Porn Star Karaoke
The scene is Porn Star Karaoke, which has grown from a lark in 2003 to a Tuesday night staple at Sardo's Restaurant and Bar in Burbank, Calif.
Sardo's is located in a strip mall, sandwiched between a doughnut store and some ATMs, around the corner from the original Bob's Big Boy. Tonight there are about 200 people in the room, with industry folk representing a small majority. Black Widow Productions, which markets such titles as "British Lesbians Pissing" and "Joe 'Jose' Pusher's Pimping Adventures," has paid PSK $300 to sponsor the event, which means that Black Widow DVDs are given out during breaks and the company is thanked regularly.
"The companies get a great promotion that doesn't cost a lot of money," said Wankus, Porn Star Karaoke co-founder and program manager for KSEXradio.com.
A relative newcomer to PSK and the industry, Black Widow didn't maximize its potential by bringing a bevy of contract stars, such as on past theme nights sponsored by Shane's World, Jill Kelly Productions and Insanity Pictures. But still, fans clamor to get free copies of DVDs like "Kinky Wrinkly," the saga of a septuagenarian Brit and his exploits with adult actresses. Black Widow head of sales Lisa Radamaker looks happy with the outcome and signs on Black Widow to sponsor PSK the final Tuesday of every month.
"When Jill Kelly Productions or the Vivid entourage walk in, the crowd goes nuts," Wankus told XBiz. "Not only are there free DVDs, but the girls are here to sign them."
But the popularity and acceptance of PSK as a favorite way to pass a Tuesday night has been a gradual one, and not without occasional growing pains.
"After about a month of talking about it on KSEX, this place was mobbed," Wankus said. "But there were all these [outsiders] and AVN Expo fan-type people, too."
Porn Fans Get in the Way
Some of the porn stars were getting uncomfortable, Wankus added, because the fans were grabbing and touching them. The time had come to change things. The solution, Wankus said, was to charge non-industry people $10 to get in and reserve the nightspot's forward seating for the adult community.
Sardo's no longer has the vibe of a signing anymore and instead reminds visitors of the family aspect of the film "Boogie Nights." Or maybe the event would more aptly be described as an adult version of the TV show "Wild Kingdom," where partiers and porn stars, rather than wild animals, are viewed taking their leisure, and Wankus and co-host Kristen Owsinski set the tone for a night of depressurized socializing across many strata of the porn world.
On a typical night, the wannabe crooners line up, the music is loud, the drinks are abundant and industry icons like screenwriter George "Fozzi" Kaplan and director Roy Karch mingle with veterans like Lisa Sparxxx or newbies like Keiko and Natalie Knoxx. It is a place where newcomer Luc Parry can destroy Eminem's "Lose Yourself" and still get a rousing applause from the audience.
Wankus and Owsinski keep the evening lively, holding microphone hogs at bay and emphasizing "porn star" karaoke rather than "porn fan" karaoke. The hosts also have their own act, Milli Vanilla, which substitutes porn-centric lyrics in popular songs. The crowd eats it up.
There is a small amount of booty flashing and an overall laid-back, fun atmosphere that is more inclusive than any Hollywood club of a similar scope. Young talent sits at tables with 60-year-old photographers and both mingle with the boom guys and publicists. Older porners who may not get past security on the Sunset Strip are free to turn out flawless renditions of "Mack the Knife" and show a lot of skin on a body that might not be "Hollywood Beautiful" anymore.
"It's like 'The Brady Bunch,'" Wankus said in the smoking area and then headed back inside to deliver copies of a recent DVD release to some women from New Jersey.
"It's always great seeing these hot stars on film doing their naughty things," Wankus said. "But at Porn Star Karaoke, stars bond with other stars, while fans see a completely different side of these lovely ladies."