It isn’t a conversation that you’d think a typical couple in Encino would have.
“Honey, what would you think about me getting naked with another woman on stage?”
Actor Marc Ginsburg laughed as he recalled talking to his actress wife, Liza, about this unlikely conversation. No, he wasn’t talking about doing something in the adult film industry, but he was talking about playing one of the adult industry’s most famous personalities who starred in one of porn’s most notorious movies.
“My wife said she wanted to read the script—and she did, and she was very supportive,” Ginsburg recalled about being cast as Harry Reems in the stage play Deep Throat Sex Scandal opening Jan. 24 at the Zephyr Theatre in Hollywood.
“It’s not like I hadn’t done it before, I was in Naked Boys Singing,” said Ginsburg. Of course, that was with a cast of men. And, it was in a situation that wasn’t as—well, sexual.
Ginsburg is teamed up with Natasha Charles Parker, who will star as Linda Lovelace, in a play about the First Amendment court case and the XXX film. Parker, a resident of West Hollywood, said she pursued the role when it was first launched in New York City two years ago—and she almost got it—but now the part is hers as it makes its West Coast debut.
Neither of the lead actors had ever seen Deep Throat before accepting the role. For Parker, the nudity may have been an issue when she first auditioned for the role.
“I think this may have been a problem with my boyfriend if I got the role two years ago,” Parker said. “It probably would have ended our relationship if I got the role then. But I no longer have a significant other.”
For Parker, it is her first time that she is performing nude. She’d been in films such as Carver and The Ascension starring Corbin Bernsen and hosted the Web series Shop NYC. She’s also voiced characters in Pokemon and Winx Club.
“My father is in Heaven, but my mother will come to see the show,” Parker said. “And my grandmother remembers the controversy at the time and all the issues that were involved. My grandmother is excited for me.”
The play, written by Studio City resident chronicles the making of the movie Deep Throat and the ensuing obscenity trials of the 1970s. The real-life story includes actual trial transcripts about the X-rated film that is known as the most profitable film of all time.
"You can't do this play without some nudity," Bertolino said. "It's expected, and yes, the actors who take on these roles are brave to do their parts."
New York-based director Jerry Douglas came across the country to stage the play again, and he has a history of winning awards for gay adult videos from the Adult Video News Awards. The mainstream actors in the play said they appreciated that Douglas brought his experience to the stage play.
“It makes it a little better that Jerry Douglas knows how to direct someone in the nude,” Ginsburg said. “He knows how to make someone feel comfortable in this very private and personal situation.”
Parker added, “He’s a brilliant director, it doesn’t matter that his background is in the adult business. He will set the scene and be very casual about it and say something like ‘You ease downstage, you drop your shirt off here, and take your bra off there,’ and explain it all to you very naturally.”
Douglas said, “It’s about making the actors feel safe.” He said, “I want the cast and all their partners to be part of this big family, and feel comfortable with every aspect of it. So, I want Mark’s wife to come down to the rehearsals, and I want everyone to meet each other. Making them all feel safe is important.”
Douglas said it was great that Ginsburg looked the part of Harry Reems, who is still alive and living in Utah. “I was so hoping that he could act, too, and when he read for it, I was delighted,” Douglas said. “He was so good. And then, I put him together with Natasha and there was such good chemistry.”
It didn’t matter that Parker was blond. “We were just going to slap a wig on her, but look at her face, she is a perfect Linda Lovelace,” gushed the director.
“For the part of Harry Reems I was looking for someone to play an Everyman, someone every guy could identify with,” Douglas said. “For the part of Linda Lovelace I was looking for true vulnerability. I am very happy with my cast.”
In the play, some guest stars will make a series of cameo performances. For one week, comedian Bruce Vilanch and actress Sally Kirkland will perform in rotating cameo performances in the play. Vilanch told the lead actors about what it was like to interview Linda Lovelace before she died in 2002 after a car accident.
“Bruce told me about how she really came across as very innocent,” said Parker, who read all the books about Lovelace and saw every interview she could find. “And then Sally [Kirkland] told me about meeting her and what she knew about her. Those kind of first-person accounts really helped.”
Ginsburg said, “Sally told us that she rented Harry Reems’s place in Malibu and told us what she knew of him, too.”
Kirkland said, “It was wonderful meeting these two actors who are taking on such iconic roles, playing people I knew. They are doing a great job and I’m honored to be a part of it.”
Two of the regulars in the cast include real-life former adult stars Herschel Savage and Veronica Hart. Savage portrays the director Gerard Damiano, whom he knew at the height of his porn career. Hart portrays a series of characters with a variety of comic voices.
“She is a very good actor with great comic timing,” Ginsburg said. “I have a lot of respect for them.”
Ginsburg blushed about admitting that he researched some of his co-stars’s previous works. Savage and Hart team up in the porn crime drama Amanda by Night.
“I think for every actor—once you accept a role—you wonder if it is going to look good on your resume,” said Ginsburg, who has performed with Mandy Patinkin and Harvey Fierstein in Forbidden Broadway and played Fagin in the national tour of Oliver! “It really has nothing to do with the nudity, it’s just whether you think it is an important and intriguing part.”
Parker added, “This was an important enough part for me to pursue on both coasts. I'm glad I'm involved."
Both the lead actors, Parker and Ginsburg, grew up in different parts of Pennsylvania before making their way to the West Coast and settling there. Most of their relatives are back East, but some family, like Parker’s mother, will come to see the play. And, it was Ginsburg’s grandmother who helped him decide to take the role.
“I don’t want my mother to come see the show,” Ginsburg said. “But I do remember telling my grandmother about it. She said she remembered the controversy. She didn’t go see the movie, but she remembered it. Then she asked me what part I was playing and I said I was playing the man in the movie, and there was a pause. Then, she said that sounded like a great part.”
A special for Patch and Huffington Post readers allows a 50 percent discount on the Guilty Pleasure tickets by using the special code: LOVELACE when ordering.
Guest cast members each week include: Amber Lynn and Bill Margold (January 24-27), Sally Kirkland and Bruce Vilanch (January 31-February 3), Nina Hartley and Christopher Knight (February 7-10), Georgina Spelvin and Ron Jeremy (February 14-17).
For more information, go to http://deepthroattheplay.com