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Porn Legend Passes Away

Rest in Peace Marilyn Chambers

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1970s porn superstar Marilyn Chambers was found dead in her L.A. home on April 13 by her daughter. The L.A. County coroner is examining the cause of death, but a spokesman said foul play is not suspected.

Marilyn Chambers is best known for starring in the 1972 adult film Behind the Green Door. Chambers appeared in the film when she was 19 years old. After the film’s release, she became a household name. Marilyn did the film for a $25,000 salary and received a percentage of the film’s gross revenue which, at the time, was unheard of. Considering the film has grossed over 25 million dollars since its release, she netted herself a nice little paycheck.

In her own way, Marilyn Chambers was a pioneer of the adult film industry.  In Behind the Green Door, Marilyn had sex with African-American porn star Johnny Keyes. Chambers and Keyes engaged in a scene lasting over 45 minutes. Filming of the movie was briefly stopped because Marilyn passed out at the end of the scene. The taboo spectacle of a white woman having sex with a black man shocked not only the viewing public, but also the adult entertainment world.  People were also treated to what easily has to be the most “artistic” money shot scenes ever to appear in an adult film.

As soon as the shock of the money shot wore off, people went back to being shocked over a black man having sex with a white woman.  White America raised a collective eyebrow, while black men all across the country high-fived. It was no forty acres and a mule but it was a start. Black women collectively put one hand on their hip, cocked their head  to the side and began giving white woman the stink eye for stealing their men.

Deep Throat was also released in 1972, and by that time, the golden age of porn had jumped into full swing. With the help of other adult films like The Devil in Miss Jones, and Boys in the Sand, porno chic was in vogue. Ticket sales sky-rocketed and some adult films rivaled mainstream Hollywood films in revenue. Many adult films even appeared in the same mainstream movie theaters as Hollywood films. The films of that era weren’t your typical porn movies, the kind that get cranked out by the dozens nowadays. Many of the most popular adult films had actual storylines and plots. The acting wasn’t top notch but it was a far cry from the few lines of bad dialogue between sex scenes that became the norm.

Time for a pop quiz. Put away your books and no cheating off your neighbors.

Which of the following facts about Marilyn Chambers is true?

A. She was the first female porn star to shave her public hair off for a film.
B. She was the first porn actress to have her genitals pierced.
C. She was one of only a few actresses who was able to, shall we say, fully “accommodate” John Holmes orally.
D. She ran as the vice-presidential candidate for the Personal Choice Party in 2004 and 2008.
E. All of the above.

The correct answer is “E,” although half credit will be given if you answered “Eww.”

Bonus fact: Stanley Kubrick used elements of Behind the Green Door in his last film Eyes Wide Shut. None of this is likely to come up the next time you are playing Trivial Pursuit, but file it away and shock and amaze your friends with it later when the conversation slows to a crawl:

“Mitzi, did I ever tell you about Marilyn Chambers and John Holmes? No?!? Well sit down girlfriend….”

Before appearing in Behind the Green Door, Chambers tried her hand at “mainstream” acting in Hollywood. She landed a small part in the Barbra Streisand film The Owl and the Pussycat, but was never able to break in the business. (Babs and Marilyn had something in common. Barbra Streisand appeared in a hardcore stag film before she was famous. She later used her money to try and buy up all the prints of the film. She was almost successful at getting her hands on all of them, but copies of it survive today in the hands of collectors.)

Marilyn went on to work as a model and landed on boxes of Proctor & Gamble’s Ivory Snow detergent, posing as the mother holding the baby under the tag line “99 & 44/100% pure.”

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After Behind the Green Door was released, the Mitchell brothers, makers of the film, began billing Marilyn is the “99 & 44/100% pure girl.” There was a run on boxes of Ivory Snow with Marilyn’s photo on it, but Proctor & Gamble quickly recalled all products and advertising materials featuring her. Despite the increase in sales, Proctor & Gamble couldn’t distance themselves fast enough from their cover girl. This didn’t stop the soap box from making appearances in many of Marilyn’s films and other adult movies. In a 2004 interview with the Montreal Gazette, Chambers said that the scandal led to

a Marilyn Chambers clause in all modeling contracts, saying that you can never have posed topless or nude or been in any kind of adult film or Playboy or anything like that.”

In the film Up and Coming, she starred as a country-western singer whose star was on the rise. In real life, Marilyn had her own country-western band that toured the country for a short while during the 1970s. She also scored a disco hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1976 with the song “Benihana.”  (You can hear the song here, but the song and video should be considered not safe for work, or for prudes. Don’t let the title of the song fool you, she is definitely not singing about the Benihana chain of restaurants.)

Like many of the adult film industry actors of her time, Marilyn had her regrets, but she lived an unapologetic life and never shied away from her past. In the pantheon of 70s sex goddesses, few reviled her beauty and charm.

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Marilyn Chambers passed away at the age of 56, apparently of natural causes. She joins Linda Lovelace and Mr. Johnny Wadd himself, John Holmes, in the big hot tub in the sky.


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April 20, 2009 - Posted by | News You May or May Not Use | , , , ,

6 Comments »

  1. Blog readers naturally have a short attention span. This article was just too long for my brain to absorb. FYI.

    Comment by Penis Envy | April 20, 2009 | Reply

  2. Ivory Snow….hahahahahahahah!!

    In the context of the “Behind the Green Door” story….hahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!

    *breath* hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!

    Oh, the 70s. Maybe I should try old porn. The new stuff really doesn’t do much for me.

    Comment by TheHobo | April 20, 2009 | Reply

  3. I found this a very interesting and well researched, well written post.

    I was rivetted until the end.

    I had NOOO idea about Babs!

    Comment by queencrone | April 21, 2009 | Reply

  4. I’m going to go ahead and pretend the first comment was a joke. It WAS a joke, right? RIGHT??

    Comment by SeaKat | April 21, 2009 | Reply

  5. SeaKat, must be a regular blog reader that strayed into the realm of TS – where more intelligent blog readers enjoy well-written and researched posts of all lengths. You know, because we have no lives and we’re just jeluz.

    Comment by AdmittedlyAddicted | April 21, 2009 | Reply

  6. Yeah, the Babs thing was kind of a revelation…

    There was a time people wanted to see her naked? And having sex?

    *shudder*

    Comment by TheHobo | April 21, 2009 | Reply


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