A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

History: Strand Theater Owner Arrested (1973)

 The owner of the Strand Theater on West Front Street in Keyport was arrested on Monday 5 March 1973 by members of the Monmouth County prosecutor's office and the Keyport police on obscenity charges related to his plan to show the infamous film Deep Throat that evening.

The movie had become the subject of a national controversy soon after it was released in June 1972. Some called it porno chic, an adult film with higher production values and an actual plot, however contrived, and prominent television and movie stars were admitting having seen it, while others labeled it as worthless smut. The women's movement both applauded and decried the film.

The New York City movie house that was showing the film to large audiences was taken to criminal court in December 1972, raising the visibility of the film still further. The conviction on obscenity charges in New York, including the harsh condemnation of the film by Judge Joel Tyler, propelled the film to must-see status. This is what drew the crowds to Keyport, but also drew the attention of local authorities. The New York conviction prompted Newark authorities to confiscate Deep Throat mid-showing that same Monday evening.

Anthony "Big Tony" Peraino, of the Colombo crime family, funded the making of the film and facilitated its distribution to small movie houses. He and his sons, Butch and Joseph, "are considered pioneers in the American pornography industry, according to the 23 Oct 1993 edition of The Sun Sentinel. Assistant US Attorney Phillip DiRosa said "they are thought to be among the top 20 producers and distributors of pornography in the United States. 'Joseph, Anthony and Louis Peraino all became millionaires as a result of Deep Throat,' a report of the 1986 President's Commission on Pornography says. 'They used profits from the film to build a vast financial empire in the 1970s that included ownership of garment companies in New York and Miami, investment companies, a 65-foot yacht in the Bahamas, 'adults-only' pornographic theaters in Los Angeles and record and music publishing companies on the East and West coasts.'"

Edward Wilson, of Matawan, the owner of the Strand Theater, said he had switched to adult films about 1970 because he couldn't compete against the national chains for the family audience. Unable to tap the large regional audience attending his showings, Wilson predicted that this event signaled the end of having a movie house in Keyport. The theater eventually closed, became a bank, and is now a storefront church.

The headline in the 8 Mar 1973 edition of The Matawan Journal read: Strand Theater Owner Arrested; 'Throat' Is Cut."


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