LAS VEGAS—Befitting its new venue at The Joint concert hall inside the Hard Rock Hotel, this year's AVN Awards began as no other has in the past. As guests were being seated, they were treated to a collage of hot images from Magik View Entertainment movies and then, in a tribute to porn's past, a slide show of this year's inductees into AVN's Hall of Fame.
But of course the thing that really caught the audience's attention was the entry onto the stage of Belladonna and the Belladonna Dancers. The industry has know that Belladonna has been into acrobatic theatrics for some time now, but few were prepared to see her climb her way up a pair of silk sashes until, at about 30 feet above the stage, the lithe brunette began a series of aerial maneuvers, many of which were mimicked by her dancers far below, that left the audience gasping.
And it was definitely an evening of big winners, with Wicked Pictures' Rocki Whore Picture Show: A Hardcore Parody taking home nine trophies, including Best Parody - Comedy, Best Director - Parody for Brad Armstrong, and Best Screenplay - Parody, which Armstrong co-wrote. Wicked scores two awards beyond that as well, one for Jessica Drake's Guide to Wicked Sex as Best Educational Release.
Another big-scoring movie was Asa Akira Is Insatiable 2, from Elegant Angel, which took home seven awards, and Asa herself scored Best Solo Sex Scene trophy.
And speaking of Elegant Angel, its mantelpiece might have a bit of trouble holding the 21 awards it received last evening. Its closest competition, Evil Angel and Jules Jordan Video, each received 12 trophies for movies the studios created and/or distributed.
Other top winners included Brooklyn Lee for Best New Starlet, Xander Corvus as Best Male Newcomer, Jessie Andrews as Best Actress for Portrait of a Call Girl (which took several awards), Dale DaBone as Best Actor for Elvis XXX: A Porn Parody, Bobbi Starr and Manuel Ferrara as Performers of the Year, India Summer as MILF/Cougar Performer of the Year, and Bailey Jay as Transsexual Performer of the Year.
This year's host comedian was Dave Attell, best known in the adult community for his HBO series Dave's Old Porn, and his "partners in porn" for the evening were the award-winning actresses Bree Olson and Sunny Leone.
"It's cool to be here at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino," Attell began. "This is a sexy hotel, man; they sell lubricant in the gift shop—but who can afford lube in this economy, am I right? I'm a spit and gravy man, so I'm okay. I like it all: Spit, gravy, tears, I don't give a shit."
Hopefully, however, the crowd won't take his suggestion that when they check out, they should rub the room's phone receiver on their dicks, then call the room the next day and just laugh at whoever picks up the phone.
"I love when a girl's on top, because you know what your job is when the girl's on top?" he asked. "Not to die; that's what you have to do. Just lay there and be a thing: Don't shit, don't fart, don't die."
Once the award presentations began, the parade of stars was non-stop. This year's presenters included the lead-off team of Riley Steele, Kaylani Lei and Chyna, who handed trophies to winners of the Best Oral Sex Scene and Best Threeway Scene-Girl/Girl/Boy—and Riley one to herself as winner of this year's Fan Award.
Many of the stars were appropriately enthusiastic when receiving their trophies. "Fuck yeah!" exclaimed Asa upon winning the Best Anal Scene Award. "Thank you, Elegant Angel, and thank you to my asshole," while her on-screen partner Nacho Vidal did almost exactly the same.
The next award also saw the first of the show's technical glitches, when the teleprompter quit just as the presenters were about to read the nominees for Best Actress—but that didn't dull Jessie Andrews' jubilation at winning.
"Holy crap!" she exclaimed. My hands are shaking!"
Shortly thereafter, Chanel Preston, upon hearing that Jules Jordan had won Best Gonzo Release for Dangerous Curves, in which she appeared, shouted, "My first anal scene!"
Upon receiving his Best Actor Award, Dale DaBone dropped a few bombshells.
After noting that his mom, a long-time Elvis Presley fan, was proud of her son's role in Elvis XXX, he revealed, "I'm moving to Fort Lauderdale tomorrow, I'm getting married, I'm not quitting the business but I'm moving on to try another part of my life."
When it was announced that Ettore Bucci had won Best Director-Foreign Release for Mission Asspossible, he brought nearly the entire cast on stage.
"I want to thank all the fans, Mick Blue and these European people for having me on their boat," said Mr. Pete, who played the ocean liner captain. "It was the most awesome thing I've ever done."
Later, when the movie won the Best Foreign Feature award, Mr. Pete carried the theme forward: "Thanks to all the fans, we really appreciate this. I'm the only American up here, so I want to say thank you for all my Europeans." Then Bucci himself took the microphone and told the audience, "Magik View is a baby; it's only one year old. It was founded in 2011—60 feature films, and 650 vignettes, and as my friend says, 'You ain't seen nothing yet!'"
The teleprompter blanked out again just as Grace Glam was about to announce the nominees for Best New Starlet—"Oh my God, is it me again?" she exclaimed in horror—but that didn't dampen Brooklyn Lee's excitement at winning it.
"I feel like I'm dreaming right now, that this isn't really happening," the curvy brunette said.
As has happened in previous years, the Performer of the Year winners were given special prizes, with ImLive.com this year donating a Tag Heuer watch to Manuel Ferrara and a pair of diamond earrings to Bobbi Starr.
Also in the weird news department: When Asa Akira Is Insatiable 2 took the Best All-Sex Release award, its star revealed, "This movie was like the best experience of my life. My ex-boyfriend broke up with me over this movie, so yeah!"
In another AVN first, AVN snagged Joe Francis, creator of the incredibly popular Girls Gone Wild softcore series, to present AVN's first Visionary Award to adult industry legend and Vivid Entertainment co-founder Steve Hirsch. A video montage of Hirsch's career and accomplishments was played, and the audience got to see images of Hirsch dating back to his 20s, along with all of the Vivid brands he created and many of the people associated with the company's rise.
"For my entire life, I've tried to be a good, decent person," Hirsch began his acceptance speech. "To have a voice, to be listened to, and to somehow, some way make a difference... I want to thank AVN, but also Paul Fishbein, who was the driving force behind that business for so many years. This night would have never happened without him. I first met Paul 27 years ago at a convention not unlike this. I don't think either of us contemplated then where our industry would be today. Together, we've seen it all, the good and the bad, and we're still standing, friends for life."
He went on to thank the myriad associates and friends who helped build the Vivid brand, including partner Bill Asher and sister Marci.
Digital Playground's Top Guns won the Best Selling and Renting Release, and Jesse Jane, accompanied by many of her fellow DP stars and staff, graciously accepted on behalf of the company.
When Axel Braun's Spiderman XXX: A Porn Parody took the trophy for Best Parody-Drama, Braun was effusive with his thanks, noting especially, "Xander Corvus right here, 20 minutes upside down getting a blowjob, it's not an easy task but I tell you, this guy pulled it off."
Attell briefly thanks both his co-hostesses and this show's trophy girls, Nicole Aniston and Brett Rossi, then introduced the next set of presenters, Charmane Star and Juelz Ventura—though an unannounced Evan Stone joined them, joking, "Does anyone have the feeling that if this microphone was shaped like a penis, the girls would get closer to it?"
As previously noted, Rocki Horror took the Best Parody - Comedy award, with director Armstrong bringing the entire cast on stage to accept, and particularly thanking his star and wife, Jessica Drake, for sitting through three months of his constantly watching the Rocky Horror Picture Show for inspiration.
The show then took a break from presenting awards, and welcomed to the stage the rapper Too $hort, who belted out what he described as a special song for all the girls in porn, "I Need a Porno Bitch," as well as his famous "Blow the Whistle," while dozens of actresses joined him on stage to dance and tease.
Then followed the third of the "Peggy Morehouse Porn School" skits, which featured several well-known actresses including Asa Akira, Kristina Rose, Chanel Preston, Kagney Linn Karter, Gracie Glam and others "learning the porn ropes"—including how to lube up a giant teddy bear and stick it in Kristina's ass.
After presenting Bobbi Starr with her Female Performer of the Year award (and ImLive's earrings), the Director of the Year award brought Axel Braun back into the limelight.
"Oh my God! Really, AVN; really?" he mock-exclaimed. "Two years in a row? What the fuck?" He went on to send "happy thoughts and lots of positive energy" to his This Ain't Ghostbusters star, Raven Alexis, who is gravely ill with cancer.
The penultimate award, Best Feature, was snagged by Elegant Angel's Portrait of a Call Girl, and its star Jessie Andrews and director Graham Travis took the stage to accept—and then promptly had to return to the stage when it was announced that the movie had also been voted first "Movie of the Year," beating out the top movies in such categories as Best Parody, Best Gonzo and Best All-Sex Release.
Attell closed the show with a "shout-out to our troops," as the audience began to file out, heading for the various official and unofficial afterparties that dotted the Las Vegas landscape—but that's another story.
For a full list of winners, click here.
Pictured: The audience at the 2012 AVN Awards Show. Photo credit: DrivenByBoredom.com.