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The Vice Man Cometh

Want something hot and spicy delivered right to your doorstep? Well, don't call Domino's, dial Out of the Blue, a Scottsdale-based service that's believed to be the Valley's (and perhaps the nation's) first XXX video delivery service. Operators are standing by now to take your ardor.

Here's how it works. Using a phone number advertised primarily in local skin rags, customers listen to a taped "menu" describing twenty-odd adult entertainment cassettes just waiting to be whisked to your doormat. Titles run the gamut from The Devil in Miss Jones to Hershe (sic) Highway Part II and sell for anywhere between $25 to $50, plus an $8 delivery charge-- payable by cash or check. After making a selection, the customer then dials another number and places an order. Within hours, a "courteous and businesslike" courier (said to resemble "the grade school principal where your child goes to school") delivers the gamy goods--discreetly wrapped in a brown wrapper just in case one of the neighbors happens to be watching.

"Discretion is the name of this game," says "Bruno," founder of the service (he requests that his real name not be used because Out of the Blue conflicts with other business interests). "That's what I'm selling--discretion."

Or at least that's what he's been MDRVtrying to sell since opening his TV-titillation service earlier this year. "It's not working at all," confesses Bruno, who now finds himself sitting on a stockpile of smut that represents the better part of his life's savings. "Sales have just been pathetic."

Bruno now admits that he may have bitten off more than he can chew. But last year, while driving past a Scottsdale porn emporium called Zorba's Bookstore, Bruno thought the prospect of latchkey lust seemed like a pretty hot concept. "As most people do, I glanced into the parking lot and thought how self-conscious everyone must feel walking in there. I'd been in there myself and had felt most uncomfortable, as most normal people would."

In a flash, Bruno realized he'd just hit upon an idea whose time had come: a carnal catering service for the curious-but-yellow crowd who wouldn't be caught dead in an adult bookstore.

Recognizing that porn's traditional advertising practices ("Look at this! It's bigger! It's deeper! It's grosser!") probably wouldn't fly with his timid target market, the erotic entrepreneur recast himself as the Ralph Nader of raunch. "What I'm trying to tell people is that you, Mr. Public, don't really know what's happening," explains Bruno, who boned up for his brainstorm by touring the smut mills of California's San Fernando Valley, home of the country's leading porn production studios. "If you want to see sex on screen, you don't really have the experience or knowledge to know what's out there. Sure, everyone's heard of films like Debbie Does Dallas or Deep Throat, but these are old dated classics--certainly not the kind of erotic stimulation they'd be interested in for their marriage or whatever. The way that you can trust me is that I'm going to tell you what organizations review these films, how they review these films, and how I've selected these titles for you."

And does he ever. Listening to Out of the Blue's taped message is not unlike going to a restaurant and being forced to hear a waiter explain in excruciating detail how every last one of that day's specials are prepared. During the six-minute spiel, would-be customers learn, for instance, that one Tori Wells, star of Night Trips, looks like "a much younger and sexier Raquel Welch--sans the nose ring." That Richard Rambone, featured attraction in the Caught From Behind quartet, is the "heir apparent" to late porn star John Holmes. And that one long-time porn mag deemed The Big Thrill "ultravolcanic." "Rent it, buy it, borrow it, steal it, kill for it, but get it!"

Although it's a safe bet that few pornophiles will resort to murder to obtain a copy of this eruptive opus, it's equally safe to assume that very few will cop a copy through Out of the Blue, either. "This whole thing has been a major disappointment," says Bruno. "I'm not doing something right."

With hindsight, the biggest fly in the ointment may have been his failure to recognize that porn is no longer automatically synonymous with perverts in raincoats. (By his own estimation, there are currently more than 150 video outlets in Maricopa County that stock video sizzlers, many of them family-oriented mom 'n' pop operations.) His stiff prices certainly can't have helped. And it apparently never dawned on him that his narrowly defined target market rarely scans the "sleaze sheets" where he devotes most of his advertising dollars.

"I really tried to offer something for practically everyone," says Bruno. He notes, however, that his inventory does not include any films featuring underage performers, bestiality, violence or homosexual porn--of the male variety. "You've got to realize that in this industry female-to-female is so common that it's not even considered gay. That's what men like to see, that's what they want to see and I'm happy to give that to them. But I'm personally not comfortable with this male-male stuff. You've got to remember that I'm new to this game," he chuckles. "I'm not a dyed-in-the-wool smut man yet."