spongeknob

These Are the People Making Porn Out of Your Favorite Childhood Memories

The Las Vegas–based adult production studio WoodRocket has turned characters from SpongeBob to Simba into porn stars. We talked to the cast and crew about how they laugh through the sex.
March 9, 2020, 1:48pm

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Missy Martinez is painted hot pink in places it doesn’t seem possible to get paint: edged up to almost the inside of her vulva, across her anus, and certainly everywhere that her scene partner Brenna Sparks has put her face so far. Right now, Martinez’s anime costume, which includes a soft mound the size of a large squash glued to the top of her head, is getting between her and Sparks’ clitoris. Her six-inch foam headpiece is slipping. But she perseveres.

Martinez is retired from porn now. She set aside her 10-year career in May 2019, one year after her debut as Vagin Buu, the pornified version of Dragon Ball Z’s Majin Buu.

“You can only do the sexy stepmom or babysitter—these contrived roles that are cookie-cutter—so much,” she said. “To not take porn so literally and seriously... Sex is supposed to be fun. If you’re not laughing while you’re having sex you’re doing it wrong.”

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It looked like something someone might only do on a lost bet, but ultimately, Martinez asked for this. In fact, when Lee Roy Myers, the cofounder of the porn production studio WoodRocket, asked her to star in one of his freak-show-esque parodies, she leapt at the chance.

As a die-hard DBZ fan, she considered this a dream role, pink paint and all.

“When they were airbrushing my genitals, I was like, ‘Ohhh, no…,’” she said.

Martinez is not alone; everyone I spoke to who’s been subjected to a WoodRocket costume treatment or roped into Myers’ madness said they have that moment she described—the point of no return.

There’s a controversial theory among historians that parody porn brought about the French Revolution. Robert Darnton’s “pornographic interpretation” of the events of late 18th century France suggests that smutty literature depicting the monarchy in pornographic cartoons—as just as base and sex-crazed as the subjects they thumbed their noses at—emboldened the people to revolt.

“Sex is democratic,” the sex historian (and VICE contributor) Hallie Lieberman told me. “There’s a reason why we have the saying the emperor has no clothes: It reduces him to the same status as everyone else.”

But porn-as-parody goes back hundreds of years before the 18th century. An anonymous author in 16th century Italy published Ficheide, an erotic parody of Homer’s Illiad. Another erotic text of the Italian Renaissance, La Cazzaria, featured disembodied genitals satirizing political figures, and its relative virality (or as viral as something could be in the 1500s) sent its author, Antonio Vignali, running into exile. The 1748 novel Fanny Hill, regarded as the first example of English-prose pornography, is political parody. The Pearl, a monthly pornographic magazine published in London in the late 1800s, featured parodies and was itself a parody of a family magazine. The British authorities shut the magazine down after two years, citing obscenity laws.

In the early 20th century, small porno pamphlets called “Tijuana Bibles,” which peaked in popularity during the Great Depression, contained raunchy parodies of pop culture icons like Popeye, Superman, Lois Lane, and Wonder Woman getting into all sorts of hijinks. Fast-forward to the 90s and early 2000s, and everything in the porn world exploded with the advent of the VHS tape (and porn viewing from the comfort of one’s home), including parody films like Forrest Hump and Everybody Does Raymond.

“Class and sexuality are closely associated in our society, so things we deem respectable inherently have some kind of discretion when it comes to sex,” said Laura Helen Marks, a porn scholar and professor of English at Tulane University. “It can feel exciting and fun to watch the ‘low’ genre of pornography expose the perversions and hypocrisies of mainstream media... It feels like a momentary and satisfying leveling.”

Today, we have WoodRocket. The Vegas-based studio has made a name for itself in the last eight years in part by being pseudonymous with parody porn. If you hear about a new video featuring SpongeBob SquarePants or life-size Lego figurines fucking, you can bet it’s WoodRocket’s doing.

People have been using parody, satire, and sexuality to punch up at the systems and institutions that surround them for hundreds of years. Today, things are no different. Only now, we’re punching backward, at our own nostalgia.

In the late 90s, Myers was working in a video store. He’s worked a lot of jobs since then, from camera equipment guy to executive for a pay-per-view company. But he points back to that place and time in the video store as the earliest inspiration for his current work.

“I was in the store, and I was watching Edward Penishands, and he has these horrifying giant dildo arms, and it’s so ridiculous... It’s so gross, and weird, and funny, and I don’t know what parts were supposed to be intentionally funny or not,” Myers said of the film, directed by Paul Norman. “But it always stuck in my mind like, Oh, if I could do this, that would be amazing.”

For years, Myers worked roles he can only describe as “a job.” He’s never felt suited for the nine-to-five grind. But during programming and production gigs, he was making a lot of friends and connections in the adult industry. One of them was Scott Taylor, founder of a porn studio called New Sensations, who in 2008 was looking to take the studio in a comedic direction—and tasked Myers with making an erotic parody of the same nine-to-five grind he felt trapped in. Myers came up with The Office: An XXX Parody, the first of eight pop-culture television parodies he’d churn out for New Sensations that year.

“Fuck yeah, man, that sounds fucking ludicrous”

Things snowballed from there. By 2012, Myers had a front-row seat to the adult industry’s seismic shift from VHS tapes to DVDs and then to something else entirely. The internet was changing everything, and suddenly fewer and fewer people were willing to shell out money for smut. They could get it for free, on any number of tube sites filled with stolen clips and full films.

Instead of fighting against this unstoppable sea change, Myers and his industry partners started thinking of new ways to ride the wave of free internet content while still making enough profit to keep paying for cast, crew, and the lights. After years of hustling out dozens of porn parodies for other studios, Myers founded WoodRocket in 2012, with the goal of bringing comedic, silly porno to the mainstream—for free.

Myers is Canadian, and defines his directing style as “scary public access television,” with shows like The Hilarious House of Frightenstein influencing his low-budget, single-room sets and makeup that looks like it’s been applied by an overly enthusiastic high school theater student. WoodRocket launched its first film, SpongeKnob SquareNuts, in January 2013, with a press release complete with a “safe for work” trailer and a link to the full, X-rated film on WoodRocket.com.

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From top to bottom: Aladdick, Dragon Boob Z, Mr. Rimjob's Neighborwood, The Loin King, Red Dead Erection.

This included a theme song that would toe the line of parody homage without crossing into copyright infringement. For that task, and most WoodRocket musical scores and lyrics, Myers has entrusted the Brooklyn-based sound designer David DeCeglie.

When Myers approached him to write the parody version of the iconic SpongeBob theme song, DeCiglie still remembers his response: “Fuck yeah, man, that sounds fucking ludicrous.”

And it was. Within an hour of the film’s release, the newly launched WoodRocket website crashed under the server load of people clicking to watch it.

The runaway success of the studio’s first original parody was doubly shocking, because Squarenuts was the “most fucked-up thing to date, at the time,” that Myers and his crew had made. The construction of the giant square costume was the work of Tom Devlin, who’s been involved with WoodRocket since the beginning. The directive from Myers, Devlin told me, was to make it look kind of like Pizza the Hutt from Spaceballs. In other words, like an actor is trapped inside a repulsive homemade costume that swallowed him whole. The result was a poly-foam fabrication glued onto a box.

“It was just... creepy.” Devlin said. “It was really hard for him to move around, and really hard for him to perform. But it just adds to the weirdness and uncomfortability of the parody.”

“He looked like a monster,” Myers said, of SpongeKnob. “And, you know, it was funny—or at least, we found it funny—and people either loved it or hated it. But they watched it.”

Devlin and Myers share a similar ethos: Don’t think too much about how the performers will perform. Just make the costumes and see what they do in them.

“Sometimes it’s not about whether or not the actors can be comfortable. It’s about what is the silliest thing we can put out there,” Devlin said. And at this point in the studio’s reputation, a performer signing up for a WoodRocket shoot knows what they’re getting into.

Rizzo Ford’s role as “Dikachu” in Strokémon XXX is unforgettable. She looks like one of Dr. Seuss’ cartoon mice if it ran into traffic. Her head hangs a little. She hunches forward. The mass of foam latex and thick yellow and black paint molded to her head and nose is forcing her to breathe through her mouth and keep her eyes partially shut.

“Dikachu! Dikachu, Dikachu,” she squawks. She and “Fisty,” whose pubic hair is shaved and dyed into a neon orange landing strip to match her anime-orange hair, are together going down on “Gash,” played by Tyler Nixon. As I watch the video online, I’m legitimately concerned about her ability to come up for air.

“I feel like comedy and porn should go hand in hand,” Ford told me. “Sex is silly. We make silly noises with our mouths and bodies. I think that by having comedic porn it normalizes things that might make us embarrassed if they were to happen with a new sexual partner.”

Ford not only survived this shoot, but would do it again “in a heartbeat” even after taking multiple showers and soaking in a tub to get all that makeup off.

“He’s not going to stop being Super Mario because his flying raccoon dick is out"

There’s really no preparing oneself for the process of a WoodRocket costume and makeup session.

Just ask Will Tile, who answered a casting call to be a WoodRocket extra in 2018, for Red Dead Erection. Just a few months prior, he was a virgin in the adult industry, looking for a new way to make a living. He’s since played a cop in Dick Hard (the Die Hard parody) and a lip-syncing genie in Aladdick, released May 2019.

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When he got to the set of Aladdick, Myers told him to head to makeup. “I’m thinking they’re just gonna like, spruce me up,” he recalled. Instead, he spent half an hour getting spray-painted bright blue from the waist up.

Tile thought he could get into porn and be “one of those big scary black male performers,” nondescript beyond a stereotypical male performer, virtually anonymous at his level. But after Aladdick, things changed. “That’s when everything went to hell. That’s when everything went straight to shit,” he said.

Now he can’t walk onto most sets without someone pointing out that he was the genie. Or a cop. Or Simba. Or a reptilian creature from Ten-Inch Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Tile’s mom has even seen him painted blue and half-naked in a porno.

Tile is an ex-Marine, a former wildland firefighter, and an EMT-in-training, so his family is accustomed to worrying about him. Now they can rest easy knowing he’s perfectly healthy and happy, playing a cop with a glued-on mustache or a raunchy blue genie.

“For two years they had to worry about me coming home in a box, if I came home at all. And then when I took the wildland job, it was like, ‘Is he gonna get burnt up, or fall off a cliff and die?’” he said. “Now they’re like, ‘Oh, porn? Yeah, that’s fine.’”

Tommy Pistol’s erect penis juts out from a green spandex bodysuit. He’s moaning from inside a fully enclosed alien mask, while April O’Neil and Lauren Phillips—two glittery trespassers who look like they’ve wandered out of a Burning Man camp onto Area 51—caress each other and his body, laid flat on a surgical table. He waggles the long, floppy fingertips of his bodysuit in pleasure.

Pistol’s been friends with Myers since 2010, when they met during production of a Sex and the City parody for New Sensations. He’s played a variety of roles for the company since then, and somehow keeps ending up playing characters that involve poking his boner through the most unsexy full-body costumes.

Having convincingly good sex for the camera is a feat of athleticism even on a normal set. Having sex while in character as a childhood memory is a whole other thing.

“If you came to see Super Mario fucking the princess then you’re going to see Super Mario fucking the princess,” Pistol said. “He’s not going to stop being Super Mario because his flying raccoon dick is out.”

Lance Hart, who played “Mr. Rogers” in the studio’s most recent film, Mr. Rimjob’s Neighborwood, said that even this mindfuck of a role was easier than wearing a heavy BDSM mask or leather apron, as he’s had to do in other movies.

“It’s definitely a little weird when something felt really good and I needed to moan but also pretend to be Mister Rogers, but I’m kind of into it,” Hart said.

Adding to the ego-death exercise of wearing a glued-on mustache and painting one’s butthole neon, WoodRocket’s studio is in Las Vegas, where to film, they have to cut off the noisy air conditioning. Full body paint, elaborate costumes, and hours of rigorous sex when it’s over a hundred degrees has made for some interesting moments.

“With this job, it can’t just all be buttholes and elbows. You can actually get to do the good stuff"

“I’m pumping away, and I can feel myself about to pass out,” Tile said, recalling his role as Simba in The Loin King, where he and Kira Noir wore thick, fuzzy lion hats and gloves during their sex scene. “I’m like, I’m about to pass out on set. This is how I go out.” He didn’t, and made it through to the cut, and said he would still do it all again.

Holly Myers recently started stepping in to direct films for WoodRocket. With Holly behind the camera, the movies are no less hilarious, and she still takes a lot of care to make performers comfortable and safe.

“Generally, I try to keep the mood on set light and positive,” she said. “We are already asking them to put themselves in front of a camera to have sex—already a brave step—then going beyond and asking them to do it in a potentially uncomfortable costume, while staying in character.”

During Martinez’s headpiece-impaired performance of Vajin Buu, they stopped and reshot new takes at least five times when the paint and glue started slipping. She said, “It’s like, ‘Cut, OK, same intensity, aaand go!’ when I was in the middle of an orgasm or leading right up to it.” It’s challenging, not just physically, but mentally.

“We always know it’s not going to be easy, no matter how much you adjust things,” Myers said. [Porn] is not like real sex, it’s opening up and making sure the camera and lights get in there... I’ve heard it described as fucking around a corner.”

But it might also just take a special kind of performer to work through the giggles, and the discomfort, and the sweaty paint. Pistol said he feels like sex in these costumes comes “weirdly natural” to him. “It honestly keeps me sane after doing this for so many years,” he said. “Laughter is my therapy... I understand jerking off at home while laughing out loud isn’t for everyone. But comedy porn breaks down barriers.”

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At this point (or likely, a lot earlier), you may be wondering who gets off to this stuff? Is there an audience craving a sexualized Mister Rogers? Are there people out there who are horny for a grotesque Pikachu, or a nightmare simulacrum of SpongeBob with a hard-on?

That question is flawed from the start. First of all, yes, undoubtedly, there are people who seek out WoodRocket because they’ve always had a Lego fetish or the like. But humor has always been a part of porn. Sex is fun and, often, funny.

“Humor and porn share a lot of similarities,” Lieberman, the porn historian, said. “The end goal of both is an involuntary physical reaction: an orgasm or a laugh. We watch comedy and we watch porn to experience pleasure.”

To laugh along with the people in porn can be a subversive act, said Marks, the porn scholar. “Within the context of a sex-negative, censorious society, pornographic material is politically antagonistic—unavoidably so and regardless of intention—and this frequently means poking fun.”

For the performers themselves, doing a parody shoot can be a release they don’t get in other studios. For Tile, having WoodRocket as his first studio experience showed him a different way of performing—one that most people don’t associate with porn. “With this job, it can’t just all be buttholes and elbows,” he said. “You can actually get to do the good stuff.”

I’ve seen a lot of the buttholes and elbows and painted labia that WoodRocket has put into the world, but there’s still one work of theirs that I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch. Mr. Rimjob’s Neighborwood opens with Hart lip-syncing, “Welcome to my neighborhood, where we’ll ruin your childhood,” and I fear it would be true. I loved Mister Rogers as a kid.

There was a moment during production of Mr. Rimjob, Myers told me, when he did hesitate. The man has likely ruined hundreds of childhoods with his releases, and this was the one that gave him pause.

“As we started getting closer to making it, it was the first one where I started to feel a little regret,” he said. “I grew up watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. I was a PBS kid in the late 70s and early 80s... but, I thought I could do it in a way that it’s not really him, it’s spoofing the genre as much as it’s spoofing the ‘land of make believe…’ I don't think it’s insensitive to him being who he was as a person.”

It turns out there are only three things Myers said he’ll never touch in future WoodRocket productions: anything that’s intentionally punching down, anything where the characters doing the fucking aren’t clearly over 18, and any more Donald Trump stuff. He’s “so tired of that,” he said. Everything else is fair game.

“We have to find a balance,” Myers said. “Actually, I don’t know if there is a balance. But we had to find a balance between porn and whatever that was. And so we, in the process, created our own balance, and it’s something different to everybody.

“So some people will love it. Some people hate it. Some will be disgusted by it. But I think everybody can agree that we’ve ruined everyone’s childhood.”

This article originally appeared on VICE US.