XBIZ Lights Up Hollywood for 3rd RISE Gala

XBIZ Lights Up Hollywood for 3rd RISE Gala
Melissa Santana

WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — There ain’t no party like an XBIZ party! With more than 500 adult stars and 200 industry professionals in attendance, the trendy West Hollywood nightclub 1OAK was packed to capacity for the third annual RISE Adult Talent Appreciation Gala.

Adult’s finest lined Sunset Boulevard, dressed to the nines and eagerly anticipating the night ahead. As they chit chatted amongst themselves, photographers readied their cameras. The attendees made their way down the red carpet — some posing seductively and others goofily.

Inside the venue, the XBIZ logo was emblazoned on the big screen located under the DJ’s booth; logos of the night’s biggest sponsors — iWantEmpire, Studio 20, Evil Angel, PimpXXX, Girlsway, MindGeek and Blacked.com — gleamed on the screen, too.

While the club’s DJ spun tracks ranging from 1980s jams to modern-day pop hits, partygoers flocked to the dance floor, drinks in hand and arms in the air. As the night raged on and the clock struck 11 p.m., XBIZ Events Director Moe Helmy took the stage to announce the first speaker, the ever-charming and poised Kelly Holland, Penthouse owner and CEO.

“Is everyone having fun?” Helmy’s voice boomed over the sound system, his excitement bouncing off the walls. The crowd cheered in response. “Yeah! That’s what I like to hear. OK, I’m going to keep it nice and short, because I know everyone wants to party. I’m going to introduce my good friend, Miss Kelly Holland. Give her a round of applause!”

The patrons of the club put their hands together, clapping enthusiastically as Holland took the mic.

“I want to tell you first … I love you guys!” Holland enthused. “Even if I don’t know you, or I haven’t worked with you, I love you. And I’ll tell you what, every performer in this business is the greatest, most outspoken — even when you don’t try to — bravest person I know.

“With what’s in the news these days, you may walk on a set to do an anal scene, but that doesn’t mean that it’s OK for any guy, or girl, on set to walk up to you and grab you,” she added. “Work is work! Just remember … nope to the grope!

“This is a family,” she continued. “It’s dysfunctional, but it’s a family nonetheless. And that’s why I got dressed, drove over the hill and walked into a club, even though I’m not a club person, to tell you guys how much I love you.”

She continued to sing her praises of the industry’s talent, and then took a moment to honor Shyla Stylez, who passed away last week.

“If you never met her, she was an amazing person,” Holland said. “She’s going to be missed by every member of our family. So, big shoutout to Shyla.”

Up after Holland was Jay Phillips, iWantEmpire’s CEO. He, too, spoke about the importance of appreciating the industry’s talent.

“Thank you very much, Holly,” Phillips said with a smile on his face. “It’s a great honor to be a sponsor of such a great event that puts the performers first. This night is about you. And no matter your gender, sexual preference or fetish, iWantEmpire welcomes you. We honor and celebrate you. We want you.”

After Phillips, APAC Vice President Riley Reyes spoke briefly about APAC’s mission, and how the performers in attendance could get involved.

“Thank you XBIZ for this event,” Reyes began. “This year we want to create a more interactive APAC. If you have ideas, talents or a story to share ... that input is valuable. So, please come to a meeting, come talk to us. Our community is our strength. By uniting our goals, we can make a difference in this industry and in the life of a performer. So come to us, have these conversations with us. We’re here for you. I speak for the entire board when I say we look forward to hearing from such a diverse pool of performers. We love you so much.”

Once the speakers had finished, Helmy took to the stage yet again, this time to announce adult star Carter Cruise as the night’s special guest DJ. Bubbling with excitement and practically bouncing on her feet, Cruise addressed the crowd and asked if they were ready “to turn the fuck up!” As she spun masterfully, the celebrants once again took to the dancefloor.

Throughout the evening, XBIZ chatted with some of the night’s attendees, who had nothing but praise for the event.

“Evil Angel loves XBIZ for always throwing the best events, and staying on the forefront of adult entertainment,” said Chris Gentile, Evil Angel’s vice president of product. He was flanked by the first-ever Evil Angel contract star, 2017 XBIZ Female Performer of the Year Katrina Jade and the cute-as-a-button Elsa Jean.

Vicki Chase, who sat at the Blacked.com table, remarked, “I’m definitely having a great time. You know, XBIZ really shows what getting together and having a good time is all about. Tonight really is about us, and about us getting along. I really like that.”

XBIZ Award-winning cam models Jenny Blighe and Dave Slick, who attended the event together, loved the atmosphere and XBIZ’s community-first mindset.

“This is my very first XBIZ nomination party, and I am officially blown away at how much fun it is!” Blighe enthused, arm around her handsome date. “I hope to attend many more in the future and continue growing a relationship with the amazing crew behind XBIZ. Thank you for having me!”

Slick, thigh-to-thigh with the gorgeous Blighe, added, “RISE has been such a blast. I love this XBIZ family, and they are such gracious hosts. This is a spectacular venue!”

The equally gorgeous cam model MalibuBomb, seated across from Slick and Blighe, commented, “As always XBIZ came through with an awesome event. They are the perfect fusion of cam and porn, and as a cam girl, I always feel like a star at XBIZ events. The XBIZ RISE Gala is above and beyond.”

Kristel Penn, 2017 XBIZ Brand Ambassador and Grooby’s marketing and editorial director, graciously downed a tequila shot with the XBIZ crew and then cheered, “Thank you so much to the XBIZ crew for hosting a wonderful event to celebrate the infinitely talented performers in our industry! It is an honor to cheer them on and raise a glass to them, as I'm sincerely grateful for all the hard work they've put in to make our industry what it is today."

Others took to Twitter to express how much fun they were having.

Once midnight came around, Helmy returned to the DJ booth to speak one last time.

“I’m here to introduce the beautiful … the 2018 XBIZ Awards host … Miss Jessica Drake!” Helmy dragged out the last syllable of Drake’s name, which caused the crowd to erupt into cheers.

“I love you Jessica!” someone yelled over the cheers, applause ensued.

“What’s up!” Drake laughed. “Everyone having fun tonight?! Does everybody wanna say thank you XBIZ?!” The crowd did so. “And now, if you look down here, we’re going to announce the 2018 XBIZ Awards nominees!”

The flood of adult stars huddled around the big screen, gawking and poking at one another in congrats whenever they spotted their names.

XBIZ, then, caught up with a few of the nominees to talk about their achievement face-to-face, while others tweeted their gratitude.

“I am so honored,” 2016 XBIZ Foreign Female Performer of the Year Angela White said about her 2018 Female Performer of the Year nomination. “I’m so happy. I’m overwhelmed.”

Eden Sin, who received a Best New Starlet nomination, was speechless. With her hand against her mouth, she literally squealed loudly in excitement. “Oh my god! Okay! Holy shit. Yes, I absolutely love XBIZ and everything they have done for this industry, and for everything they have done for me. I feel like I’m going to cry! Oh my god, I’m so happy.”

As the night came to an end, and the Ubers began to line up outside, the industry’s rising stars and seasoned veterans bade each other farewell and thanked the XBIZ family for hosting such a kick-ass event.

For the full list of 2018 XBIZ nominees, click here.

The night's sponsors included iWantClips, Evil Angel, MindGeek, Studio 20, PimpsXXX, Blacked, Girlsway, Recession Girlz, Gamelink, New Sensations, ATMLA and Adam & Eve. Goodie bags brought to you by Exsens, Bad Dragon, pjur, Clandestine Devices, Wicked Sensuals, Bijoux, Si Novelties, Doc Johnson and CalExotics.