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Theater Review: Porn Star’s Tumultuous Story Set To Rocking Rhythms in Lovelace:

Linda Boreman didn’t want to star in the first-ever, feature-length porn movie, “Deep Throat,” but violent coercion from her sleaze-peddling husband, Chuck Traynor, broke her naïve spirit, rendering her incapable of making another choice. At least that’s the overall claim made in Lovelace: A Rock Opera, a wholly sung-through explosion of theatre, complete with driving guitars and tableaus of the porn industry shot through with images of women in compromising positions, men with extra-special endowments, and plenty of cocaine to go around. The music is outstanding and the acting is first-rate.

We meet Boreman (Katrina Lenk) as a fresh-faced teenager, before she’s given the screen-name Linda Lovelace by pornographer Gerard Damiano (Alan Palmer), who wants to bestow upon his rising star a moniker both titillating and innocently girlish. At the tender age of 18, after her crass mother, Mrs. Boreman (Whitney Allen), gives away Linda’s newborn baby out of shame and spite over her daughter’s single-mother status, Linda finds precarious romance in the arms of Traynor (Jimmy Swan), who wins her fragile heart with promises of eternal love.

Soon after the two wed, Traynor reveals his true colors, pimping Linda out to multiple men and allowing her to be gang-banged for cash. Though Linda begs her mother to help extricate her from this nightmarish marital mess, Mrs. Boreman refuses. Thus, Linda submits to forced prostitution, a lifestyle that leads her quickly into the world of pornographic film. In 1972, when “Deep Throat” is released, Linda Lovelace rockets to stardom, while President Richard Nixon sets out to ban the film and hardcore feminists publicly and loudly loathe Linda for self-objectification. Meanwhile, Linda’s life is a confused mish-mash of wild fun, imprisonment, paralyzing fear, and deep-seated self loathing. She is hated by many, loved for all the wrong reasons, and lacked a solid plan. She wants out, but doesn’t know how to flee. Until she does. Her tell-all book tracks her flight and chronicles the life that led to her infamy, including claims that she was forced by Traynor into a life of sexual degradation and porn.

Though it’s impossible to know the full facts of the late Linda Boreman’s life – she died in a car accident in 2002 – this show takes the stance that she was an unwilling participant in her pornographic career and a woman to be admired for her survival skills. Lenk is entirely luminous as Linda, eliciting sympathy from us the whole way through as she effortlessly inhabits the skin of a lost teenager and skillfully adjusts her persona to weather unspeakable abuse, putting up her dukes against terrible odds when it’s finally time to fight back. Lenk’s singing is perfect for the part, but acting clearly comes first with her, as evidenced by a willingness to allow her voice to crack, waiver and veer off key when Linda is falling apart. Swan, a professional rock singer, nails Traynor’s menacing brand of seduction, slipping his dark intentions between the cracks of his cock-sure appeal.

The book, music, and lyrics were penned with exquisite care and wit by Anna Waronker, formerly of the Los Angeles-based band “that dog”, and Charlotte Caffey, of the popular 80s girl-band The Go-Go’s. The instrumentation is the driving force behind the unmitigated success of this show. Ken Sawyer directs with razor-sharp attention to detail and Jeffery Leonard Bowman’s original concept sizzles.

No matter what the truth is about Linda “Lovelace” Boreman, one sad fact stands: “Deep Throat” raked in a ton of cash and Linda never got a penny of the earnings.

At The Hayworth Theatre, through February 1, 2509 Wilshire Boulevard. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00pm, Sundays at 7:00pm. Tickets are $25-$30. For reservations, call 323.960.4442 or visit plays411.com.

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