"Maybe we can lubricate our bodies with this lather, Dynachick," says the ever wily Electro-Babe, "and slither out of this death trap!"
And that's just what happens.
No, this is not that very sweet Nyquil dream you had when you were 12. It's the latest installment of Electro-Babe and DynaChick, a long running series of superhero spoofs by by Don "Dynahunk" Cortier, king of the superbabe videos. Budgeted at about a thousand dollars a pop and shot entirely in a pole barn just outside of South Bend, Indiana, latex n' Lycra epics like the ElectroBabe series, Dare Dolls, and the mind-melting Sucked In are all impish, surreal, deceptively innocent odes to prepubescent, girl-powered thrill-shows of yore, like Sid and Marty Krofft's mid 70's sensation ElectaWoman and DynaGirl, Lynda Carter's effortlessly bouncy Wonder Woman, and whatever episodes of the 1966 Batman series that featured Batgirl squirming uncomfortably in some elaborate-but-flimsy trap. Much like their Saturday morning counterparts, Cortier's videos feature no nudity or sexual situations. The plots are loony and cartoony, and generally center around his costumed heroines stumbling into some cockamamie booby trap involving, say, grabby household plants. On the surface, they could easily pass for odd but harmless kiddie entertainment. Or you could look at them another way entirely.
"There's some guys, they'll ask me to send them a DVD to a hotel where they're planning to stay two weeks from now under a phony name," Cortier says, "and I'm thinking, this stuff is pretty G-rated, what do they think they're getting? It's curious what people see in it, and what they read into it."
Indeed. While Cortier's films only hint at the lurid, there's an ever-present layer of cheeky innuendo bubbling just below the surface. So it's no wonder that the genesis of his Dyna-flix empire sprang from the greasy pages of a fetish magazine.
"When I started, there was nobody doing this," he says.
"When I was in grad school in 1994, I bought a magazine in Chicago. It was a bondage magazine. I don't know why I was in a porn shop, because porn grosses me out. I'd rather see somebody blow their nose into their hands. Anyway, I liked the picture on the cover of this magazine. The slant was pantyhose. The pictures inside were nothing like the cover, they were disgusting, but the magazine had a questionnaire, so I filled it out and asked them, 'Why not do superheroes?'"
Evidently, the editors listened to him, because less than a year later, his oddball suggestion was on the shelves. And Cortier hated it.
"It was called Harmony's Heroes," he explains.
"I have the second issue, from around 1995. The models looked uncomfortable and they weren't shot attractively. And they had nudity. We never have nudity in our stuff."
Cortier finished school and took up work as an English teacher. And in his spare time, he decided to right all the wrongs caused by Harmony's Heroes.
"I was a child. when ElectraWoman was on TV," Cortier explains.
"I was about ten. I thought that would be the greatest job, to make your own superhero movies. So that's what I decided to do."
In 1995, he built the Dynahunk website. He recruited fledgling actresses through local modeling classifieds, and found his costumes online. At first, he only took photo-sets, but when the site took off, he quickly graduated to video. In 1998, he produced the first ElectroBabe and DynaChick video. Just this year, he's finally making enough money from DVD sales to quit his day job.
"It a bit like an assembly line now", he says. My partner Liza does all the costume fittings. I shoot three fifteen minute chapters of the latest serial a month. One of those 15 minute segments takes about four hours to shoot, and we do it all in my pole barn. I pay my actresses on a Woody Allen sort of scale. Like, $150 for four hours."
"I would certainly do it for that price."
So would a lot of people, apparently.
"Once you find a girl who is easy to work with, invariably, she has a sister, or a friend, or a sister-in-law", Cortier says. So we get a lot of referrals. Sometimes we meet girls when we're out at restaurants or wherever, as well. We've even had a surprise audition once. There was this guy who thought his girlfriend would be good. He was a tree surgeon, and he was over here talking about that, and we mentioned what we do. So the next day we're sitting here watching a movie on TV, and boom, in walks this chick in full costume and started auditioning!"
Cortier releases sells his videos both as downloads and on DVD through his website.
Thanks to his low-overhead and tiny crew, he is able function at a small but healthy profit.
Since I own the studio I can sell just a few DVDs and make money," he says
"I just split stuff with Liza, and we do pretty well."
Don may very well be the pioneer of the superbabe genre, but at this point, he is by no means its only auteur. Former Mosquitos drummer Pat Bishow has helmed a series of New York based productions, including The Adventures of El Frenetico & Go-Girl and It's a Haunted Happening that mix superheroines, masked wrestlers, gorillas, ghosts, and all-girl garage rock bands. Jim Weathers, an in-demand Californian fetish photographer by day, is the creator of the wildly popular Adventures of O-Girl, an ever-evolving series of vignettes starring plucky masked super-chick O-Girl, who often finds herself the victim of the ol' rope trick by a revolving door of latex-clad femme villains. Phoenix filmmaker Andy Rodriguez is the creator of Retro-Girl, a masked, gold-suited heroine who takes on thugs and brutes in a series of brooding, almost Noir-ish videos. Even a cursory glance on the internet will reveal dozens more: Captain Schoolgirl, Hot Rod Girl, Dark Fury, Nightingale, The Arc Angels. A gushing wellspring of sexy crime fighting has shot up around Don and his ElectroBabe over the past ten years, which makes him wonder just how much longer he can tease and torment his beloved creations.
"I see us going on for another three years and then either giving it up or handing it off to somebody else," he says.
"I think I can do another three years, and then I'll start screaming. It's like having spaghetti every night. Eventually it starts coming out of your ears."
Looking forward, Cortier envisions himself leaving the damsels to their distresses, and creating, of all things, a teen-based comedy troupe.
"I used to be on this TV show here in South Bend called Beyond Our Control," he explains.
"It was basically Saturday Night Live before there was one. It started in the late 60's and it went off the air in the late 80's. It was all high school kids who wrote, directed, and edited the show. I'd like to do something like that, to provide the means for a group of kids to do a show like that, and I'd act as an advisor. I don't have any concrete plans, though. We're still up to our eyebrows in spandex."
Link: Dyna-Flix website
Clip: Drats! Those fiendish plants!