Telling stories well is difficult, especially over multiple installments (just ask the people who made all those Terminator movies). But this doesn’t change the fact that people really like stories in episodic form, porn included.

(Links that follow, as always, are NSFW)

Started in the early 2000s and currently on cusp of releasing their 500th title, Girlfriends Films currently produces ten or so episodic lines. Within the context of some of their productions, they’ve created a fictional community setting – the town of Thornhill – where many of these series take place. There’s Cheer Squad SleepoversField of Schemes (surly softball hotties wrecking havoc at the University of Thornhill), House Hunters (Realtors helping/hustling Thornhill’s upside-down women residents), and To Protect and to Serve (lesbian hot cops!). And if daytime-like drama centered around forbidden sexual desire is what gets you going, Girlfriends Films has Imperfect Angels.

In a nutshell, Imperfect Angels chronicles a woman negotiating same-sex desires while in a heterosexual marriage that’s heavily influenced by the Christian church. Just imagine Jessa Duggar if she was a lesbian, and you get the idea. In the first installment of the series, Maggie (Magdalene St. Michaels) must contend with “deprogramming therapy,” mixed reactions to her sexuality from members of her community, and mothering her too-sweet stepdaughter, Faye (Faye Reagan). As the series progresses, Maggie is blackmailed by her other stepdaughter, Daisy; and Faye’s struggle with her own sexuality pushes her to the breaking point such that she ends her own life. It’s heavy stuff, but the bold yet respectful way Girlfriends Films engages these incredibly sensitive issues makes it my favorite line of theirs.

I asked Dan O’Connell, the founder of Girlfriends Films, some questions about what it’s like to produce such pulpy fictions within the context of wider adult content. He had a lot of interesting things to say.

Dr.C: What’s the appeal of producing series content? What are the biggest challenges?

DO’C: Our early movies contained scenes that were unrelated to each other, which is often referred to the “vignette” style, at least here in the adult industry. For every movie I’d do, I had to come up with four new stories, each having its own characters. This is quite taxing on a writer’s imagination, especially when one has just a few minutes to move two characters from a non-sexual relationship – often having just met each other – into a sexual one. At least for me, watching the hot housewife go down on the pizza deliveryman is too simplistic, improbable, and casual to be erotic.

I quickly figured that having one set of characters performing a single story line thru my movies’ four scenes would make my life as a writer much easier. And it would more closely reflect life’s realities in that there is most often a significant passage of time between people meeting and the first time they share sex. In addition, sexual tension and excitement greatly increase reality and eroticism when we watch the one character romance and seduce the other.

From there, I quickly realized that a series concept – the same as what has been so successful on television – would further lower the burden of creating new characters and story lines. It would also provide a showcase for our best performers, allow their characters to evolve, add further reality, and increase sales as people become interested in the unfolding stories. I believe Girlfriends Films was the first to bring episodic movies to the porn industry.

Dr.C: Imperfect Angels deals with some pretty heavy subject matter. What compelled you to go this route?

DO’C: Our Imperfect Angels series wasn’t our first to delve into heavy subject matter, but it did introduce a new level of character depth and the evolvement of a dark story. I’ve always felt that the best sex is often prefaced with a shroud of darkness around it. Personally, I don’t want to see sex woven around a comedy.  I want it against a background of really deep emotion, the kind that sometimes comes with personal hardships or taboo.

Dr.C: Cheer Squad Sleepovers relies on a pretty conventional fantasy, one that could easily become gimmicky. How do you keep it fresh?

DO’C: There is a national obsession with cheerleaders in this country, and it seems that everyone has a strong opinion about them. If you love cheerleaders, you want to hear all the salacious details. If you hate cheerleaders, you want to hear all the salacious details. Cheerleaders are sexy, pretty, peppy, passionate and, of course, often prone to bad decisions. And that sells movies. Gooooooooo GIRLFRIENDS!

But the story lines and dialogue associated with such themes are often goofy and gimmicky. They plague [the adult] industry and are a major reason why so many people ridicule porn. And I always keep in mind that if our last ten movies look like the ten before that, consumers will no longer buy them. So, we have to continually introduce new talent and story ideas. With Girlfriends Films on the cusp of producing its 500th movie, that can be a challenge.

Porn watchers have become jaded, developing a need for something that is more sexually stimulating than what got them off in the past. Some years ago, I developed a movie series titled Twisted Passions that had stories more edgy than what we’d been producing. That was successful and I enjoyed producing such fare, so I got more edgy with everything we do at Girlfriends Films.

Our movies are sex-positive and show respect for the characters. At Girlfriends Films, we never show smoking, violence, or sexual acts like baseball bats in vaginas. So, evolving our movies into the edgier realm must be done through storyline rather than weird sex. We were among the first companies to venture into the taboo, which often means themes such as older/younger pairings and step-relatives. Having two stepsisters go at it will make for a lot of happy viewers, and I will say that I do prefer writing and producing these types of situations.

Wet for Women, the first installment in Girlfriends Films’ newest series and their 500th title, is due out January 26, 2015. What’s gonna happen next?!

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pictured: Cheer Squad Sleepovers, art a la UPROXX/FilmDrunk

Reprinted from UPROXX/FilmDrunk (1/13/15)

And ICYMI, you can read all my work featured on UPROXX/FilmDrunk com right –> here

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