It takes courage — and a lot of heart — to jump from mainstream Hollywood into the world or porn. And maybe that’s why James Bartholet’s latest parody role as the Cowardly Lion in Will Ryder’s upcoming “Wizard of Oz” parody fits him perfectly.
With more than 60 parody titles under his belt, including some adult blockbusters like “Rocki Whore Picture Show,” “Not the Bradys,” “Not Airplane XXX’ and many more, Bartholet has become a marquee name that nearly every adult producer and director wants on their spoof titles.
I worked for years doing improv, sketch comedy, dialects, and impressions, and that also helps me to give the director a solid performance on camera. —James Bartholet
His genuine acting ability adds that special quality that can make or break a porn parody. Bartholet has appeared on mainstream soap operas, TV dramas and movies including “General Hospital,” “Murder She Wrote,” Quantum Leap” and others. He’s also worked with Hollywood producers and directors including Blake Edwards and David Lynch.
Bartholet explains, “I bring that professionalism, and years of experience with me into all of the parody projects that I work on. In some cases, these may be parodies of mainstream projects that I worked on before. I spend time before each parody I do to research the role and character, and deliver a real believable performance on camera. I worked for years doing improv, sketch comedy, dialects, and impressions, and that also helps me to give the director a solid performance on camera.”
Where parodies are concerned, Bartholet tells the students in his Los Angeles acting workshop that they can’t just get by with good looks and a hot sex performance any more. Bigger feature projects require the stars to be believable so viewers buy the fantasy.
He maintains that what makes a good parody is a good grasp of the original project — attention to detail, pacing, editing, lighting, wardrobe, photography, and now the special effects on some of the bigger comic book, horror, and sci-fi titles. And he prides himself on delivering what directors, including Will Ryder, Brad Armstrong, and Axel Braun, need to make more believable films.
“The quality of the movies we’re making now is much better than it was 10 or 20 years ago. The adult industry has always been making ‘spoofs’ or parodies of mainstream titles, but now we make a much more richer quality of production and the fans and critics really seem to enjoy it,” Bartholet says.
His acting prowess and his ability to perform sexually — he began performing in sex scenes in 2010 — makes him a truly unique asset in adult. He’s become the de facto go-to guy for myriad parodies.
The actor says that people who watched the old TV shows were probably always wondering, “Hey what if those characters on that show really had sex in that episode or movie, what would it be like?” Bartholet’s typical, yet appealing looks and acting talent deliver a believable peek into the mystery — specially for couples who relate to his characters. “I have couples that come up to me when I’m signing at trade and fan conventions and store signings saying they really enjoy the parodies, it’s something they both like,” he says proudly.
And the demands for his services are growing in correlation with the continuing upswing of parodies as one of the bright spots in the ever challenging adult film arena.
In addition to his Cowardly Lion role, Bartholet will be appearing in “Spiderman Meets Superman” for Vivid Entertainment due Nov. 1 where he play Doctor Octopus. Also on tap is a role in a yet-to-be announced “MacGuyver” parody.
The reliable, steadfast adult pro’s latest appearances include “Not the Three Stooges XXX,” “Men In Black: A Hardcore Parody,” and “Dallas XXX.” Bartholet’s love for the business (he is also the host of the “Inside the Industry” radio program now in its third year on LATalkRadio.com, and the proprietor of Galaxy Publicity) and the demand for his services, are prompting him to become more involved behind the parody camera as well as on stage.
“I’m trying to get “Caddyshack XXX” made soon, along with “Smokey and The Bandit XXX” that I wrote as well. It’s pretty funny and it’s got some great sex scenes in it. I’ve also got a few more great parody titles, some television and some film that would be great to see being made.”
Despite market saturation, he believes the industry will continue to produce new parodies to satisfy viewer’s continuing curiosity about whether their favorite stars “get it on.”
When asked if there are any areas producers won’t venture into considering possible copyright infringement or social taboo, Bartholet quips, “Sesame Street” and “Romper Room” would probably be in really bad taste. But there’s probably someone who’ll say ‘Hey, let’s do that.’”