LOS ANGELES — On Jan. 12, the adult industry's biggest night filled the largest ballroom in Los Angeles to capacity with all-stars and power players of all stripes, to crown the crème de la crème of video production, web/tech and pleasure products.
The stage was set in the storied Westin Bonaventure Hotel, often used as a Hollywood movie location, with an equally legendary host: Ron Jeremy, an icon of adult for almost 40 years and one of the few porn greats familiar to mainstream audiences. He was, in fact, introduced by a montage of television shows, from "The View" to "The Tonight Show," on which he either appeared or was talked about. Barreling on stage in a tux, he got right down to working the jovial crowd.
“If my jokes are funny, I created them, if not, it’s XBIZ.” They were mostly funny.
Awards-wise, it was a good night for Wicked Pictures, whose feature movie “The Preacher's Daughter” took home six awards, three of them presented onstage.
Wicked also won the first presented award, Parody Release of the Year, for Axel Braun’s “Suicide Squad XXX.” Braun and his contract star Riley Steele were joined on stage by most of the movie’s cast. “You can’t go wrong with so many talented people,” the director said.
Presenters Angela White and Kristina Rose then unveiled the Performer Showcase of the Year victor, “Booty Queen 2” from ArchAngel. Director MimeFreak joined showcase subject A.J. Applegate at the podium, where they lit up the stage with charisma and entertaining hijinks.
Anikka Albrite and Romi Rain presented Couples Sex Toy of the Year to WeVibe Sync, from WeVibe, a decorated XBIZ winner. Male Sex Toy/Line of the Year went to BLEWIT from blewit!
Mercedes Carrera and Nina Elle gave Girl/Girl Performer of the Year to Jenna Sativa, a popular choice judging by audience reaction. She thanked agent Mark Spiegler for “believing in me... I’ll always be grateful.”
All-Girl Release of the Year went to “Little Red: A Lesbian Fairy Tale” from Girlsway. Co-director Bree Mills, another audience favorite, led most of the cast onstage. Calling the project a “labor of love,” she went out of her way to thank the crew and directing partner Stills by Alan, who joined her at the mic.
Live Cam Site of the Year went to MyFreeCams.com, presented by Nicole Aniston and Tasha Reign, and accepted by a gaggle of girls, all very happy.
“Can I get a muthafuckin’ drum roll?” yelled Misty Stone as she and Elsa Jean announced the winner of Gonzo Release of the Year: “Mick Loves Anikka” from BAM Visions/Evil Angel. The Blues took the stage like the porn royalty they are, with Mick announcing, “We like what we did.” Then, he scooped up his beautiful wife and carried her off in his arms.
Best Sex Scene in a Gonzo Release went to Ana Foxxx and Manuel Ferrara for “Black Anal Asses” from Hard X. “Oh my god!” Ana screamed. “Thank you, Manuel, for fucking me.” Not to be outdone by his Evil Angel labelmate director, Ferrara made like Tarzan and carried her off over his shoulder.
MILF icons Julia Ann and India Summer announced the winner of Sex Toy of the Year to King Cock Plus from Pipedream, whose spokesman accepted triumphantly.
The award for Pleasure Products Company of the Year went to industry giant Doc Johnson, the seventh XBIZ award for the firm, and a full company troupe waltzed on stage to accept.
A brief entertainment break with five booty-shaking dancers ensued, followed by Ron Jeremy back on stage and a surprise impromptu visit from his pal rapper Flavor Flav. The Public Enemy turned to the crowd as he urged them to chant along with him.
Wicked’s “The Preacher’s Daughter” began its sweep with awards to its two stars, presented by Will Ryder and Allie Haze. Mia Malkova in the title role was named Best Actress, followed by Xander Corvus as Best Actor. The pretty blonde Malkova said sweetly, “Thank you, Brad Armstrong for being a fantastic director.” Corvus literally vaulted on stage, fairly bursting with exuberance. “Thank you, Brad, for casting me in this.”
The production was later named Feature Movie of the Year. Writer-director Armstrong thanked most of the cast and crew on stage and paid tribute to his partner Jessica Drake, who was not part of the production, but “who is my guiding light and the one who makes me work. She makes everything a whole lot better when she’s with me.” (Armstrong was also named Director of the Year in a Feature Release).
In between nods to the Wicked movie — which also won Screenplay of the Year and Best Music — there were other presentations: Live Cam Company of the Year — North America went to Chaturbate, and Live Cam Company of the Year — Europe to PussyCash. Paysite Affiliate Program of the Year went to CherryPimps, another frequent XBIZ honoree.
Greg Lansky was crowned Director of the Year, amidst thunderous applause. “This is a wonderful honor. Thanks to my wife Jennifer for being wonderful every day.” Then he paid tribute to the porn community, telling the audience, “You guys are artists, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.” (Lanksy’s Vixen.com was named Best New Studio/Line and Adult Site of the Year — Video.)
Buck Angel and Valentina Nappi (who shared a unique sex scene last year in Dana Vespoli’s “Girl/Boy 2”) took over for three presentations. Gay Movie of the Year went to “One Erection” from CockyBoys. Dashing Sean Zevran was named Gay Performer of the Year. And the Trans Performer of the Year went to lovely Aubrey Kate.
XBIZ founder and publisher Alec Helmy took the stage to present the Industry Leadership Award to Eric Paul Leue, director of the Free Speech Coalition, for leading the fight against Proposition 60. After a period of dramatic suspense, Leue burst on stage, thanking all who had worked in the anti-60 campaign, in particular Julia Ann and Tasha Reign. “Now, I’m gonna go party,” he finished breathlessly.
This year’s Pioneer Awards inductees were announced from the stage: Ron Cadwell (CCBill) for Web & Technology, Kelly Holland (Penthouse) for Movies & Production, Shay and Dan Martin (Vibratex) for Pleasure Products and Larry Garland (Eldorado) for Retail & Distribution.
After another dance break, Ron Jeremy played the harmonica masterfully and bantered charmingly with folks at the front row tables, eliciting delighted claps. Then, it was on to MILF Performer of Year, which went to the popular Cherie DeVille, bubbling over giddily. Best New Starlet was won by Lana Rhoades, who enthused, “I’m really looking forward to 2017.”
Asa Akira and Kira Noir presented Luxury Sex Toy Line of the Year to Callie, from JOPEN, the company’s fourth XBIZ award, and Fetish Product/Line of the Year to Master Series from XR Brands.
An impressive lineup of nominees for Sexpert of the Year yielded the prize to Jessica Drake, educator and activist as well as Wicked Pictures contract star. She was visibly moved by the honor (“so many gifted people nominated”) and said that “this indicates a new direction in my career.”
Kendra Lust, looking sumptuous, bestowed the coveted Performer of the Year awards. 2017 XBIZ Female Performer of the Year went to Katrina Jade, who gave big thanks to XBIZ, as well as her husband. She also quoted Joanna Angel: “Don’t let anybody tell you ‘you can’t do this with tattoos’” (hers were peeking out seductively from a very transparent one-piece outfit).
Male Performer of the Year brought Xander Corvus back to the stage, even more exuberantly than before. “I’ll be a little more eloquent this time,” he grinned, and thanked “all of my buddies and friends who inspired me to do my best.”
Jade and Corvus later went on to win Best Sex Scene in a Couples-Themed Release for B. Skow’s “The Switch.”
The next presentation fell to Eva Lovia and Sara Luvv. Billing Company of the Year went to Vendo, while Merchant Services Company of the Year was accepted by NETbilling.
For the final two categories, presenters Cali Carter, Megan Rain and Darcie Dolce glided onto the stage, all dressed to the nines. Live Cam Model of the Year was bestowed on the exquisite Devious Angel, with Cam Studio of the Year awarded to Studio 20 and its innovative creator Mugur Frunzetti.
“Everybody have a good time?” Ron Jeremy asked as a wrap-up, and the answer was a resounding yes indeed, as folks headed off happily to the after-party.