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Philadelphia Films' 'Art of Exotic Dancing' Swings to DVD Oct. 23

28 Sep, 2001 By: Jessica Wolf

Producers of The Art of Exotic Dancing for Everyday Women attended theJanuary 2001 VSDA convention as part of the first annual Filmmakers of Tomorrow series. Since then, Leah Stauffer and Tim Kelly of Philadelphia Films have been independently distributing their unique instructionaltitle with more than a little success.

They are on their third VHS duplication run and are now releasing The Art of Exotic Dancing on DVD as well, to include a bounty of special documentary and “making-of” special features. Both formats in the new solicitation cycle street Oct. 23 (prebook Oct. 2) in part thanks to nonexclusive distribution agreements Philadelphia Films recently signed with both VPD and Baker & Taylor.

Stauffer has been busy since the February launch of the title to recently getting mainstream distribution. Exotic Dancing has garnered a wave of media attention since its first release, with Laurie Conrad,Exotic Dancing instructor and a 20-year veteran professional exoticdancer, appearing on television talk show “The View” and a story aboutthe class and the video airing on television magazine “Inside Edition.”

Stories continue to pop up in print magazines and newspapers across the country as Conrad is booked to teach special Exotic Dancing classes in New Jersey, New York, San Francisco, San Diego and Toronto. ExoticDancing has already gone international. Conrad will teach a class in London in November. Interest grew in London after press in the citypicked up on a Web MD story about the class.

“I think with many things press can die pretty quickly,” Stauffer says. “But with [Conrad] coming to so many cities, [the title] is always new somewhere. This is a very consumer-driven product, we're continuallyhitting new consumers.”

Women respond to the video because it is not only about physical fitness, but about physical, emotional and psychological empowerment,Stauffer says. “There are not very many instructional videos out there that women will tell you have changed their lives,” she says. “But over and over again, women say that about this class and this video.”

One Associated Press story about The Art of Exotic Dancing compared itto the Tae Bo fitness phenomenon, which went from a popular class in Sherman Oaks, Calif., to independent distribution, to the subject of a successful infomercial, to widespread distribution, to chart-topping exercise video sales. Stauffer is more than comfortable with thecomparison and is in the process of creating an infomercial for The Artof Exotic Dancing. She is also setting up a certification program forother people to learn to teach the class and has created a Web communityfor the title at ArtofExoticDancing.com.

Stauffer says she's had some interest from companies like Anchor Bay as to picking up exclusive rights to Exotic Dancing, but her independent marketing success so far makes her reluctant to hand over exclusivedistribution rights. Stauffer and partner Kelly want to develop nonexclusive agreements and continue to support the title with their own marketing strategies. They are, she says, relentlessly aggressive whenit comes to garnering publicity for the title. “We're really committedto this reaching millions of women,” Stauffer says.

Stauffer also says this title is laying the groundwork for future releases. She owns the suburban teaching institute The Learning Center in Malvern, Pa., where the Exotic Dancing 101 class that inspired the video originated. Her partnership in independent film production companyPhiladelphia Films allowed her to turn a popular regional class into a highly marketable video product. She plans to do the same with other popular Learning Center classes, including art, computers, cooking, yoga, Pilates and more. Plans are already in the works, Stauffer says, for the Yoga School video four-pack, instructional Yoga programs tailored for kids, and Yoga High, which targets teenage viewers.

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