Piranha fishThe flesh eating fish, Piranha, known for its veracious appetite and frenzied feeding, come in a variety of sixty flavors. As a kid witnessing the astonishing spectacle of the little devils devouring a cow caught in a river, I was horrified, delighted and intrigued by the utter ferocity of the little demons. Shredding the bovine with their aquatic savagery, the well equipped toothy fish displayed their ravages in the film Mondo Cane.  I thought one had to travel to the Amazon jungle to witness such carnage.

Researching crime families of New York, which also come in different varieties, it was apparent the pronunciation of the name of the fish, Piranha, and the similar Peraino Italian family name, not only corresponded closely in sound but also in their lust to feast from flesh. The uniquely humanized trait, glutton for cash, is the only distinction between the ravenous fish and their two legged counterpart. It is not news what happened with the Deep Throat film financed by the Perainos: it became the biggest grossing X-rated film in motion picture history. What is not common knowledge is the subsequent mayhem and devastation caused by the Perainos from the nine hundred million dollar windfall garnered by their initial twenty-five thousand dollar investment. Once their beaks were wet, the Perainos avarice caused chaos, and the five family member’s greed not only led to their own demise, but also dozens of fellow mob members and the killing of innocent non-participants unfortunate enough to stray too close to the fracas. An ex-nun’s head was blown off while hanging up her husbands shirt in a closet, unaware of the Peraino’s internal family feud taking place just outside her front door.

Thomas Geolitrial, trigger-man that killed a nun.

Thomas Geolitrial, trigger-man that killed a nun.

Historian Barbara W. Tuchman wrote: “Folly is a child of power.”  The folly that was the short lived Peraino empire, due to the vast amount of money flowing into their coffers, serves as a case study of how greed and ignorance can cause devastation within and out of a corrupt family.

“We don’t count the money; we weigh it,” quipped Louis “Butchie” Peraino. Lou Perry was his avatar as film producer.

Louis Peraino

Louis “Butchie” Peraino, aka Lou Perry and Gabe.

He supplied the money to Gerry Damiano to make Deep Throat.

Joseph Peraino Sr.

Joseph “The Whale” Peraino Sr.

Butchie’s father, Anthony, his Uncle Joseph “The Whale” and his son, Joe Jr, bankrolled the production. But when the money started rolling in, due to all the publicity, court cases and social excitement about the film, the Peraino’s jettisoned Damiano and demanded the lions share of the profits from theaters showing the film. Once they had co-opted all the money possible, they started fighting amongst themselves. Fratricide ensued.

My dealing with Butchie was mysterious and clandestine. I never knew when I was producing Deep Throat II for him, who he was – he used the alias Gabe as his moniker.

Gerry Damiano, director/writer Deep Throat

Working with Gerry on five of his post Throat films, the subject never came up about his experience with the legal battles that continued throughout most of the Seventies. We also did not discuss any of the mob involvement in the porn industry. During the Eighties, when I was shooting with Damiano, the Mafia was moving away from porn and into real estate to circumvent the new RICO laws wielded by the justice department. The feeding frenzy from the prior decade had ceased due in no small part to the advent of the VCR for home viewing of adult material and the inability for anyone to control the duplicating of video tapes. The 8mm film loops, that served as the vanguard of the sexual revolution in pornography, were obsolete buy the mid-Eighties. That technology spawned the porno predators to relax their tentacles in that area of the genera, only to take grip of newer, fleshy victims on the internet.

A dangerous journey through the heady years of the 1970’s when porn was profitable, illegal and a loadstone for gangsters and profiteers attracted by easy cash from 8 mm smut loops.

 Probably one of the most influential sociological changes since the industrial revolution, the advent of   hardcore sex films in public places, stripped away much of the quasi-moral vestiges of the ninetieth century Victorian era. It was a time when mores, morals and modesty changed inexorably. Porn was not the only sociological shift; it was happening in the arts, politics and society in general. Whether pornography was a catlist or a by-product of this change is difficult to cleave, but for certain it played a big part in challenges for first amendment rights.    

Literally at fox hole, basement level, I witness the paradigm shift from titillation to penetration in motion pictures. I paralleled the legal adjustments, while making films, and watched as the public demanded the ability to watch what they wanted. It was an important slice of American culture witnessing  implications of the past and the impact to the future. 

Available @  http://www.amazon.com/Wham-Bam-Boom-Sojourner-ebook/dp/B00ANZ1UOW/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_t_1

~ by Larry Revene on December 21, 2012.

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