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03.15.14

The Art of Smutty Spoofs: Porn Parodies Aren’t a Joke Anymore

Modern porn parody goes a little deeper than titles like When Harry Ate Sally, Sorest Rump, and Star Whores. Have we entered the age in which porn parody is actually respectable?

Modern porn parody goes a little deeper than comically spoofed titles like When Harry Ate Sally, Sorest Rump, and Star Whores. There’s the hardcore sex, of course, but adult audiences want more—they want something clever beyond the box cover. Have we entered the age in which porn parody is—gasp—respectable?

While porn spoofs have been around for years, it wasn’t until the late 2000s that they really broke through. The film was Not the Bradys XXX. Until then, studios had never so blatantly parodied mainstream sitcoms. The soundtrack expertly mimicked the original song. Surely a lawsuit was on its way. Instead, Not the Bradys XXX was a blockbuster. The actors were invited to Entertainment Tonight. Jackpot! Porn producers started chasing the money and parodied everything from Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to Judge Judy. “Parodies came in at the time that DVD sales had first started to drop,” says Lee Roy Meyers of Woodrocket.com. “So when these porn spoofs sold well, so many people jumped into making them that they flooded the market.”

I’d never even seen The Brady Bunch before I was cast as Jan Brady in Not the Bradys XXX. In 2007 it was too soon to realize, but director Will Ryder was making more than just a parody—he was launching a generation of porn. As Jeff Mullen (aka Will Ryder) told Newsweek, “Everything that you see in the industry right now is because of Not the Bradys XXX. I don’t think that anyone in the industry would argue with that fact. I don’t think people realized that this was more akin to making sitcoms as opposed to making porno. We’re entertainers, not pornographers.”

Any amateur can create a basic sex scene. Creating a good parody on the other hand, is a real creative challenge. There is an art to it, and it falls heavily on the director. Best known for his heart racing, chuckle inducing versions of iconic pop culture sitcoms like SpongeKnob SquareNuts, Family Guy XXX and The Simpsons XXX, Meyers understands the complexity parodies present. “Porn budgets make indie budgets look like blockbuster budgets,” he says. “So the built-in challenge automatically is creating iconic sets and costumes on a really tight budget.” Once the budget has been creatively handled, a director still faces the arduous task of casting. Typically adult performers are cast based on what they do, like boy/girl and double penetrations. But casting for a parody requires a search for additional characteristic. The performer must act and look and sound like the character. (They also have to be open to the sex act required of the character. In porn that’s asking a lot.)

I auditioned for the part of Lois in Meyers XXX version of Family Guy over the phone. Thirty minutes before the phone call, I watched YouTube clips to prepare my nasally accent. After a few lines of made up dialogue, I was his Lois. The guy who was cast as Peter Griffin wasn’t fat enough (not many male performers are).  Instead of asking the performer to pack on fifty pounds like Hollywood might (this wasn’t American Hustle), Meyers had the actor stuff a pillow under his shirt. Throughout the sex scene, I had to keep my accent and make sure my red wig stayed in place while my scene partner had to repeatedly stuff his pillow back up his shirt. It wasn’t easy staying in the mood. “Keeping an erection, or from chafing your genitals during the hours it takes to film a sex scene is tough enough without having to wear a wig or faking a New England accent,” says Meyers.

“I just never liked any of the mainstream Batman costumes, and I wanted to do something different and unique…The key is that I am a fan myself, and they know it. You can’t fool a geek.”

Studios spend ridiculous amounts of money on superhero suits, but a lower budget skin flick just can’t afford to do the same. Yet some of the costumes in the porn parodies give major blockbusters a run for their money.  Award winning parody director Axel Braun obsesses over the details and instead of renting costumes he hires designers to work from his own sketches. When asked how he affords uniquely designed costumes Braun says, “Let’s just say that when Warner Bros. commissions a costume for a movie that’s gonna gross a billion dollars, the designer will most likely charge them a lot more than they charge me. That said, some of my costumes are still more expensive than your average porn movie’s whole budget.”

While some parodies end up major flops, the ones that get it right can sometimes outshine their mainstream rivals. Braun has made a slew of superhero parodies, but it might be Batman XXX—the best selling title and rental of 2010—that fans remember best and surprisingly not for the sex, but for the quality. Convincing a company to invest money into costume design was an easier sell after Braun’s Batman success. As he’s well aware, aesthetics are integral to a parody. It’s not just about the sex, but the homage paid. In the subsequent parody, The Dark Knight Rises XXX, Braun ensured that his script and costumes would endure fan critiques. Admittedly, his Dark Knight Rises bat suit easily rivals its mainstream counterpart (and some fans claim it even surpasses it). “I just never liked any of the mainstream Batman costumes, and I wanted to do something different and unique. As flattered as I am by the response I got from the fans, I think the key is that I am a fan myself, and they know it,” says Braun. “You can’t fool a geek.”

Parodies aren’t just for the comic book geek who watches porn. The purpose of a spoof is to attract consumers outside the normal demographic with a comedic, sexualized take on a known brand. And, seven years after Not the Bradys XXX, there may be a new trend in the genre: fairy tales. With the upcoming Maleficent starring Angelina Jolie, porn aficionados wont’ have to wait long for a parody. Braun is already milking high end fairy tale spoofs, with a naughty version of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty coming soon. Which movie will have the better costumes? It’s a testament to how far porn parodies have really come, when we have to ask ourselves if the Mistress of All Evil in an XXX spoof and a Hollywood blockbuster are indistinguishable.