My career in early film history might have begun when an advertising executive accused me with some irritation in his voice of wanting to know why the world was the way it was and not some other way. Well, why is the world the way it is? Why is the cinema the way it is and not some other way?
I'd attended a lecture about Roland Barthes and the fashion system, system de la mode, which seemed to me to be about style displacements, fashion shifts, crooner pop tunes elbowed off the charts by the sex and drugs of rock and roll confronted by punk and disco, short hair to long hair to skinhead cut...
It was about that time that I arranged to meet Gerard Damiano, the director of Deep Throat. I was curious about how someone at the centre of a phenomenon of that kind understood the accomplishment. Gerry didn't seem have an explanation, he thought, he said, the world was ready, that the time was right. It was many years before I grasped the wisdom in Gerry's statement about the time being right, the critical importance of timing in fashion shifts. The obvious next step was to research what it was that made the time, as Gerry put it, right. In other words one needed to explore the circumstances, the social realities in the world of 1972 and the American film industry and its audiences in that period.
Money problems and an offer for a fee to research early cinema history, something I knew little about, obliged me to abandon Gerry's movies for Edwin Porter and D.W. Griffith.