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From 'Deep Throat' to 'Lovelace:' How the porn industry has changed

As Amanda Seyfried’s highly-anticipated, highly-sexed flick “Lovelace” hits theaters today, many are reminded of its predecessor, a cultural phenomenon called “Deep Throat.”

Back in 1972, “Deep Throat” delivered a sexually liberating message in a comedic way. The Linda Lovelace film opened adult entertainment to a much wider audience.

But as the new “Lovelace” biopic points out, the star’s life was ruined by abuse, rape, drugs, and exploitation. And while the “Deep Throat” makers and managers made a fortune off Lovelace’s fame, she barely saw a penny.

“The porn industry was run by real creeps and women weren’t protected at all. The women who wanted to do it wanted to do it and had fun, but there were a lot of people who didn’t want to be involved. Namely Linda,” Amanda Seyfried, who plays Lovelace in the movie, told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column. “She didn’t have any options mostly because her husband (Chuck Traynor) was such a bully. The porn industry is pretty intense, I don’t think any more as much as back then.”

Is Seyfried right? Is the porn industry, more than four decades since “Deep Throat,” any different?

“Sadly, it still attracts women who were victims of abuse,” one adult actress told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column. “Not the case for everyone, but for many.”

Less than two years ago, shocking clips were posted online showing women, reportedly on a California porn set, screaming and crying as they were abused, raped and forced to do things they did not want to.

An array of former actresses have also spoken out against the business in recent times, including ex-adult actress Shelley “Roxy” Lubben who called it a “destructive, drug infested, abusive and sexually diseased industry that causes severe negative secondary effects.”

But according to adult industry leader and co-founder of Vivid Entertainment, Steven Hirsch, the industry has improved over time and now it’s accepted by the general population.

“People are comfortable with the adult industry now,” he said. “It’s no longer as taboo.”

Professionalism, contracts and lawyers, many industry executives claim, is the norm.

“We treat everybody with respect, honesty and fairness. Nobody has to do anything they are not comfortable with, everybody gets paid and all agreements are honored,” Angie Rowntree, founder of erotic site Sssh.com, insisted. “Some of the industry’s bad reputation from the old days has been exaggerated and sensationalized. I’m sure there were some ugly [incidents] along the way and bad characters, but Hollywood has really contributed to the image of the sleazy '70s photographer archetype that exists today.”

Joanna Angel, founder of porn company Burning Angel Entertainment, said that rules and regulations have helped the world of porn.

“You have to get tested at a certain place, you have to have several forms of identification, and you have to sign many pages of paperwork before you even step on-camera,” she said.

But just last year a report surfaced on XBIZ that a male performer was diagnosed with syphilis, doctored his results to show it as negative, and then continued to spread the disease for several weeks. The L.A County’s Public Health Department also launched an investigation following an outbreak after five performers were diagnosed with the venereal disease in just one week.

So, what is inarguably different about the industry now than in the Lovelace era? Size.

“The size of the industry now is [much] larger than [in] the early 70’s… It is also a lot more of a global enterprise than it used to be,” Rowntree observed.

Why? Technology.

“We went from 35mm film to video, to digital, from big features to extreme hardcore gonzo, to parodies. From VHS to DVD, to digital downloads…” explained Axel Braun, who has created a popular niche in making adult-only superhero parodies. “A porn set today is not much different than a mainstream one.”

Experts estimate that revenue for the adult entertainment industry has declined over the last decade amid the piracy war, from a peak of roughly $13 to $14 billion in 2005 to just about $5 billion now. In 1972, industry revenue stood at around $7 million.

Allison Vivas, president of adult company Pink Visual, noted that women are the ones largely driving the industry behind the lens.

“Linda could not have been a CEO of a global adult entertainment firm in 1972. So the role of women in the industry has changed drastically,” she said.

And practices for men in the industry have modernized too – kind of. Braun said that back in the 70’s, when his father was making movies, he systematically kept guys and girls separate on location.

“It was one of the tricks of the trade to prevent them from foolin' around before their scenes and preserve the heat of passion that might otherwise get lost…that's before arousal got replaced by Viagra,” he said. “Nowadays the top male performers in the world are very few, and they're the ones who still avoid chemical help, and they're all treated like rock stars in their own countries.”

And Angel says the key ingredient to what made Lovelace a household name still rings true today.

“We still typically exploit sex acts that aren’t often part of people’s everyday lives,” she explained. Hirsch agreed.

“Linda Lovelace had a very special talent,” he said. “And after Johnny Carson started talking about it, people just couldn’t get to the theater fast enough.”

“Lovelace” is now playing in theaters and is available on Video on Demand and iTunes.

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