Like a caffeinated waltz through Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, a visit to the Mikey and Mandy Porn Emporium offers a classy, yet mischievous, smutty, but smart, excess of eclectic eye candy.
Featuring everything from vintage smut to art and animation to good old-fashioned tits and ass, MikeyAndMandy.com features so many tantalizing twists and turns fans of the site shouldn't be surprised to hear its roots can actually be traced to the exercise discipline of Pilates.
"Believe it or not," said co-founder Roberta Morgan, aka Mandy, "I met [co-founder] Michael [Gross] through my Pilates instructor, who was an old friend of his. She said we just had to get together, but wouldn't tell me why. We hit it off instantly, and in discovering all the things we had in common, like cheesy horror movies, we admitted to a lifelong love of porn. From classy and artsy to downright dirty, we have both been obsessed with the subject from a young age."
Naturally, the friendship progressed from porn conversation to porn cultivation.
"During the height of profits being made off online porn, Michael called me up and said, ‘Hey, how about starting a porn site?,'" said Morgan. "We came from the mainstream and had worked on major projects so we felt we could bring something different to the scene, something a little more classy and eclectic. We didn't know it would take five years to come as far as we have."
Both East Coast transplants possess extensive backgrounds in photography and publishing, which lends to the site's broad photographical and periodical content.
"Roberta has the brains and editing skills that make us a real magazine," said Gross. "And I know what works visually, especially in the art world. Other sites are born out of content libraries and business models. Ours is born out of love, a love of all things ‘porny.' We have an editorial point of view, and ‘quality' to us means something more than the pixel size of photos or a slick exterior. People are ready for some thinking with their porn."
A former art director for magazines like National Lampoon and Esquire, Gross now works as the curator at the Oceanside Museum of Art.
He was the senior designer for the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City and his clients have included Merrill Lynch, Muppets creator Jim Henson, as well as John Lennon and Yoko Ono.
After moving to Los Angeles in 1980, Gross, 63, began working as a movie producer. His feature film credits include Ghostbusters I and II (he is credited with designing the iconic "No ghost" logo), Twins, Legal Eagles, and Kindergarten Cop to name a few.
Morgan holds a BA in English and journalism from New York University where she graduated magna cum laude and is a few credits short of a graduate degree in English literature from London University. She has written three bestselling books and has had mainstream articles published in Self magazine and The Miami Herald among others.
From that first phone call in September of 2003 it took five months to get the site up and running. From there it has grown into a diverse blend of original and contributed photos, literature, animation, and videos collected from people and websites around the globe.
With such a plethora of subject matter, describing the site has been one of the few issues the duo has encountered.
"The best thing I ever heard said about us was that the site was the most entertaining and exciting thrill ride through the land of naughty," said Morgan. "We cover all subjects, we're couple-friendly, and we have something for everyone, and a lot of it. We also get ranked under classy and sophisticated porn on many search engines, but we always try to keep a balance and a sense of tongues-in-cheeks."
It is that balance that makes the Mikey and Mandy Porn Emporium a rarity in the online erotic world.
"I believe porn is just a form of pop culture," said Gross. "I'm not afraid to use the word (rather than "erotic") and I think today's smart, young surfer accepts porn as a given and is now trying to focus on sites that appear to have a larger, well-rounded view. We search the world for material that does just that. Forty percent of our material is original, starting with my original photography, Mandy's writing, and the dozen or so writers, artists, and photographers that contribute. I often ask myself if we are ‘art as porn' or ‘porn as art.' I don't see a difference. The word ‘porn' has morphed over time and here we are in the 21st century asking the same old question. There is no clear answer and we are now entering an age where it simply doesn't matter."
This article originally appeared in the February issue of AVN Online. To subscribe, visit AVNMediaNetwork.com/subscribe.