LOS ANGELES—James Bartholet is quite a character—and quite a character actor. The effervescent Bartholet, who exudes more passion for this business than a roomful of Best New Starlet nominees after binging on Fun-Dip, has won awards for Best Non-Sex Performance at the last three AVN Awards—an unprecedented three-peat.
"It's history!" Bartholet explained. "I wasn't sure if I'd get it this year because there were some incredible performances I was up against. It was surreal. Everyone was standing up and applauding. Being appreciated for my work as an actor in an industry that's known for sex is something special."
In typical outsize fashion, Bartholet celebrated his big win with an impromptu "Gangnam Style" dance on-stage at The Joint.
Skilled acting performances have become Bartholet's trademark, and it's clear the man does plenty of research on the characters he plays. It's not uncommon to run into him at various events while he's in character practicing a voice or mimicking his subject. For this year's win, Bartholet played the iconic Curly in director Will Ryder's Not The Three Stooges XXX.
Bartholet's two previous consecutive non-sex performance wins came from parts in the movies Not Charlie's Angels XXX (X-Play/Digital Sin) and The Rocki Whore Picture Show: A Hardcore Parody (Wicked Pictures).
"I learned how to act from mainstream acting teachers and cutting my teeth in various productions," Bartholet said. "I take great pride in creating a 3-D character that's real; I really throw myself into it whether it's a small or big part."
Bartholet is grateful for the resurgence of original feature productions and parodies that put the industry's collective acting chops on display. And for a product that's much maligned for the quality of its acting, Bartholet is on a one-man mission to show the public that porn performers are sometimes just as talented, if not more so, than their mainstream counterparts.
"The fans are really noticing the improved acting performances," Bartholet said. "I hear from fans all the time about how the new generation of performances can really act, in addition to being incredible sexual performers. I really think the industry is making much better films that people really appreciate, that you can watch as a couple. I'm a marital aid!"
Bartholet's latest role, fresh off his AVN win, is playing the Cowardly Lion in Ryder's Wizard of Oz XXX.
"I think the lesson here is to always give 100 percent in everything you do," Bartholet said. "To be appreciated and recognized by your peers means a lot as an actor. Winning an AVN Award is the equivalent in our business of winning an Oscar. This is a huge, huge thing for me. I love to do this and winning an AVN Award is just the cherry on the very delicious sundae. I'm still in seventh heaven."
Bartholet currently books himself for sex and non-sex performances. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo of James Bartholet backstage at the AVN Awards Show by Stills By Alan