LAS VEGAS—The 2014 AVN Awards Show began long before the lights went down and eyes turned toward the screen. The stage show started, as it did last year, with a tribute to industry notables who passed away last year, including, among others, Screw publisher Al Goldstein and producer/distributor Morty Gordon.
But for fans, the entertainment began hours before, by 5:30 p.m., when the stars who were attending that night’s show at The Joint in the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas began their slow procession down a literal red carpet laid in a circuitous route through the casino floor, with gawkers wielding cameras and smartphones on both sides of the cordoned-off aisle. Though this is the third year the AVN Awards has been at the hotel, it was the first time the red carpet extended through the hotel, which afforded far more visibility for the adult performers who put on their finery for the annual awards show.
And at the end of the long walk, which split into two to accommodate a greater number of performers, were the photo walls, where media teams were gathered to shoot the stars. And as Chanel Preston explained during a Q&A with her 2014 AVN Awards Show co-host Samantha Saint, for fans at this week’s AVN Adult Entertainment Expo, those photos are a large part of why female performers, in particular, enjoy walking the carpet: “It’s nice to look nice on Google,” Preston said, contrasting those images to the stills from the movies in which she appears.
Back at “real” show at The Joint, the next order of business was to honor the AVN Hall of Fame inductees. (Click here for a complete roundup.)
Then, this year's musical guest Machine Gun Kelly came out blazing. A handsome, rail-thin, tatted blonde, he looked like an adult starlet’s dream date and a treat for the rap fans in the audience.
Also a good fit for the demographic was comedian Rebekah Kochan—young, blonde and brassy, with edgy material. “I don’t cross on the line,” she said at one point, “I live on the other side.” (For example, talking about birth control and abortion, the Jewish comedian pointed to her midsection and said, “This oven has killed more Jews than the Nazis.”)
Kochan tackled porn acting straight up and got a good laugh: “Fuck the academy,” she said, describing a scene of a female performer getting pounded hard on a bed of rocks in Chatsworth and looking like she’s enjoying herself: “Now that's acting … because nobody has a good time in Chatsworth.”
Then out came the adult co-hosts. Multiple AVN Award nominee Chanel Preston’s first dress of the evening offered floor-length bling, while Wicked Pictures contract star Samantha Saint went for a long royal blue curve hugger with a plunging neckline. Preston welcomed the audience to “the only show where you can get a gold awards for sexual athletics,” and mentioned that for the first time ever at an adult awards show, the show featured aerial coverage, which was provided by the Fleshlight blimpcam, which was equipped with a high-definition camera taking overhead shots of the crowd. The blimp was glowing with the Fleshlight logo, and when the co-hosts encouraged girls in the audience to flash the Fleshlight camera, within seconds they were happy to oblige.
For the first award business of the evening, Best Girl/Girl Sex Scene, the announced presenters were Brandy Aniston, Dani Daniels (last year’s winner) and Xander Corvus. Aniston came out alone and stood there as a commotion was heard off stage before the other two appeared on stage: Daniels in a tux and Corvus in a floor-length formal gown. (Daniels even gave his padded cups a squeeze for good measure.)
The winners were announced: Remy LaCroix and Riley Reid in Girl Fever (New Sensations), both coming on stage looking slender and delicate in all black—LaCroix in a tight corset and Reid in a flowing Grecian-style gown. After that sight, Kochan averred she could at least contemplate becoming a “vagetarian.”
Next up, Jane's Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro came up with performers Penny Pax and Stoya to announce the winner of Best Star Showcase, which went to Anikka (O.L. Entetainment/Mile High), Mason’s tribute to blonde goddess Anikka Albrite. She came on stage in a white dress with a subtle bustle effect that emphasized her curvy behind.
The three presenters also announced the winner of Best Oral Sex Scene: Skin Diamond’s tour de force in Skin, her Elegant Angel star showcase directed by L.T. The perennially fashionable Diamond took the stage in a red dress to celebrate the win (and proclaim her pleasure at being “covered in cum”).
Starlets Jessa Rhodes and Jenna J. Ross were joined by a bearded Tommy Pistol to present the next two awards, with Riley Reid up on stage again, this time with Mandingo, to accept kudos for Best Boy/Girl Sex Scene in Mandingo Massacre 6 (Jules Jordan Video). And when the winner for Best Romance Movie was announced, Xander Corvus was up on stage again, this time not in drag, to join director Jacky St. James in celebrating a win for The Temptation of Eve (New Sensations Erotic Stories). “We did it! We fucking did it!” he exulted.
Longtime couple Francesca Lé and Mark Wood came out to present one of the Fan Awards on stage (the rest were listed at the end of the program). In a tip of the hat to the sponsor, phone sex company NiteFlirt, the couple did a little skit with Wood receiving an ill-timed NiteFlirt call on stage. “Her ass sitting on your face?” Lé said in mock outrage, before they announced the winner of Hottest Ass—the crowd-pleasing choice of Alexis Texas. “Big booty, big booty, big booty,” Texas cheered.
Kochan came back briefly (“I tried anal once. It made me wet ... around the eyes”) before introducing the next presenters: director Barrett Blade, Female Performer of the Year nominee Maddy O’Reilly and busty blonde Summer Brielle to reveal more winners.
Mia Malkova was voted Best New Starlet, and she seemed more surprised than the audience, exiting quickly after claiming a bit of stage fright. Not so for the winner of Best Actor: Tommy Pistol, the lead in Evil Head, who reveled in the spotlight, taking the time to offer gracious thanks to BurningAngel Entertainment, director Doug Sakmann and the whole Evil Head team.
When it came time to bestow the trophy for Best Anal Sex Scene, the winners turned out to be real-life couple Anikka Albrite and Mick Blue, who performed together for Albrite’s anal debut in Anikka (O.L Entertainment/Mile High). Blue sweetly called his co-star “the love of my life.”
In a twist this year, Best BDSM Movie was announced on stage—a nod to the many high-quality contenders in the category. After a moment of suspense as Brielle struggled to extract the winning name from the envelope (“It's in bondage”), director Jacky St. James was headed to the stage again to accept for The Submission of Emma Marx (New Sensations Erotic Stories), joined by lead actors Penny Pax and Richie Calhoun. “It was the biggest pain in the ass from start to finish,” she said, “but it was worth it.” Calhoun said simply, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.”
Presenters Riley Reid, Steven St. Croix and Danica Dillon then came up to announce Best Actress. St. Croix asked the two how they prepared for their performances. “I do a juice fast to clear my chakras,” Reid said. “I just do an enema,” Dillon said cheerfully.
Taking home the title this year was Remy LaCroix, for her nuanced turn in The Temptation of Eve (New Sensations Erotic Stories). The young performer unequivocally gave all credit to St. James.
Nabbing the gold for Best Parody – Drama was a perennial in the category: Axel Braun. Coming up with the director on stage were several collaborators on Man of Steel XXX (VividXXXSuperheroes): production team members Eli Cross, Kylie Ireland and Andy Appleton and leading man Ryan Driller.
Braun was back on stage with his contract star, Riley Steele, and former Playboy Playmate Teri Weigel to present the Male Peformer of the Year award, for which the winner would receive a white gold railroad bracelet from a curated collection provided by AVN Awards sponsor ImLive.com. Who was the lucky man? One of adult’s most blessed male performers: Manuel Ferrara, taking home his record-breaking fifth award for Male Performer of the Year.
Ferrara had two people to thank: partner Kayden Kross (“I love you, baby”) and Franck Vardon, founder of the French magazine Hot Video, who had passed away just one week earlier. “He did a lot for me,” Ferrara said.
Alas, the next winner was not present: Transsexual Performer of the Year winner Eva Lin will have to wait to pick up her gift from ImLive.com: an extravagant diamond tennis bracelet.
Fortunately, the Female Performer of the Year was very much present and able to enjoy the positive crowd reaction when her name was spoken. Tattooed iconoclast Bonnie Rotten came up on stage looking thrilled. “I’m having such a brain fart right now!” she said, struggling to remember who to thank as she clutched her own sparkling gift from ImLive.com.
Nina Hartley and Sunny Lane took the stage together to announce the winner of Best Sex Scene in a Foreign-Shot Production. Though no one from Marc Dorcel was present that night to hear the glad tidings, publicist Daniel Metcalf from Wicked was more than up to the task of accepting with a nice speech. He noted that Dorcel was the first line for which Wicked did distribution, and that the studio has always taken great pride in its productions. It was a classic example of the importance of contingency planning: Always designate someone to pick up your award if you’re nominated and not able to attend the show—just in case.
There were plenty of people ready to stand up and cheer when Grease XXX (Adam & Eve Pictures) was announced as Best Parody – Comedy. There on stage with director Will Ryder were cast and crew members Scott David, Miles Long, Riley Reid, Seth Gamble, Brooklyn Chase, Kurt Lockwood, Rebecca Bardoux, Ron Jeremy and James Bartholet. “The parody is not dead,” Bartholet proclaimed loudly.
For the next award, there was a crowd of people on stage to give honors, not receive them. AVN founder Paul Fishbein and Wicked contract stars Asa Akira, Samantha Saint, Jessica Drake, Stormy Daniels and Kaylani Lei were there to present the Visionary Award to Wicked Pictures founder Steven Orenstein.
Fishbein, a longtime friend of Orenstein’s, talked about the studio head’s iron-clad reputation for loyalty, honesty and solid ethics, then turned over the mic to director/performer Stormy Daniels. She talked about Orenstein’s decision, 14 years ago, to switch to condom-only adult production, a move he made to protect his contract stars at a time when industry testing was not as advanced as it is now.
Drake followed up by noting that “when all others abandoned condoms, he kept with it.” Yet when the industry was plagued by calls for mandatory condoms, she explained, Orenstein did not take the opportunity to gain a market advantage as a condom-only company. Instead, he joined with his colleagues and vigorously fought to defeat Measure B.
Last year’s honoree for Visionary Award, Phil Harvey, weighed in with his own comments in a videotaped segment in which the Adam & Eve founder lauded his peer.
Orenstein, an unprepossessing presence who rarely takes the spotlight, seemed at ease on stage—perhaps because he immediately turned the focus on others. Noting that he had been in the business for 34 years (having run Xcitement Video before founding Wicked), he profusely thanked Wicked’s Joy King, Steve Vlottes, Brad Armstrong and Jonathan Morgan as key components to his success.
“While I appreciate this award, there are others who should be up here,” he said, naming Fishbein and Frank Koretsky among them.
Then he turned attention once again on his team, thanking his contract stars and hugging them in turn, ending with Stormy Daniels, “one of our best directors.” (In her Twitter feed, Daniels wrote, “So honored I got to present Steve Orenstein the Visionary Award last night. I'm prob the only person to ever cry giving AWAY an AVN award.”)
Prince Yahshua, Jesse Jane and Ash Hollywood had some microphone challenges as they announced the winner of Best Drama, but that didn’t stop a troupe of happy people from hitting the stage behind Wicked Pictures contract director Brad Armstrong, whose Underworld was honored.
Cast and crew members included Jessica Drake, David Lord, Steven St. Croix, Jack Vegas, Tommy Gunn, Cameron Dee, Asa Akira and Andy Appleton. (Armstrong asked after Kylie Ireland, who had taken an ill-timed powder room break.)
Next up was Axel Braun, picking up his fourth consecutive win as Director of the Year. "It's kind of surreal," Braun said. “I have been in porn for 24 years.” He then enumerated the various men he has worked for down the line, starting with VCA Pictures' Russ Hampshire and then moving through all the major studios: Elegant Angel’s Patrick Collins, New Sensations’ Scott Taylor, Hustler’s Larry Flynt, Vivid’s Steven Hirsch—and now Wicked’s Orenstein. “Thank you for inspiring me and tolerating me,” Braun said.
Machine Gun Kelly returned to the stage next with an extra treat: Best Actress winner LaCroix doing her hula hoop moves with an illuminated hoop. The rapper lifted her up in his arms as he sang the lyrics “Best bitch in the world,” and as porn stars moved forward to dance with the pros up on stage, Kelly ran out into the crowd and jumped on a table. Even for those who don’t love rap, it was a visual spectacle as confetti rained down from the roof—and in truth the number could have easily gone on a little longer.
As the crowd regrouped, the remaining winners in the various categories eligible for Movie of the Year (Best Gonzo Release, Best Vignette and several others) were flashed on screen, along with box covers. All that followed was that one last award, and Ron Jeremy, Allison Moore and Joanna Angel came up to announce it.
And the winner was … a visibly thrilled Brad Armstrong, who brought up an AEE panel he had just appeared on the day before, titled “The Future of the Feature.” Noting that many of the other panelists were “not optimistic,” he proclaimed, in his own way, that the feature wasn’t dead either. Then he wrapped up with a farewell to lighting expert Jim Starks, who was one of those the industry lost this year.
Throughout the show there were various bits and skits that broke up the pacing and added visual appeal. One of the highlights of the night was a live performance of “Kitty Kat Lost,” featuring adult star Brandy Aniston. The number was originated and conceived by the show's producer Gary Miller with an original song written by the show's musical director Mark Stone. Choreographing the number and performing with Aniston on stage were Natasha and Jaime of Hell's Belles Burlesque—all in all, a thoroughly enjoyable tease. Another number, an original music video called “They’re Watching Me,” featured a number of adult performers as dancers.
Adding levity were skits featuring co-hosts Preston and Saint and red carpet interviewers Dana DeArmond and Nicole Aniston in “porn class” with James Bartholet—these two skits and another of Kochan having an all-girl slumber party should make for good content on the cable broadcast, so we’d advise you check it out there when it airs in the spring.