The adult entertainment industry showed their appreciation and support to individuals who have made important contributions to the industry at the Free Speech Coalition’s (FSC) annual Night of the Stars dinner and awards presentation on Saturday. The Night of the Stars differs from other award shows by the breadth of recognition it offers - not only are performers recognized for outstanding careers, businessmen are acknowledged for paving the way for those who followed and lawyers are honored for defending the very right of existence for the adult industry.
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The 16th annual Night of the Stars, held at the Warner Center Marriott on Saturday night, began with a cocktail hour where industry VIPs mingled while jugglers, magicians, contortionists and acrobats entertained the crowd. This was the first year live entertainment had been presented at the awards show. All of the entertainment had a circus theme, reflected in the “Cirque de la Liberté” title given this year’s event.
After an auction of sports memorabilia the award ceremony began with remarks from FSC executive director William Lyon and FSC president Scott Tucker, before one of last year’s Lifetime Achievement award winners, Ginger Lynn assumed hosting duties for the evening.
The Joel Warner “Good Guy” award, presented to those who have made valuable contributions on the business side of adult, was this year given to two men – Cinderella Distributors founder Charles Brickman and promoter/publisher/producer Larry Ross.
Brickman, a former TV repairman, started his career in the adult world by creating the 8mm Diamond Collection series. He opened Cinderella in 1977. Brickman hired AVN Hall of Famer Anthony Spinelli to shoot The Party – the first video awarded a five-star rating by AVN and one of the first high-budget video features. Brickman is also credited with innovating the concept of shooting extra footage for use in “R-rated” cable versions of his titles.
Larry Ross started as a regionally distributed trade magazine that featured women together. His cover shot of two girls kissing for the magazine Seize was considered groundbreaking. He also served as a president of the Personal Freedom Alliance, a forerunner to the FSC, as well as having served on the board of the FSC itself.
This year’s Hal Freeman “Freedom Isn’t Free” award was awarded to First Amendment attorney H. Louis Sirkin. Active in protecting the rights of members of the adult community since the 70s, Sirkin’s career highlights include his key role in winning the 2002 United States Supreme Court decision in Ashcroft v. The Free Speech Coalition, which struck down a 1996 federal law banning “virtual” child-pornography. The case was hailed as one of the most important First Amendment battles in decades.
The second ever Industry Founders award was given to Al Bloom, who co-founded Caballero Home Video, where he pioneered the packaging of adult videos that is still in use today.
Accepting his award, Bloom, who now works for California Exotic Novelties, thanked his children and grandchildren, who "recognized that dad is a businessman -- in a different kind of business."
Each year Lifetime Achievement Awards are given to a gay actor, a gay director, a straight director, a straight male performer and a straight female performer. This year the Lifetime Achievement Awards for Actor and Actress went to brother and sister Buck Adams and Amber Lynn, both of whom began careers in adult in the 80s. Both Adams and Lynn performed in hundreds of adult projects during their careers, winning numerous awards for their work.
The Anthony Spinelli Lifetime Achievement Award, the only Lifetime Achievement award named after an individual, was given to Taboo director Kirdy Stevens. Before Deep Throat exploded porn into the mainstream, Stevens was constantly in trouble with law for shooting adult projects.
GAVN Hall of Famer Jim Bentley was awarded the Lifetime Achievement award. Bentley performed in 67 features over an 18-year period. Bentley is now pursuing a mainstream acting career, but still maintains a Website for his fans. The Lifetime Achievement award for a gay director was given to Joe Gage, whose 1976 Kansas City Trucking Co., El Paso Wracking Corp, Closed Set and Heatstroke are considered classics.
Felecia was awarded the Positive Image award. Not only has she performed in over 350 adult titles, Felicia is also active in numerous charitable causes.
After the ceremony, FSC board member Jeffrey Douglas said, "The entertainment was wonderful. Having a show with more entertainment was definitely the right way to go... The awards ceremony went off very well, and having Ginger Lynn as emcee was a masterstroke — or mistress stroke — it was all in all a very lovely evening." Douglas said that it "would take a while" to determine how much money was raised by donations, the auction, and ticket sales.
Members of the adult entertainment community present included Dave Cummings, last year's Positive Image Award winner; Grand Opening!'s Kim Airs; Rebecca Bardoux, Cherokee; Mara Epstein of Private North America; Larry Flynt, Jimmy Flynt, and Theresa Flynt-Gaerke; First Amendment lawyers Allan Gelbard and Paul Cambria; Ernest Greene and Nina Hartley; Max Hardcore and Catalina; Mickey G.; Tony Montana and Laurie Holmes; Veronica Hart; Mike Horner; Shawn Ricks; Julian St. Jox; Angelica Sin; World Modeling's Jim South; and Wicked Pictures' Steve Orenstein, Joy King, Daniel Metcalf, Brad Armstrong, Stormy, Michael Raven, Julia Ann, Stephanie Swift, Devinn Lane, Kaylani Lei, Jessica Drake, Evan Stone, and Dolorian, among many others.