SANTA ROSA, Calif., June 2 -- A teenager sits on the curb, clutching a copy of "All the President's Men" and rehearsing what she'll say when she gets up the courage to knock on Deep Throat's door.
A motorist passes and wants to know: "Where's the Deep Throat house?"
He's asking the news media, which have been planted outside a house on Redford Place since Tuesday, since the news broke that the quiet and rarely seen white-haired old man at this nondescript rosy-beige stucco-and-wood home, vintage 1970s, is W. Mark Felt, Deep Throat himself.
Some looky-loos stop, at least a few of them to leave bouquets on the porch -- lilies and carnations, with little American flags. Most just drive by in slow-motion to see what they can see. Some history? Some intrigue? It's all inside this house.
The storm of publicity and the media glare have descended on this erstwhile quiet and little-known family since the news broke, and this is apparently just as they'd hoped, just as they'd wanted.
Call it the Felt family strategy, hatched when they told their story to John O'Connor, the San Francisco lawyer who wrote the blockbuster article in Vanity Fair magazine that revealed the secret of Deep Throat's identity. The hush of this sleepy, middle-class subdivision called Appletree, normally interrupted by the bark of the Felts' Rottweiler named Carlos, now is shattered by the constant hum of satellite trucks and loud reporters.
The Felts have been told not to talk, not to share their story with anyone just yet, until the prospective big interview deal, big book deal or big movie deal is secured. This is the advice of both Vanity Fair, whose July issue has yet to hit the stands, and O'Connor, who was paid $10,000 by the magazine for the story. ("No one got rich on a Vanity Fair story," said David Friend, who edited O'Connor's story about Felt.) With his office still inundated with phone calls and interview requests, O'Connor remained in New York as of Thursday afternoon, still working on what Joan Felt, Mark Felt's daughter, calls "the next step."
She explained apologetically that they couldn't discuss anything "until John gets back and we confer."
She speaks with a smile, for it seems she and her son, Nick Jones, aren't rude types, aren't used to just brushing people off. So as they come and go each day, they banter awkwardly but pleasantly with the press contingent that has turned their little street into a virtual video and photo studio.
As if wanting to keep feeding the media something, anything, Jones, a law student, emerged from the house Wednesday to hold up a copy of his grandfather's 1979 book, "The FBI Pyramid," for the cameramen to shoot.
So the next twist in the story of Deep Throat is unknown. The former G-man extraordinaire who rose to be the FBI's No. 2 man and fed information on the Nixon administration that helped bring down a president -- he and his family are under someone else's control, it seems.
Frankly, Deep Throat himself seems to be enjoying it all.
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