LAS VEGAS—Adult industry veterans could be forgiven for thinking that after John Stagliano won the most high-profile obscenity case the Justice Department has brought in several years, he has no worlds left to conquer—but they'd be wrong. AVN intends to honor Stagliano with its prestigious Reuben Sturman Award, given each year to the adult industry member who has best exemplified the drive and commitment to the cause of free expression that Sturman himself championed during his entire career in the adult industry.
Of course, although Stagliano's win in federal court against staggering odds—a bad venue (Washington, D.C.), the Obscenity Unit's current top prosecutors (Pamela Satterfield and Bonnie Hannan, with support from Matthew Buzzelli), and a fairly conservative judge (Richard J. Leon) who issued several adverse pre-trial rulings—was the impetus for presenting this year's award, in a sense, the honor reflects positively on Stagliano's entire career in the adult business.
A Chicago native, John Stagliano (yes, his real name!) originally set out to become an economist, taking courses to that end at UCLA before becoming seduced by theater arts and dance, in part because, according to Wikipedia, "there were more women in those classes." He also spent four years as an adult performer and a Chippendales dancer in the late ’70s/early ’80s before taking the directorial plunge in 1983: Bouncing Buns, starring Stacey Donovan.
Stagliano directed and performed in several more features in the ’80s before taking yet another plunge in 1989 and opening his own production company, which he named “Evil Angel” after a tabloid magazine he'd self-published in ’82. He released ten features under the Evil Angel brand in ’89 alone, including the title that gave him the nickname with which he will forever be known, The Adventures of Buttman.
Since then, Stagliano has become not only a highly respected voice of reason in the adult entertainment community but also a highly respected businessman, striking fair deals with talent, other directors and producers whose movies he distributes, and the distributor and retail community at large. He even made a name for himself on the Las Vegas Strip by mounting a long-running dance revue based on his award-winning video The Fashionistas. His wife helps run Evil Angel Productions, and the couple have two children, the youngest born this past September.
“I am honored to be chosen for this award,” Stagliano said upon being informed that he was to receive it. “It’s a lot nicer than being ‘chosen’ by the Justice Department to be prosecuted. Reuben Sturman fought the bad guys so we could be free to look at porn, so to him, I say, ‘Thank you sir. I have been privileged to be able to make a good living because of that, and enjoy the visual pleasures you protected.’”
AVN honors just one individual (or couple) each year with the Reuben Sturman Award. Previous winners have included Larry Flynt (LFP), Harry Mohney (Déjà Vu), Mel Kamins (GVA), Eddie Wedelstedt (Goalie Entertainment), Gloria Leonard (FSC President), Phil Harvey (Adam & Eve), Hal Freeman (Hollywood Video), Howard Stern and others.
This year's Sturman Award will be presented on stage at the 2011 AVN Awards, to be held on Jan. 8, 2011, at the Pearl Theatre at the Palms Hotel in Las Vegas.