Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Joel J. Tyler July 28, 1921 -- Nov. 9, 2011 Pronounced 'Deep Throat' Obscene

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Joel J. Tyler July 28, 1921 -- Nov. 9, 2011 Pronounced 'Deep Throat' Obscene

Article excerpt

Joel J. Tyler, who as a Manhattan judge ruled, in a particularly explicit and colorful opinion, that the pornographic film "Deep Throat" was obscene and that the New York City theaters showing it were breaking the law, inadvertently helping it become perhaps the most popular X-rated movie of all time, died in New York on Nov. 9. He was 90.

The cause was a heart attack, his daughter Alexandra said. She said the family did not report his death until now because her father did not want the acknowledgment. But in the weeks after his death, she said, she and her sister, Lisa, "came to feel overwhelmingly that he deserved it."

Judge Tyler, a former city commissioner of licenses, had been on the Criminal Court bench for four years when "Deep Throat" opened at the New Mature World Theater on June 12, 1972. The film, about a woman whose quest for sexual satisfaction is frustrated until she discovers that her clitoris is in her throat, almost immediately became a touchstone in the culture wars of the day.

On one side was outrage over the film's flagrant and unashamed depiction of sex acts; on the other was cheering for its daring to confront social taboos and to present a woman's sexual needs as being as robust as a man's.

A notorious artifact, "Deep Throat" became a target in the early efforts of New York City to rid Times Square of its seamier elements. In August that year, complaints were lodged by the Police Department and charges were filed against Mature Enterprises, the company that owned the theater, for promotion of obscene material. The trial began in December 1972.

A psychiatrist testified that the sexual acts depicted in the film were "well within the bounds of normal behavior." A film critic testified that "Deep Throat" had redeeming social value -- a key element in the definition of obscenity -- because it showed sympathy for female desires, because the script contained humor and because, unlike other porn films, it was photographed "with clarity and lack of grain."

On the other hand, a New York University professor, responding to a claim that the film was at least in part a spoof of sexual behavior, said, "I do not see how you can spoof fellatio by showing continuous performance of fellatio. …

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