This I Believe

Andrew - San Francisco, California
Entered on October 3, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65

I worked television news … a business where tease writing was more art form than craft.

Instead of:

“Coming Up: An old porno movie still gets a rise out of people”, the tease becomes “What does a famous porn star have in common with Francis Ford Coppola , Gore Vidal and Andrew Shinnick? The bare facts are a sure shocker. Stay tuned.”

Picture a beautiful anchor person uttering those words in a silky tone with a “come hither” look.

The anchor didn’t write that line; somebody in the newsroom did. And if that tease was delivered correctly, that “somebody” had a very good day indeed.

Lumping Linda Lovelace with the likes of Coppola, Vidal and Shinnick is meant to encourage you to sit through a 3-minute commercial break before you were to be surely shocked.

Viewers of a certain demographic will know of Coppola and Vidal. Nobody from any demographic knows Shinnick. He’s the ringer. Shinnick is the guy who turns a pedestrian “Dog Bites Man” line into a classic “Man Bites Dog” tease.

That ringer would be me.

It started with a recent email from my ex sister-in-law. “Hey, I just saw you on HBO! It was a documentary about ‘Deep Throat’ … the porno flick, not Watergate. “

Sure enough, 40-minutes into “Inside Deep Throat”, I popped-up doing a “stand-up”. There was about 8-seconds of me talking earnestly in front of a theater marquee featuring “Deep Throat” in 1974.

It’s ironic that of all the work I did during that period, I would be identified with one story I don’t remember covering.

I do remember sitting with Max Cleland when Nixon pulled the pin on his presidency.

I do remember covering the guttering of the civil rights movement in the mid-1970’s. I got to know Andrew Young, Julian Bond and Jesse Jackson who smilingly whispered to me: “Why is it you white TV reporters always have black cameramen? Seems like old days.”

I do remember being on the campaign trail with a madman named Lester Maddox and, then, a little later with Jimmy Carter, a most remarkable person.

There were important stories going on in the South at the time, but “Deep Throat” wasn’t one of them.

And I was wrong about that.

I never saw the movie, but I did watch the documentary … 34 years after “Deep Throat” opened at the Glenwood Theater in Decatur.

Once I got past that weird part of me watching me, I got hooked. “Deep Throat” exposed a lot more than Linda Lovelace … it revealed deep scars in this country which still haven’t healed; the right-wing Christian doctrine of exclusionary politics, deeply personal moral conflicts on local and regional battlegrounds, gender exploitation, Federal Behavior Police, organized crime, and corporate greed … in the end, “Deep Throat” is one hell of a story.

It is a bit humbling to be in the same celluloid arena as Francis Ford Coppola, Gore Vidal, Norman Mailer, Helen Gurley Brown and Carl Bernstein.

Apparently I was on the front lines of a looming Constitutional battle and I didn’t hear a single shot.

My appearance in the documentary was “uncredited”. Given the fact I missed the whole damned story I’d rather not be reminded that I was unconscious.

My “Inside Deep Throat” appearance isn’t the first time I’ve been an accidental celebrity. For many years, I was a mystery guest at Wigram Air Force Base in Christchurch, New Zealand. Somehow my name and military photograph were posted on a bulletin board with a hand-printed sign asking: “Do you know this man?”

Apparently for years flight crews on their way to Antarctica would pass my picture. There were all sorts of theories about who I was, what had happened to me and if was still alive.

There were periodic contests to find me. No one connected the dots until 20 years later when I got a call at home from a man in Christchurch. He was a New Zealand civilian employee at the base. On his last day before retirement, he decided to take a final shot at locating me. After I confirmed my name and rank, the New Zealander let out a sigh and said: “I’m glad you’re not dead.”

If I have a choice on how folks will remember me, “Inside Deep Throat” and “Operation Deep Freeze” will not make my Top Ten List. Then again, I don’t really care since I’m not dead yet.