Don’t worry, James Cameron is still alive. So are George Lucas and Christopher Nolan. But someone who may have been more important in the grand scheme of things has gone on to his eternal reward (which, by all reports, will not be pleasant): Gerard Damiano is dead.

You may not know his name, but you know his work. He is the guy who directed Deep Throat, the most popular porn film of all time. Titanic, the number one box office movie in history, has a return on its budget of around 10 to 1. Deep Throat, on the other hand, boasts a return somewhere along the lines of 25,000 to 1. And that’s a guess – because the film came from Mafia money, nobody was exactly reporting profits to the IRS. At any rate it’s the single most financially successful film in the history of the medium.

And it might be one of the most important movies ever released, on a sheer cultural level. Deep Throat kicked off the trend of porno chic, where people from all walks of life would brave the scum of Times Square and see people fucking on film. Jackie Onassis went to see Deep Throat! That’s a big deal.

Deep Throat and the mainstreaming of porn had a profound impact on our culture, for good or ill. We’re still feeling the shockwaves today as a major mainstream movie is hitting theaters this weekend with the word ‘Porno’ in the title. Deep Throat changed the porn game forever, and it’s arguable that porn changed our sexual mores forever as well.

Pretty impressive for a Bronx-born hairdresser. Deep Throat was Damiano’s biggest acheivement, but he also directed the seminal Devil in Miss Jones. I’m wary of commenting on the rest of Damiano’s oeuvre because it was common practice in the 70s to slap his name, as he was the auteur of the porn world, on any smut picture regardless of whether or not he worked on it. The second CHUDsploitation film, Water Power (yes, it’s coming!), was originally sold as a Gerard Damiano picture despite being directed by the incredibly prolific Shaun Costello.

I can’t recommend Inside Deep Throat enough for those curious about the movie and its place in history. You can order the DVD through CHUD by clicking here.