World of Wonder (company)
World of Wonder Productions is a production company founded in 1991 by filmmakers Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato. Based in Los Angeles, California, the company produces reality and documentary television programs, feature films, and new media, primarily specializing in documenting erotica, sexuality and the sex subculture.
Their documentary films include Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures (2016), Inside Deep Throat (2005), The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2000), Party Monster (1998), Monica in Black and White, Heidi Fleiss: The Would-be Madam of Crystal, and I Am Britney Jean.
The duo have produced programming for HBO, Showtime, Logo, VH1, IFC, Discovery, OWN, TLC, E!, HGTV, PBS, and Channel 4. Their company blog, The WOW Report, was named Best Counter Culture Blog by LA Weekly. In 2014, Bailey and Barbato were honored with the IDA Pioneer Award, "celebrating exceptional achievement, leadership, and vision in the nonfiction and documentary community".
Barbato and Bailey met in the graduate film program at NYU, in the mid-'80s. Intent on becoming famous, they formed a disco-pop-rock duo called the Fabulous Pop Tarts and began performing regularly at Danceteria and other clubs in downtown New York City. They produced two albums, Age of the Thing which included their hit single, “New York City Beat”, and Gagging on the Lovely Extravaganza, which included guest appearances by Lady Miss Kier, RuPaul, Martyn Phillips, and Filthy the Dog. World of Wonder was organized initially in order to manage the Fabulous Pop Tarts, and to enable projects in television production and licensing, documentary film-making, and in helping to build the careers of their friends and fellow artists, particularly RuPaul.
World of Wonder operates primarily out of its art-deco building on Hollywood Boulevard. Designed by architects S. Tilden Norton and Fredrick H. Wallis and erected in 1930, the building served as the original home of the Directors Guild of America. The World of Wonder Storefront Gallery now occupies the ground floor retail space, with production and management offices occupying the upper three stories. The basement, once home to the punk rock club The Masque, now houses the company's video archive and a soundstage.
World of Wonder notably shares its name with one of its early television documentaries, Died on the 4th of July: Nelson Sullivan's World of Wonder. Nelson Sullivan was a central figure in the downtown New York City art and club scene of the 1980s, obsessively videotaping everyone and everything he saw before dying of a heart attack on July 4, 1989. He left behind over 1800 hours of video footage that he'd shot over the last ten years of his life. From this archive World of Wonder created the one-hour documentary portrait of Nelson which aired on UK's Channel 4, and is also included on the DVD release of Party Monster: The Shockumentary.
Television and film productions
World of Wonder primarily produces television content for networks in the US and UK, including BBC, Channel 4, FIVE, HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, A&E, MTV, VH1, Bravo TV, Oxygen, Sky, Discovery and Living TV. Well known recent productions include RuPaul's Drag Race, Tori & Dean: Inn Love, Good Work, Million Dollar Listing, Heli-Loggers, and Pam Anderson: Girl on the Loose. World of Wonder also produced the documentary series One Punk Under God, Sex Change Hospital and TransGeneration, which won the 2006 GLAAD Award for Outstanding Documentary.
The company produces RuPaul's television show The RuPaul Show, as well as the RuPaul's Drag Race franchise, which consists of RuPaul's Drag Race and RuPaul's Drag Race: All Stars, spinoff series RuPaul's Drag U (which was canceled in 2012 after three seasons), and RuPaul's Drag Race: Untucked, a behind-the-scenes after show which airs immediately after every new episode of the original series. Since its creation, RuPaul's Drag Race has led to record-breaking ratings hit for Viacom's Logo channel, and has completed ten seasons and three seasons of All Stars on Logo, VH1 and OUTtv in Canada.
In addition to numerous television productions, World of Wonder has also produced several feature-length documentaries such as The Eyes of Tammy Faye, Party Monster: The Shockumentary, and The Last Beekeeper, as well as the feature film, Party Monster, starring Macaulay Culkin and Seth Green, Menendez: Blood Brothers starring Courtney Love, Nico Tortorella, Benito Martinez and Myko Oliver They also released the documentary film Gender Revolution.
In 2015, WOW added conventions to their portfolio with the launch of the first RuPaul's DragCon located at the Los Angeles Convention Center. 2 years later, DragCon Los Angeles 2017 broke records with 40,000 attendees. In September of 2017, DragCon expanded to New York City at the Javits Convention Center.
In November of 2017, WOW launched the subscription streaming service WOW Presents Plus. The service offers exclusive online digital content, web series, behind-the-scenes, and unreleased content. They also are the primary providers of RuPaul's Drag Race and Untucked to some international markets.
A list of select WOW Presents shows with descriptions pulled from the Wow Presents Plus website.
- Fashion Photo RuView with Raja and Raven - "The two RuPaul's Drag Race alums critique the runway looks from the RuPaul's Drag Race mainstage. Will they TOOT or BOOT the Queens looks from the runway? Watch now and find out!" Due to frequent absences by both Raja and Raven, multiple guest co-hosts have filled in for one or both of them over the years. Some queens that have guest hosted include: Delta Work, Alaska, Mariah Balenciaga, Manila Luzon, Morgan McMichaels, Bob the Drag Queen, Detox, Mayhem Miller, Kameron Michaels, Eureka O'Hara, Katya, Violet Chachki, Ongina, Vanessa Vanjie Mateo, Nina Bo'Nina Brown, and Asia O'Hara.
- UNHhhh - "RuPaul's Drag Race season 7 queens Katya Zamolodchikova and Trixie Mattel in UNHhhh. It's a show about nothing, and yet it's about everything."
- Alyssa's Secret - "Alyssa's Secret is a digital series starring the shining star of RuPaul's Drag Race, Alyssa Edwards. Each week she spills the T on an array of topics."
- Cool Mom - "Twenty-Nine years ago, winner of RuPaul's Drag Race season 5, Jinkx Monsoon, gave birth to a homosexual son (best friends in real life). Jinkx is on a mission to be a more active mother and spend quality time with her gay son. Because she’s not just a regular Mom...she’s a cool Mom. This quirky duo cover topics such as hooking up, internet slang and smoking marijuana."
- Transformations - "Watch as James St. James gets transformed by special guests each episode."
- Be$tie$ for Ca$h or Couple$ for Ca$h - "Couple$ for Ca$h is kind of like The Newlywed Game, only better because it features your favorite wowlebrities!"
- Gaymer Guys - "Chase Koloszi and Evan Michael Lee discuss everything video games with an emphasis on queer in Gaymer Guys!"
- Drag Queens React - "The Queens from RuPaul's Drag Race react to Mean Comments and other shelarious things."
- Bro'Laska - "Bro'Laska is a returning web series to WOWPresents Plus featuring Alaska Thunderfuck, winner of RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars 2, and her straight brother Cory Binney. Despite having the same mother, Alaska and Cory couldn’t be less similar. In fact they may as well be from different planets! This hilarious pair of polar opposites tackle new topics such as sex ed, parenting and spilling the T on All Stars 2."
- Tea with Tati - "Tati keeps it 100 about the real life struggles that surround the gay community."
- Wait, What? - "The queens may know fashion, but do they know some of the basics? Will they pass with flying colors, or get schooled in the first round"
- Ring My Bell - "Ring My Bell features television personalities receiving calls from their loyal fanbase."
- How To Makeup - "Comedic riffs and real-life make up tips and tricks with some of your favorite queens form RuPaul's Drag Race."
- M.U.G. with Kim Chi and Naomi Smalls - "From RuPaul's Drag Race season 8, best friends and makeup mavens Kim Chi and Naomi Smalls dish on all things maquillage. They are your Make Up Girls (MUG). Each week they discuss the hot trends in cosmetics and give advice on how to achieve the look. On Season 1, the make up mavens bring specials guest including Manny MUA, Vander Von Odd, Mariah Balenciaga and more to help them through a gambit of make up tips, tricks and topics. Each episode features a special tip of the day help you improve your skills!"
- The company blog, The WOW Report, was named "Best Counter Culture Blog" by LA Weekly in 2011.
- Million Dollar Listing New York was a 2015 Emmy Award nominee for Outstanding Unstructured Reality Program.
- RuPaul's Drag Race won the 2014 TCA Award for Outstanding Achievement in Reality Programming.
- Big Freedia (Fuse) won the 2014 GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Reality Program.
- Barbato and Bailey were given the IDA Pioneer Award in December 2014.
- Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures was nominated for two awards at the 2016 Emmy awards, for "Outstanding Cinematography For A Nonfiction Program" and "Outstanding Documentary or Nonfictional Special".
- World of Wonder won a Daytime Emmy Award in May 2017 for Out of Iraq, a documentary on Logo TV.
- RuPaul's Drag Race has been nominated for ten Emmy Awards, winning four including Outstanding Host for a Reality Series in 2016 and the same award in 2017 along with Outstanding Makeup and Outstanding Editing.
- When the Beat Drops - Knight Documentary Achievement Award in 2017
- Kilday, Gregg (October 2, 2014). "Robert Redford to Be Honored by International Documentary Association". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
- "World of Wonder [us]". IMDB. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
- Portwood, Jerry (April 5, 2016). "Why We'll Never Forget Robert Mapplethorpe". Rolling Stone. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
- Ritchie, Kevin (February 13, 2014). "Realscreen's Trailblazers 2014: Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato". Real Scren. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
- "Mapplethorpe: Look at the pictures". Sundance Film Festival. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
- Barnes, Brooks (January 22, 2016). "Interview: The Directors Behind a Mapplethorpe Documentary". New York Times. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
- Gleibermann, Owen (January 23, 2016). "Sundance Review - Mapplethorpe: Look at the pictures". British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
- Knight, Christopher (March 3, 2016). "How Robert Mapplethorpe went from America's pariah to America's sweetheart". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
- Brian Mansfield (November 14, 2013). "E! to air 'I Am Britney Jean' Spears documentary". USA Today. Retrieved November 16, 2013.
- Nichols, JamesMichael (July 27, 2014). "After Dark: Randy Barbato & Fenton Bailey, AKA The Fabulous Pop Tarts". Huffington Post. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
- Pike, L (2006). "Channel XYZ: drag queens, club kids, and amateur erotic filmmakers make WOW TV the online outlet for artists on the edge", Los Angeles Magazine, as archived on gcnext.com, retrieved April 4, 2009.
- Stransky, T (2009). "RuPaul on 'Drag Race': Five rules for a killer comeback", Entertainment Weekly, February 26, 2009, retrieved April 4, 2009.
- "Courtney Love Is the "Only Reason" Her Menendez: Blood Brothers Costar Did the Movie". Tierney Bricker, E News. June 11, 2017. Retrieved June 27, 2017
- "Gender Revolution: A journey with Katie Couric, National Geographic. Retrieved July 4 2017".
- “When the Beat Drops” Miami Film Festival. Retrieved 2018-03-30.
- "Argentina Takes Top Prizes; US Docs, Spain, Venezuela Make Strong Showings At 35th MDC’s Miami Film Festival Awards" SW The Magazine. Retrieved 2018-03-30.
- "RuPaul's DragCon Draws Record Attendance, New York Convention Announced". Lawrence Yee, Variety. Retrieved July 4, 2017
- "RuPaul Reigns Supreme at DragCon NYC" Vogue. Retrieved 2018-03-30.
- "‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Producers Launch Subscription-Video Service With LGBTQ Content and More" Variety. Retrieved 2018-03-30.
- "‘Drag Race’ Producers Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato on WOW Presents Plus, Their New Streaming Service for Queer Programming" Decider. Retrieved 2018-03-30.
- Ohanesian, Liz (June 9, 2011). "Best Counterculture Blog: the WOW Report". LA Weekly. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
- Sandberg, Bryn Elise (June 19, 2014). "Critics' Choice Television Awards 2014: Complete Winners List". Hollywood Insider.
- "25th Annual GLAAD Media Awards Winners Announced". Deadline.com. April 12, 2014. Retrieved April 14, 2014.
- Townsend, Megan (May 3, 2014). "George Takei, "Orange is the New Black," "Concussion" among #GLAADAwards recipients in New York City". GLAAD. Retrieved May 4, 2014.
- "2014 IDA Documentary Awards". International Documentary Association. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
- "IDA Awards: Netflix's Ted Sarandos to Receive Special Honor (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. October 15, 2015. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
- Lewis, Dave (July 14, 2016). "Compete list of 2016 Emmy Nominations". LA Times. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
- "Amazon & Netflix Lead Daytime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Winners". Nellie Andreeva, Deadline Hollywood. April 29, 2017. Retrieved June 27, 2017
- "Logo Documentary "Out Of Iraq" Wins Daytime Emmy". Dan Avery, Logo. May 1, 2017. Retrieved June 27, 2017
- "RuPaul's Drag Race" Emmys. Retrieved 2018-03-30.
- "Miami Film Festival 2018 Awards: A Sort of Family, La Familia, and Others" Miami New Times. Retrieved 2018-03-30.
- Bailey, Fenton; Barbato, Randy (2013). The World According to Wonder. Hollywood: World of Wonder Productions. ISBN 0-9855834-0-1.
- Vargas-Cooper, Natasha (February 2013). "Freakshow: World of Wonder is Hollywood's Nuttiest Production Company". Out.