opinion

The XBIZ Events

Holly Randall
For someone who rarely goes out at night, the first week of February was quite the party week for me. Two nights in a row I was invited to events put on by XBIZ.

Though XBIZ hosted both events, they were conspicuously different.

The first night was the XBIZ 100 dinner, a deliciously decadent meal at the Ritual Supper Club in Hollywood. The invite-only gathering was for those important to the adult industry and XBIZ. The second evening was the highly anticipated XBIZ Awards.

The first evening at the XBIZ dinner was fantastic. I hadn't had such a nice time at an adult gathering for what seemed like forever. The venue was nice, the staff shockingly polite (this was in Hollywood, remember), and the crowd low-key and sophisticated.

The attendees were the crème-de-la-crème of porn — Tera Patrick, Jay Grdina, John and Karen Stagliano, among others. These were the movers and shakers behind some of the most powerful companies, these were the people who run the adult industry. Nowhere to be seen were ditsy 19-year-old gonzo girls falling over themselves to get inebriated at the open bar, or coked-out webmasters seeing who can talk the loudest about their fabulous new affiliate programs. This dinner was for the old-school respectable players in our industry.

I sat with the Staglianos, and for the first time in my life, actually had a sit-down conversation with John. I've known his wife Karen for a little while, and have grown very fond of her. John was a little more elusive, and little more intimidating (he is, after all, the creator of one of the best adult films of all time, "The Fashionistas"). I was sure he had no idea who I was, nor cared to find out.

Not true.

In fact, he claims one of the best parties he ever went to was my parents' New Year's bash in 1984. He said my parents were intelligent people, and he had enjoyed some stimulating conversations with my father in particular. I immediately pictured my dad and John Stagliano hanging out on the back patio, drinking port wine and discussing the fall of the value of the Indonesian rupiah. (Not that my father or John know anything about Indonesian currency, but it's a subject that sounds particularly academic to me, and something that I would know absolutely nothing about.)

At the end of the night, I left the dinner satisfied that I worked in a very professional industry.

The next evening felt quite different. At the XBIZ Awards, I was asked to present onstage, something I'd always wanted to do. This event was especially meaningful to me since last year I was in rehab and unable to make it, so I considered this to be my rebirth into the adult limelight.

I arrived with my two closest friends Aria Giovanni and Aimee Sweet, and at first the venue was fairly quiet. We were ushered into the VIP area in the back, where the drinks were free and really delicious appetizers made their rounds. I sat down and chatted with my new favorite Bree Olson, ran into the always-bubbly Casey Parker, and talked to Raven Riley about a possible photo shoot. Suddenly my buzzer went off, signaling that it was time for me to head to the green room to wait my turn to walk onstage and present.

In the green room I met my two other co-presenters Flower Tucci and Bjorn Skarlen. Though I'd met Flower before, I'd never heard of Bjorn, but I had been told he was a big-deal web guy and therefore a good person to know. We huddled around to discuss what exactly we would say onstage which surprised me, because I think I expected a teleprompter by the stage that would give me all kinds of witty one-liners to throw out to the crowd.

Flower offered to squirt on the crowd, but was afraid of being thrown out for it (don't forget there was an open bar, which is a wonderful incentive to stay awhile).

I don't know exactly what I was expecting, since I hadn't been out of the VIP area since the show had begun. Foolishly I think I anticipated a hushed crowd, sitting demurely in their seats, quietly awaiting the results of such a thrilling category as ours: Web Host of the Year.

But it was not even remotely like that. When we walked out onstage I immediately realized that few were really paying any attention — the crowd was loud, and mostly clamoring around the bar. We began our little shtick. I said something while opening the envelope, I don't remember what, but I'm sure it was pretty stupid. The winner was Webair, and some guy I didn't know came onstage and delivered his acceptance speech to the crowd.

I realized then that the XBIZ Awards was a show that mainly honored webmasters, a crowd of people quite different from the old-school DVD producers from the previous night's dinner. These are two markedly different groups — the webmasters are mainly young computer whiz kids whose skills granted them a sudden income way beyond what they made in any previous line of work. This, coupled with their youth and easy access to beautiful women, gives them an exaggerated sense of self-importance that really manifests itself after a few drinks.

The DVD producers are people with stories — those who remember both big AIDS scares and the Traci Lords underage crisis, and who are now watching the once-dominant DVD market crumble under the massive weight of the Internet juggernaut. It's a strange time, and one of immense change. I was brought up old school, as both my parents have been in the business for over 30 years. But I know my future is in the hands of the webmasters, this new youth culture that is taking over the adult landscape.

So, though I'd rather hear the stories about illegally shooting porn in the '70s and being on a constant lookout for the Vice Squad, it's the people who were nominated for the XBIZ Awards that hold the future of my company and my website in their hands. So please, tell me again why your affiliate program will change the industry as we know it?

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