The NSFW interview with the creators of ‘My Dad Wrote a Porno’

10 May 2019 - By WarnerMedia Staff

Dads are embarrassing. Chances are, however, your father hasn’t written and sent you his erotic novel for you to review. That isn’t the case for Jamie Morton, whose father did in fact share a bizarre, poorly written, ill-informed, but hilarious attempt at erotica – all under the laughable pseudonym of Rocky Flintstone. Naturally, Jamie did the only acceptable thing to do when your father sends you his awful adult novel – he shared it with two of his friends over drinks at a pub, and “My Dad Wrote a Porno” was born. The podcast has since become a massive hit, with more than 150 million downloads, a sell-out world tour and a loyal (and, um, creative) fanbase, which includes Hollywood A-listers.

Ahead of their HBO special, which airs Saturday, May 11 at 10 p.m. ET/PT, creator Jamie Morton and co-hosts James Cooper and Alice Levine sat down for a side-splitting and inappropriate conversation. The discussion included all things “Porno”: from its inception and which Hollywood stars are fans, to why HBO could be the only home for this special, and Rocky’s mind boggling “executive producer” credit. Their banter and rapport are unparalleled as they weave in and out of stories and interject with their cheeky remarks. Read on but prepare to blush—and to laugh out loud.

Let's start with how the three of you came together on this project.

James Cooper: We've been friends for 15 years, we realized earlier today. We all met at university and have along the way worked together, lived together. One day in 2015, something fell into our laps that changed things dramatically. Cue Jamie...

Jamie Morton: Yes. My dad handed me – well, emailed me, actually – his erotic novel. “Belinda Blinked” came into our lives. I read it and I immediately knew I had to call these two people. We went to the pub and I read it to them, and we killed ourselves laughing for an obscene amount of time. It took about four or five hours to get through four pages. From that moment we realized we had comedy gold, and we just had to decide how we were going to best tell the story.

JC: It was around the time that “Serial” was doing well, so it felt like a good moment to try doing a podcast and see how it'd take off. Jamie played the first episode to his Dad and got permission.  

Besides the fact that your father sent you a manuscript of his foray into porn, what was it about it that made you recognize it was comedy gold?

JM: Just everything about it: It was so naively written. The spelling was wrong. The names were just ridiculous. She works in pots and pans, it's the least sexy job. Why “Belinda”? And why is she blinking? In the first sentence, they're getting naked. No preamble, no scene setting. There were just so many questions!  

Alice Levine: He also wanted it to be part business manual, part erotic novel.

JM: Yeah, he wanted people to learn, and he wanted people to get off.

JC: The other thing is the descriptive language for the sex itself – beginning with the first chapter. What do you think he was thinking?  

AL: It's the idea that he was so confident in writing them because he'd heard, obviously, that sex sells and that “Fifty Shades of Grey” or “Fifty Colors of Grey,” as he incorrectly calls it, had become very successful. And he's got a very can-do attitude. So, he was like, “oh I'll just give it a go.” What he's written is what he thinks or I'm guessing he thinks is mass market. How his brain works constantly surprises and fascinates us because he's just an idiosyncratic writer. If it was just cringy because the sex is bad and because he doesn't know where bits on a woman are, then that would only last so long. But then you turn the next page and - well, now, we're on book four. 

JC: The scenarios he's pulling out of his head, we're like where's that come from?  Hopefully not experience in a lot of cases…

AL: …Literally blowing smoke up someone's arse.

We’re flabbergasted! What makes HBO the right home to tell this story?

AL: HBO's pedigree in porn! I think we're probably the first show with “porno” in the title, but let's be honest, HBO's been peddling it for a while now. We felt like what HBO was saying was we have a quota to fulfill of soft-core. And we were aware that “Game of Thrones” was coming to an end, and we were like, we'll step in, as a kind of charitable measure.   

JM: My dad genuinely said to me, "Look, ‘Game of Thrones’ is finishing, and they need someone to fill that time. It's going to be porn, it's gotta be!” But, really, like Alice said, the pedigree of this channel is unrivaled, even in the UK.

AL: To the point where we were like, do we want to sully the good name of HBO? Everything that has the [imitates the HBO static intro] in front of it is so good, we were like, do we want to ruin the [static intro].

The podcast is hugely popular, and people know what to expect from it. But what can you tell us about the comedy special?

JC: It's a Lost Chapter — a chapter that even Rocky thought was too shit to be in the book. He was like, “this can't sit in my oeuvre.” It's about Belinda, the main character, taking the regional sales managers, who are her underlings, on an OA day [the British version of an offsite]. Then it kind of descends into an orgy, naturally.  

AL: For people that haven't heard the podcast that would maybe watch it on HBO as their first introduction to “My Dad Wrote a Porno,” or their first introduction to Rocky, the starting point is just so universal: Dads are embarrassing; you don't want to think about your parents having any sort of sexual desire or fantasy; and friends are the people you call when you know the going gets tough or rough or sexy or salty.From that point of view, you almost don't need to know all about the world of Belinda or Steeles Pots and Pans or even about Rocky because it's a riot for an hour dipping into that awkward dad world.  

JM: Whatever your dad's done that's embarrassed you, times it by a hundred. It's such a party of a show. We had such a great time filming it, and we just really want people to just switch off from all the crap that we're being bombarded with constantly. Just have some fun and realize that you can laugh about sex.  

AL: James has an amazing bit in the special where he gets some people up [on stage] to see if you can physically do some of the stuff that Rocky describes in the book. Spoiler: You can't. Don't try it at home. There's so much of [the writing] where he's obviously just thought you don't need to be specific: this arm there, that boob there. Hence, the grabbing of the cervix. He's heard people mention bits and bobs, and he's just sort of thrown them in there.

[To the co-hosts] We should probably check back in with those volunteers just to make sure they're OK.

You're very familiar with his writing style, and at this point you know how he's going to approach things. How do you think Rocky would approach some of the shows on HBO? What kind of treatment would he give “Game of Thrones” or “Veep?”

AL: “Game of Thrones,” I feel, would require him to remember quite a lot of details. One of the things about Rocky's writing is that he'll forget what age someone was or what their name was, or why they were first introduced to us…

JM:  ...which I think would be great for a show like “Game of Thrones,” because he'd be throwing people off without even knowing. People would have all these fan theories that would all come to nothing because even he didn't know what was going on. With “Veep,” he kind of could be a character on that show. People have lobbied for him to run as the president of Ireland. I'm not sure that's a sensible idea for the world, geopolitically.  

What has working on the project done for your familial relationships?  

JM: Genuinely, it has been amazing. I've gotten to know my dad in a really equal way. I often say that your parents are kind of figures in your life more than they're people in your life. They're not really human; they're just your mom or your dad. I've seen the real human side to him, and I've realized that he's a really creative person. He's obviously had creative ambitions for a long time, but he put those aside to provide for the family. There's something really lovely about him now being retired that he felt like he could just write a book.

AL: Yeah, if he had written a normal novel.

JM: I'm kind of proud of him because so many people say oh one day, I want to write that novel or whatever. He actually did it! And, yeah, it's shit. But even though it's awful, he deserves credit for doing it. The joke's on us now because we've mocked him for so long, and now he's on HBO.

JC: He's an executive producer on an HBO show, for God's sake!

JM: I mean, he doesn't even own a TV, but... That was his biggest concern actually, was but we don't get HBO in the U.K. We can't do the deal! 

For the whole family it's been something that we're all collectively really proud of. They come to all the shows that we do all around the world.

Let's talk about some of the fan reactions you guys get.

AL: People have used the podcast as their birthing tool as their soundtrack to, like, pushing. I don't know if they do it in sync with him mentioning certain body parts or if it's just, I want that to be the first thing my newborn hears. Some people play classical music...  

JC:  ...or whale songs...

AL: I don't know what happens to your kid if you play dad porn whilst they're in there, but that's a thing we've heard.

JC: People love dressing up as characters from the book at live shows, which is interesting – or even a location. Someone came as The Horse and Jockey Pub. Someone came as a bit of trellis from an episode where Belinda's in a maze. Someone came as a cervix one time; two people came as boobs.  

AL: It's a real family show.   

JM: Our listeners are really creative. They write songs based on the book; they send us fan art; they do their own fan fiction of Dad, which is worrying. They're very invested. We love the fact that they feel like that they can share that stuff with us, even though some of it's quite intimate.

AL: It's kind of mad that the guests that have been on the show are the biggest super fans of Rocky's work.  

We've had some really big names come on and they're just like, “please can I talk to you about Rocky? Can I ask you; you've said that he writes in his garden shed, but, what time of day?” There's all this minutia they want to know. And we're like, “You're Nicholas Hoult, you're Daisy Ridley, why do you want to know about that?”

JM: You've got two Oscars, Emma Thompson, why do you care about my dad's writing? But they do! They're obsessed.