HOLLYWOOD—It was standing room only Saturday night, as a variety of pros and fans, not to mention the cast of The Deep Throat Sex Scandal (DTSS) and the Dr. Susan Block Show entourage, crowded into the Zephyr Theater's lobby to celebrate the life and mourn the recent death of adult legend Harry Reems, the inspiration for the play (which runs through April 14) about Deep Throat and its aftermath.
The evening began with DTSS screenwriter/producer David Bertolino introducing another legend, Bill Margold, to lead the remembrances. Margold had known Reems somewhat during his days in Los Angeles at the end of his acting career, and as the anointed successor to porn historian Jim Holliday, Margold capsulized the reverence the industry holds for the man whose seminal performance in Deep Throat helped make that film a cultural icon in '70s mainstream society.
"Harry, who I named to the Mt. Rushmore of X, along with John Holmes, Jamie Gillis and Ron Jeremy—under pressure, I had to name four men; the women, of course, were [Marilyn] Chambers, Seka, Ginger Lynn and Jenna Jameson," Margold began. "Harry really was a victim, unfortunately, of both the times and immortality forced upon him by what he went through, and herein, the tribute really goes to the man who is playing Harry [Marc Ginsburg] ... It's ethical to play a character that makes you cry and most of the people here never knew Harry, but I knew him enough to know that this man has absorbed him, and I believe one day will wind up doing one-man shows as Harry Reems.
"You know, I think it's an honor and a privilege [to see] what David wrote and created," he continued, "and it has been seven years to get this here, and that is something that you can't even begin to imagine, the amount of hours and the amount of effort, and it's an adoration and it's the concept that we have a hero here who basically we wouldn't have this play if it wasn't for Harry Reems and for David Bertolino, so essentially Harry is the father of the freedom of X—that's as good a way of putting it as anything else—and I wouldn't drink too much, because that was Harry's downfall, but you should toast him while you're here. I was very lucky to know him. ... This is the man; this is Harry Reems. You can't get any better than that. I wish Harry had seen it. But maybe he has; you never know, even if he has to look up to see it."
Margold then joined Dr. Susan Block for her internet radio show, and over the microphone, he lamented, "It's very sad, because every time I get a phone call, I get scared now, literally, because you never know when another legend is not going to be here ... It hurts when you go to these kinds of things because we've lost a piece of real living history, but thanks to you, thanks to the magazines, as long as the magazines last, we can remember, and the whole thing is, we don't have participatory catharsis with the masses. I've never seen a Harry Reems video jump down, run down the street and drag somebody home to watch it, but the problem is, and you know this, we live in a society that jacks off with its left hand and denies us with its right."
Dr. Block interviewed several cast members, including Natasha Charles Parker, who plays Linda Lovelace in the show, as well as some of the adult performers in attendance, and AVN asked several of the latter group to share their remembrances of Harry.
"I remember meeting Harry Reems very briefly at—I think it was at one of those award show things backstage somewhere," said Hyapatia Lee, one of the youngest adult performers in attendance. "I recognized him right off and said hello, introduced myself, and told him how I felt about him, which is I was just in awe of him, and he was very mild-mannered and kind and humble and just as sweet and nice as could be. I couldn't say anything negative about him, and he looked so good, so hot, with his mustache and everything. Just a great guy."
Others, though, knew him fairly well.
"Harry was very good to me, in that he had a girlfriend named Brittany Stryker—she took her stage name from his real name, he's Herb Streicher—and Harry was making a list of guys she could and could not work with. I was on the 'can work with' list," recalled Ron Jeremy, who thankfully appeared to be in reasonably good health. "I worked with her alone; he was there watching. I worked with her and Harry in a threesome. I went to his apartment—I think it was in Malibu—and again, he didn't care if I flirted with her. He was always very nice to me, and I was a fan of Deep Throat and Devil in Miss Jones. He never cock-blocked me with his girls, and of course, we discussed Hollywood a lot. We both had dreams of becoming actors, and he said 'Ron, it's tough' because he lost that part [Grease]. And then I got Boondock Saints and some other films, so I told him that I'm getting small roles, but I'm getting some roles in A-list films. I've been in 200 at least, and I hold the world's record on [appearing in] music videos: 48."
Jeremy wasn't the only one who noticed that Reems was something of a voyeur regarding his then-wife.
"He had a wife for a while, Brittany Stryker, and he used to love to watch me fuck her," noted legendary actor/director Paul Thomas. "I probably wasn't the only guy, but he used to love watching other guys fuck his wife, and I fucked her and he watched, and it was good. I got along with Harry, sure. We were in a couple of movies together. One was Sex Fifth Avenue, and I might have directed him in something; I'm not sure."
"Harry and I were friends way back when, way back before Deep Throat even, back in the old loop days," said the renowned Eric Edwards. "We were both actors. He was a trained actor, I was a trained actor. We both did off-Broadway stuff, things like that. I did touring shows. We came together probably after Deep Throat because the only reason I wasn't in Deep Throat was because I was doing summer stock down in Florida or something like that, legit stuff, and he was up doing Deep Throat. So therefore our paths crossed later on, again. And we became kind of buddies in a way that if you can understand the fact that—I looked it up on the internet—we only did about 30 or 40 films together, a lot in those days, but we never saw each other. We shot on different days. Like, for example, Butterflies was one of my favorite movies of all time. I fell in love with Maria Forsa at that time, and he was shooting in Sweden with her, and I flew to Sweden and did a scene with her, so it was that kind of thing.
"Harry and I never really crossed paths too many times; however, we still remained friends for a long time," Edwards added. "Then he went through a period of really bad, bad, bad times, and at that particular time, I was going through my own bad times, so we didn't cross paths too many times after that. This particular play that I saw tonight brought tears to my eyes. I cried; I couldn't help it. It is a beautiful play. It is a tribute to those times, that era, and my gosh, what can I say? It's a bygone time."
One actress who worked with Reems several times was another DTSS cast member, not to mention and adult legend in her own right, Veronica Hart.
"We were working on Society Affairs, and it was fun," Hart assured, "but if you remember, the joke in the play we're doing is that Harry could get it up at the drop of a hat? Maybe that wasn't the case when we were working together, so I actually got to fluff Harry Reems. I was dating the producer at the time, Harold Lime, and I wanted the show to be good and Harry was sweet, so I did my best to help him along, besides the scene we did together. Rest in peace, Harry."
Another actor who was aware of Reems' lack of prowess was a young Tom Byron, and he remembered one "confrontation" from early in his career.
"Well, he played my dad in the film L'Amour," Byron stated, "and like maybe a month afterwards, Hal Freeman asked me, 'Well, I've been thinking about putting Harry Reems in a movie; what do you think?' I said, 'Well, he's Harry Reems!' So he goes, 'Well, how is he? How does he perform?' 'Well, you know, he was a little slow on L'Amour, but it was a long day' or whatever. I get a call from Harry Reems about a week later, saying, 'Yeah, hi; this is Herb. I would appreciate your not telling people that I can't get it up, thank you very much.' So he got a little upset, but we made up later."
"I worked with Harry in the mid '80s when he made his comeback," recalled well-known actor/director Herschel Savage. " I hit it off with Harry; I thought he was a great guy. I didn't know too much about his past. I actually started my career when his trial started, strangely enough, in March of 1976, so I had a brief time with Harry and he was a good guy, I really liked him a lot. He was a regular guy."
Producer Rob Spallone, despite having known Reems only briefly, supplied some "color" for the era when Reems was famous.
"When video came on the scene, my father was with Gourmet Video, which was the first company to do video after the movies," Spallone said. "But the theaters back home, I grew up with the kids whose father owned all those theaters. This guy did a great job here. I met Harry twice a long time ago. I was younger, I was out here visiting my parents before I moved out here, and this business has changed from then till now. It's sad to see everybody get old and die off, and a lot of these old-timers who died—Freddie Lincoln, recently, and Henri Pachard, who worked for me for years—these are guys that were in the business so long, and everyone in the world thinks we're millionaires, but these people died with no money. When my parents got busted, Bobby Hollander had an office in my father's office, and they put him in the bust. And they had him subpoenaed to go to North Carolina. Bobby asked the feds, 'Hey, I need food money.' They said, 'You're Bobby Hollander; you've made hundreds of movies.' They thought he was a millionaire. The guy needed that money to fucking eat!"
Besides those mentioned above, we also spotted in attendance Rob Black, Alana and Chris Evans, Rebecca Bardoux, Melissa Hill (who'll be playing the part of the ticket-taker next week), Felony and adult blogger/stagehand Toby Dammit.
Pictured, l-r: Tom Byron, Ron Jeremy, Eric Edwards, Herschel Savage at the Harry Reems Memorial.