'Deep Throat Sex Scandal' Heats Up Zephyr Theater With Onstage Sex Scenes, Plenty Of Penis Jokes

David Bertolino's smut-chic historical stage biopic, The Deep Throat Sex Scandal, is playing at Zephyr Theatre. Bertolino depicts the Deep Throat epic (the pornographic film, not the Watergate scandal informant) through the eyes of porn star Harry Reems. Brimming with full-frontal nudity, Deep Throat film clips, bad wigs, and crass humor, The Deep Throat Sex Scandal is like watching a Schoolhouse Rock! episode about pornography and First Amendment rights.

For those interested in a quick history lesson, Deep Throat is a 1972 pornographic film directed by Gerald Damiano (also known as Jerry Gerard) starring Harry Reems and Linda Lovelace. Considered groundbreaking in the porn industry at the time for its use of scripted plot, comedic editing, character development, and quality standards, Deep Throat left the underground world of dirty movie theaters to become a mainstream sensation. Standing in line to see Lovelace fellate Reems was the "in" place to be seen for celebrities and socialites, hipsters and housewives. Roger Ebert even came out to review the show. Funded by producer Louis Peraino (Lou Perry) with Columbo crime family money for only $46,000, the film was a huge box office success that went on to become one of the biggest grossing films ever in any genre. Unfortunately, prudish conservatives decided to derail the movie with unrelenting multi-state obscenity litigation that targeted the producers, director, theaters, and even Harry Reems. Several federal cases ensued and First Amendment freedom of speech rights were put under scrutiny. Neither Lovelace or Reems fared well after Deep Throat's heyday, with both succumbing to their own personal tragedies.

Marc Ginsburg leads the cast as Reems with excellent comedic timing and energized, plot-driving poise. Playing Reems' female counterpart, Lovelace, Natasha Charles Parker conveys the attenuating simplicity and frailty that the porn starlette was known for. Herschel Savage grounded the production with his boisterous and possessing command of the stage. The supporting cast goes the unconvincing cheese ball route with their performances. For porn fanboys (and fangirls), the supporting cast is in part comprised of actual adult film stars making guest appearances.

Under the direction of Jerry Douglas, The Deep Throat Sex Scandal is objectively a fast-paced stage piece that takes its audience from moments of hearty laughter to tension-filled sex scenes. Having the actors reenact the iconic scenes from Deep Throat is a clever and engaging touch. The play doesn't always flow well, but the trade off is that you get to bask in the warm glow of gorgeous naked actors.

Unfortunately, despite the play's merits, Bertolino's script is utterly cheap and probably unbearable for anyone desiring a shred of sophistication. His humor is immature and vulgar, without being witty and his characters lack depth. Angeleno audiences are cosmopolitan enough at this stage in our evolution to not be shocked by the use of 70s-style dick jokes, yet they dominate the play. The entire show has the tone of your fifth grade history play (bad acting and uninspired sets and all), albeit this production is about adult-only subject matter. Jokes that made fun of a performer's less-than-perfect body and sexuality left this reviewer a bit disgusted. Generally speaking, The Deep Throat Sex Scandal is fine as a novelty, but it lacks the all of the trappings of real art.

The Deep Throat Sex Scandal is playing through March 24 at Zephyr Theatre. Tickets ($35) are available online or via phone at 800-838-3006