When the late Morty Gordon began buying up available video companies in 1984, fetish films in no way shape or form included extreme, niche-driven content that’s today’s norm. Although he knew the movies for the most part were considered “bizarre,” he felt it in his bones that he was ahead of the curve with this often overlooked genre — way ahead.
The steely New Yorker, who grew up in Brighton Beach with childhood friend Teddy Rothstein (owner of Nasstoys), solicited his pal’s advice on how to get into porn. The idea was to look for an area that had very little competition, and fetish and bondage answered the call.
We’re looking to be that company where fetish customers walk into a store and know Bizarre has something for them. -Keith Gordon, Owner of Bizarre Video
Rothstein singled out the world of BDSM to Gordon who ran with the idea, even adopting the niche’s name to create Bizarre Video on Lafayette Street in Manhattan, that for decades to come became the hallmark and go-to production company for the kinky adult genre.
What began with the acquisition Platinum, Centurian and Corporal video titles grew into one of the first production companies to focus on fetish and has now grown into what’s a major reborn contender.
Gordon’s son, Keith, who joined the company in 1992 and then took a hiatus in the company’s 2006 DVD slump, was, and is once again the motivating force behind Bizarre after coming on board. He says that since Morty began filming the studio’s own titles in 1986, Bizarre has grown into a producer with more than 1200 active titles on DVD and VOD.
“It’s been a long time since we started on Lafayette Street, then moving to Jay Street in Brooklyn with [novelty company] Nasstoys. We built our own sound stage and we hired the biggest adult stars like Ashlyn Gere, Debi Diamond, Asia Carrera, Porsche Lynn, Nina Hartley, Tera Patrick, Kylie Ireland, Alexandra Silk, Justine Jolie and many, many other beautiful adult stars who loved the fetish side of the adult industry,” Keith says.
But Bizarre’s success wasn’t without its troubles. Patriarch Morty faced a number of legal battles in the ’80’s, son Keith recalls, all of which he won. “This is more than a business, it’s a lifestyle and these are the things that must be dealt with,” Keith recalls.
Despite its early rise to dominate the niche, the declining DVD business forced Bizarre to take stock in its suffering business. In 2006 Morty reached out to adult star Jill Kelly in an effort to sell the company but to no avail. The Brooklyn braintrust then realized it was time to turn over their distribution to Pulse Distribution, but again, the content suffered from the shrinking market and tough economic times.
Keith says that the Gordon family then faced the struggle by focusing on sales and production so it could deliver a premium fetish product to its consumers. Despite valiant efforts by both the Gordon’s and Pulse, the timing was off and Bizarre fell into a dark limbo.
Thanks to a resurgence of more extreme BDSM offerings like Kink.com and the mainstream fetish frenzy sparked by the “Fifty Shades of Grey” book phenomena, the entire BDSM world saw a major shot in the arm — especially from women — causing a major demand in the market for everything fetish from films and websites to books and sex toys.
But what it also did was reignite an idea in the Gordon family’s heads to bring back the glory days of Bizarre Video. Keith says when Morty passed away he left his shares of the company to Keith’s sister Ellen Fiore, who then called Keith with her idea. “She said it was a perfect time to bring Bizarre back, with fetish becoming so mainstream. I looked into the sales aspect since I sell my glass toy line Joyful-Pleasure.com to all stores and all buyers. To my happy surprise they all said they’d buy our fetish videos,” Keith says.
Bizarre Video was reborn.
Keith managed to take Bizarre back from Pulse in a deal he described as very amicable. “They’re [Pulse] amazing and great people to deal with,” Keith notes. Once he regained the reins of Bizarre, he began re-marketing the 400-plus DVD titles with a library that includes HD, standard and retro videos with titles such as a “A Maid’s Dilemma, “A Night in the Dungeon,” “Caged Pets,” “Arena of Pain,” “Foot Fucking Lesbians,” “Asian Spanking Discipline,” and many more.
Keith says that sales are now doing very well and the company is releasing two new titles every month. He emphasizes that the new Bizarre is doing much more than paying homage to its bondage lineage. The studio is shooting 10 different fetishes including femdom, male-dom, foot fetish, lesbian fetish, big-boob, spanking, enema, she-male, wrestling and tickling. “We’re coming out with our own sex line of hardcore Bizarre fetish DVDs centering on girl/girl bondage along with sex,” Keith reveals.
The first two titles, “Innocents Taken 3,” and “My Little Plaything,” were set to debut last August. Big-budget (more than $35K) films are slated to be shot on location with big-name stars. “I’m excited to start shooting once the company has all of its prior titles replicated,” Keith says.
Bizarre is working with fetish director Andre Baylock, whom Keith says is known for high-quality films, shot in top locations, and with “the prettiest girls I’ve seen in a long time.” The studio is also hoping to cut a deal with director Ernest Greene for the big-budget bondage films.
With its newfound life, Bizarre is once again handling its own distribution from Porn Valley. Keith says he is physically relocating from the East Coast to helm the operation from the company’s Chatsworth warehouse. Veteran and “cherished” Gordon family member Dennis D is the company’s star salesperson, according to Keith, whom he says has industry relationships that are second to none. “Since Dennis started with me years ago, I’d asked him for his help with sales once again. He grew up with my nephews Joseph, and Adam, who both started working for the company when they turned 18 years old,” Keith notes, emphasizing the close-knit family operation.
Dennis D started his career with Bizarre at the tender age of 24 and worked for the company until Keith’s departure in 2006. “Dennis is a part of the family. And when I decided to take Bizarre back, I’d asked him to come help me with sales and marketing,” Keith notes.
Bizarre’s goal today is to become a one-stop-shop for fetish films, according to Keith, who’s found new excitement and passion for his father’s and family legacy. The new brain trust is dedicated to proving to retailers that Bizarre still has the trust they had come to expect from the company is its past dealings.
“We’re looking to be that company where fetish customers walk into a store and know Bizarre has something for them,” Keith says.
The new mantra includes a plan to bring fetish back to the adult industry by showing the world that it’s not an underground concept but a way of life millions of people around the world to use to spice up their sex life.
Keith says despite its dark reputation, the genre has all the markings to “make marriages and relationships interesting again,” and he’s set on showing the industry and the public that what Bizarre produces, nowadays, is not so “bizarre” after all.