Vaguely Immaculate Conception or: Why “Fleshlightning” is better than “Battlefield Earth”

Lloyd Dobler would not be uncomfortable in the world of “Fleshlightning,” a new film project starring Jenna Haze and subsidized by marital aid manufacturer Fleshlight. But L. Ron Hubbard would be jealous.

Imagine John Cusack working the whole summer on an ice cream truck (annoying buddy: Curtis “Booger” Armstrong) to save enough cash to impress aloof exchange student Valeria Golino with a new Iroc Z, but all along platonic best friend Lili Taylor is waiting in the wings.

The blueprint for virtually every 80’s movie is just as wacky and wholesome. Just substitute a can full of semen and you’ve got “Fleshlighning,” which is what porn parodies might look like if they had a lot more time and a little more budget.

“I loved 80’s movies,” says “Fleshlightning” co-writer/director Brandon Dermer, 25. “My mother went to Bon Jovi concerts. I grew up on ‘Weird Science’ and ‘Don’t Tell Mom, The Babysitter’s Dead.'”

If you are not familiar with the Fleshlight, imagine a bigger version of the type of canister that usually holds tennis balls. Then, instead of balls, imagine the interior of the can filled with a squishy replica of Jenna Haze’s vagina. Good? Then fuck the can. That is the Fleshlight experience.

The brilliantly high-concept story of “Fleshlightning” is that lovable loser Daniel (David Rispoli) uses a Jenna Haze Fleshlight that he purchased from a mysterious merchant (“Kung Fu Panda”‘s James Hong). Lightning strikes Daniel’s house in the night and meanwhile, in Porn Valley, the non-can Jenna Haze becomes pregnant.

It’s like “Agnes of God” meets “Bikini-clad Cum Sluts.”

What’s more, as naked product placement, “Fleshlightning” achieves its goals better than the 1988 “E.T.” ripoff “Mac And Me” did for McDonalds or 2000’s “Battlefield Earth” did for the Church of Scientology (note how the moon in the “Mac And Me” poster looks like a french fry and how John Travolta looks about 10,000 audits short of Clear in the “Battlefield” poster); people might actually buy a Fleshlight because of this trailer.

With regard to a feature forthcoming from the well-produced trailer, Dermer is reticent.

“I can’t say anything about a feature,” he says.

“And what about Fleshlight?” I ask. “Did they give you a lot of money for this?”


“How much?” I ask.

“I can’t say,” Dermer says.

“I understand.”

(One can safely assume that the Austin-based Fleshlight is a majority donor to the project, as it also owns the “Fleshlighning” website.)

Dermer will say how much he enjoyed working with Jenna Haze, who he says was “a total sweetheart, reliable, and great in every way.

“She was totally put together,” Dermer says. “She’d take pictures of her wardrobe and send them to me. If I had a question about the porn industry, she’d be right there with a very patient answer. She plays a heightened version of herself in the movie.”

Well, the trailer. Dermer alludes to other projects that started as Youtube events that blew up into big things.

“Fleshlightning” is full of deft touches, from the “Footloose”/”Risky Business”-style logo (created by Dermer’s girlfriend) to the spot-on music. Further, Haze delivers funny, ridiculous lines like “I was born without a uterus” perfectly.

“I wanted it to be like a throwback Amblin (Entertainment, Steven Spielberg’s production company) movie,” says Dermer, “light and sweet and silly. Plus, I’m a kid from the Midwest (he went to film school in Chicago) and I’m a big John Hughes fan.”

The Fleshlight is so central to the story that I asked Dermer what came first.

“I had this idea for awhile, I wrote it, and I approached Fleshlight about it,” he says. “And they were really excited about it. Then I reached out to Jenna.”

What if Fleshlight had said ‘No, you don’t have permission to reference our product’?

“I would have probably cried,” Dermer says. “Been really, really sad.”

Previously on Porn Valley Observed: “Flying Pink Pig”: Holy Spirit comes in Sunny Lane’s eye
See also: Fleshlightning

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Gram Ponante is America's Beloved Porn Journalist

1 Comment

  1. I clicked on the link originally to make a comment about how nothing deserved to be spoken about in the same sentence as Battlefield Earth, but I got distracted halfway through. James Hong is in this? Really?

    I…okay. That’s cool. Obviously, I wasn’t brought upon this earth to “get it.”

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