Parody Still Pays
Just a few years ago skeptics predicted the porn parody craze would never last. But in the face of diminishing DVD sales and other marketplace downers, parodies continue to be made — and in the hands of the right producers and distributors, they still turn a profit.
Director Lee Roy Myers, who made his name with sitcom spoofs for New Sensations a few years back, says the market “has shrunk in scale with the shrinkage of the DVD market. Like everything, the market got flooded at a certain point. But DVDs aren’t selling as well as they were, so there’s probably as less a demand for parodies in scale with everything else.”
“I’m not sure if the market has shrunk,” says Axel Braun, director of such mega-hits as “Batman XXX” and “Star Wars XXX” for Vivid Entertainment. “All I know is that, as always happens with trends, everybody jumped on the bandwagon and there’s an overabundance of cheap product. Which doesn’t worry me at all — it just makes my movies look better.”
“Parodies,” says director Jordan Septo, who shoots for sister companies Exquisite Films and Juicy Entertainment, “are still the most popular thing that we do. Without a doubt. Nothing else we do really compares to the numbers of the parodies.”
Adam & Eve Pictures, according to general manager Bob Christian, “plans to do a few select parodies as long as the demand for them is strong — which it still, amazingly, is.” He notes that “they remain one of the top categories” in the widely circulated Adam & Eve catalog.
Over at Smash Pictures, vice president Stuart Wall has found that parodies, just like gonzo, “are a struggle on DVD.” The good news, however, is that “parodies are strong for us in the broadcast market, lodging, hotels, etc.” He warns that “it’s important not to cheat consumers. There are parodies out there with a name of a major film, but once you start watching it, it has nothing to do with the original, or a budget making an attempt.”
For Jeff Mullen (aka Will Ryder), whose “Not the Bradys XXX” spoof is generally credited with starting the craze, the scene in 2012 is a mixed bag. “The parodies are like the other genres, blown-out and bastardized. Some do ’em very well, some do ’em horribly. The audience gets confused. There’s no way of knowing what you’re going to get.
“I don’t know the numbers, but it seems that every time I turn around there’s a new parody. When you’re doing parodies on TV shows you’ve never even heard of, you know it’s time to pack it in. If it wasn’t a hit in the first place, it’s probably not going to be a hit in the porn version.”
Last year, Mullen says, X-Play’s XBIZ Awardwinning “Beverly Hillbillies XXX” that was distributed by Adam & Eve was “a huge hit. ‘Rocky XXX’ was not as big of a hit. I think we have a lot more success when we do comedy. There’s something about sex and laughing that’s a wonderful combination. That’s what keeps us going.”
His laugh-inducing “Three Stooges” parody, distributed by Pulse and released to coincide with the mainstream revamp, “was one of my biggest sellers, as far as the ratio of what we spent on it to what it’s taken in.”
Braun has turned his Vivid-distributed Axel Braun Productions into a niche factory — the niche being comic book superheroes for which he has staked out a huge market share. He has courted success by wooing not just porn aficionados but comic book fanboys who value his fidelity to the originals.
“I truly am a huge comic book geek, and I’m basically making very detailed fan films that also happen to have lots of boobs in them. It’s a win-win situation for everybody.” He calls last year “probably the biggest year I’ve had so far. ‘Star Wars XXX’ was a huge undertaking, but it became the biggest selling adult movie of the year and an unprecedented success for a porn parody.”
That was followed by another hit, “The Avengers XXX” and “‘The Dark Knight XXX’ was absolutely insane,” Braun said, referring to a pair of 2012 releases that have made a big impact. He has a whole comic book library shot and awaiting release: “Superman vs. Spider-Man XXX” (slated for October), “Thor XXX,” “She-Hulk XXX,” “Iron Man XXX,” and “XMen XXX.” He hasn’t even started on “Star Wars” sequels like “The Empire Strikes Back.”
He sighs. “So many superheroes, so little time.”
Along with his Vivid Super-Hero line, Braun directs parodies for Hustler, about one a month. His most recent is “This Ain’t The Expendables XXX,” with an all-star cast of porn divas playing the men’s roles from the original (Kimberly Kane gets to do Stallone), and cameo appearances by Tera Patrick and Kylie Ireland.
Mullen’s X-Play, in a distribution agreement with Adam & Eve Pictures, is about to release “Animal House: A XXX Parody.” He calls it “the biggest production we’ve ever done — 21 girls in the cast.” And the week it’s released (end of September) he plans to start production on his long dreamed-of hardcore take on “The Wizard of Oz.”
He still has not cut a distribution deal or a financial production partner for the project. “It’s a bit daunting for some companies, because it’s such an iconic movie.” It features all original music (by Mullen himself) and scenes like “hookers on the Yellow Brick Road.” He says it will be a “massive movie, the biggest we’ve ever done — once we get around to doing it.”
Smash has released four parodies so far — “Bridesmaids XXX,” “Halloween XXX,” “American Werewolf in London XXX” and “Diary of Love” (a hardcore adaptation of mainstream flick “The Notebook”). The veteran Jim Powers — whom Wall calls “the perfect director” — helmed them all.
The next Smash-Powers production is shaping up as their biggest yet, a parody of the cultural phenomenon novel “Fifty Shades of Grey.” “I’ve never experienced such feedback ever from a release,” Wall says. “Our DVD pre-books are at 3,000 copies and this is a month before street date. I’m receiving calls from all around the world pertaining to this release, with our No. 1 fans being women.”
Myers, since he parted ways with New Sensations in 2010, has worked for several companies, from Zero Tolerance to Brazzers to DreamZone. “I shoot probably as many originals now as I do parodies,” he says. “Back then [three years ago] it was three or four parodies for every original.” For his own company (released through Hustler), he shot “Sailor Poon: A XXX Porn Parody,” based on the Japanese anime “Sailor Moon.”
This year he had a superhit with “The Godfather: A DreamZone Parody.” “The studio really enjoyed it,” he says, “so they definitely got behind it. The trailer caught on and word just spread through the Internet about how good a parody it was of the original. The whole team is very happy with what we accomplished.”
DreamZone VP Adam Hasner confirmed that the “Godfather” parody “has really fired on all cylinders for us. It’s outselling a lot of non-parodies because it’s a great film.” The company has released 10 parodies to date and “we do have several more in the pipeline. Making a parody adds a new level of fun to the business,” Hasner said.
Septo directed DreamZone’s upcoming parody release, “Hairy Twatter,” one of the few porn spoofs inspired by a book for kids. “I have to admit, it was not my idea. DreamZone really wanted it, and I think they’re going to do really well with it.”
Juicy will release his parody of the Patrick Swayze hit “Ghost” in October. He also has “Xena Warrior Princess XXX: An Exquisite Films Parody” coming up and will continue to shoot for Exquisite’s Extreme Comixxx line. In the near future is a dream project for Dream Zone — “something I’ve wanted to do for a long time” — a takeoff on “Welcome Back Kotter.”
Rob Black this year has added to his growing body of work of comic book parodies, setting out on his own to form the Sinister X Syndicate. His first release on the Sinister Comixxx label is “Birds of Prey XXX: A Sinister Comixx Parody,” starring his wife, Lizzy Borden and several other well-known stars.
Adam & Eve Pictures scored this year with parodies of two pop culture icons, “Dallas” and “Jaws.” “Dallas XXX” was released to coincide with the new TV series. “It’s an international favorite show and perfect for parodying,” Christian says.
On “This Ain’t Jaws 3D XXX” they worked in partnership with Hustler and director Stuart Canterbury. “They’ve done a great job on distribution. We had no previous 3D experience, and they do lots of that, so we learned from that,” Christian notes.
Adam & Eve, in addition to its upcoming “Animal House XXX” collaboration with X-Play, partnered recently with Zero Tolerance for “The Official Hangover Parody.” Says Christian, “We have our sights on a few more [parodies] for the coming year.”
Wicked Pictures, which had a substantial hit this year with its big-budget, Brad Armstrong-directed “Men in Black: A Hardcore Parody,” is not at the moment planning further production in the genre.
But Brazzers, best known for collections of web-originated vignette scenes, is still in the game. Their parody titles include “Pump Fiction,” “Requiem for a Cream,” “Eyes Wide Slut,” “King’s Cock,” “Clockwork Whore” and “Street Fucker.”
“The member response has been great,” said a company spokesperson, “and that’s why we will continue to do them.”