Hustler Video Group looks to tube for inspiration

There’s an old adage that the Internet boom was driven by “Star Trek” and porn. Just imagine the possibilities, then, from simultaneously delivering “Star Trek” with porn.

Over the last year, Hustler Video Group has without much fanfare trotted out a parade of titles derived from classic TV shows, including the recently released parody “This Ain’t Star Trek XXX.” All the meticulous little details are there, with the exception of moments (spoiler alert!) like the one where Kirk, Spock and Uhura engage in three-way stress-relieving exercise on the bridge, which for whatever reason wasn’t included in J.J. Abrams’ franchise reboot.

Other programs immortalized under the “This Ain’t …” and “Not the…” umbrellas (as in “Not the Cosbys”) include “Happy Days,” “The Partridge Family,” “Gilligan’s Island,” “The Munsters” and “The Brady Bunch.”

But as they say on latenight infomercials, that’s not all! Hustler’s infatuation with TV also encompasses current reality programs, such as “Hell’s Kitchen” and “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.” And there are more sitcom sendups on the horizon, among them the semi-sacrilegious “Everybody Loves Lucy,” which will be available, naturally, in both black-and-white and color.

Lucy, this time you’re really gonna have some ‘splainin’ to do.

As Hustler Video Group director of operations Jeff Thill noted, porn producers have had fun for years playing off popular movie and TV titles. The twist now is going the extra mile to invest projects with better production values that actually have scripts and genuinely resemble the source material. There are stories, plots and even sex-free versions to accentuate the parody– however incongruous that might sound — on Blu-ray editions.

Sifting through the press kit, the most puzzling issue is who exactly these are supposed to be for. Although the company doesn’t have any specific demographic data, it’s difficult to imagine younger guys who never watched the originals getting much of a kick out of “Gilligan’s Island” or “Partridge Family” knockoffs, despite the availability of such fare on channels like TV Land.

Yet the allure of these parodies to somewhat older men escapes me as well. While there has been a certain mainstreaming of sex stars, heavily plotted porn is still porn, and when a facsimile of Dr. McCoy is alone with his nurse — or pseudo-Gilligan encounters Ginger and Mary Ann — let’s face it, the dialogue is pretty much killing time until the inevitable happens. Beyond cousin Marilyn, moreover, any fantasy involving “The Munsters” seems creepy and all together ooky (oh wait, that’s “The Addams Family”) in all the wrong ways.

Nevertheless, Thill says the TV-inspired titles are outselling more conventional counterparts. “It’s actually kind of revitalized the DVD market in the adult world,” he said — a genre deflated, like everything else, by the ready access of free material on the Web, so much so that Hustler’s Larry Flynt and “Girls Gone Wild” lout Joe Francis orchestrated the publicity stunt of pleading for their own federal bailout, if only to unleash “stimulus package” jokes.

Putting porn purchasers on the couch, name recognition is doubtless an element of the “This Ain’t” banner’s appeal, along with perhaps the subversive aspect of seeing fare associated with more wholesome times sexed up.

The other major question these projects invite is whether program creators have any recourse regarding something that so obviously exploits their work. Because the movies are clearly satire and stress that they are in no way connected to the originals, the answer, apparently, is not much.

According to Thill, Hustler did contact William Shatner to inquire if he would provide DVD commentary for the “Star Trek” spoof, but the actor politely declined. Maybe they’ll have better luck if they try doing “Boston Illegal” or “T.J. Hookers.”

In a best-case scenario for the distributor, Thill suggested that drawing from classic TV — especially series with cult followings such as “Star Trek,” which has inspired its own universe of elaborate fan-produced fiction, parodies and tributes — could open up porn DVDs to “a new audience that normally wouldn’t buy them.”

Either that, or maybe just an old audience willing to entertain new meanings for the phrase “Live long and prosper.”

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