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March 15, 2016

BelAmi Returns to Rome

This article originally ran in the March 2016 issue of AVN magazine. Click here to see the digital edition. In 2012, BelAmi made headlines as it announced not only the release of Scandal in the Vatican, but also that the film would feature footage of Pope Benedict XVI blessing two of the studio’s models in footage shot on location. That footage never made it to the finished product (the thought of a pesky potential lawsuit was enough to alter those plans), but the publicity alone helped raise the profile on an already sure seller. “BelAmi founder George Duroy has always had a sense of humor when making adult entertainment, and doesn’t like to take things too seriously,” says BelAmi’s PR Firm Davyd Dixon Entertainment. “Scandal in the Vatican was his tongue-in-cheek commentary on the scandals and hypocrisy surrounding the Catholic Church. I think everyone was prepared for a major uproar, perhaps even spilling into the mainstream, but all in all the reaction was relatively tame.” The title went on to sell thousands of units out the door, and was the bestselling title of the year when it was released. “The reaction commercially was fantastic,” says Davyd Dixon Entertainment. “The fans loved it and saw the humor in it, and also found the eroticism of the forbidden nature of the content very sexy. The adult and gay press were overwhelmingly positive of the film, the production values and the quality of the sex. Religious groups and the like didn’t touch it, and I would say that is because they wouldn’t want to draw more attention to their own scandals, which we were mocking.” Given the success and the inevitable scandals to come, a sequel was inevitable. Enter Scandal in the Vatican 2: The Swiss Guard, already “the biggest selling release of the year; it has moved over 7,000 copies, an enviable feat in today’s DVD market.” Directed by Luke Hamill and again appearing on the Lukas Ridgeston label, the three-plus hour entry is led by an all-star cast, including Kevin Warhol—who appeared in the original. Davyd Dixon Entertainment notes it has been in the works for a few years. “We finished it much sooner but waited till the timing was right…it came about because the first was so successful and because—you guessed it—there were more scandals that rocked the Vatican yet again when the Swiss Guard scandal came out in the press. George Duroy took the opportunity to make the sequel based around the new real-life scandal.” The Swiss Guard is the small force of men who protect the Pope; stories about the men being approached for sex by priests surfaced years ago. That helped push the project forward, and judging by reaction, the public sensitivity has died down over the years. “I think some people might be offended these days, but that is a small fraction of the porn-buying public. Overall, judging by the reactions from fans and adult press as well as the sales numbers, it can’t be that sensitive. Plus, let’s face it: musicians have been mocking Catholicism and throwing in sex with religion for decades, whether it be Madonna or Lady Gaga,” says Davyd Dixon Entertainment. “I think people are somewhat desensitized to it, whether it be because people have seen it all in the mainstream and in porn, or because of the internet and ease with which people can record things and share with the world. People just have seen a lot more of everything, and it takes more to shock people these days in general.” Davyd Dixon Entertainment doesn’t see gay adult press all over the world—it is more concentrated in the United States, so it’s hard to gauge media and fan reaction in other markets. “But if we could, I’m sure it would be varied from market to market indeed. The obvious reasons being cultural differences and sensitivities to this type of content.” The sequel was filmed on location in Italy with more story and set ups than the first Scandal. “The film is gorgeously shot with incredible camera angles and sweeping shots of Vatican City. The second Scandal in the Vatican is overall a better movie, hands down,” notes Davyd Dixon Entertainment. “The cast were outstanding. This film had much more dialogue than usual for a BelAmi movie in recent years, and the guys did a stellar job speaking in English given that English is not their first language; they really delivered. Luke also delivered, turning in a beautiful, sexy and playful film that really captivates you from the moment you put it on. You really get invested in the storyline and adventure of these BelAmi boys romping through Vatican City in search of a Swiss Guard of their own.” The film also uses Joel Birkin (as a priest in training) as its centerpiece, his massive endowment giving fans yet another reason to head to confessional. Davyd Dixon Entertainment says it and the studio put a lot of effort into getting the marketing materials right, doing special photo shoots and press releases on every one of the nine episodes, which were rolled out over the course of three months at BelAmiOnline. “We didn’t bait the mainstream media as to not cause any unnecessary controversy, as we knew we didn’t need to take that angle to sell this film. It already had a built-in audience, and the product speaks for itself so we knew it would be a best seller.” Mission accomplished.

 
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