WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — The Free Speech Coalition honored an accomplished group of adult industry innovators and leaders on Wednesday evening at the 2015 FSC Awards cocktail reception at the trendy Andaz hotel on the Sunset Strip, in conjunction with the XBIZ 360 events series.
Held in the hotel ‘s main lobby amidst post-conference revelry, attendees filled not only the entire reserved seating area, but crowded around the periphery of the sectioned-off area.
The spirit underpinning the FSC Awards — to honor not only those who excel in business, but those who promote a pro-adult image through advocacy and beyond — was strongly reflected in the recipients.
The first award announced, the prestigious title of Woman of the Year, went to veteran performer/director Lorelei Lee, who has been active in the fight against mandatory condom legislation, attending hearings in Sacramento and helping educate politicians and the general public about the adult industry.
“She invented this industry,” adult industry attorney Karen Tynan said of Lee, who presented the award to her. Tynan and Lee recently worked side by side to present a case against the passage of the proposed statewide condom mandate, AB 1576. The bill was eventually succesfully defeated in the California Senate.
In addition to thanking FSC CEO Diane Duke, Kink.com owner Peter Acworth and many others, Lee spotlighted her husband who she said, “drove me up to Sacramento, who told me I couldn’t quit, even when the legislators made me cry."
Punctuating the ceremony was the announcement of a brand new award, the Christian Mann Courage and Leadership Award, launched in honor of the late Evil Angel magnate.
The inaugural honor was bestowed on Kink.com founder Peter Acworth, who has spearheaded the adult industry’s opposition to AB 1576 and other legislation, by unifying and organizing the community’s response. During the hearing process in Sacramento, droves of Kink employees appeared to give testimony and provide voice for their often-silence community.
Acworth was unable to personally attend the ceremony, but appeared via a pre-recorded video, in which he urged the industry to continue to unite in the face of ongoing adversity.
Christian Mann was further honored, receiving posthumous recognition as Man of the Year. Christian Mann’s widow, Melissa Mann, accepted the award on his behalf. “The first thing Christian would have done would be to thank everyone he has ever met in his entire life,” she said, echoing many others’ assessments of Christian’s warm, selfless personality.
Lorelei Lee returned to the stage to present the Performer of the Year Award to director/performer/advocate Chanel Preston.
“I would not be getting the Woman of the Year Award if it wasn’t for the Performer of the Year,” Lee said. “There has never been a better time to be a performer, and it’s precisely because of Chanel.” Referencing Preston’s many accomplishments, including heading APAC as president and promoting sex positivity and education through her web series, “Naked With Chanel,” she added, “It’s a wonder she has time to make porn!”
“I’m speechless,” Preston said. “I love getting awards for my genitals, but this is super, super exciting…. Thank you to everyone who supported APAC and believed in it.”
The evening closed on a very special note, with the presentation of the Legacy Award to Adam & Eve co-founder and industry icon Phil Harvey.
Harvey ventured into the adult-oriented industry in 1970 with a simple vision: to distribute condoms by mail. But in 1970, a politically more conservative era with regard to sex, the business was considered illegal under the Comstock Law, which prohibits the trade and circulation of “obscene literature and articles of immoral use.”
Although the business flourished for a time, Adam & Eve was eventually raided by the federal government in 1986.
Instead of yielding to the archaic statute (originally passed in 1873), Harvey engaged in a seven-year legal battle against the government — and won. Condoms, as any 7-11 patron knows, are no longer considered obscene, and can be freely sold by mail or over the counter.
“The battles we’ve fought are miniscule compared to what Phil fought,” said Diane Duke, who presented the award and described Harvey as “her hero.”
“This award is about long-lasting performance, and I’ll accept it in that spirit. That’s one of the few things that gets better when you get older,” Harvey said.
The entire list of 2015 FSC Award Winners:
- Legacy Award – Phil Harvey
- Performer of the Year – Chanel Preston
- Man of the Year – Christian Mann
- Woman of the Year – Lorelei Lee
- Pleasure Products Company of the Year – Pipedream
- Retailer of the Year – Castle Megastore
- Production Company of the Year – Wicked Pictures
- Internet Company of the Year – Clips4Sale
- Christian Mann Courage and Leadership Award – Peter Acworth
- Leadership Award -- Streamate