Harry Reems gained celebrity by starring with Linda Lovelace in "Deep Throat" (1972), the first sexually explicit English-language film to be widely seen by mass audiences in the United States. Under a very peculiar law, he was convicted of conspiracy, but the conviction was overturned. He descended into alcoholism, but managed to overcome this problem and became a real estate broker in Park City, Utah. Although Reems did not hide his past, for many years he kept a rather low profile with respect to the public at large. However, he eventually appeared in the entertaining and interesting 2005 documentary "Inside Deep Throat," which is scheduled to be released on DVD September 20, 2005. I talked to him one week before the DVD release date, and the following is an edited transcript of our conversation.
IR: "Inside Deep Throat" is a bit of American social history.
HR: It is. It's a documentary that was produced by Universal Studios and HBO in conjunction with Brian Grazer and Imagine Entertainment. And it really is a look at the cultural and social changes in America from the late '60's to the present. And a hard look at the pioneering and the infancy days of adult films and what they matured to. "Deep Throat" came out in 1972. It was shot in '71. And I was found guilty of conspiracy to transport obscene materials in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1975. Are you familiar with that trial?
IR: I wasn't before I saw the documentary. And that's how I learned about it.
HR: I was in Memphis, Tennessee, yesterday, and in my hotel--the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, which is really one of these regal, fine, old, well-maintained hotels in the city, I could rent "Deep Throat" live [video on demand] in my room--$11.99.
IR: The world certainly has changed in the interim.
HR: The world has changed. And I think the documentary does a good job of entertaining us and informing us. You've got to realize that they shot over 900 hours. And the edited version is only about 90 minutes.
IR: And it moves very quickly.
HR: It does. It has a nice score. Wonderful editing. And you know, people say, "I wish they went into more depth." But it was very difficult to tell that kind of historical--paint that historical landscape.
IR: And make it entertaining.
HR: And make it entertaining at the same time. Documentaries, I guess since Michael Moore came around, they have a totally different look to them.
IR: They do. And they can have an opinion about something.
HR: Very much so. This is not the conventional documentary that we all grew up with. This is very opinionated. But nonetheless, it shows everybody's point of view. It just so happens that the film itself takes its own point of view as well.
But it's out in two versions--an NC-17 [the one that was released theatrically] for those who want to see the actual physical act and an R-rated version for the more timid.
And I think [the documentary] does a good job, not as in-depth as I'm aware of the industry, but it does a good job of showing the very infancy of pornography on film in America from its early days to the present day. And I was proud to be part of the product because for twenty years I had refused to do any press. Primarily because everyone had wanted a story about drugs, and sex, and rock 'n' roll and nudity.
And you know, my story is a story of redemption. I became a very low, bottom alcoholic back in the '80's. To the point where I put a gun to my head several times. And today I'm clean and sober--over sixteen years. I've converted to Christianity, and I'm an active member in the local Methodist church in Park City. I got a real estate license. I have an extremely successful real estate company there. And I'm happily, happily married. And my life today is better than anything I could have dreamed of. And I don't think it would be unless I had gone through the alcoholism and gone through a period of recovery. So if I were asked would I do it over again, I'd do it in a heartbeat to be the person I am today.
IR: Well, we're all the sum total of our experiences. And life is indeed a journey.
HR: Mine just has a few more highlights than most people's.
IR: A few more twists along the road, so to speak. [Laughs.]