Its been a long and winding road for South Park creator Trey Parker and hes only twenty-eight. In a recent telephone interview, I caught up with Parker long enough to get the skinny on his new film, Orgazmo, about a Porn Again Mormon.
Orgazmo, which opened last month, actually came before South Park, The Spirit of Christmas (the South Park pilot) and Baseketball, not the other way around as it would seem by the timing of its release. In the crazy world of indie film distribution, sometimes the film may never see the light of day, get a straight-to-video release only, or languish on the shelf for years. The phenomenal success of South Park, which prompted October Films purchasing Orgazmo for a cool million, dictated otherwise. Orgazmo would make it to the screen; it was only a question of when. Finally, that question has been answered.
Parker, who owns a modest bungalow in Belair and still drives his Celica, says, We (he and Matt Stone, co-creator of South Park) realize success came very quickly and could leave just as quickly, so we havent MC Hammered ourselves (with trappings of gross material excess). Parker and Stone met at the University of Colorado at Boulder where they formed Avenging Conscience Productions. Parker wrote, directed and starred in the companys first feature, Cannibal: The Musical. And Parker pulls off the same trifecta in Orgazmo. Back when Orgazmo played the Toronto Midnight Madness film festival in 1997, Parker and Stone had barely risen from sleeping on peoples floors, hanging out and trying to pitch Orgazmo to a sympathetic and savvy producerwho turned out to be Buffy the Vampire Slayer producer Fran Rubel.
We still think of ourselves as in college, Stone said. We have the same friends, hang out and watch football on Sunday. In spite of his aw shucks, Evergreen, Colorado humility, Parker confessed, I go to parties thinking Ive got the hottest show on cable and chicks should be coming on to me and hitting on me... but its all a lie... its not that way at all, Parker lamented. Guess its just the producers, who could actually get you a part, who are getting all the chicks. The still-in-college mind-set prompted Parker and Stone to leap at the opportunity to star in the sophomoric humor-fest Baseketball.
David Zucker (Airplane, Naked Gun), who wrote, produced and directed Baseketball, is an icon to Parker and Stone. But the Parker/Stone humor has a different absurdity. Take a taboo subject and try to make it wholesomeas they did with cannibalism in their first feature and hope to do with the porn world in Orgazmo. The other side of that coin is to take the wholesome and revered and make it vulgar and loathsome (Santa Clause vs. Jesus Christ mud slinging argument in The Spirit of Christmas). Its a turn-the-world-upside-down-and-shake-out-all-the-spare-change-laughs-you-can-get approach to comedy.
Does it work? Certainly in South Park. But will it translate into a full length comedy feature? October Films seems to think so. But then a million dollar movie is hardly any kind of risk these days. (Titanic cost 190 million.) Parker is pleased that October Films preserved the integrity of his movie. They could have cut it down from an NC-17 to an R rating, for example. Or shopped it straight to video and cable, where their promotional cost would have been nil by comparison. Distributing an indie NC-17 film, even if its riding the coattails of South Parks success, is risky business. October Films is betting the longshot and hoping that Orgazmo turns into a late night cult filmsomething which no one can possibly predict except for maybe the Amazing Kreskin. You dont make or promote Cult Films. They are as spontaneous as wildfire following lightening. And October Films is willing to bet that lightening may strike again for the South Park duo.
In Orgazmo, Trey Parker stars as Joe Young, the wide-eyed Mormon who becomes Porn Again as porn super star Captain Orgazmo. Along the way, he fights bad guys with his Orgazmorator and gets the girl in the end. On the surface, it shares some elements with Kingpin (Woody Harrelson, Bill Murray, Randy Quaid), a movie about an Amish kid who becomes the next pro-bowling sensation. Many critics, this one included, hailed Kingpin as one of the 90s best comedies. Orgazmo probably cant equal that success, fighting an NC-17 rating and limited art house distribution. And theres no Woody Harrelson or Bill Murray. Furthermore, Parker counts on his guttural humor being offensive to some. Break-out sleeper hit? Not bloody likely. College campus cult hit? Its a crap shoot.
Parker found a friend and technical support for Orgazmo in Xplor Media mogul Farrell Timlake. And Parker returned the favor by doing a non-sex acting scene in Xplors Sex, 4 Life Too. Now that hes been baptized into the world of porn, Parker loves to sleaze down to Vegas for all the AVN awards shows with Lake and Stefanie HistedXplors gallant publicity girl. Will there be more crossover and borrowing between the porn world and Hollywood films, be they indie or otherwise? Depends on what Orgazmo can do. Regardless, Id bet on it.
Juli Ashton, Ron Jeremy, Shalya Laveaux, Jill Kelly and Chasey Lain come out of the porn woodwork to romp through Orgazmo. Plus, theres plenty of surprise porno cameos including Max Hardcore, Jeanna Fine, Christi Lake and others. Ashton became one of Parkers best friendsmore evidence there could be dalliance between porno and indie again. Why Not? Both are enfant terribles trying to survive in a Titanic world. And with Viagra, anyone can become an overnight porn star sensation.
Its a long way from Evergreen, nestled up in the southern Park County of the Colorado Rockies, and a short way to the top for Trey Parker. Give him a budget, and he could be dangerous. He might even get chicks at parties.