LOS ANGELES — It’s said that lightening never strikes the same place twice, but Friday night couldn’t have been more electrifying for “Wasteland” director Graham Travis, a big winner at the 2013 XBIZ Awards.
For a second consecutive year, Travis won the awards for Feature Movie of the Year and Director of the Year — Feature Release.
“I feel very honored… it’s a great honor,” Travis said. “When I came up with idea for the movie, I didn’t know if it would work and I didn’t have the confidence that it would be received so well by fans and critics. I’m very grateful. It means a lot.”
Lily LaBeau, who tied for Best Actress — Feature Movie with her “Wasteland” co-star Lily Carter, described the film as “emotionally exciting” and praised Travis for his vision and execution.
“He’s a great director, very supportive,” LaBeau said backstage at the Century Plaza Hotel in Century City, Calif. “He’s so good at staying calm and keeping his vision on point, but letting us still have the freedom to play with the character.”
Travis was quick to note LaBeau and Carter’s performances as reasons why “Wasteland” connected with audiences.
“They’re incredibly talented performers, great actresses and great humans beings — emotionally intelligent human beings,” Travis said. “They didn’t hold a thing back, be it emotional or sexual. The movie would have been nothing without their performances. I was very lucky.”
Of her own victory, LaBeau said she was thrilled and delighted to be sharing it with Carter, who was at the show but actually missed going on stage to accept with her co-star. “It was a crazy experience to have shared together; we both really identified with the characters emotionally,” LaBeau said. “The whole journey was such an incredible story to tell.”
XBIZ caught up with Carter later and she was thrilled to share in the triumph. “I thought that was awesome. I loved it. We both put equal amounts of effort into ‘Wasteland,’” Carter told XBIZ.
Carter said she was in the lobby waiting for her date’s friends to arrive when the Best Actress co-winners were called to the stage.
“I missed going on stage for a stupid reason. It was bad timing,” Carter admitted. “When I was walking back into the awards show another performer said to me, ‘Lily, you just missed your award!’ And I said, ‘What are you talking about?’”
Carter continued, “I’m so proud of everything about the film. The experience was amazing. Just doing the movie was a great opportunity.”
The 24-year-old native of Eugene, Ore., said as soon she received the script from Travis that she memorized it from front to back, even including "the punctuation.”
“I took her role into my life, even off set. So it was easy. When I was on camera, it was just being myself in that role. [The character of Anna and I] already have similarities. I just took them to extremes.”
Carter said that prior to “Wasteland” that she and LaBeau had worked together only once. “We had met a couple times. I knew I liked her a lot. We had very good chemistry. She’s just a really cool, grounded chick who’s easy to be around, fun to play with, and also an amazing actress.”
Backstage, in a dressing room far, far away, Axel Braun, winner of the award for Director of the Year— Parody Release spoke of his own upcoming journey… to the ice planet of Hoth. “We’re shooting our next ‘Star Wars’ parody,” he explained. “We’re heading to Alaska to recreate Hoth. It’s going to be epic.”
If Braun’s “Star Wars XXX: A Porn Parody,” named Parody Release of the Year — Comedy, is any indication of what’s to come, fans should start spanking the wookie right about now. “The reason my parodies are so successful is that I’m a fan of what I shoot,” Braun said. “I couldn’t just do some research and put something together. Every parody that I shoot is based on something that I deeply love and grew up with. As a fan, I’m confident I know what I can do to please the fans; I know the ins-and-outs. What they’re willing to laugh at; what they want to laugh with.”
Braun, who collaborated with Vivid Entertainment on the award-winning title, called his wins at the 2013 XBIZ Awards an “honor” and thanked his “team of geeks” for their dedication, including Dick Chibbles, who withstood a torturous amount of hours suited up as Chewbacca to shoot what would become the Best Scene — Parody Release with co-stars Brandy Aniston and Eve Laurence.
“Torn,” an infidelity drama from directing duo Eddie Powell and Jacky St. James, won Couples-Themed Release of the Year and scored St. James an award for Screenplay of the Year. Powell, meanwhile, took home the award for Director of the Year — Body of Work.
The directors celebrated the victories with “Torn” leads Remy LaCroix and Steven St. Croix, recipient of the Performer Comeback of the Year award, and co-star Tom Byron.
“’Torn’ was inspired by two friends who made me rethink what infidelity is about,” St. James said. “I don’t really think it’s the worst thing in the world now to cheat on your spouse and fall for someone else — maybe you just married the wrong person.”
LaCroix, a nominee for Best New Starlet, echoed St. James’ sentiments. “It was pretty deep. It made me think about why people would go there,” she said. “It’s not necessarily that you’re a bad person; it’s just trying to find your happiness, whatever that is.”
St. Croix, sporting a dashing Ron Burgundy mustache, said a breakup of his own fueled his nominated performance as a cheating husband. “The challenge for me was not to play him two dimensionally, but to play him so people are empathetic to his plight because he really was in love with two women in different stages of his being.”
Byron also looked inward to nail the aura of his character. “I have sex with Raylene and Samantha Ryan in a bathroom,” he said. “My character’s feelings at that time were that he wanted a blowjob.”
British import Tanya Tate asked the woman sitting next to her to hold her breast — not because she was feeling frisky, but to see if her heart was still beating after being announced as the MILF Performer of the Year, beating out such notable contenders as Lisa Ann, Julia Ann, last year’s winner India Summer and popular up-and-comer Kendra Lust.
“I wasn’t expecting to win because there are so many hot MILFs,” Tate said. “I also thought the MILF of the Year had to do tons and tons of scenes and I didn’t do tons of scenes, but I have been directing and performing and running my PR company. I am so honored to have won. 2012 has been a good year, but 2013 is going to be even better.”
Best New Starlet winner Riley Reid was also surprised by her win over such formidable stars as Remy LaCroix, Jessie Rogers, Penny Pax and Anikka Albrite.
“I wasn’t expecting it at all. I feel so overwhelmed,” Reid said. “I wish I had prepared something, but was like ‘I’m not going to win. It was a tough group this year. Those girls are just amazing; I love those girls. We all work really hard. Winning an award is not my goal; it’s just enjoying myself in the moment, but I’m really happy to be acknowledged.”
James Deen took home trophies for Male Performer of the Year and Crossover Star of the Year. Despite being nervous (he suffers from stage fright), he succinctly summed up the spirit of the XBIZ Awards.
“When I first got into the industry, I didn’t care at all about awards,” Deen said. “Then I won my first one and… it felt really, really good. It is very flattering to be acknowledged and considered, and even if it’s something as borderline trivial to some as just having sex, being recognized by your peers and other people that work in your craft is very flattering and feels really good.”
XBIZ's Dan Miller also contributed to this report. Photo of Brooklyn Lee by Jeff Koga.
For the complete list of winners, click here.