A distribution deal with Devil's Films had fallen apart, with both companies choosing to go their separate ways, and promising new directors Mason and Jake Malone left the studio.
On the technical side, things weren't much better. The company had DVD authoring problems and box-covers with no unifying look. There was no company website. Worse, there was no public relations liaison to act as a public face of Elegant Angel. Rumors started that the studio was for sale.
Elegant Angel was originally a part of John Stagliano's Evil Angel operation, which was a pioneer of gonzo porn at the genre's beginnings in the 1980s. Patrick Collins eventually left Evil Angel to form Elegant Angel as its own independent studio in 1998.
As a director, Collins already had a track record that included the "Sodomania" line and when he went on his own he gathered a group of young, creative directors like Rob Black, Tom Byron and Van Damage. The young talents had previously worked with Collins under their own Extreme Associates label as a studio partner, creating titles like "Miscreants" and lines such as "Cumback Pussy," "The Blowjob Adventures of Dr. Fellatio" and "Filthy First Timers" before they left Elegant and established Extreme Associates as a separate company.
As the company struggled in 2004, something had to be done.
"I decided that the only way to refocus on our core strengths would be to take some time and concentrate on the small details that were overlooked for too long, resulting in Elegant Angel being painfully mediocre," Collins told XBIZ.
The studio stopped production for two months, announcing the hiatus so that the rumors wouldn't get worse. During the break, Collins decided to go back to the basics, focusing production on specific niches and deleting "some creative and ambiguously themed movies that didn't really resonate with the market," according to Travis.
The company logo was redesigned and box cover design was simplified to reflect the straightforward themes of the DVDs inside. Elegant started a public relations campaign and hired Dimension DVD to do DVD authoring.
"We tried to create a comprehensive and diverse schedule month in and month out. Titles followed like 'Cum Drenched Tits,' teen movies like 'It's a Daddy Thing,' ethnic-themed releases like 'Latin Booty Worship' and 'Up That Black Ass,'" Travis said.
The re-branded product started to roll out. Thomas Zupko directed three volumes of "Big Wet Asses," William H's second volume of "Tails of Perversity" was well-received, and Collins got back behind the camera to direct "Squirtwoman," featuring Cytherea.
"Squirtwoman" was a success, starting a new niche for Elegant: female ejaculation. Elegant capitalized on that niche with the "Swallow My Squirt" and "Flower's Squirt Shower" lines, the latter featuring Flower Tucci and directed by William H, who also took over the "Big Wet Asses" line, adding new scene intros on stark white backgrounds and developing his own energetic shooting style. Successful lines were followed by spin-offs like "Squirt in My Gape," "Big Wet Tits" and "Big Black Wet Asses."
In late 2004, Collins directed Tiana Lynn in "Cum Rain Cum Shine," another squirting-themed video. Lynn became an Elegant Angel favorite and also started taking an interest behind the scenes, working as a receptionist at the Elegant Angel office and working in 2257 compliance and public relations. In April 2005 she went on full-time staff, and "every two months, it seemed I was promoted to a different position," Lynn told XBIZ. Lynn retired from performing in February 2006 and now works in sales at Elegant.
"I thoroughly enjoyed talking about product that I truly believed in, and I said to Patrick that I want to give you a sales girl who is putting in 110 percent just as I did as a performer," Lynn said.
In early 2006, director-performer L.T. joined the company to work on Elegant's ethnic lines, including "Up That Black Ass" and "Big Black Wet Asses." Recent new titles have included "Blow it Out Your Ass," focused on milk enemas and anal creampies and a new cum-swapping title, "Sperm Swappers." Collins also started directing a solo line called "All By Myself."
"In September of 2006 we decided that every single month had to be as consistently strong as possible," Travis said. "Now we put in a lot of work prior to production to try and make each release exciting for our customers."
Travis said that Elegant has had "significant and continued increases in DVD sales, especially since June 2006. Sales have been the biggest turn around. Especially in a DVD market that is generally slowing."
"The key to Elegant Angel's regained success has been consistency and determination. We have our formula and we do not deviate," Travis said. "The main objective for the future is to not be complacent and recognize that there are still a lot of challenges ahead. We have grown our DVD sales significantly, and I believe the potential for further growth remains. But we also have to understand that everything is trending more towards online delivery and in three or four years we will be relying almost exclusively upon the Internet."
To expand into more Internet sales, Elegant Angel is working with Braincash to develop a network of Elegant Angel paysites: SwallowSquirt.com launched in April followed by BigWetAsses.com in June. Elegant Angel product is available on video-on-demand sites and on download- to-burn at Cinema Now. For cable and broadcast distribution the company has entered into an agreement with Hustler TV.
"It's been a long road to recovery for Elegant Angel, and it feels better in my heart than it ever has before," Collins said. "Over the past few years we've worked very hard to restore confidence in the Elegant Angel brand. Many improvements have been made, but more are still to come. We will be building upon our solid foundations with some bigger productions and experiments with different genres.