Children often ask each other: "What does your daddy do?"
When Kristin Battista-Frazee was just 4 years old, her dad was a pornographer.
Anthony Battista switched careers in 1973, going from being a W.E. Hutton stockbroker in Philadelphia to distributing, originally as a side job, what became an X-rated film classic: "Deep Throat." As a result, he ended up being indicted in 1974, part of the movie's landmark obscenity trials.
Now, Battista-Frazee, a social worker and marketing professional who grew up in Plantation, is sharing her family's story in her first book, "The Pornographer's Daughter," released by Skyhorse Publishing in September.
Battista-Frazee said she grew up largely unaware that her Italian Catholic suburban family was different from those of her friends at Fort Lauderdale's St. Thomas Aquinas High School, where she graduated in 1988. It wasn't until she was an adult, and learned more about the movie's place in cultural history, that she realized her family "had an incredible story ... and once my parents were gone, that story would be gone."
The family moved to South Florida in 1977 in part to escape the notoriety from the movie and the trials, Battista-Frazee said.
Battista, first arrested in his Philadelphia office on obscenity charges in 1974, lost his stockbroker's license and turned to pornography full time, opening a strip club and adult theaters. The movie's multiple obscenity trials included "Deep Throat" actor Harry Reems; Battista and his business partner appealed their case up to the U.S. Supreme Court. The two later also faced related obscenity charges filed in Memphis and Fort Lauderdale.
Her father faced prison time but, ultimately, was sentenced to two months in a halfway house and probation, which ended in 1984, according to Battista-Frazee. Now 73, Battista lives in Fort Lauderdale and still owns three adult retail stores in Florida and.
Battista-Frazee, 44, said her parents supported the project and filled in the details she'd never heard as a child. "My mom said doing the book was liberating for her, to have things out in the open," said Battista-Frazee, who lives in Virginia today.
Battista-Frazee is planning to return to South Florida for book signings in the spring. She recently spoke with the Sun Sentinel about documenting her family's past, which she says is "the untold story of 'Deep Throat.'"
Q: Your father was in the pornography business from the time you were very young. As you grew older, did you realize what was going on?
A: I kind of knew that people didn't approve of what my father did, and that it wasn't for children. But my family didn't go into details. My dad wasn't this free-love, swinging kind of guy. He was this accounting-looking guy. He always wore a suit and tie, and went off to work in the morning.
Q: You wrote in the book that while "Deep Throat" ended your dad's stockbroker career, he had been persuaded by a college friend to open an adult theater before the film came along. Why was he willing to explore the porn industry?
A: My father saw it as a business, as a way to make good money. He considered it separate and apart from his family. There never were even dirty magazines around the house. But it did bleed over into our family life, which made things complicated.
Q: You mentioned your mother, who is now divorced from your father, suffered from depression and attempted suicide when you were young. Was your dad's career change in part to blame?
A: My mom was open-minded and never had a problem with pornography. But it was a rough road when the "Deep Throat" trials started. She feared my father would go to jail and wondered, "How am I going to survive this?"
Q: In 1978, your father faced obscenity charges in Broward County courts as well.
A: Yes, I was about 8. My father's attorney thought it might look better to the jury if the family was there, so I had to go to the trial. I actually slept through most of it, because I had a bad cold. My mother later said, "Thank god, you won't remember most of this."
Q: Have you seen "Deep Throat"?
A: I actually didn't see it until this year, in September. I thought, "Well, I need to sit down and finally watch this." My first thought was that it didn't seem like such a big deal. It's not the best-made movie, but you have to give it credit for a catchy plot.
Q: You have been married for 16 years and have a 12-year-old daughter. What would you do if your husband came home tomorrow and said, "Honey, I want to go into pornography"?
A: I'd say: "I'll quit my job and we'll do it together. I probably know some people who can help you." You know, people ask me if I don't feel pornography is exploitative to women. I say there are a lot of industries that exploit women. I don't see pornography as any different.
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