A Night of Contradictions: AVN Awards Show 2011

The Pearl Theater at the Palms Casino

Black fishnet stockings. Check.

Knee high boots. Check.

Cute dress. Check.

I just couldn’t bring myself to look boring at the AVN Awards Show, the Oscars for the porn industry. When my husband saw my outfit he asked, “Where’d you get those fishnets? I knew it was uncharacteristic of how I dress and I responded coyly, “I don’t remember. I’ve just had them a while.” His boyish smile acknowledged he approved of the look.

To me the stockings were like going to see the Rocky Horror Picture Show and dressing up like one of the characters. I didn’t really look outlandish, so it was only my small, fun way to participate in this event. At the show I knew the fishnet stockings would pale in comparison to the outrageous silliness, raunchy sex talk and drunk and stupid fans I would see.  In the end I decided that the cast of the Jersey Shore has the lock on being drunk and stupid, and while the award show delivered on some of my expectations, many contradictions emerged that I didn’t expect. 

#1 – The Porn Stars Looked Like They Were at the Oscars

We arrived early to watch the red carpet.  It was hard to get a good view as I was jostled between lines of guys shouting the names of their favorite actress to cajole them over to snap a picture or get an autograph. I got the strangest “get out of my way” glances. When I finally did get a good look, I saw porn actresses tastefully dressed and surprisingly polished. Kayden Kross, Riley Steele and Alexis Texas were a few that stood out. And while some played up the slut factor, others would have fit in at the Oscars.  Click here to take a look.  Needless to say the women at the awards show were much better looking than at the expo.  If you’re the best in the biz you’re not working the exhibit hall to cater to porn enthused fans.

#2- The Adult Industry Is Not a Fan of Infidelity

The icy reception AshleyMadison.com, a dating service for married people, received while presenting a sponsored award sent a message— the porn industry is NOT a fan of this website’s infidelity mission. Founded in 2001, AshleyMadison.com provides members an anonymous venue to find a dating partner outside of their marriage.  Although AVN founder Paul Fishbein enthusiastically welcomed AshleyMadison.com as a first-time corporate sponsor of the AVN Awards this year, Noel Biderman, AshleyMadison.com’s founder, faced an audience on the edge of booing him. I loved watching Biderman squirm. It’s clear why he is known as the most hated man in America. What’s puzzling is why the industry he’s trying to be a part of seems to hate him just like the rest of the country.

There is a perception that pornography promotes extramarital affairs. I believe the opposite: It’s an industry that gears its products to improve the sex lives of couples – established couples. AshleyMadison.com is counter to this position and the almost hostile reaction by this crowd made sense to me.  It’s a sad commentary on our world that Ashley Madison.com just signed up their eight-millionth member. Isn’t it just easier to get a divorce or not marry at all?

Also, did you miss their tagline “Life’s Short. Have an Affair.” in a commercial during the Super Bowl? You and everyone else. Fox rejected their ad, which featured adult star Savanah Samson.

#3- Porn Stars Take the AVN Awards They Receive as a Great Honor.

You would think that the AVN Awards is just a big joke, like how the MTV Awards used to make fun of other award shows.  But for these adult stars, being nominated and winning awards for something like “best oral sex scene” is a huge honor. The actors like Tori Black and Tom Byron gushed with emotion as they nabbed their awards and thanked their agents, fans and families for supporting them in achieving their great accomplishment. It was shockingly heartfelt and it certainly impressed on me that no matter what you do, you should do it to the best of your ability and be proud.

#4- The Fight for First Amendment Rights is Still a Big Deal.

Even though the cases against Larry Flynt and Deep Throat  were prosecuted more than 35 years ago, people don’t realize legal action is still being taken against the porn industry. A moment that I didn’t expect to hit home for me was when John Stagliano, “the Buttman” and founder of Evil Angel Productions, was given the Rueben Sturman Award in recognition of his July 2010 acquittal in a District of Columbia obscenity case.

I couldn’t help but think of my father since he was prosecuted under the same Miller vs. California law that Stagliano was. Miller vs. California, passed in 1973 by the Supreme Court, grants local communities the right to determine what’s obscene, but nowadays the Internet has blurred the concept of community. This law is still on the books and pulled out on occasion to prosecute the porn industry. At the award show the audience was quiet and riveted as Stagliano spoke earnestly about the importance of being able to express ones sexual creativity under our first amendment rights. He graciously thanked his lawyers and wife and said no one should be ashamed to work in the adult industry.  The audience gave a standing ovation and heartily cheered Stagliano’s remarks.

The AVN Awards renewed my belief in the old adage “don’t judge a book by its cover.” This industry is proving to have many different dimensions – just like how people are so surprised that my father is in the porn industry because I don’t fit a particular stereotype of how a person associated with this industry should look or act. Also, I found some true humanity at this event—a collection of people who care deeply about their work. It’s exciting to think what I might learn next about the porn industry. I’ll expect the unexpected for sure.

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