HOLLYWOOD - One couldn't help but notice, as one approached the entrance to The Highlands nightclub at the Kodak Center Thursday evening, that something seemed to be missing: The massive crowds that even last year blocked the path toward the "red carpet" area where the adult industry's best-looking actresses posed for the press cameras. (winners list).
This year, however, the way was relatively clear, even right up to the scheduled start of the show, 9 o'clock - although in fact the festivities didn't get under way until about 9:45.
Which isn't to say that there wasn't plenty of eye-candy to be seen. Attendees ran the gamut from newcomers to classics, including Faye Reagan, Ava Rose, Michelle Maylene, Alektra Blue, Alyssa Reese, Angelina Armani, Teagan Presley, Zoe Britton, Asa Akira, Ann Marie Rios, Brittany O'Connell, Lisa Ann, jessica drake, Jenna Haze, Shy Love, Darryl Hanah, Kylie Ireland, Magdalene St. Michaels, Kaylani Lei, Kagney Linn Karter, Kelly Skyline, Nikki Rhodes, Candace Nicole, Marie Luv, Dana DeArmond, Missy Stone, Aiden Starr, Shawna Lenee and Sunny Lane, while on the male side, we spotted Jack Lawrence, Chris Charming, Tom Byron, Dane Cross, CJ Wright, Dino Bravo, Ron Jeremy, Tommy Gunn, Evan Stone, James Bartholet, James Deen, Randy Spears, Pat Myne, Marcus London, Valentino, Thomas "The Cos" Ward, Eric John and Hatman. Add in the directors and executives like Joy King, Dyanna Lauren, Bob Christian, Jules Jordan, Will Ryder, Joe Gallant, Eli Cross and Francois Clousot, and it was quite a party.
This was the XRCO's 25th anniversary, and one of its earliest members, Jared Rutter, served as Master of Ceremonies, dedicating this year's show to "an actress who was one of the first five inductees into the Hall of Fame in 1985, Marilyn Chambers."
Rutter then introduced the hostesses for the evening, "two of the most beautiful women ever to work before the camera, two very good actresses," jessica drake and Kayden Kross. It was they who brought out the various pairs of performers who would announce the actual awards, which would then be presented by "trophy girls" Nina Hartley and Veronica Hart - if there was anyone to accept them. Perhaps the other notable feature of the evening was how many performers were nowhere in sight when their names were announced from the stage: Belladonna, Angelina Valentine, Bobbi Starr, Ashlynn Brooke, Joanna Angel, Julia Ann, Sasha Gray, Stoya ... and even Brad Armstrong, who actually was there, but managed to be out of the room when two of his three trophies were presented. (He did make it onto the stage for his induction into the Hall of Fame.) Angelina Valentine was particularly missed, since Arrow Productions' Robert Interlandi was on stage to present her with both her wooden XRCO heart and a special "Deep Throat " plaque for the oral achievements that won her this year's Deep Throat Award.
Digital Playground's newest contract star Angelina Armani was perhaps the most visible starlet of the evening, accepting all of the awards for DP and its performers: Most Outrageous DVD Extras (Pirates II), New Starlet (Stoya), Best Release (Cheerleaders ) and Best Epic (Pirates II , which tied with Wicked's Fallen ).
Humility was a hallmark of the evening, with James Deen, winner of the Male Performer of the Year award, stating, "Thank you, but everybody else on that list is a much better performer than I am," and Will Ryder, in accepting the Best Comedy - Parody award for Not Bewitched XXX , announcing, "You know, some people have come up to us and said, 'Hey, Jeff, you guys started the parodies.' We appreciate that, but we didn't start the parodies. They were started a long time ago, in the '80s, by a guy named Roy Karch."
Jenna Haze, on the other hand, was particularly jubilant at winning Female Performer of the Year, noting, "I appreciate you guys liking all my cocksuckiness."
"It's absolutely crazy that I've won from AVN, Xbiz and now XRCO awards," Jenna said later. "I've got all three of them. I don't think there's any girl in history that's ever done that. I feel like I'm making history left and right - also with winning AVN's New Starlet of the Year and going on to win Performer of the Year. No one's done that either so I feel I'm just breaking the rules and making history. I'm very excited and very honored and I'm glad XRCO gave me the recognition because for a long time they didn't give me anything, but last few years they've been giving me stuff - but I've been working my ass off lately."
Director Jules Jordan managed two awards this year — and the honor of being the youngest director ever inducted into the XRCO Hall of Fame. Besides his win for Best POV Movie (Tunnel Vision 3 ), he won Best Director (Non-Features) for the second year in a row, bringing his total XRCO awards to 15.
"Once again, I'd like to thank XRCO and all the critics," he said upon receiving the Best Director plaque. "Last year, I thought you guys had balls for giving me this award as Best Director. This year, I really think you had balls for giving it to me again." (But what will he say next year?)
Evan Stone, who snagged the Single Performance - Actor award for Pirates II, gave perhaps the longest acceptance speech, concluding with the admonition, "Now I'll just let you drink, as long as you're able to drive," while Single Performance - Actress winner jessica drake fought back tears as she said, "I'm gonna try to keep my composure a little bit. This is really huge for me. Fallen is the best movie I have ever done, and I would like to thank the XRCO, I'd like to thank Steve O and everyone at Wicked. We have the best group of contract girls we've ever had, and I love every single one of them, and most of all, I would like to give special thanks to Brad Armstrong."
Armstrong repaid the compliment in accepting his Director entry into the Hall of Fame, saying, "Obviously this is an honor to be inducted into the XRCO. Obviously thanks to Wicked, my home for the last 14 years, Steve Orenstein, a great owner and friend, and of course all the pretty girls who have made it such a fine time, thank you very much, and thank you very much this year to my better half, jessica drake, for making everything so much easier. Your help is so much appreciated, and especially when I'm in front of the camera and you're watching to make sure I don't look so fat."
But it hasn't entirely been a year of joy for the adult industry. In introducing the Hall of Fame entrants, actress/director Veronica Hart paid tribute to all those in the industry who had died since the last award show: "[Tech boss] Michael Cirigliano, my husband, who passed in June; Harold Lime, known as Ted Paramour; Gerard Damiano; Henri Pachard; Buck Adams; [long time VCA salesman] Marty Turkel, who passed the day after my father died; [gay performer] Steve Pierce; Jack Wrangler; and now Marilyn Chambers; and Missy."
"I want you to know that we're now not a new industry," she added. "We're now an older industry when we have this many people that we know and love who are not with us anymore. Ten people, that's amazing." (One person who Hart left out of her summation but recalled later was actor Sasha Gabor.)
In one unexpected move, the XRCO added a new Hall of Fame Category, "Outlaws of Porn," and its first inductee was an obvious choice.
"This next inductee is controversial, so controversial we created a special category for him, the Outlaw Hall of Fame," Rutter said. "Some people like his work, many people don't, but whatever you think of him, you have to admit that he established a worldwide presence ... and recently he has stood up for his beliefs: Max Hardcore. We're sorry he couldn't join us here tonight, but he's appeared at just about every XRCO since he started directing."
Even over the din of the crowd of about 250 attendees, applause for the imprisoned director could be heard - and in true Hardcore fashion, his plaque was accepted by his girlfriend, Layla Rivera, who promptly stuffed it down her dress and posed for photos that way.
All in all, it was a fun evening, even if the crowd noise made it difficult to hear what was being said just 10 feet from the stage - but it's safe to say, a good time was had by all.