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January 28, 2017

'Squad' Goals Surpassed: Axel Braun on Best Parody/Movie of the Year 'Suicide Squad XXX'

CHATSWORTH, Calif.—It was indisputably the runaway hit of the year, spending an unheard-of three months at number one on AVN's sales and rentals chart, and at the 2017 AVN Awards Show, Suicide Squad XXX: An Axel Braun Parody became the director's third consecutive winner of both Best Parody and the ceremony's biggest prize, Movie of the Year. Braun credits a menagerie of factors for the movie's astounding success, but chief among them may be that "Warner Bros. did a pretty amazing job marketing the original, and I suppose I benefited from that," the parody maestro told AVN. "The fact that, although a massive commercial success, Suicide Squad was generally panned by critics and fans, definitely played in my favor. The irony is that I would have gladly traded my own success for a better mainstream version. Yes I'm THAT much of a fan." Believe that statement or don't, the fact is there's more than a minor sentiment among those who've seen both that Braun's Squad is a more satisfying adaptation of the comic than the big screen version in a number of ways. Reflecting on what may have made it so, Braun said, "To [director] David Ayer's defense, he had to answer to a million people and try to please them all. Studios have different priorities, they need to be able to reach a broader audience, so they often use a more widely relatable approach that betrays the essence of the comics. I am more than content to appeal mainly to fanboys like myself. I think where I succeeded is in really understanding the characters, and shooting a movie that would please the fans. Also, my movie has boobs. That always helps." Interestingly, while this may be Braun's third parody to win Movie of the Year, it's his first comic parody to do so—that is, the sort with which he's most identified. (Last year, it was Peter Pan XXX that won, and the year before that, it was 24 XXX.) What propelled this one beyond the likes of, say, Batman v Superman XXX or Spider-Man XXX? According to Braun, it was an almost serendipitous falling together of every conceivable element. "I am always positively anal about my projects," he professed. "I storyboard each shot and do a great deal of pre-production ... but all the care and preparation in the world still requires the stars to align in a very specific way in order to create that magic that sets a movie apart. And that is basically just what happened, thanks to everyone being so invested in the project and excited to give 110 percent. Tommy Pistol, who bleached his hair white and dyed it bright green to play The Joker, was simply fantastic, and Kleio Valentien managed to top her AVN Award-winning performance of last year as Harley Quinn with an even more intense, and multi-layered portrayal of the same character. And then there's Asa Akira, who learned sword fighting for the role; Lexington Steele, who is such a tremendous performer that people forget how good an actor he is; Seth Gamble, who grew mutton chops and hired an Australian dialect coach to master his Aussie accent for Captain Boomerang; Anna Bell Peaks, who dyed her trademark pink hair blue for Killer Frost; Nyomi Banxxx, who came out of retirement to bring Amanda Waller to life and managed to win Best Non-Sex Performance for it; Katy Kiss, who truly understood Poison Ivy's personality; Owen Gray, who creeped everyone out with his twisted take on The Riddler; and Riley Steele, sexy and lost as the powerless Enchantress, who dyed her hair black for the role. So yes, it is a combination of timing, passion, and a massive dose of luck. And people willing to dye their hair, because I am totally the Zohan of porn." All of that said, Braun still insists he did not foresee scoring a Movie of the Year three-peat this year—rather, he says his chips were on Best Drama winner The Preacher's Daughter from fellow Wicked Pictures director Brad Armstrong. "I had absolutely ZERO expectations to win Movie of the Year, and I was genuinely shocked when it happened," Braun attested. "I think The Preacher's Daughter is an excellent movie, and especially after winning two consecutive years with parodies, I was 100 percent sure Brad would be the one to take home the big prize." Philosophizing on the "secret" to his continued thriving in the parody arena, Braun offered, "Porn sells a fantasy, and parodies are the ultimate expression of that. Being able to see characters you already know and love portrayed in sexual situations is very appealing to fans, as long as they can tell that there's genuine knowledge and appreciation of the original. I only parody source material that I have a strong connection to, and I think the key to my success is really that I am a fan myself. My target demographic is also different from most adult directors, my movies actually attract people who don't habitually buy porn. I also strongly believe in quality, and the fact that my products are so commercially successful must be an indication that the viewers share my sentiment. "Right now I'm in pre-production on Justice League XXX," he continued, "which will likely be the biggest undertaking I've ever entertained, and there is a massive amount of work involved in it. Costumes, especially in the case of superheroes, are not only crucial to the fantasy I'm trying to sell, but they're also something I've been obsessed with since I was a kid, so naturally I put a lot of focus into making sure they are done right. "I guess the secret is actually not much of a secret after all ... hard work and passion usually pay off."

 
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