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The planet Porno (in the serial: Mongo) and major characters are suggestive innuendos: the hero Flesh Gordon (Flash Gordon); his love interest Dale Ardor (Dale Arden); the evil Emperor Wang the Perverted (Ming the Merciless); scientist Dr. Alexi Zarkov); seductive Amora, Queen of Magic (Ming's daughter Aura); and effeminate Prince Precious (Prince Barin).
The film features production values comparable to the original serial, stop-motion animation of creatures, and frequent use of gratuitous nudity and brief sex scenes.
According to Ziehm's DVD audio commentary, the film was originally shot using scenes of straight and gay hardcore pornography. Also according to Ziehm's DVD audio commentary, Universal Studios was planning to sue Graffiti Productions over the first part of Flesh Gordon being too similar to the first chapter of Universal's 1936 Flash Gordon serial film that it bordered on plagiarism.
These were cut after Ziehm found himself in legal trouble: Producing pornography in Los Angeles was legally viewed as pandering at that time. To avoid a lawsuit, Ziehm added an opening text scroll that stated that Flesh Gordon was a burlesque style parody of the Depression Era superheroes of America's past; he also added "Not to be confused with the original Flash Gordon" to all advertising materials.
The towering creature was not originally intended to speak, but it proved so expressive that dialogue was dubbed over to match its mouth movements.
Addressed as the Great God Porno in this dialogue, the special effects crew named him "Nesuahyrrah", a tribute to stop-motion animation master Ray Harryhausen, spelling his name backwards. Although some explicit shots can be briefly seen during Wang's throne room orgy scenes, the "collector's edition" video, labelled "the original, uncensored version", is no more explicit than any of the earlier video releases.
He tracked down many of the screen-used props in the film, including authentic, full-sized Ford Tri-Motor wicker passenger seats (matching the film's Tri-Motor aircraft miniature) used in an early scene in the film.
Established effects artists Jim Danforth (listed backward in the film credits as Mij Htrofnad) and Dave Allen also worked on the film.