To mark the 30th anniversary of the first AVN Awards, which took place January 19, 2013, reporter Tod Hunter collected memories from veterans who had been in the adult industry for roughly the same time period. Below are their anecdotes.
Amber Lynn | Performer, Class of 1983
What was your first movie? Personal Touch 3, for Bobby Hollander in 1983
Favorite memory of AVN Awards/AEE: “I remember being at the very early AVN/CES shows, signing autographs for fans and posing for photo ops. It was such an amazing time. Ginger Lynn and I used to be side by side because Vidco and Vivid shared a booth and our lines were so long. We would go to the restroom and would literally be followed into the stall. We all used to hang out after the show and party together and wind up in each other’s rooms. Come show floor time, if one wasn’t on the floor they’d have to fish us out of each other’s rooms. One night we were all up partying in my room and someone got the bright idea to call in a bomb threat. About five minutes afterwards the phone rang and it was my minder saying, “You guys and your bomb threat better all get your asses on the floor within a half-hour or you’re gonna have more than a bomb to worry about.” … We got in a lot of trouble and I think had to change hotels.
Debi Diamond | Performer, Class of 1983
What was your first movie? A 30-minute scene with the one and only Ron Jeremy. … It was shot by Mike Carpenter. The following week I was off to Hawaii with All American Girls in Heat (my first time with a girl—Shauna Grant) and then Bad Girls 2. All in ’83, at the wonderful age of 18—and many firsts for me ...
What jobs have you done? Other than performing, upon my return in 2008 I started a femdom company [Amazing Women Pegging Boys], Debi Diamond Films, and found my love of radio with Playboy Radio/SiriusXM.
Favorite memory of AVN Awards Show: I was never really good at dealing with the public, so I didn’t attend too many AVN shows, but I must say, in 1994 when I did go, it was amazing, and walking out with an armful of awards was EPIC! I really felt the love. … Also we did our radio show live from Vegas last year—so much fun.
Christian Mann | Studio Executive, Class of 1979
What and when was your first experience in adult? I officially started in the business in the summer of 1979 when I was 18 years old. My job was packing magazines in my dad’s warehouse and delivering them to our local customers in the beat-up company van. Seven months into my job, on Valentine’s Day 1980, I was delivering a van full of How To Enlarge Your Penis magazines to CPLC in Central L.A. As I turned the corner, I saw the entire block swarming with news media trucks ... and the CPLC parking lot was filled with big guys wearing FBI windbreakers. I knew enough to not stop and instead made my way to the nearest phone booth to call my dad who had been worried because he knew raids were going down all over the country ... and he couldn't reach me in the days before cell phones. This wasn’t my first day on the job, but it remains one of my earliest and most vivid memories from my freshman year in our business.
Favorite memory of AVN Awards Show: I have been to every single AVN Awards Show since they became an event that industry people attended in person. One of my favorite pictures from the AVN Awards is of me sitting at my Video Team table flanked by rapper Lil’ Jon and Lakers owner Jerry Buss. My favorite presentation moment occurred when one of the starlets had to stumble through announcing a win for Risque Burlesque, pronounced by her as “Risk-Cue Burles-Cue.” I’m not being mean, but it was sweet and fucking funny at the same time. The very few times I’ve been on that stage I’ve probably stumbled and stammered because it’s an overwhelming moment if you’re not used to it. All you see from the stage is a big light shining right in your eyes and this feeling that you’re being judged by everyone you know. I was stunned three years ago when David Aaron Clark, who had died two months earlier, won the Best Director award for our movie Pure and John Stagliano had me accept on his behalf. In order to not cry, I tried to play it for comedy and pretend that he was calling me on my cell phone.Ë¯
Paul Fishbein | AVN Founder, Class of 1983
What year did you start working in adult? AVN was conceived in 1982 and the first issue was released in February of 1983.
What jobs have you done? Publisher/owner of AVN; now television production.
Favorite memory of AVN Awards Show: My favorite moment was the very first time we actually hired a comedian for the AVN Awards show. The year was 1990 and it was at the Tropicana Hotel. It was the legendary Bill Hicks, maybe the best stand-up of all time. And he and Mark Stone (who was the bandleader) had worked out a bit about Elvis Presley that tore the house down. Hicks killed, and it was at that moment that the AVN Awards Show went from a wine and cheese reception to a full-blown, well-produced, entertaining awards show. And when I saw people loving Hicks and the routine he and Mark had worked out, I knew we had arrived.
Steven Hirsch | Co-Chair, Vivid Entertainment, Class of 1979
What was your first movie? Vivid’s first movie was Ginger, released in December 1984.
What jobs have you done? [In 1979] I started out working for my father in his warehouse. I then graduated to his VHS duplication lab and ultimately to sales. I then went to work for Cal Vista Video as national sales manager. After a couple years David James (another employee from Cal Vista) and I left to start Vivid Entertainment.
Favorite memory of AVN Awards Show: I think the first award show we were at, Blame It On Ginger won Best Video Release and I knew we had arrived.
Clyde DeWitt | Industry Attorney, Class of 1980
When did you start working in adult? When I left the District Attorney’s Office in Houston in 1980, I started representing two chains of adult bookstores there, along with an adult cabaret called the House of Fun. Those were the days! Four years later, I moved to Los Angeles, at which point my practice became almost entirely devoted to adult.
What jobs have you done? As an attorney, only—thankfully for everyone; I certainly never belonged on either side of the camera.
Favorite memory of AVN Awards Show: There is no doubt about the favorite: Receiving the Reuben Sturman Memorial Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2007 show was a memory unmatched in my entire career. It occupies a most prominent place in my office.
My response couldn’t be complete without mentioning Paul Fishbein. He has been an inspiration to me during the entire 27 years that I have known him. He and the AVN staff over the years have given me an unparalleled opportunity to express myself to the industry. Paul and all of the other great people at AVN have been an incredible pleasure to work with.
Paul Thomas | Performer/Director, Class of 1974
What was your first movie? CB Mamas, for the Mitchell Brothers.
What jobs have you done? I’ve acted, of course, and directed, and produced, and written. I was the West Coast publicity director for Swank Publications for 12 years.
Favorite memory of AVN Awards Show: Oh, goodness. [laughter]. All those "I won the Awards" and "the clever things I said" are so boring ...
About 15 years ago ... I was there, and I went to my hotel room with one of the actresses and we were going to have a threesome after the Awards. We brought with us a woman who was a director—she was a highly ranked executive at the time—and we had imbibed this and that, various illegal substances, and we were starting to get it on, and this female executive turned out to be a male. Which itself was interesting, not necessarily a total turnoff but it affected me. I really knew this person. Knew her for a couple of years. Everyone thought that she was a she, but she was a he. It led to various interesting repercussions.
Larry Garland | CEO, Eldorado Trading Company, Class of 1974
What year did you start working in adult? In the mid 1980s Eldorado picked up Kama Sutra at the L.A. Gift Show. We then added Topco and Doc Johnson. Eldorado was founded in 1974 selling Indian Jewelry and in January of 1975 we stated selling smoking paraphernalia. By August of 1989 we became a full-on sex toy distributor.
Favorite memory of AVN Awards Show: I remember sitting at the 1998 AVN Awards Show as a guest of Jane Liszewski of Topco. I sat next to Dyanna Lauren, who won Best Actress – Film that evening. I was impressed with her personality and beauty, of course, but I was most impressed with her voice when she went on stage and sang for the crowd.
Steve Orenstein | Wicked Founder, Class of 1980
When did you start working in adult? I started in 1980 at 18 years old.
Favorite memories of AVN Awards Show: I have many favorite AVN Awards memories, but one would be Wicked's first year in business when we won Best Video for Haunted Nights. It was gratifying to win against the big companies of the time in our first year. Most of the cast and crew got on stage to accept.
Our first year with Jenna Jameson under contract, she won Best Actress, Best Sex Scene and Best New Starlet. In the same show , we won Best Film for our first shot-on-film production, Blue Movie.
jessica drake did a great job hosting the 2007 AVN Awards, where she and the company won many major awards for Brad Armstrong's Manhunters.
Ron Jeremy | Porn Legend, Class of 1978
What and when was your first experience in adult? I came out in Playgirl in October 1978; that was the first thing the audience got to see. My first porno film was Tigresses and Other Maneaters, which also came out in late 1978. Vanessa Del Rio and Samantha Fox. Samantha Fox broke my screen cherry. It’s on Video-X-Pix.
What jobs have you done? I’ve helped edit, acted, directed, produced. I did a long run with Mark Carriere at Leisure Time, I did a long run with Jim South, who produced films under the name Jimmy Houston. No one knew that I was doing it because they gave me different names. I directed films for Svetlana. I’ve probably done everything there is to do in the porn business, from holding the light, to doing the slate, to getting the catering. Never did makeup. I’m no good at it.
Favorite memory of AVN Awards Show: John Holmes and I were among the guys to do the AVN show when it was the CES show. People were really interested in us. He was with VCA, and I was with Svetlana and David at Collectors Video. He’d yell across the hall, “Hey, Little Dick!”
[I’d respond,] “Little Dick? Are you kidding me? I hit bottom. What are you gonna do? ‘Hello, madame, at your cervix’? ‘Thank you, I’m dilated.’ What do you do, enter the uterus?
With you it isn’t sex, it’s a pap smear.”
He’d call me Little Dick, I’d call him Pap Smear. People would hand me photographs; I would put my name above his. I’d put “Alias Pap Smear” on there. He’d put “Little Dick” on mine. We had this joke going on for a while.
Bill Margold | Performer/Director, Class of 1971
What was your first movie? My career behind the camera began in 1971 and went in front of the camera in 1972.My first softcore performance was in 1972’s The Goddaughter and my first hardcore film performance was in 1973’s Peter Galore (aka The California Connection).
What jobs have you done? I have virtually done everything in XXX, and therefore should be considered a “Jack-Off of All Adult Entertainment Industry Trades.”
Favorite memory of AVN Awards Show: The happiest moment of my entire career (and life) was when AVN saw fit to give Viper the Best Supporting Actress award in 1990 for her performance in 1989’s Mystery of the Golden Lotus. Although I was placed in the AVN Hall of Fame in 1993, I am prouder of the Best Non-Sex award I was given in 2006 for my “acting” in 2005’s Darkside. In fact, because I was arrested the previous night in 1993 for what became known as the Pure Pleasure Bust as well as the Erotic Eleven, I don’t have my Hall of Fame award, and I would greatly appreciate having AVN create one for me.
Bud Lee | Director, Talent Representative, Class of 1980
What year did you start working in adult? In the dancing business, 1980. First movies were made in 1982. I helped write and was in The Young Like it Hot, and we made Sweet Young Foxes at the same time; I performed in it also. The movies were made for Caribbean Films.
What jobs have you done? I am one of the original suitcase pimps. I have been a PA, grip, boom man, video tech, camera operator, PM, writer, performer, producer, director, vice president of Playboy in charge of production for the Spice Network, and finally as an agent for 101 Modeling.
Favorite memory of AVN Awards Show: I have always enjoyed the shows as it gives me a chance to see and talk to the real people we do this for in the first place: the FANS. I also really appreciated being inducted into the AVN Hall of Fame. But the most unique experience at the show in Las Vegas was the time everyone expressed sorrow for the death of Hyapatia Lee, who I happen to know is still alive and well living in the same place since 1986.
Raven Touchstone | Screenwriter, Class of 1984
What was your first movie? In 1984 I had the opportunity to write a few porn scripts for director Scotty Fox. I was going to make a few extra dollars, take the money and run, hello/goodbye/thank you very much. My first script, Intimate Couples, was for VCX; John Holmes was line producer. The second was Ginger, the first of Vivid’s Ginger Lynn line.
What jobs have you done? I’ve written over 400 screenplays. ... Also worked as assistant and co-director with Bruce Seven, Ron Sullivan and others. Have worked production on many of the movies I wrote, costumed hundreds of movies, worked as dialogue coach, PM, chief cook and dildo washer. ... I have shot stills as well as art photos.
Favorite memory of AVN Awards Show: My favorite AVN Awards Show was the first I attended, in January of 1987. As to why this was my favorite, I’ll give you a paragraph from the book I just finished writing: “Club Ginger took two awards and Blame It On Ginger took four, including Best Video of the year. A lot of whooping and screaming came from our team, as we were up for more awards than any other company, and when we won Best Video pandemonium broke out. Sullivan (who directed it) jumped up and kissed me, Ginger hugged me as she and Steve rushed to the stage to accept the award. Steve gave his thank you speech, then Ginger took the microphone and said, ‘I’d like to give special thanks to our wonderful writer, Raven Touchstone…’ and those many performers I had written for since Day One in the business, the kids I had rehearsed, the producers and directors I had worked with, broke into applause and screamed and whistled and stomped their feet. I was positively floored, humbled and teary-eyed. This was an epiphany, the moment I realized my porn career had sneaked up on me. It wasn’t a stepping stone to something else. This was it. This was where I belonged. This was where I was happy. This was where I would stay.”
Howard Levine | Salesman, Class of 1986
When did you get started in the adult industry? 1986. The first company I worked for was General Video of America, [as] national sales manager.
What jobs have you done? I have always been in sales until this last year when I appeared in Taxi Driver in a non-sex role, which I was honored to be nominated for, and I directed Superporn and Superporn 2, which also I was nominated for. I am still very much in sales, but I had so much fun directing. For me the fun of this business was of the utmost importance.
Favorite memory of AVN Awards Show: I have so many. Most of them unprintable. The one that stands out is sitting with the president of Playboy when Jenna told the crowd to basically fuck off. They just paid some outrageous amount for Club Jenna and this guy looked like someone just shot him in the dick. I like controversy. Her speech started out so well, and then anytime someone begins a sentence with, “Can I be honest with you?” nothing good is coming after that.
Another good one was when I was setting up the booth the day before the show and in walks Max Baer Jr.—you know, Jethro Bodine. We became really good friends. So there I am talking to Jethro, and in comes Buck Henry; he sits down and starts writing something. Then Richard Anderson, a very famous character actor, and Tony Curtis. All of them just hanging with me in this booth for like an hour. Tony fucking Curtis! I still have a picture I took with him that day.
Somehow the conversation got on the subject of where all these guys lived in Beverly Hills at the time of the Manson killings. They were all neighbors and lived close to the Tate-Polanski house. They all had a story about what happened on that night. One by one they shared their memories. It was fucking awesome. Completely surreal.