Sensational Video had a big idea — big as in BBW.
In 2004 the company released “Hot Sexy Plumpers” featuring plus-size porn princess Samantha 38G along with three other scenes of lesser known stars in an effort to keep the fledgling studio alive after dabbling in a number of other niches like fetish, interracial and MILF.
Sensational’s attitude was that big women have a beauty all their own and there is a market for women with curves.
Fortunately the movie “sold like hotcakes” and a new path was forged for Miami-based Sensational that has ultimately led to the company’s current success for owners Jesse Maidbrey and Clint Works.
“We joined forces in early 2001 to start Sensational Video Inc. Clint moved from Brooklyn, N.Y., to Miami in 2001 and I moved from Long Island, N.Y., to Miami in 2002. We started in a small two-room office on Lincoln Road. With no experience in the adult movie industry we thought this would be a piece of cake considering Clint and I had owned our own successful businesses in the past. Wow were we fooled,” Maidbrey says.
Part of the duo’s naiveté about porn stemmed from their previous success in the record business. Works had years of experience as an owner of a small dance label out of Rochester, N.Y., and later as the vice president of rap music promotion for Capital Records. He also owned an R&B promotion company.
Maidbrey was also a music maven with a financial background as controller of Profile Records of Run DMC fame. He became owner of his own record label and then a radio promotion company.
The transition from beats to BBWs began in the late ’90s with the birth of Sensational Video as an offshoot of a Playboy-like lingerie website built by Works called Latin Sensations — a website the company said had a good degree of success.
After dabbling in a number of different genres of adult content including interracial MILFs (“Wives Gone Black”), amateur (“All Amateur Video 1–36”), bondage (“Girls of Pain 1–7” ) interracial (“Girls Gone Black”) and a few others that kept the company alive, it was “Hot Sexy Plumpers” that marked the crucial turning point.
But venturing into the world of the highly competitive and difficult business of DVD sales was another thing altogether as the partners quickly discovered. “It wasn’t until Mike Atkins at IVD took a chance with our line did we see sales that made sense. He opened the door for other distributors to see we were a force to contend with,” Maidbrey recalls.
With the success of “Hot Sexy Plumpers” Sensational realized the BBW niche was its calling and that very few studios deemed this a commercially viable genre.
“We jumped on it,” Maidbrey says. “Who in the world of Jenna Jameson, Jesse Jane etc., etc. wants to see 200-pound women having sex? Many people. So the hunt began for more BBWs. With the help of Samantha we were able to attract other stars.”
Maidbrey maintains that by not depicting larger girls in a derogatory manner, the company’s reputation was galvanized as the studio where BBW could be shot and the girls would feel good about themselves.
He noted that unlike some other lines, Sensational’s attitude was that big women have a beauty all their own and there is a market for women with curves. And the strategy worked as the studio’s DVD lines featuring BBWs began to grow — to more than 500 titles.
“Hot Sexy Plumpers,” “BBW Dreams,” “BBW’s Gone Black,” “First Time Fatties,” “Plumpers at Play,” “Large Latinas,” and more round out the line that boast more than 100 active titles at any given time.
If that’s not enough to cement its place in the market, Sensational has also built PlumperPass.com, a website that features tours of its main titles: “Hot Sexy Plumpers,” “BBW Dreams,” “First Time Fatties,” “BBW’s Gone Black,” “Plumpers at Play” and “Big Babe Blowjobs.”
Maidbrey says the site has just had a major design overhaul and is considered the No. 1 BBW site on the web by many reviewers. “All of the content is exclusive and features more than 300 models and 1350 scenes. In the early years of Plumperpass. com, we started our cash program — Sensationalcash.com — and it has been very successful for the affiliates and us as well with a conversion rate of 1:350. We update with five new videos per week, Monday through Friday,” he notes.
And although Samantha 38G is the company’s mainstay web star (they also host her official Samantha38G.com website), recruitment continues on a daily basis for the next big performer. Maidbrey says most of the Sensational girls come through referrals, postings on job sites, or due to the company’s reputation for professionalism, good taste and a competitive pay scale. “Samantha is so prominent on our site for many reasons; she depicts the pinnacle of the full figured woman and her beauty and sensuality can only be complemented by her business savvy,” Maidbrey says.
But there are plenty of other BBW stars who the company also rely on to maintain its market leadership including Maria Moore, Sapphire, Peaches Larue, Anna Kay, Bunny de la Cruz, Simone, Carmella Bing and more.
In fact some of the stars like Bing and Brandy Talore have crossed over to the BBW side after starring in standard porn fare and encroaching on MILF status.
“The search for acceptable talent is an everyday exercise,” Maidbrey says. “Unlike mainstream pornthat has a vast talent pool to draw from, our pool is much smaller and we are very selective as to whom we feature. Our customer base is very selective as to who they would like to see and we realize that there are many choices for leisure dollars today especially on the web, so we need to provide the best product money can buy.”
To that end Sensational has tapped a number of directors including D. Sanchez of Bang Bus fame, who Maidbrey says, was the first director that gave the company’s movies “a certain flair that our customer base enjoyed greatly.”
Sensational also makes a point of shooting most of its content in its hometown of Miami under the direction of Works and a video camera assistant that allows complete control over the end product. Shooting is also done in Los Angeles, the U.K. and in the Czech Republic.
Despite its fairly narrow niche, the studio’s certainly not alone in the big-girl arena. Giants like SCORE Group and more recently ethnic BBW players have made their mark in the field.
But the company honchos feel that they have no “main competitor” because of the amount of product they release. Sensational is good for three to four DVD releases per week and at least five web updates of exclusive content.
And they aim to keep it that way by embracing new technology along with their prolific content production. Maidbrey says that Sensational’s Plumperpass mobile apps are available for both the iPhone and Android devices and they’re currently redesigning the formats that will be available within the next couple of months.
But its biggest challenge is to break the major adult chain DVD barrier in the U.S. that it’s been trying to do for the last 10 years.
“I have found, after spending 30 years in the record business with an independent label, with a similar independent distribution network, the difficulty is finding distributors willing to take your line. I’m very grateful to those distributors that carry our line and their continued support. Those that do not need to realize our product sells,” Maidbrey notes.
Sticking to what it knows best — BBW porn stars — Sensational says it has no plans to diversify in any other niche but hopes to continue to grow and develop new superstars in its steadfast effort to keep “living large.”