During the daylight hours and prime time, the commercials that air on Denver television stations tend to be staid, predictable, family-friendly.
But in the wee hours, things can get weird — especially when the Pleasures Dudes are involved.
The Dudes — Fred Gates and Michael Wheeler — are the mascots for Pleasures adult-entertainment stores, a chain of ten Colorado outlets (seven in Denver, one in Aurora and two in Colorado Springs) that specialize in explicit videos, sex toys and other items related to getting horizontal with the one (or ones) you love. And for nearly twenty years, on stations such as CBS4 and Denver7, they've advertised their wares by way of late-night commercials that regularly push the boundaries of mainstream TV.
Take the Happy Days parody in which a faux Fonzie whips out something that must be pretty large, judging by the size of the "Censored" banner stretched over his nether region.
See what we mean here:
And then there's the clip of the Dudes hanging with porn star Stormy Daniels, whose new book, Full Disclosure, claims that President Donald Trump sports "Yeti pubes and a dick like the mushroom character in Mario Kart."
Denver TV stations don't allow frank talk like this in commercials no matter the time of day — and Gates says there are plenty of other restrictions.
"It's a constant battle," he maintains. "It's not even about nudity or anything like that. It's saying words you thought you were all right to say — words you could say to your priest and he wouldn't even flinch. Things that aren't even cuss words."
"'Porn star,'" he replies. "You can't say 'porn star' on the air. You can't say a lot of stuff on the air. And I can't advertise anything I'm selling on television. So it takes a different twist."
Like, for example, the following Halloween clip, co-starring two nude zombies with their private parts (barely) blurred.
Westword first saluted the Pleasures Dudes in the 2007 feature article "The Pleasures of Your Company." The piece notes that Pleasures' first TV commercials, aired circa 2000, failed to make an impact because they consisted mainly of random store shots, with specific items viewed at a discrete distance while a provocative female voice made a pitch.
But then Wheeler, who had previously worked as an announcer for an independent professional wrestling league, came up with the idea for the Pleasures Dudes, known by the suitably classy monikers Rusty Boner and Derf Digler.
The pair's assault on propriety and good taste has continued for nearly two decades, and not everyone is amused. One critical clip on YouTube is titled "The Fucking Pleasures Dudes" and includes this opinion: "These guys annoy the shit out of me." Another compilation sports the subtitle "God, It Gets Worse."
Slams like these don't bother Gates. "The only feedback I care about is if people notice it and come in," he says. "Even if they criticize something about it, that's good feedback to me."
The Dudes don't stop at thirty-second spots. They also produce two-hour specials themed to Halloween and Christmas that currently air on KCDO-TV in Sterling. The programs are essentially assemblages of skits and interviews with porn celebrities, including Daniels, seen here in a 2005 clip.
"We've talked to her quite a few times," Gates points out. "We did the one in 2005, and I think there was a 2007 and a 2010 or a 2011."
He adds. "She's always been a cool chick, then and now."
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
After Daniels shared her stories about trysting with Trump, the Dudes took advantage of her newfound celebrity by editing one of her vintage endorsements into a new ad. But other offerings are more memorable — such as the one that juxtaposes images and clips of figures such as Charles Manson and Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.
The WTF results constitute the most consistently twisted commercials on Denver television. But Gates would like to go further.
"It's like the Fifties — nothing's changed," he complains. "Some places, we can't even air our commercials, just because of what we do. It doesn't matter what it'd be. It could be a black screen and a chick's voice not even talking about hardly anything, and they still wouldn't air it."
That's no way to treat the Dudes.