It’s a fact, as hard to come by in this saturated industry as it is indisputable: Everyone knows about Bang Bus. The site, which launched in 2001, is so popular that even talk that the sex acts are more prearranged than impromptu has done nothing to subdue demand for more bus bangings.
If you reside under a rock and are not familiar with Bangbus.com and its sister video side line, Bang Bus, the setup is the essence of simplicity: hot girl with time on her hands and an adventuresome spirit is approached by a minivan of "film students," who coax her inside. Witty banter ensues, and the girl is progressively charmed and cajoled into on-camera couplings for cash in the back of the van. Cash that, in a recurring Bang Bus theme, is never paid.
Essentially, "Film it, and they will come," was the premise behind the promotion of the successful venture, which was honored at January’s AVN Awards as Best Amateur Series. Bang Bus 6 meanwhile, took home the Best Amateur Release statuette. (See this issue’s Awards Show wrap-up for more details. — Ed.)
"We had a true grass roots campaign," said Penn, who although he "hates titles," is the CEO of Bang Productions, the company that has licensed the content from Bang Bros to put out DVDs of Bangbus.com episodes. "We knew that in order for this project to be a success, we would need to drive around Miami and find girls by themselves and show them first hand what we were all about. So far, so good."
Penn went to the University of Florida in Gainesville with his partners in the Bang Bus venture, who also go by first names only: Kris and Bobby. In their college days, they were all fans of Persiankitty.com, a porno portal, as well as a Gainesville-area strip club called "Café Risque," which Penn described as a "trucker stop, the most classic place ever. It’s like 7-11 with naked chicks walking around. The only thing missing is a Slurpee machine and a walk-in cooler."
Although the Bang Bus concept "was a collaboration of sorts," Penn said, he credits Kris with refining the execution of the idea and with making "it into the Bang Bus that we know and love."
"We threw away five or six pilots" in the beginning, Penn explained. "We’re just not in it to get crap out there. Kris has always been, from the get-go, all about the quality of the content. That’s why our content is so good. In my opinion, Kris is creating the best content in the industry right now. And what’s he’s working on is just the tip of the iceberg."
The humorous aspect of Bang Bus — giving porn a personality, you might say — is also part of what has made it the success that it is.
"The beauty of the Bang Bus is that it’s not just a porno — it brings in a level of entertainment that is unprecedented. It mixes comedy with the adult entertainment industry. Dirty Sanchez has been in all of [the Bang Bus episodes]; he actually … is the one who brings the audience into the bus. Once we pick up the woman, we’ll go thru 20 minutes of discourse with her where it’s hilarious. Just the antics that go on of getting her to progressively become more and more uninhibited to the point where she’s finally performing sex … in the back of the bus. The interaction all comes into play into making the female subject more and more relaxed."
As Penn and his peers were developing Bangbus.com, when the Internet was gaining popularity most quickly among younger users, the randy college kid angle was arguably a smart approach for original adult Web content — a concept in its infancy itself.
"College kids have kind of led the way in terms of who’s really online, so that we had a youthful audience [in the beginning] makes sense to me," Penn said, but added: "We’re seeing turnouts at AEE that show we’ve got people from all ages in our audience."
Although undeniably innovative, Penn is quick to downplay the idea that Bang Bus was a reality-porn pioneer.
"It’s just more ‘real,’" he said simply. "It’s just different. It’s not that people were tired of glam shots and well put together stuff. It’s just more gritty; people can relate to it more. It’s not better than anything else, but there’s a following for it."
That following has even had a hand in the direction of the company, Penn said: "Fans pushed us toward putting out the episodes on DVD. [Site subscribers are] still going out getting the DVDs so they can have the archive in their collection. However well they’re doing online determines how quickly they’re going out on DVD."
Penn also reported that Bang Productions has extended that fan base beyond the bus to many other of its sites and releases.
"We’re told frequently from our distributors that their customers regularly purchase our DVDs across the board. We have created such a Bang Bros brand. … When they join they get access to all Bang Bros sites, so they get familiar with all our content. Distributors say, ‘Hey, Penn, your stuff is selling great across the board — give me all of the Bang Bros stuff.’ That tells me that we have a loyal following for the entire brand."
In fact, he added, "The more people who find out that our DVDs are available in their local video stores, the more our distributors are working to keep their customers’ shelves stocked. This is true for all content that we are releasing on DVD."
Like any successful venture, though, the company’s flagship Bangbus.com has inspired a fleet of imitators.
"I can’t blame someone for trying to copy a good thing; it happens all the time," Penn said. "Just look at the similarity of programming on the television networks between swapping wives, swinging nannies, and God knows what we’re going to do to celebrities next. It’s smart to copy something that works, but as we’ve said in the past, we’re often imitated but never duplicated."
When established: 2001
Best known lines: Bang Bus, MILF Lessons, Ass Parade (each of which has 5 volumes), Boob Squad (8 volumes), Big Mouthfuls (7 volumes) and Monsters of Cock (6 volumes)
Niche titles: Tug Jobs (handjobs), BALL (acronym for "Black, Asian and Lovely Latinas"), Honeys (ethnic) and Spring Break Spycam (voyeur)
AVN Awards (2006): Bang Bus,Best Amateur Series; Bang Bus 6, Best Amateur Release