CHATSWORTH, Calif.—Each year before the AVN Awards Show, taking place this year on January 18, AVN Media Network elects a handful of memorable individuals to be honored by induction into the AVN Hall of Fame. Many are performers and directors—the folks in the original video-based Hall of Fame. But since its inception other branches have been added to the AVN Hall of Fame: a Founders Branch, for those who created companies back in the day; an Internet Founders Branch, for those who built the online sector; and a Pleasure Products Branch, for manufacturers, distributors and retailers of sex toys.
This year, AVN has added another limb to the tree: the Executive Branch, for key members of the industry who work behind the scenes in the C-suite or excel in other capacities—for example, in sales, marketing or education. As in the other branches, a minimum of 10 years in the industry is required for consideration.
Induction into the AVN Hall of Fame is not, however, an automatic rite of passage that happens after a decade. Many of the performers who are inducted have been in the industry far longer. Every year, Hall of Fame committee members confront a list of deserving candidates, looking to come up with a mix of talent, all of whom have attained not only longevity but also something more important: memorable achievements in front of the camera, behind the camera and back in the office. Each of the 2014 inductees, we can assert, more than meets those criteria, and we present them without further ado.
AVN Hall of Fame - Founders Branch
Kevin Beechum is the founder and CEO of K-Beech, a content production and distribution company for the past 25 years. Over the decades K-Beech has produced content via 15 different production companies: 818 XXX Productions, Baby Doll Pictures, Baby Doll Hardcore, Backend Productions, Sex Line Sinema, Cherry Boxxx Pictures, Cherry Boxxx Explicit, Cherry Boxxx Black, Cherry X Productions, Dreamland Video, Erotic Angel, Erotic Men, Midnight Mayhem, Midnight Men and Midnight Film & Video.
The founder of Mile High Media, Ted Blitt has been in the adult content business for more than 20 years. His company entered the market as a Canadian licensee of mainly American erotica in 1989; Blitt would purchase the Canadian rights, duplicate the movies on VHS and sell them across Canada. He brought his two sons, Jon and Robert, into the family business. Next, Blitt took the company in a new direction: producing compilations—which led to the creation of its own original content via the Doghouse Digital brand in 2003. Other studios soon followed, including Sweetheart Video in 2008 and Sweet Sinner in 2009, both collaborations with director Nica Noelle, and Reality Junkies, also in 2009. In 2013 the company took another big step and allied itself with director Mason and Gamma Entertainment to create two new studios—Hard X and Erotica X—with OpenLife Entertainment. In terms of the quality of its story-drive productions and the polish of its all-sex content, Mile High is as traditional as studios come. But it’s also modernized itself as a worldwide multimedia provider, with licensed content on all platforms, including broadcast, IPTV, VOD and mobile. The company recently launched a studio mega-site, MileHighMedia.com, through FameDollars.
Bizarre Video founder Morty Gordon started his company in 1985 in his native New York, and it was based there until 2004. For most of that time, Bizarre Video occupied the same building in Brooklyn as Teddy Rothstein's Star Distribution and the novelty company Nasstoys of New York. As befits its name, Bizarre’s core fare was fetish specialties, including bondage, big boob, spanking, she-male, foot fetish and wrestling. The Bizarre catalog contains titles featuring such industry legends as Debi Diamond, Sharon Mitchell and Nina Hartley, as well as newer names like Julie Simone, Anastasia Pierce and Adrianna Nicole. Gordon’s son, Keith, brought the company to the West Coast in 2004 and was for a brief period in business with Jill Kelly Productions. Bizarre Video is still in existence today, but Gordon passed away on April 12, 2013, at age 76. Son Keith reminisced about his father’s role in the history of the adult industry. A lot of people, he said, do not understand the challenges that faced pioneers like Morty Gordon. “We spent hundreds of thousands of dollars defending these movies,” Keith recalled, noting that his father would always say, “I'm not doing anything wrong. I'm not breaking the law.”
Musician turned porn star Barrett Blade broke into adult in 2000 and quickly became a much-sought-after performer. His young, rock star looks and passionate sex scenes made him a favorite among women. It also scored him a Best Three-Way Sex Scene award at the 2005 AVN Awards for his performance in Erotic Stories: Lovers and Cheaters (New Sensations). These details were not lost on Wicked Pictures, which would go on to cast Blade in many of its scripted, couple-oriented features. In 2006, Blade made his directorial debut with the Sin City release Smokin’ Crack. A shooting contract with the studio followed, leading to Blade’s first feature, Inferno. Three years later, hot on the heels of a Best Supporting Actor win for Wicked’s Coming Home at the 2008 AVN Awards, the studio added Blade to its roster of directors. This year, Blade directed the Wicked features Bikini Outlaws and Harvest Moon, Reign Productions’ Dear Diary… I Love Sex and Tasha’s Reignbow Pony Tales, and the Devil’s Film parody Just In Beaver Fever.
A 20-year adult industry veteran, Shylar Cobi is the producer behind many of Vivid Entertainment’s blockbusters, including Paul Thomas’ award-winning features Throat: A Cautionary Tale, Layout, Janine’s Been Blackmaled, The New Devil in Miss Jones and The Masseuse. A one-time restaurant manager, Cobi joined the industry when the establishment’s owner sold the business to focus on his career as a porn agent, providing Cobi with a gig at his agency. When Cobi met his wife-to-be, a PA for Thomas, his fate was sealed. In 2007, Cobi made his directorial debut with Vivid’s Curvaceous, based on his own script. Since then he has written and directed Curvaceous 2 and Working Girls, and helmed Teases and Pleases 2 and this year’s Black on White. Cobi also continues to produce many of Vivid’s current hits, including Thomas’ The New Behind the Green Door, a sequel to the Mitchell Brothers’ classic; Kimberly Kane’s Devil on a Chain; and the multi AVN Award-winning Axel Braun parodies Star Wars XXX and Spider-Man XXX. In an interview with entertainment site Collider.com, Cobi said, “I like to work on shows that have a story. Everybody else fast-forwards through the story. I always fast-forward through the sex. I’m weird that way.”
Little is known about award-winning director Robby D.’s early life, beyond the fact that he went to film school at UCLA—but when he took the full plunge into adult movies, he started out at the top, directing for Vivid Video beginning in 1998. Robby was instrumental in helping the company move away from releasing strictly features, creating for them gonzo series like Action Sports Sex, Watcher and Color Blind. "We loved working with him," reflected Vivid VP Marci Hirsch. In 2002, Robby moved to direct exclusively for Digital Playground, where he remains today—and with whom he's won a plethora of awards, including 2005's Best Gonzo Series for Jack's Playground (which he described in 2004 as his favorite series), 2007's Best POV Series for Jack's POV, 2008's Best Specialty Series – Other Genre for Jack's Leg Show and Best Vignette Release for Babysitters, and a trifecta in 2009: Best POV Release for Jack's POV 9, and both Best Vignette Release and Top Renting and Selling Release for Cheerleaders. And all of this without our ever learning, why “Jack”?
Louisiana-born Stormy Daniels is doubtlessly among the most colorful, and most beautiful, performers to work in the adult industry. She’s been on top for more than a decade, ensconced as a Wicked Pictures contract performer since 2002. In 2004 she made her directorial debut with One Night in Vegas, and she’s now a powerhouse director-screenwriter, producing female-friendly adult entertainment that ranges from the light (Divorcees) to the romantic (Meant to Be) to the dramatic (Wanderlust). Among the accolades she’s earned over the years are two AVN Awards biggies: Best New Starlet in 2003 and Crossover Star of the Year in 2007. (Examples of her mainstream visibility include appearances in The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up, and the “Draft Stormy” campaign, when a group of fans attempted to recruit her to run against Louisiana Republican Senator David Vitter in 2010.) This year Daniels’ directorial work garnered 14 AVN Award nominations, plus a nomination for Best Safe Sex Scene for her performance with Brendon Miller in François Clousot’s First Crush.
Ben English entered the U.S. adult industry with back-to-back wins as Best Male Newcomer at the 2004 AVN Awards followed by Best New Stud at the 2004 XRCOs, and he is credited with appearing in more than 900 productions. In 2000, he started talent-representation company LA Direct Models using his real name, Derek Hay. LA Direct now represents more than 100 performers and has grown into representing behind-the-camera talent and location rentals. He is semi-retired from active performing.
Tiny Melissa Hill, a San Francisco native, began acting in adult in 1993, essaying more than 200 movies for a wide variety of producers over the next 10 years until her retirement from hardcore. During her career, she was nominated for several AVN Awards, winning the Best Actress – Film award in 1997 for Penetrator 2 (Pleasure Productions) as well as for her participation in that year's Best All-Girl Sex Scene – Film in Dreams of Desire (Astral Ocean Cinema). The following year, she was named Best Supporting Actress – Film for Paul Thomas' Bad Wives (Vivid), and was named 1998's Unsung Siren by the X-Rated Critics Organization (XRCO). She has also appeared in several mainstream productions, notably the porn-ish comedy Orgasmo from South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Hill has had a life-long interest in ballet, and spent most of her childhood studying the craft, even becoming a ballet instructor for five years after graduating high school. She continues to act in non-sex roles in adult features, including Beyond Fucked: A Zombie Odyssey and Measure X.
Before entering the adult industry, Mike John spent a lot of time traveling through Central and South America, surfing and staying off of the grid. He ended up in Costa Rica, and it was there in 1996 when he connected with Chris and Greg from Anabolic Video during the search for locations and talent for World Sex Tour 8. John was offered a job shooting for Anabolic when he returned to the U.S., working with Sean Michaels on the Up Your Ass series, as well as helping out with handheld camera duties for The Gangbang Girl movies. It was in the editing bay, however, that John took things seriously, learning the strengths and weaknesses of handheld shooting and developing his own style. John was one of the first to start shooting POV-style scenes, and was the first to put out a handheld POV line with top-tier female talent. After leaving Anabolic, John went on to Red Light District and started several lines, including No Cum Dodging Allowed, POV Pervert, Teenage Spermaholics and Boobaholics Anonymous. The popularity of those lines led to him joining Jules Jordan Video in 2006.
That face, those cheekbones, the artfully arched back and perfect derriere—French-Vietnamese beauty Katsuni was born to be photographed. She entered the adult industry in 2000 as a performer for Penthouse France, back when she was known as Katsumi, and came to the U.S. in 2003. (She was forced to change her original stage name because of legal action taken by a French communications adviser named Mary Katsumi.) She logged a few years with Digital Playground—signing an exclusive contract with the studio in 2006 and appearing in productions including Pirates II: Stagnetti’s Revenge, Fly Girls and Teachers—but a list of her more than 370 titles shows that she’s worked for most of the major studios in the biz. In addition to many AVN Award-winning turns on screen, she also excels as a feature dancer, has started her own lingerie line, Petit Coeur, and is a writer for Dorcelle.com, Marc Dorcel’s adult website for women. In 2013 she was seen in the documentary Aroused, directed by Deborah Anderson, and she triumphed in a lawsuit again rapper Bow Wow, who used footage of her in his music video Drank in My Cup. She announced on Facebook on August 14 that she was retiring. We can only say it was a beautiful 13 years.
Performer Scott Lyons has appeared in some 1,600 scenes, by his own count, in a career that started in the year 2000 and includes four AVN Awards. He entered the business with wife Brandi Lyons, at a time when "the industry didn't like couples. But we showed them couples could be freaks." A frontman for a band before entering the adult industry (“I’ve been on stage since I was 15”), he has used his acting abilities to ride the parody wave, most recently appearing in the Steve Buscemi role in an upcoming parody of Boardwalk Empire. He's still an active performer, saying with a laugh, "I'm a lifer."
Blessed with movie star good looks and acting chops to match, Nick Manning was a casting director’s dream when he entered the adult industry in the early 2000s. The former model and semi-pro baseball player made his debut in the Wicked Pictures feature Mirage. In 2003, he was named Best Male Newcomer by AVN. Manning’s acting talent is rivaled by his love of “dropping loads,” a catchphrase that not only expresses his enthusiasm for hardcore sex, but was instrumental in making him a beloved guest on The Howard Stern Show. “Dropping Loads” is also the name of Manning’s signature porn series, and the title of a forthcoming biography and documentary. Manning, who has held minor roles in the Oliver Stone film Any Given Sunday and Sam Raimi’s For the Love of the Game, scored his first leading role in a mainstream film in 2011 with the indie thriller Cherry Bomb. Manning also cameoed in the Jason Statham actioner Crank 2 and on Hulk Hogan’s VH1 reality show Hogan Knows Best. Regardless of his crossover appeal, Manning’s focus remains in adult. This year, while promoting his new series Nick Manning Cocksman for Hire, he told AVN, “I love what I do. Even after all this time, there is nothing better than wrecking chicks and dropping loads.”
Eric Masterson is a familiar face to fans of scripted features. Since making his debut in Sin City’s Dream Master, the 15-year veteran performer has starred in such notable titles as Camp Cuddly Pines Power Tool Massacre, Bride on the Run, Dallas: A XXX Parody, Superman vs. Spiderman XXX and Spartacus MMXII: The Beginning. While Masterson admits to finding features more interesting, he still derives plenty of enjoyment from his gonzo work, for which he has received multiple award nominations. In 2007, Masterson scored a Best Group Sex Scene - Video award for Wicked Pictures’ FUCK.
In 2003, only a few days after the release of his directorial debut The Dark Side, Mr. Pete told AVN, “I can't fuck forever so I want to branch out and do other things.” Judging by the more than 1,800 titles he’s performed in since joining the adult industry 13 years ago, the Nevada native and multi AVN Award winner may have sold himself short on the fucking forever front. One thing’s for sure: he got the branching out part right. In addition to being one of the most prolific performers working today, Mr. Pete is an accomplished director who cut his teeth early on for Multimedia Productions, Devil’s Film, Hustler and VCA, before landing exclusive contracts with New Sensations in 2004 and Red Light District in 2006. To date, Mr. Pete has directed 89 movies, including this year’s Mr. Pete’s POV 2 for Vivid Entertainment. Living by the mantra “work-in-progress,” Mr. Pete continues to strive for artistic growth, while never losing sight of his duties as a devoted father.
Perhaps best known for directing the wildly popular Screw My Wife Please!! series from Wildlife Productions, where he also served as production manager for many years, Bobby Rinaldi got his start in the business in the late ’90s. He was president of Tight Ends Productions, Wildlife's original incarnation and the birthplace of the Screw My Wife Please!! series. In addition to being a pioneer in the cuckolding genre with that flagship franchise, Rinaldi directed many other series, including Girls Home Alone, Pussy Playhouse, Handjobs and Dirty Newcummers. In recent years, Rinaldi branched out into the sexual enhancement sector of the industry as co-owner of Narra Distributors, the company behind Nite Rider and G-Spark arousal pills for men and women. Rinaldi passed away in February.
Taylor St. Claire
Taylor St. Claire started in 1995 as a girl/girl performer, then moved to boy/girl in a career that includes more than 400 productions and has been honored with six AVN Awards, including "Best Actress – Film" in 2003 for The Fashionistas (Evil Angel). She is also active in the fetish scene, directing and performing in videos and operating websites dedicated to FemDom.
Multi-AVN Award nominee Wendy Williams’ entry into the world of adult entertainment is a bit unclear, but we know that as early as 2000, a friend introduced her to the world of transsexuals on the internet. Within two years, Williams had her own site featuring nude photos of herself, and had taken the plunge into adult video by appearing in the movies of fellow transsexual star Joanna Jet. Since then, she has appeared in nearly 50 movies and has directed more than 15, most often for her own production company, Hot Wendy Productions, and even has her own toy line with Doc Johnson. Wendy has been a frequent nominee for AVN's Transsexual Performer of the Year honors, winning the award in 2009. She was also only the second transsexual actress to present an AVN Award on-stage, which she did with mainstream comedienne Margaret Cho. Wendy has also won awards from several other adult industry groups. A communications major in college, Williams now has her own PR firm repping several adult performers—straight and trans—from her base in Lexington, Ky.
Known to most people in the adult industry as "Jerry Juicy," Jerry E. (his preferred nom de porn) has been in porn for nearly 20 years, starting off as a salesman before opening his first distributorship, Juicy Entertainment, in the late ’90s, and his production arm, Exquisite Multimedia, not long thereafter, and even more recently, Exile Distribution, which he co-owns with veteran salesman Howard Levine. There would hardly be enough room to name all the lines and directors Juicy and Exile distribute, but with sure sellers like Rodney Moore, Peter North and Jordan Septo among the group, it's no wonder Jerry's a success. A longtime comic book fan, Jerry also created a line devoted to parodies of superheroes, Extreme Comixxx.
"Distributors like Jerry have been around so long because they have not burnt bridges," reflected Evil Angel General Manager Christian Mann. "Jerry's one of the ones who's created a hybrid of the Evil Angel model, where part of his success is [that] his directors who own their own content are incentivized to shoot for quality rather than just budget efficiency, and in so doing, he's had some really good lines. On the sales side of it, Jerry is a highly affable genuine guy. To know Jerry is to like Jerry. He's an honorable guy who doesn't take himself or the business too seriously. We need more of that."
Adam H. has been part of the adult industry since 1998. What began as a summer job in his Uncle Keith’s warehouse at Bizarre Video eventually led to a sales manager position. The company’s 2004 merger with Jill Kelly Productions relocated Adam to Los Angeles, where he became further integrated into the industry.
An opportunity to join Frank and Michael K’s team at IVD brought Adam home to New York City. His sales role with Pleasure Productions rapidly expanded, and he was soon at the helm of the operation. In recent years, Adam’s responsibilities have grown to encompass overseeing Vantage Distribution, Evolution Distribution and Pure Play Media, as well as the development of DreamZone Entertainment. Beyond his experience in video production and distribution, Adam’s role with Adventure Industries has made his face one of the most recognizable in the industry. His career journey shows him to be one of the most dedicated and hard-working contributors to the adult industry.
Ed Kail & Marty Turkel
Ed Kail, who hailed from the Bronx, N.Y., got his start in the business at Caballero Video during that company's early-1980s golden years. There he met Marty Turkel, who hailed from Brooklyn and began his career in the adult business in the early 1980s with California Video Distributors, an early offshoot of Caballero. The two became best friends and sales tag-team partners, and after approximately three years, the pair moved over to VCA together, where they reigned supreme for nearly two decades to follow. In 2003 they parted to pursue new ventures, with Turkel taking over the West Coast Office of Bo Kenney's LGI Digital (parent company of SexZ Pictures), and Kail joining daughter Bonnie at Devil's Film, where he took charge of domestic sales for Elegant Angel, which Devil's distributed at the time. Kail later took over sales at DVSX, while Turkel went on to manage sales for a time at Juicy Entertainment. Both have passed on, with Turkel dying of a heart attack in 2009 and Kail passing away from lung cancer in 2013, but their reputation as the industry's most revered sales duo remains intact.
Pleasure Products Branch
Lavi Yedid has worked in top positions for some of the biggest manufacturers of pleasure products for more than 25 years. He got his start in the business in 1989 when he was hired as director of operations for New Beginnings. He spent 14 years there before moving to Doc Johnson. Yedid spent eight years at Doc Johnson as head of product development for the mega-manufacturer. Most recently, Yedid was named head of product development at NS Novelties, where he has been credited with helping the brand gain worldwide notice and acclaim in just two years. His skills within the novelty business include product development, marketing strategy, new business development, sales management, retail marketing, strategic planning, sales, product marketing, merchandising, brand development and more.
Robert Pyne Sr.
The founder of the adult distribution company Williams Trading Co., Robert Pyne Sr. was working as a Philadelphia firefighter when he started looking for ways to make extra money. He began selling various products before he sold 8mm stag films. Williams Trading Co. will celebrate its 40th anniversary next year. While the senior Pyne has stepped away from the company—he enjoys playing Texas Hold ’Em at a local casino a few times a week and spends time with his wife Carole and dog Misty—his children are running the show these days. In addition to being named to the AVN Hall of Fame this year, Pyne was also selected to receive the Lifetime Achievement at this year’s “O” Awards for his contributions to the industry.
Rachel Venning and Claire Cavanah
With stores in Brooklyn, SoHo, New York's Lower East Side, and Seattle, not to mention a strong web presence at Babeland.com, adult retailer Babeland is serious about its slogan: "Sex toys for a passionate world." Co-founder Rachel Venning says the company won't be happy until it puts "a vibrator in every nightstand." Venning and co-founder Cavanah opened their first store in Seattle in 1983. Named Toys in Babeland, it was launched as a woman-friendly alternative to the gritty adult stores that were dominating the business. The pair had been in sex-toy stores and felt alienated, so they set out to create an environment where any woman would feel comfortable shopping. They were among only a handful of adult retailers who were looking to make women feel comfortable when shopping for pleasure products, and have helped lead the revolution of adult retailers taking on a more boutique feel.
Internet Founders Branch
Over a decade ago, Angie Rowntree imagined a place where women could explore their sexuality in a safe, like-minded community. In 1999, she founded Sssh.com, the web's oldest and largest "Erotica For Women, By Women" premium site. Angie spent the intervening years gathering together a crew of talented writers, sex educators and filmmakers, each of whom contributes to an ever-evolving women-centered space on the internet. And it has flourished! Since its inception, Sssh.com has become a favorite online destination for an extraordinary diversity of women of all ages and from all walks of life, in ways Angie herself never could have imagined. It is for this singular achievement, as well as for her invaluable contributions to the success of Wasteland.com, that Angie's place as an adult industry original is secure.
Freeones.com Founder Maurice
Maurice is the owner of free adult-star and celebrity site Freeones.com, which launched in 1998. Freeones, a site that was successful almost from the beginning, was first conceived as a hobby in the attic of Maurice's home. Maurice had always liked the idea of a site dedicated to indexing links of beautiful women. When the site was started there were only a handful of babe sections while today there are more than 10,000 babe sections with more than to 150,000 links listed. There is also a very active user community.
Mark "Greenguy" Jenkins
In 1996, Mark "Greenguy" Jenkins launched Link-O-Rama, his popular adult link site, which has been called “a veritable Yahoo of smut.” With its lively splash page of lime green text filled with fun age-restriction warnings (“don’t visit these free XXX links … if you have never seen the movie The Blues Brothers but you did see Blues Brothers 2000”), the webmaster welcomes browsers to a pornucopia of content in myriad niches. The site, which is still in operation, represents the tip of the iceberg of Greenguy's talent for traffic as well as his many contributions over the years as a consistent and constructive voice with deep insights into the vagaries and mysteries of the adult online industry.