A scene from Bob's Boners

In Expert Witness, The A.V. Club talks to industry insiders about the actual business of entertainment in hopes of shedding some light on how the pop-culture sausage gets made.

Porn parodies have existed about as long as porn has, but no company has really made a go of it quite as successfully as Wood Rocket, producer of films like Fap To The Future, Full Holes, and Assventure Time – The XXX Parody. (Story summary: “Assventure Time – The XXX Parody follows our heroes, Sinn and Jerk, Princess Bubblecum, Whoreceline, and CreaMO on a sexy and wild adventure that could only lead them to a Cinnamon Bun-shaking, Buck Pudding-squirting Hot Dog Monster party. But will they get to jam Jigglers before they get the cold shoulder from the Ice Peen?”) But just how do those films get made? And is making a porn parody harder—no pun intended—than just making a regular porno flick? The A.V. Club tracked down Lee Roy Myers, one of the creators of Wood Rocket and multiple AVN Award nominee, to talk about the process from heady conception to messy completion.

The A.V. Club: When did the porn parody market really take off? And how did you get into the porn world?

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Lee Roy Myers: I would say it started in the ’70s but it really had its resurgence in the 2008, 2009 area. Parodies were just another form of porn. And then in the ’80s, it got pretty big with the home video market. After that, people tagged the names on the titles of the movie, so it sounded like a parody, but it wasn’t necessarily. Since people weren’t really sure if something was a parody or not, they didn’t pay them much attention at that point. From after that until a little later, it died down a bit, and then in about 2008, there was a Brady parody. And then there was a Sarah Palin parody. And those really bumped the market back up for it. People had a lot of interest in them, and that’s about the time that I came in.

Before porn, I worked in television. I was a TV executive in Video On Demand and Pay-Per-View. Before that, I had worked in production—independent movies, stand-up comedy, things of the sort, and I produced, wrote, and directed. When I got into TV, it was for Video On Demand and Pay-Per-View, so I met a lot of adult studio owners and producers.

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Around that time, I had also started getting bored of being in the office and wearing the suit. I decided that I liked writing more and I wrote a parody for New Sensations in probably 2007, 2008. I was asked, just on my free time, by Scott, the studio owner, if I wanted to write a porn movie with a mainstream sense of humor—essentially not just all puns. We were going to write something about an office in the porn valley, and because it happened to coincide with the time that the Bradys and Nailin’ Palin were popular, we decided to turn it into a parody. The Office was on for maybe two seasons at that time, so I wrote that, and about six months later, he still hadn’t hired a director for it. I had left my executive position, and he invited me to direct it, so I took it on and directed it. It became a hit and it got the ball rolling. And it went from one parody to the next, and now we’re about 70 or 80 parodies later.

AVC: How do you decide what works for a parody, or what’s timely?

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LRM: It’s usually a gut instinct. We got lucky with Full [Holes]. We were looking to do a parody with Pornhub and it just so happened that, around that time, Netflix announced Fuller House. So we got lucky with timing on that. We knew that if we released it closer to the release date, it would work perfectly.

Sometimes you just go with something that has a little more buzz on the internet or something that you really like and hope that everybody else likes. Not everything can start at a season premiere. We go with our gut instincts and we go with what we think people would watch, because we would watch it.

AVC: Are there properties that are more successful? There are shows that are very popular on TV, for instance, that you haven’t made into porn parodies. Do you have a sense of why that is?

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LRM: I think it’s because I would watch them and the whole Rocket team would watch them. We just make things that we think would be funny—and weird. We have a sense of humor about what we do and that’s why we do it. We really just make what we want to make, and it just happens to coincide with a hit once in a while or a cult classic once in a while or something people are talking about once in a while. But usually we just have a plan of what we want to do next. We have a list. We hope that the spoof will be successful just by chance.

AVC: What are some of the more popular ones that you’ve done?

LRM: Recently, I would say Strokemon, the Pokémon parody, was probably our biggest. It was huge. And SpongeKnob SquareNuts. Fap To The Future was pretty big. Game Of Bones was pretty big. Gnardians Of The Galaxy was pretty big. Bob’s Boners? Huge. It did very well.

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AVC: When you pick a topic—The Simpsons, let’s say—how do you decide the pairings? Sure, Homer and Marge are a given, but where do you go from there? And with Full Holes, you’re dealing with an original production that was about family and kids, and that’s a whole can of worms.

LRM: Full House specifically was kind of a different case. It had several different issues that we had to look at. We teamed up with a separate company, so everybody had ideas. Pornhub came to us with ideas. We had some ideas. As you mentioned, the show is about a family, and the original is about adults and children. And, obviously, our goal is to not portray child sex.

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AVC: Or even have that come up in someone’s mind.

LRM: Yeah, or incest. We also have to deal with obscenity laws. We are very careful with what we portray and how we portray it. So everybody threw in their suggestions and then we figured out how to make a coherent storyline that didn’t involve incest and involved everybody being adults. We went with that and we then looked at it again and said, “Is this all funny? Does this all make sense? Would fans of the show appreciate it? Or hate it? But react to it?” If the answer is “yes,” we think that we captured that.

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Typically, we do try to have the main characters that you would expect to have sex have sex. Or the characters that most people talk about and like—or hate, but have an opinion of—we try to make sure that those are the characters who show their genitals. We do what we think people like us would want to see.

AVC: You brought up legality. What are the obscenity laws that you have to deal with? And what are the parody laws?

LRM: “Obscenity” is a lot of gray area. There’s no set obscenity law across the states. Every state has something that they may deem obscene that another state wouldn’t. Because you’re showing it on the internet or you’re sending it out via mail across state lines, the goal is to not be obscene in any state. We just avoid certain things we know have been prosecuted and what we think would be prosecuted.

AVC: Can you give me an example?

LRM: I wouldn’t have blood in a sex scene.

AVC: That’s a good example.

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LRM: It’s a fine line between bodily fluids. But that’s just one of those things that most people in the industry have worked with for years. Unfortunately obscenity hasn’t been defined perfectly across the states, so it’s too difficult to change the way we would show things.

As far as copyright laws—I mean, I’m not a lawyer. We have lawyers, and we always run our projects by our lawyers. We run the scripts, we run the movies after, we run ideas by our lawyers and check to see if we should write it into a script. We double-check on everything. As far as we’re concerned, we spoof everything. We parody everything. We make real parodies—with hardcore penetration, but real parodies nonetheless. We comment on things. And because of that, we’re protected under First Amendment laws.

AVC: How long do these take to shoot?

LRM: It depends on whether it’s one scene or six scenes. Full Holes, for example, was a four-day shoot.

AVC: When you’re doing something like Gnardians Of The Galaxy, do you try to keep a storyline that’s true to the original production, or are you satisfied with just having all the characters on the screen?

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LRM: We don’t have the big guns’ budget. We have a very, very small fraction of that.

For us, it’s about getting creative with the characters. We know we can’t include everybody. We know we can’t include everything. So we pick what we think people would like and what we would like. Once again, we’re fans of the comic. We’re fans of the movie. We have to believe that we would be entertained by it and that we would feel this is what is needed to make a porn parody stand proud. So we just pick what our favorite ideas are and who the most important characters are that can move the storyline along.

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AVC: In the original Guardians Of The Galaxy, for instance, there’s only one main female character. I don’t know how many female Pokémons there are. How does stuff like that challenge you?

LRM: We believe that it’s our job to push boundaries. We’re fortunate enough to be able to make parodies of some of our favorite things and include hardcore sex, so automatically, we’re pushing boundaries and we can be edgy. We can change things and try things. For instance, in Gnardians Of The Galaxy, we made Rocket Racooch a female. So we do gender-swapping in a lot of roles.

AVC: For your Simpsons parody, you had actors in full yellow body paint. How did that work out, and are there any stories? It seems like it would have been a challenge.

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LRM: It’s always a challenge with body paint. And for some reason, our most popular parodies have body paint. It’s like people want us to suffer in exchange for making parodies.

We have makeup people on hand with the makeup on the side while people are having sex or while they’re doing dialogue, ready to apply more, because no matter what the base is on body makeup—heat, friction, sweat, they all have some negative result on body makeup. So we go with the flow and we watch it very carefully and we leave a little room for time so we can redo body makeup over and over and over again.

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AVC: It must get everywhere.

LRM: Yeah, it comes off and it rubs on other people.

AVC: I’m sure it gets on sheets and sets.

LRM: We rarely do it on a bed.

AVC: I was going to say.

LRM: Well, we rarely do it on a white bed. It’s just one of those things. You expect it to come off, so you prepare for it. You make it so your set is built around people wearing body paint so you can hide it a little better.

AVC: Are there things that are too far? You talked about incest and blood, but are there more incidental things that are just not sexy to people? Like, in The Hobbit, all the hobbits have big hairy feet. Are there things that people don’t want to see when they’re trying to get off?

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LRM: There are things that people don’t want to see, but we do them anyway, usually. We’re about being funny as much as we are about showing sex. We think that porn parodies are weird and we can do weird things. Part of that is doing something that not everybody wants to see but that everyone is going to have a reaction to. That’s the parody part, and it gets people talking.

As far as outside of things we’ve chosen to do—yes, there are things that we don’t want to do that we think would be too far. I mean, we’re still human, and we still believe that we should respect victims of any crimes wherever we can. We will make fun of things that people do. We will make fun of things that people make. We will make fun of things that people like and things that people hate. But we typically won’t go anywhere near things that hurt people.

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AVC: But in the Family Guy parody, for instance, the guy that you cast as Peter Griffin looks like he has a little bit of a stomach, but Peter Griffin in the actual show is a fairly obese guy. You’re not casting the guy that looks like Peter Griffin. You’re toning it down. Or you’re not casting an unequivocally old woman as a grandma.

LRM: The guy who played Peter Griffin was wearing padding, actually. In real life, he doesn’t have that stomach. We tried to add it.

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AVC: It probably gets a little in the way sometimes.

LRM: I’m sure, absolutely. It’s a POV scene, so it was hard to see down past that, which was why there aren’t a lot of overweight porn performers on the male side. There are a few, but none of them could do the Peter Griffin voice. That’s part of our casting. We have a small pool to work with.

AVC: What’s the casting like? Are there actors who like doing these types of films more than others?

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LRM: Yes. We have people that love being on set. We have people that know that they could be on a different set just having sex for the same amount of money and not having to go through 20 pages of dialogue. And we have people that are new to us that have never done it before and end up loving it. It’s always a mix, and porn only has so many porn actors. We go through pictures and we check to see who looks closest to the part and then we audition them to do the voices if we’ve never seen them before. If we’ve never seen them act, we have them do auditions for a role, if it’s a more significant role. But, at the end of the day, there’s always forgiveness for porn actors who are better at doing the porn than the acting. We have fun with abilities and we embrace anyone who hasn’t had any acting training.

AVC: Has anyone from any of the properties you’ve parodied reach out to you guys?

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LRM: Positively and negatively, yes. I’ve been sent emails saying how much somebody from a show likes something. I’ve had people from shows offer to write porn parodies of their shows. We had a lot of people talk about the novelty factor of these things. For instance, Alan Ball would talk about the True Blood porn parody. And the Reno 911 cast did a screening of the Reno 911 porn parody. Negatively, once in a blue moon you get a cease and desist from Fox about an X-Files parody. Then, you know—

AVC: You call your lawyer.

LRM: Yeah. It’s par for the course.

AVC: Are there parodies you want to make, but you haven’t figured out a way into them? Or that you just don’t think you could do?

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LRM: I figure there’s always a way to be creative and do something no matter what. I’ve pretty much done most of the things I wanted to do. There’s a couple exceptions, which I’m working on right now, so I think there’s always a way. If I could figure out how to do Full House with adults and no incest, it’s proof that you can make a porn parody of anything.

AVC: Well, anything at least a little good-natured. You could probably make porn parodies of terrible things, but you wouldn’t want to do that.

LRM: We aren’t surgeons. We aren’t curing cancer. We make porn and then we dress people up as giant sponges. It’s something that’s fun and we understand that people are going to react differently. Some people are going to hate it, some people are going to love it, some people are going to tell people about it. We don’t do anything that’s going to make anybody legitimately cry. Pretty much everything else is open. With the exception of a Spotlight porn parody, we can do pretty much everything.

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I did a Big Lebowski porn parody, and that’s probably one of those things where I look back and go, “I made the one that I most wanted to do.” SpongeKnob SquareNuts­—I love SpongeBob. For me to pay homage to one of my favorite things and still make it a parody and make it weird and make it something that people react to? That was a lot of fun.

There are lots of things that I want to do still, but I’ve done the ones that I needed to do already.

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AVC: One last question: What’s the secret to writing a good parody title? How did Guardians Of The Galaxy become Gnardians Of The Galaxy? Do you just sit around and spitball?

LRM: Actually we do, believe it or not. It’s important to remember that when I started doing parodies—and most people started doing parodies again, during this resurgence—most things were named by lawyers. So it was That ’70s Show - a XXX Parody, or This Ain’t something or That’s Not a property. It was the name of the thing and then it had to say that it was a parody of it very clearly. There were no fun, punny titles that I had when I was growing up and saw porn for the first time. The fun stuff, like Inrearendance Day, Beaver And Buttcakes, and Edward Penishands. And those are a fun part of the parody.

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So we decided we would start bringing that back and doing those titles again. As silly as they are and as dumb as a lot of them are, we make sure that the titles fit in with what we’re going for and it has to sound a bit like the original. People have to recognize the original title in whatever you’re doing. And it should make people laugh like it was a Garbage Pail Kids cartoon.

We usually all have ideas, some of them more difficult than others. Some of them, you only have one option because there’s only one place in it to make an innuendo or to use a dirty word. So we have to do it. But myself and Seth, who’s a producer at Wood Rocket, and some of the other guys and girls on the team, we all sit down and we talk about it and we vote and we go with what we think is best. Nine times out of 10, we don’t sit there after saying, “We made the wrong decision, it should have been something else.” We have fun with it. Typically, what drunk, 18-year-old us would have come up with before we made porn parodies for parodies is what we go with.

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AVC: Some of them are groaners, but that’s sort of the fun of it.

LRM: A lot of what we do are groaners. And we’re okay with it. We have fun with it. And we enjoy groaners, so it’s okay.

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