HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — The Transgender Erotica Awards Show (TEAs) brings together hundreds of trans performers and industry elites for an upscale affair that honors an important minority in the adult biz. In the heart of Hollywood, Calif., at the Avalon nightclub, Grooby Productions puts on a show for the ages — filled with bright neon lights, a packed red carpet and comedic performances that leave the audience gasping for air.
Ten years ago, the inaugural TEAs — which back in 2008 was named the Tranny Awards — still had the same objective, though the execution was vastly different. Steven Grooby, a strong advocate for the trans community and CEO of Grooby Productions, sought to recognize transgender performers and producers, believing mainstream adult award ceremonies had failed to rightfully honor trans artists.
The first iteration of the show was simply an online competition, where fans could vote via the company’s website for their favorite performer. While there was no red carpet or a glamorous Hollywood Blvd. venue, the heart of the show — which was, and always has been, the trans community — was still very much present.
From 2010 and onward, the TEAs became a live event, hopping from small venues in the San Fernando Valley until it found a home at the luxurious Avalon nightclub.
“When I started organizing and running the event, the TEAs were just starting to gain momentum thanks to my co-worker and partner in crime, Dan, and director Buddy Wood, who organized the first few shows in the Valley,” explained Kristel Penn, Grooby’s longtime marketing and editorial director. She looked dapper as ever, wearing a sleek black blazer, a fresh-pressed white button up and a small red flower pin on her collar. She held a clipboard to her chest, gushing excitedly about the history of the TEAs, as well as her role.
“We’re not party planners here at Grooby, but we all end up wearing multiple hats, myself included,” she said. “The growth of the show can be attributed to the synergy that exists between all of us. It is a true team effort here where we all go the extra mile to help each other out, not because we are obligated to, but because we like each other and look out for each other.”
Penn, then took a second to talk about the highly successful pre-party, which was held the Friday before the show.
“The After Party — which we now do as a pre-party — is a rare opportunity to see the Grooby team all together and celebrating,” Penn told XBIZ. “Yes, we are still working, but there is definitely a lightness to it because finally, we are here. All of our hard work leads up to this weekend and the Pre-Party event is the one time where we can pause long enough to celebrate.
“Overall, I think we’ve gotten more confident in running the show, but we never allow ourselves to stagnate,” she continued. “We want the show to continue to grow and are constantly looking at how we can do things better the following year.
“I am humbled each year by the amount of support we receive not only from sponsors — new and returning — but from guests and fans all over the world.” As the lights dimmed to indicate the start of the show, Penn quickly said, “Their support is what allows us to grow the show each year. I can’t say that I anticipated our growing success, but I can say that I am very grateful for it!”
To the side, Steven Grooby watched as the show began to unfold. XBIZ caught up with him to quickly chat about the night.
“It’s been a great weekend,” Grooby said. “But I’m ready to go home and wake up late tomorrow morning! But, you know, it’s been a good 10 years. The growth has been organic. Every year we’ve seen the numbers go up. There’s more girls here than I’ve ever seen before. It’s great. It’s going to be a fun night.”
The attendees all rushed to their tables, taking their seats. Everyone in the audience eagerly looked up at the stage. Stationed in the center was a wedding arch decorated with flowers. A long white carpet led the way up to the stage. A beautiful bride and her groom made their way up to the arch, classic wedding music playing in the distance.
“If anyone objects to this wedding, speak now or forever hold your peace,” the man officiating the wedding said. The crow fell silent, awaiting for the kiss … but it never came! Instead, the host of the night, Ts Madison, rushed on stage, wearing her very own wedding dress. “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” from the DreamGirls soundtrack, sang by Jennifer Hudson, played loudly in the background.
Madison mouthed the words to the song — “No, no, no way … I'm not waking up tomorrow morning, and finding that there's nobody there!” — gripping onto the groom, and pushing away the other bride. From her veil, Madison pulled out a miniature bat and began to attack the bride. The crowd, albeit confused, erupted into laughter. People clapped as the groom tried to scurry away, shielding his wife from Madison’s onslaught of abuse.
The song continued, and so did the theatrics. Madison pulled out a knife and pretended to stab the wife, who fell on the floor “dead.” The groom cried over his wife’s limp body. Pulling out a gun, Madison sang along to the final words of the song, “You're gonna love me, yes you are!” and pulled the trigger. The lights turned off, and the crowd erupted into laughter and applause.
Now on stage at the left-side podium was Hudsy Hawn, a BDSM educator and pro-domme, as well as Kristel Penn. Together, they briefly reiterated the history of the TEAs, explaining how much the show had grown since being an online poll, and cramming inside Joe’s Cafe. Penn thanked the community for coming, and let Hawn take the ropes.
The bodacious redhead introduced the first category of the night — Best DVD, which was presented by Jacquie Blue and Trixxy Von Tease.
“We’re here to rock your world,” Blue joked, speaking loudly into the mic. She wore a sparkly gown that collected at her ankles. She looked elegant, yet sexy.
“Actually, I’m here to rock your universe,” Von Tease smirked. Her dress featured a sheer, sleeveless top that really showcased her chest and arm tattoos.
The duo announced “Real Fucking Girls 2” as the winner. The entire cast accepted the award on stage, but Jelena Vermilion took to the podium to say thank you to the fans, the industry and everyone who worked hard on “Real Fucking Girls 2.”
Up after, Lianna Lawson and Cassidy Quinn presented the award for Best Photographer, which went to Radius Dark. He accepted the award graciously. Cradling the trophy like a baby, he smiled as he spoke. “Sorry I don’t have a better speech prepared, but I genuinely appreciate this award. Thank you.”
Next was a first for the TEAs. Steve Volponi and industry veteran Jim Powers presented the first-ever Gender X “Model of the Year.” Powers briefly explained the significance of being eligible for an award this prestigious.
“This girl really put it out there,” he said. “She has a strong personality, puts on a great performance. We came prepared for her!”
The crowd anxiously awaited as Powers announced the winner: 2018 XBIZ Trans Performer of the Year Chanel Santini. Wearing a sleek white dress with gold accents at the chest, she looked beautiful on stage.
“Thank you Jim for always booking me,” Santini expressed. “And thank you to my fans for being so supportive!”
A second first for the TEAs, the next award was presented by Rick Fontana and MILF superstar Mercedes Carrera for “Cam Performer of the Year.” Carrera outlined the importance of cams, and how they changed the industry.
The winner went to cuties Casey Kisses, who was also a 2018 XBIZ Trans Performer of the Year nominee, and Korra Del Rio. Both girls, who are a real life couple, appeared together on stage — all smiles and giggles. They held hands as they approached the podium, looking at one another lovingly. They thanked their network, Chaturbate, and their fans.
Black TGirls Model of the Year, presented by Soldier Boi and Kristen Kraves, went to Megan Snow who was not in attendance, while Best Internet Personality went to Natalie Mars.
Presenter Adam Christopher detailed what it takes to be considered a “successful internet Personality.”
“You have to be funny, you have to have charisma and you have to be good to your fans,” Christopher said. “I have zero of that ... but if you want to follow my internet personality, see me on Twitter, @ACreationOfAdam.”
Best Industry Professional was awarded to Evil Angel’s John Stagliano. Evil Angel contract director Aiden Starr and Evil Angel contract performer Aubrey Kate took the stage to honor him.
Starr wore an all black ensemble on stage, as well as light up sneakers. They flashed a variety of colors every time she took a step.
“I wanted to take a minute … I’m sorry I’m so nervous,” Starr laughed into the mic. “John really, thank you. You’re amazing.”
Kate added, “You’ve really paved the way for trans content, and I want to say thank you for that, too.”
Starr, a little less nervous, joked, “Get on here! I have lube in my gift bag I need to give to you.”
Stagliano marched up on stage, and stood behind the podium next to Starr and Kate.
“Joey Silvera is actually the guy,” Stagliano pointed to where Silvera was seated. “He’s brought to my company some really great stuff. I want to thank the performers who have worked really hard. It’s an absolute honor to be here. Things were different when I started, but we’ve really come a long way. Thank you!”
Best Solo Site was presented by the ever eccentric Ashes Wednesday and Addie Eve, who lit a joint on stage and smoked it during the presentation. MiaMaffia.xxx won the award.
Jamie Jameson and Micha Angela presented the award for Best Scene, which went to Chanel Santini and Lance Hart for their performance in Tom Moore’s “Wonder Woman.”
“It’s an honor to be a part of this community,” Santini said. “As a woman this is very empowering. I salute you guys … thank you for acknowledging our work. Getting to play Wonder Woman was an honor!”
Lance, who let Santini speak, grinded behind her. The duo danced their way off stage, laughing and bumping hips.
Host Madison finally returned to the stage. With her was the groom from the opening sequence — he wore black slacks, and showed off his amazing six pack.
“My husband now, y’all,” Madison joked. The crowd laughed. “Did you guys miss me?! What’s the real tea in this motherfucker ... is it you lying hoes? OK, are you guys enjoying yourself so far? Did you like that opening! Sometimes you have to bust up a bitch real quick. Shout out to Steven Grooby! Giving us good jobs and good titties!”
The audience cheered, and many resonated with her “you have to bust up a bitch real quick” — the crowd whooped and hollered in agreement.
Madison announced the next category, emphasizing its importance. “Grooby Girl of the Year goes to an individual who has performed amazingly well on one of the many Grooby sites.” Shiri Allwood took home the prize.
Best Non-TS Female went to Mona Wales, while Best Non-TS Male was a tie and went to Soldier Boi and D. Arclyte. Both thanked the trans community for welcoming them with open arms, and expressed how beautiful each woman looked in the audience tonight.
Aiden Starr picked up the honor of Best Scene Producer. Madison thanked Starr and Evil Angel for always featuring trans performers in their scenes. Annabelle Lane, then, took Best VR Scenefor her performance on GroobyVR.com.
Miran was named Bob’s Tgirl, while Foxxy was named Kink’s Kinkiest Tgirl Domme.
Back on stage, Madison brought up Kristel Penn and Sparky Snakeden to present the Outstanding Service Award. Grooby recognized Morgan Bailey, who manned the TEAs red carpet for eight years.
“Ooh, what is this service award for?” Bailey laughed. “Am I getting this for servicing good dick? If so, that’s a good award!” The crowd laughed along with her. “But, seriously, thank you to Grooby for this.”
This year, Grooby’s Lifetime Achievement Award went to both Nicole Montero and Jesse Flores. Following a montage of each girl, they both accepted their awards and thanked Grooby for recognizing them when other awards would not.
Best FTM Performer went to Eddie Wood, who looked cute on stage with his bowtie and dark blazer. During his acceptance speech, he spoke briefly about the rise of FTM porn.
“Thank you Buck Angel for putting me in his films,” he said. “Thank you to Michelle Austin for taking a chance on me in 2015, too. I also want to thank Transational Fantasies for being so supportive. It’s been a big year for FTM porn. Let me tell you, you can take Ts fans and make them into FTM fans. FTM is hot! All these girls wanna fuck our pussies, and it’s only going to get hotter. Trans rules! We rule!”
The next award, Ms. Unique, which has been a staple of the TEAs, went to Nadia Love. The award, Madison said, goes to someone who does not fit the stereotypical mold of a trans star. Someone who, she added, has tattoos or pink hair.
The Transcendence Award went to Kelly Klaymour, who “transcended from the role of typical porn performer and became a role model, and excellent ambassador for trans erotica.”
Klaymour said, “This is awesome. I wrote a little something to say. Thank you Dr. Sinclair for sponsoring this award. It is a really big honor. Thank you Kristel and Steven for putting on this show. I am thankful for this recognition. Five years ago I entered this industry. I had a solo shoot at the Marriott hotel in Kansas City. I blasted off from there, and went on to make a couple members’ site. Now, for two years I’ve worked for Kink with licensing and distributing. It’s great. I’ve made a home in this industry. I’ve made a family. It’s a tremendous honor. Thank you.”
The award for Transational Fantasy Girl of the Year went to Brooke Zanell.
“Transnational,” started Fran from TransationalFantasies.com, “That means she has a lot of everything. ShemaleStrokers has been one the most popular trans sites, but this year we took a huge step in rebranding ShemaleStrokers to Transational. Thus, we have the first Transnational Fantasy Girl of the Year, who is one of the most popular trans girls in this industry. Love it or hate it, the first transational girl is Brooke Zanell!”
Zanell, eager to accept her award, accidentally dropped it. She laughed, as did the crowd. “Shit happens!”
The next winner, Mia Maffia, also delivered a touching speech about her Best International Model honor.
“I’m really emotional,” Maffia commented. “Thank you for everyone who has given me a place to work in the U.S. The U.K. is a dry zone. Thank you all!”
Presenter of the Best New Face award Domino Presley told the audience, “This is the award winner you bitches gotta be lookin’ out for. That’s your competition, she’s the one who’s gonna get all the coins!”
The winner was Kayleigh Coxx.
Rounding out the show was the awards for Best Solo Model, Fan Choice Award and Best Hardcore Performer. Natalia Mars won the award for Best Solo Model, while 2017 XBIZ Trans Performer of the Year Aubrey Kate swept the other two categories.
As she appeared on stage, she mentioned that the Fan Choice Award was the first award in the industry she received. She was glad “to bring it back home.”
To wrap up the show, Kate gave a heartwarming speech about being yourself.
“Thank you to everyone,” she looked out into the crowd. “Thank you to the fans that look at me online. Thank you to all my sisters. I love you all. Don’t ever change. This industry tries to make you someone you’re not. Be yourself. Never change. You’re all beautiful and unique. I hope my Evil Angel contract is just the beginning, and it opens new doors for all trans performers.”
Madison, who returned to the stage after Kate accepted her award, reiterated her statement.
“When you walk out these doors,” Madison told the audience, “Know who you are. Don’t let anyone tell you different.”
She, then, asked all the nominees and award winners to join her on stage so they could celebrate together as a family.
And, they did.