depth interviews. the hilariously inept ads included in the programming. the subtitled commentary included overtop.
eyesores: the really crap quality of the programming. the sleazy vibe. Al Goldstein’s classless style.

God, I feel so dirty. I almost feel like I should rinse out my eyes.

Until I watched this compilation, the first in a series that has been released on home video, I had no conception of what ‘Midnight Blue’ was. I hadn’t even heard of it until a couple of years ago, when I discovered that a limited edition boxed set had been put out. Intrigued by its title and content, I kept it on my radar. And when I found it in a pawn shop, of all places, I snatched it up immediately.

Little did I know what I was getting into.

‘Midnight Blue’ was a one-hour programme about sex that played thrice weekly on New York Channel J. Broadcast from 1974 to 2003, it was hosted by Al Goldstein, the publisher of Screw magazine, a pornographic tabloid magazine, and Alex Bennett, a left-wing radio personality. It featured interviews with porn stars, industry people, sympathetic celebrities, as well as adult skits and advertisements.

Over the years, the programme ran into much controversy over its boundaries-pushing content, but Goldstein and company found legal loopholes to keep their profane three-hole circus on the air. The format changed slightly through the years, but its personality never did, built solidly on Goldstein’s own – and Goldstein was a loud, crude, rude, obscene bear of a man, and the poster boy for sexual perversion.

For good or bad.

‘Midnight Blue’ could only have gotten its start in the ’70s, after ‘Deep Throat’ brought adult cinema to the mainstream. So it seems fitting that this first volume focuses entirely on snippets revolving around the legendary porno flick, collecting interviews from 1975 to 1987 with actors and crew involved in its making: Carol Connors, Gerard Damiano, Harry Reems and Chuck Traynor. Plus era adverts and inserts.

I half-expected this to be a low budget talk show, in a small studio and with the participants on a small dais, sitting semi-circle in chairs. But I never expected anything this low: it looked like Goldstein and company shot this show in the studio’s waiting room, with Goldstein interviewing his guests one-on-one. You can’t possibly get more DIY than this: I’ve seen home videos better produced than this show.

What’s stunning is just how sleazy all of it feels. It’s bad enough that Goldstein has one hell of a filthy mouth on him and has a way of making sex feel nasty, not sexy, but he also tends to prod his guests about their sexuality in extreme ways – especially the women. Some might find this funny, but I find it awkward, borderline abusive; one gets the feeling that he’s preying on the women, taking advantage of them.

And, trust me, I’m no prude.

But, let’s put things in perspective: in her interview, Carol Connors is sitting on a couch with Goldstein, legs unnaturally spread, showing her panties. She is wooden, a bit dazed perhaps, and he asks her all sorts of things, like if she’s into bestiality, …etc. Ick. By the end of the interview, he wraps it up while fondling her right breast. Yikes. Then, after the interview, she does a strip tease for the camera.

Yes, she takes it all off. And we see everything.

Everything.

Unsurprisingly, this episode was censured by Channel J. This collection begins with a commentary from Alex Bennett decrying its censorship and comparing the episode with past segments of ‘Midnight Blue’, indicating that they had done similar if not worse things on the air before. As *evidence* he shows extracts from previous interviews with other porn stars and correspondents. And it’s just as bad, if not worse.

The most stunning moment comes when, during Connors’ dance, the programme cuts to the end of an interview Goldstein did with a British correspondent who had been discussing her love of giving head: here we find her finishing a blowjob that she gave him for the wrap-up. No joke! While we don’t see anything explicit, it’s quite shocking that it made it on the air. The strip-tease pales in comparison.

Welcome to the wonderful world of ‘Midnight Blue’.

At least the interviews with Gerard Damiano and Harry Reems compensated for the apparent female exploitation (I say “apparent”, because I don’t have enough background to know whether the women were 100% willing participants or not): Damiano talks about censorship, how his films can only play in certain parts of New York City, and how he’s trying to make his adult films more artistic, more multi-faceted.

But the best is Harry Reems, who had been pilloried for his participation in ‘Deep Throat’, discussing his return to porn after seven years. It’s a known fact that he fell on hard times and he admits to needing the money. He’s extremely articulate, and you can’t tell he was drunk and/or doped up as much as it’s claimed he was then: he broaches alternate lifestyles and societal norms/conditioning convincingly.

Let’s just say that he’s smarter than his stage name would suggest.

The icing on the cake are all the ads that are edited into this collection, for various spas, sex shops, sexual aids, escort services, personals ads, and, naturally, Screw magazine. I found some of it very funny because the voice-overs suggesting lavish, luxurious experiences, but the accompanying images were pathetic. And then there’s one adult cinema’s selling three adult movies for only $2.49! Ha!

Frankly, ‘Midnight Blue’ is exactly the nasty vibe I got when pornography was brought up as a kid; it lacks class and finesse. Sex can be extremely naughty/dirty without being disgusting and cheap. This programme makes you think of dirty old men with stained trenchcoats and sticky cinema floors. It’s just gross. It’s not the sex that’s bothersome; it’s the vile presentation. You want to put a paper bag on your TV.

But it has redeeming value in some of the interviews and the added subtitled commentary and trivia that Blue Underground, the DVD company that released this collection, included throughout the programme – noteworthy stuff that certainly adds quite a lot of context. So it’s not a complete loss in the end. It’s just that you might want to hit the showers when you’re done. In fact, I just might do that now.

Story: n/a
Acting: n/a
Production: 1.5

Nudity: 7.0
Sexiness: 3.0
Explicitness: 5.0

Dates of viewings: March 25-6, 2016

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