The Show Did Go On: 2022 XBIZ Awards Dazzle in Hollywood

The Show Did Go On: 2022 XBIZ Awards Dazzle in Hollywood

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — And just like that, to quote another popular cultural phenomenon involving sex and another city, the 2022 XBIZ Awards returned live and in person to the heart of Hollywood with a star-studded gala, presented by ManyVids, at the historic Palladium on Sunset Boulevard.

Hosted by Maitland Ward, herself one of the night’s big winners, the event showed that after two unusual years marked by virtual ceremonies, the adult community was ready to take the necessary precautions and get back to the business of honoring its best, brightest and glitziest.

The venue could not have been more iconic: the Hollywood Palladium, the crown jewel of Los Angeles entertainment, a National Register of Historic Places monument built in 1940 in the art deco sub-style known as “Streamline Moderne.”

For over eight decades, the Palladium’s stage has witnessed a veritable Hall of Fame of entertainment worthies, from Frank Sinatra and Jimi Hendrix to Megadeth and Jay-Z — now joined by Ward and a panoply of presenters and winners at their zenith in the rarified echelons of the adult industry.

All of these illustrious personages — plus their equally impressive fellow nominees, peers, guests and plus-ones, and the indispensable behind-the-scenes players who build the platforms and maintain the engines that allow for the smooth operation of this world-class industry — lined up along Sunset Boulevard, across from the psychedelic mural restored by Quentin Tarantino for “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood,” to walk the red carpet right there on the boulevard of showbiz dreams itself.

The official XBIZ pre-show red carpet interviews were once again conducted by the inimitable Joanna Angel, herself no stranger to awards and recognition from her peers and community. Angel confirmed her unchallenged status as the doyenne of alt-models by wearing a skintight red vinyl dress that epitomized Hollywood rock ’n’ roll attitude.

After the red carpet, the guests milled about in the art deco main bar area of the Palladium, sharing cocktails and stories as they awaited admittance into the legendary ballroom, which still conveys the old-school majesty of the 1940 opening night when the Tommy Dorsey orchestra and a young Frank Sinatra provided the entertainment.

The Palladium had transformed overnight from the busy booths of the successful, inaugural X3 Expo into a swanky “Old Hollywood” venue, with VIP tables reserved by the top studios and companies for the cream of the adult business.

The lights dimmed and the enormous video wall set onstage played the recent XBIZ-produced PSA “I Am a Sex Worker” featuring Ward giving an impassioned speech about sex worker pride and rights, with a slowly zooming camera on a set reminiscent of the classic interrogation scene in the seminal erotic thriller “Basic Instinct.”

The video was met with rousing ovations from the audience, who reacted noticeably every time Ward touched on sex workers' tireless dignity in the face of stigma and discrimination.

The audience was invited to rise as a spectacular video showcased a flyover over Los Angeles, ending at the Palladium and prefacing the entrance of the evening’s star herself, Maitland Ward, as the announcer, once again in person, delivered the signature welcome to “the 2022 XBIZ Awards, adult entertainment’s biggest night!”

“We are back!” a visibly moved Ward, in a floor-length shimmering green gown, announced to the cheers of the crowd.

“It’s so good to be back together in person, isn’t it?” she continued. “We’ve been waiting so, so long for this moment! I’m so amped.”

Ward then joked, “It’s like that feeling you get when an orgy might break out at any moment,” before scanning the crowd for prospective orgy participants. “What do you think?” she asked. “Content trade opportunity? I’ll tag-and-tweet you if you tag-and-tweet me? My assistant will go around the room passing out the 2257s.”

The host singled out Seth Gamble, Kenzie Taylor, Angela White, Ana Foxxx, Dante Colle and Isiah Maxwell for the proposed group-on.

“I mean, I’m feeling extra frisky,” she warned, “because who knows what could happen with all these variants flying around? By now, we’ve had so many cotton swabs stuck up our noses — we’re kinda starting to like it. Right? Don’t kink-shame! Like, I can’t orgasm until someone pokes my frontal lobe through my left nostril with a Q-Tip. It can get really embarrassing at 7 a.m. at Talent Testing, I’ll tell you that much.”

After the jokes, Ward shifted tone to remind the audience that everyone deserved congratulations because “all of you, together, we have come through two of the most challenging years of our lives.”

“So let’s take this rare moment to make a promise together,” she said. “Let’s promise to savor this very moment and really let things sink in. Because I’m feeling emotional as I look around at all your beautiful faces. Even though I’m loving all this attention on stage, look away from me for a moment, and look instead at your friends. At your colleagues. Take a deep breath and recognize that while our industry is not the same as it was two years ago — and we don’t know what’s on the horizon — tonight we are together to celebrate one another. Drink it in. You’ve earned it. We’ve earned it!”

It was now time for the culminating moment of a packed week of industry events: the crowning of the best and the shiniest.

Multi-XBIZ-Award-winner Charlotte Stokely, a vision in a gold gown — gold being this year’s fashion Pantone of choice — took the stage to present the first award of the evening, “Performer Showcase of the Year,” which went to the Gianna Dior vehicle “Psychosexual” (Vixen Media Group). The award was picked up by the title’s director, Kayden Kross, who called the star’s performance “fantastic” and reminded the audience that the concept was Dior’s and that “she put everything into it.”

The always ebullient, literally jumping-up-and-down Stokely — always a highlight event presenter and the perfect choice to kick off the ceremony energy-wise — then presented the award for “All-Girl Movie of the Year,” a category very dear to her heart. And tongue. And fingers.

The award went to Adult Time’s “Sweet Sweet Sally Mae,” a high-concept 1970s exploitation/action homage, directed by adult’s one-man grindhouse Ricky Greenwood, to showcase Ana Foxxx as “a badass chick on a mission.”

Foxxx — in a stunning, leg-baring short black number festooned with multicolored gems and deconstructed epaulettes — collected the award, shouting out her castmates and proudly announcing that “I ate a lot of pussy” during the lensing of the retro fest.

“I’m up here,” she proclaimed, “and I got an award — for eating fucking pussy, bitch! So I’m here to let you motherfuckers know… I eat motherfucking pussy, bitch!”

Switching into a more serious tone, Foxxx told the crowd she “really appreciates everything that the adult industry brings to me. I appreciate the people that elevate me, and people like me, and that want to see humans fuck. So, thank you to you humans for fucking!”

Everyone’s favorite enigmatic charmer, Whitney Wright, took the stage next in a leather pants, blazer and transparent bra ensemble to announce the 2022 “Girl/Girl Performer of the Year” winner, Kenna James.

The blonde stunner, alliteratively described by the announcer as “a spellbinding Sapphic sorceress,” said that although she didn’t expect to win “against such amazing ladies,” she wanted to thank “everyone who supported me so much in this industry. I cannot tell you what this means. Thank you so much.”

Wright then announced the winner for “MILF Performer of the Year,” veteran industry stalwart Alexis Fawx, who took the stage in a full tailored suit and tie, a look completed by her natty top hat and cane.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” Fawx enthused. “I was not prepared. I love all of you so, so much and this industry has been absolutely amazing to me. I’m so fucking happy! Thank you.”

The next presenter was notorious “library girl” and Brazzers contract star Kendra Sunderland, who announced both the “Adult Site of the Year” — Brazzers.com — and the “Cam Site of the Year,” Chaturbate.

“Get up here my Brazzers,” Sunderland invited from the stage, welcoming Angela White, Ebony Mystique and Lulu Chu to accept the award on behalf of the famed paysite brand. “Thank you so much, XBIZ,” White said, “for awarding Brazzers — the best porn site in the world! I am so proud to be a Brazzers contract star. Brazzers, you treat your contract performers so well, and I love you so much.”

The award for Chaturbate was accepted by a group of top broadcasters led by Lauren Phillips, who said they wanted to thank Chaturbate “as models, for giving us the best platform to cam from,” and also the company’s COO Shirley Lara and everyone behind the scenes.

“Thank you so much,” Phillips added, praising Chaturbate for providing “an outlet for playing with ourselves online, and making money!” 

Next up was a red-vinyl-clad Bridgette B, who bestowed the award for “Best Sex Scene — All-Girl” upon Ana Foxxx and Scarlit Scandal for their tryst in “Sweet Sweet Sally Mae” (Adult Time).

Foxxx returned to the stage to accept the award on behalf of both of them and said she appreciated “being acknowledged for the bad-ass bitch shit that I do for 10 years, so thank you to everybody who fucks with me, the directors that produce me, the people who let me lick their fat juicy-ass pussies — thank you. And I fuck a mean dick as well, so you know — Scorpio life!”

Bridgette B then announced the 2022 “Gonzo Movie of the Year” award, which went to “Hot Girl Summer” (Jules Jordan Video), directed by Halston. A very dapper Jules Jordan and stars Kenzie Anne, Lily Larimar and Emily Willis accepted the award, thanking Halston and “the lovely cast of this film and everybody who was involved” such as absent fellow Motley models Scarlit Scandal and title namesake Charly Summer. 

The next awards were presented by multi-award-winner and acting mainstay Aiden Ashley — one more head-turner who chose to wrap herself in gold for the soiree. Ashley announced that the “Innovative Pleasure Product of the Year” was ECJ Product’s testicular sex toy Balldo, and that the “Couples Sex Toy of the Year” was Epic Duo by Satisfyer.

Satisfyer’s Mario Castro accepted the award, thanking the crowd for cheering for a pleasure product category and XBIZ for including it among all the other glamorous awards.

The newly-crowned “All-Girl Performer of the Year,” Kenna James, returned to the stage in her gold-accented, translucent princess dress to announce the winners for “Virtual Reality Site of the Year,” VRBangers.com, and for “Creator Platform of the Year,” a category which went to ManyVids.

A team from VRBangers, led by Daniel Abramovich, accepted the award, thanking the whole industry. Co-founder and CTO Boris Smirnoff and Marketing Manager Oleg clapped and screamed, “We did it!” and “We are Bangers!” before being helpfully escorted offstage by trophy girl Lily Lou.

The ManyVids award was accepted by a group of MV Stars led by company collaborator Cristian Cipriani. Sabien DeMonia thanked Cipriani and ManyVids for their generosity to creators and making the trip to Hollywood possible.

Touching on his 18 years working in porn, Cipriani reminded the crowd that he was speaking in place of ManyVids leader Bella French, who could not be in the U.S. due to travel restrictions. “The only thing: unity, respect and love,” he added. “Porn is my life.”

Cipriani then finished his speech in Spanish, taking pride in representing the industry in Colombia.

After a screening of digital comedy short “Fan Meets Star,” co-starring Ward and Michael Vegas and directed by yours truly for the occasion, the host returned to the stage to check on the crowd.

“Are you feeling… feisty? A little buzzed, maybe?” Ward kidded. “You look lovely. Everyone is beautiful and more handsome than ever! I love seeing so many lovely beautiful faces out there.”

“It feels good to be back in person, doesn’t it?” she continued. “And don’t you feel so proud of the work you’ve done over the past year in our amazing industry? Just look at our 'Feature Movie of the Year' nominees — we had sexy parodies like ‘Black Widow XXX’ and ‘Sweet, Sweet Sally Mae.’ There was psychological and even literal horror with ‘Under the Veil’ and ‘Blue Moon Rising’ and delicious humor with ‘I Love You, You’re Fired’ and ‘Influence: Emily Willis.’”

“Four of our ‘Feature Movie of the Year’ nominees even explore identity and finding one’s purpose amid personal and professional turmoil, like ‘Casey: A True Story’ and ‘Primary 2,’ ‘Psychosexual’ and a film very close to my heart, ‘Muse 2,’” Ward continued. “These are far more than just sex flicks. They explore what it means to be alive, how to thrive and, ultimately, how to be happy. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many genres and performers and unforgettable nominees this year. How does it get any better? We did that. You did that!”

Petite multi-talented dynamo Kiara Cole, in a flesh-colored minidress, then took the stage to present the “Best Sex Scene — Vignette” award to Kenzie Anne and Jax Slayher for their Blacked scene from “Black & White 19.”

Kenzie Anne — the other big winner of the evening, a newcomer who has taken the industry by storm and went home with three of the night's most coveted trophies — accepted the award, one more in the night’s procession of beauties clad in statuette gold.

“It’s a testament to the performance prowess of these two stars that Kenzie Anne’s first-ever B/G scene was such fire,” intoned the announcer, as Kenzie Anne strode towards the podium with the confidence and charisma of a star from Hollywood's Golden Age.

The husky-voiced newcomer expressed — and radiated — happiness over her debut win, which industry observers predict will be the first of many more to come.

Kiara Cole announced another much-anticipated honor, the “Best Sex Scene — Feature Movie” award, which ended up in the hands of an all-around all-star ensemble gathered by legendary director Axel Braun for Wicked Pictures’ “Black Widow XXX: An Axel Braun Parody”: Lacy Lennon, Elena Koshka, Seth Gamble and Ramon Nomar.

The jovial quartet and the director took the stage led by porn’s Black Widow herself, Lennon. “Thank you, guys. We have some nerdy-dirty fucking freaks out here!” Lennon saluted. “For anyone who knows and is in the cosplay game, anybody that loves Marvel, we put a lot of fucking love into this. We did what Scar-Jo and Disney couldn’t, okay? And we’re gonna keep doing it — in the Axelverse! Thank you, guys.”

Renowned swordsmen Gamble and Nomar, along with the divinely sculpted Elena Koshka, also thanked Wicked Pictures, Gamma and Adult Time.

Presenting the award for “Best Acting” was the ever-radiant Kira Noir, herself a major acting talent in the industry. The statuette went to third-year-in-a-row XBIZ winner Maitland Ward.

Briefly stepping aside from her hosting duties, Ward returned to the stage to express her thanks and remind the industry that even though some may have thought she was just “testing out” an adult career, she is in the industry to stay.

“This is my third year, you guys!” Ward exclaimed. “I’m in it for the long run.”

She also thanked Vixen and Deeper, and director Kayden Kross for going “above and beyond” and always saving her best writing for Ward. 

Finally, Ward took the opportunity to thank her husband “for being behind me every step of the way. And I wouldn’t have done this without him and his support and saying, ‘You know what, you needed to do this, because it’s something that you love.’”

Noir then returned in her ravishing crimson gown to present the 2022 “Director of the Year” accolade to Ward’s chief collaborator, Kayden Kross.

The multi-award-winning Kross, wearing a form-fitting black gown and pearls, thanked everyone for her “fourth year in a row” win. “I don’t have a speech,” she said. “I never have a speech, I should work on that. Thank you, Manuel [Ferrara]. He got mad because I said I started directing 'cause he was lazy, but it’s the best thing he ever did to me, so — thanks for being lazy one day, and making me make your movie.”

Kross also thanked all the performers she has employed, “who show up and really fucking work,” citing especially Ward, Emily Willis and Gianna Dior as well as her behind-the-scenes Deeper collaborators.

Stormy Daniels, truly iconic worldwide, both within the industry and beyond — stepped up to announce the awards for “Gay Movie of the Year” — which went to Bree Mills’ “The Last Course” (Disruptive Films) — and “Gay Performer of the Year,” bestowed upon an enthusiastic Michael Boston.

Before calling up the winners, an impressively decolletée Daniels exclaimed, “How fucking badass to see how many female directors there are now. I fucking love it!”

The star-studded cast of “The Last Course,” the first-ever feature from Disruptive, took the stage alongside co-producer Walden Woods, also one of the studio’s main directors alongside Mills.

“Two years ago,” an elated, jubilant Woods told the audience, “I met a really cool little crazy lesbian who said, ‘I want to disrupt the gay porn world,’ and Bree Mills has done that. I wanna say thank you for everything that she’s done.”

Woods thanked the cast, the director of photography, and mr. Pam, who also thanked Mills for “dominating every category — gay, straight, trans.”

Michael Boston accepted his “Gay Performer of the Year” award wearing sunglasses, saying he was going to go cry at home.

“I’m gonna go die, now,” Boston added. “Whoever rigged this for me, I’m gonna go murder you now! If it’s not now, it’s gonna be later. I’m dead, really.”

Boston also saluted the fans. “If it wasn’t for the fans, I truly wouldn’t be here. Love everyone. My legs are jittery as hell! Love you all! Bye-bye!”

Lacy Lennon was the next presenter, introducing the award for “Trans Movie of the Year,” which went to Evil Angel’s Aubrey Kate showcase, “I Am Aubrey.” The award was accepted by the title's executive producer, Evil Angel director Aidan Starr, on behalf of Kate. Starr thanked everyone, including director Dana Vespoli.

The night’s most emotional moment came when Lennon announced the award for “Trans Performer of the Year.” The winner, Casey Kisses, took the stage with her girlfriend, Kylie LeBeau. A suit-clad Kisses began by acknowledging she hadn't expected to win because “there are so many hardworking performers” around.

“You all deserve recognition,” Kisses said, “for everything you guys do.”

Kisses also thanked XBIZ for hosting the live event and “bringing us all together.”

After thanking “the biggest fucking supporter in my life, my girlfriend Kylie,” Kisses surprised everyone by getting down on on knee, pulling a ring from her suit pocket and proposing.

“What? Are you fucking serious?” said a shocked LeBeau

“Kylie LeBeau, would you marry me?”

“Of course!” LeBeau screamed in joy.

“Fuck yeah! XBIZ — let’s go!” Kisses announced.

The In Memoriam segment was preceded by a heartfelt remembrance of the late Larry Flynt, whose longtime attorney, Paul Cambria, described the Hustler founder as “one of the great icons of the First Amendment.” Cambria gave an impassioned speech reminding the audience of the importance for the entire adult industry of Flynt’s struggles — including surviving an assassination attempt by a white supremacist.

Cambria introduced Flynt’s widow and the current CEO of Hustler and Larry Flynt Publications, Liz Flynt. She explained how her husband “mentored her throughout the company,” and broke down recalling that the next day would mark 10 months since his passing.

“When Larry started Hustler magazine over 47 years ago,” she said, “in his first publisher’s statement he wrote, ‘Anyone can be a playboy, or have a penthouse — but to be a man you have to be a hustler.’”

The company, she added, “is showing strength, innovation, and we’re carrying on the legacy of Larry Flynt.”

Maitland Ward returned to the stage to “take a moment and offer sincere love and appreciation to a select group of very special people: our fans. Give 'em a round of applause!”

“They continue to spread the word about everything we create — our movies, our livestreams, our independent content and our products  — and we wouldn’t be here without them,” she added.

Vanna Bardot announced the winners for “Cam Model of the Year” and “Clip Artist of the Year,” which went to Lana Del Bae and MySweetApple respectively.

Del Bae thanked Chaturbate “for having a platform that I can truly be myself on,” and her fans for rallying the vote for her.

The MySweetApple couple, visiting from Europe, thanked people “for watching us fuck all around the world” and dedicated the award to “all the amateurs.”

Bardot then announced hat the "Premium Social Media Star of the Year" was the unvanquishable Angela White.

A sporty-chic White, wearing limited-edition Supreme, offered her gratitude to XBIZ and admitted that “we could all thank OnlyFans” and also the fans themselves, without whom “this award wouldn’t be possible.”

Manuel Ferrara, elegant in a white smoking jacket and unbuttoned shirt, presented the award for “Feature Movie of the Year” to Kayden Kross for Deeper’s “Muse 2.” Kross and Ward returned to the stage and thanked each other for their collaboration.

“We had such a phenomenal cast,” Kross said, “Vanna, and Avery Christy and Lulu, and all the men — there were so many men!”

Ferrara then opened the next envelope to reveal that the “Best New Performer” of 2022 was Kenzie Anne, hailed by the announcer as “one of the fastest rising stars in the history of adult entertainment.”

The announcer recapped Kenzie Anne’s 2021 achievements, which included becoming a Playboy Playmate, Penthouse’s Pet of the Year, dominating Vixen Media Group scenes and “exploding into ultra-popularity on social media.”

“This is not fair, because I’m PMS'ing and I’m trying not to cry,” the nonetheless perfectly composed performer told the crowd. “I’ve had the most incredible experience entering this industry and everybody who was up there [nominated] has worked their asses off. I met almost all of them and they are incredible to work with. Thank you, guys, and I’m excited to fuck — most of you!”

Multi-award-winner and Lust Cinema director Casey Calvert came out to introduce the penultimate two awards of the evening.

The 2022 “Male Performer of the Year” was Mick Blue. The veteran Euro-American talent said he wasn’t expecting to win, and thanked XBIZ, the crowd and “all the companies who believed in me, who keep me busy throughout the year and give me the opportunity to stand on stage today for all the products we’ve done throughout the year.”

“Let’s party tonight, and thank you!” Blue concluded.

Calvert then announced that 2022's “Female Performer of the Year” was, like last year, Emily Willis.

After her previous “virtual ceremony” win, Willis finally had a chance to take to the stage to thank those who helped her reach her second year in the top position among female performers.

“You’re fucking kidding me!” she screamed. “I didn’t think this was possible.” Willis gave a big shoutout to “all of the people who stand behind me. It is really about the people who stand behind you,” including “my Motley family,” Ryan Kona and Dave Rock, and “my Vixen Family,” singling out Kross and all the directors who believed in her.

The last award of the evening was the second-ever all-inclusive “Performer of the Year” award. The 2021 debut recipient, Dante Colle, took the stage to deliver what he called “the grand finale award of the evening.”

A besuited-yet-bare-chested Colle explained that the category was “dedicated to honoring, in XBIZ’s words, the most influential performer in adult entertainment, regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation and age.”

“And the first winner of this coveted award was this gentleman standing before you,” he added. “It is truly an honor to pass the torch tonight.”

Before the big reveal, Colle described this year’s recipient as “breaking down barriers with their passion, integrity and heart. They boast a literal legion of passionate fans and admirers who eagerly devour their content across multiple platforms. They take a hammer and smash stereotypes and hold open the door for others to follow. They’re an activist who has spoken out, loudly and repeatedly, as an advocate for the performer community.”

He then announced that that 2022 “Performer of the Year” award winner was Maitland Ward.

Ward returned to the stage to close the show, this time not as a host, but as the chief honoree.

“I am shocked!” Ward said. “This means so much to me. I have given my heart and soul to the industry because I love you guys, and I love the industry, and I want to be a sex-positive force. And I believe we are knocking down every barrier!”

“This year is going to knock down all the barriers,” Ward predicted, “and I promise I’ll always be true to this industry.”

With that final big win, the comeback event was over, and the crowd emerged from the Palladium and into the serious moonlight of the real-deal Hollywood night.

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