Thursday, March 28, 2013

Harry Reems aka Herbert Streicher

photo: Kenneth Turan
In a recent Times obit “Harry Reems,Star of ‘Deep Throat’ Film, Dies at 65," Margalit Fox describes Reems’ odyssey from Jewish born porn star alcoholic to converted Christian 12 step program adherent and successful business man. Fox quotes from a 2005 interview in the Ottawa Citizen where Reems equates his present and past careers. “I’m still selling dirt,” Reems pithily remarks. There are many myths surrounding sexuality and the one that Jews are not well-endowed was belied by both Reems ( renamed by the porn director Gerard Damiano, after being born Herbert Streicher, according to Fox) and Ron Jeremy, another major porn star. Actually the cultural significance of Reems and Jeremy was fusing the borscht belt sense of humor (both loved to ham and mug for the camera) with the sexual technique and equipment of famous stallions like Man ‘O War. Fox’s obit is instructive since it exhumes earlier Reems efforts like Erecter Set, Mondo Porno and The Altar of Lust, which you don’t hear much about today. Still in all there is something very American about Reems’ career. It’s a new version of the Horatio Alger story, with a little bit of Saint Augustine and the Apostle Paul thrown in. On his road to Damascus, Reems finds his higher power who turns out to be Jesus and finds his calling which happens to be selling real estate. Future biographers of Reems might want to look into his attitude towards sub-prime mortgages. “Deep Throat” would of course go on to have even greater significance as the pseudonym for Mark Felt, the FBI associate director, who blew the whistle on the Watergate conspirators.

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