An attempted coup was mounted and derailed last week at the X-Rated Critics’ Organization (XRCO), providing a glimmer of hope to porn personnel who think adult awards matter.
In a series of not-for-publication emails, longtime XRCO member Steve Nelson suggested that XRCO president “Dirty Bob” Krotts be replaced for mismanagement and lack of transparency in voting. Krotts denied some charges and deflected others, claiming that “if the XRCO Awards were any more transparent, the winners would know beforehand.”
What? You haven’t heard of the XRCO Awards?
If you count New York’s EROS Awards back in 1975, as well as the AVNs, XRCOs, XBiz Awards, Urban X Awards, Temptation Awards, and a handful of honors handed out yearly by websites like mine (and let’s not forget the Fleshbot Awards), adult performers have been recognized for five decades.
But, unlike an Academy Award or even a Grammy, an adult award does not translate into sales.
“We’ll occasionally put a sticker on the box if we win an AVN Award,” says the national sales director of a major studio, “but it doesn’t sell any more movies.”
So why have awards?
“It makes people feel good about themselves,” he says.
The XRCOs, suggests Nelson in a piece critical of last year’s show, are “a tie to the past.” But he also takes issue with the fact that Krotts runs the organization “from thousands of miles away” in Dayton.
Founded in 1984 by the late porn reviewer and director Jim Holliday and the extant Bill Margold, the XRCO was and remains the most democratic of all the award shows. A dozen or so reviewers (I am one of them when I remember to vote) nominate and vote in a manageable list of categories, winners are tabulated by Krotts, plaques are engraved, and the awards are presented in a colossal clusterfuck of a show each spring in Los Angeles.
Aside from Krotts’ involvement, the XRCO Awards have been dependably a clusterfuck for 27 years, and will doubtless be a clusterfuck on April 12 for the celebration of Year 28.
The difference between the clusterfuck of the XRCOs and the AVNs is that the AVN Awards fail on a much grander scale and have never shaken the stigma of being rigged.
Why are all adult award shows—even this year’s XBiz Awards, which was the best of a bad group—still nestled comfortably in the Clusterfuck Spectrum?
Because they don’t matter to the people who actually buy movies, and because if porn personnel actually felt they deserved better, they’d be in some other business. Ridiculously mismanaged award shows are the comfort food of the porn industry.
Nelson makes great points that there should be better accountability of guest lists to this “industry only” event and that someone should know where the red carpet is. But that’s just Porn. This is an industry that has learned to keep meticulous 2257 records of real ages, real names, and STD test results; if you want to keep track of who has the red carpet, just threaten the red carpet with external regulation.
I am of the opinion that it is good the XRCO is run from thousands of miles away, because no one I know in Los Angeles County actually buys porn or cares about porn performers, despite their contributions to the culture, the dress code, and the tax base. It is when you go to Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Ohio—places where a Belladonna sighting is like the Virgin Mary appearing on a bagel—that you meet the true porn fans.
There are a number of contradictions in porn that apply to last week’s kerfuffle.
- By and large, Porn is made on the backs of 19-year-old girls but is curated by middle-aged men.
- The people who know and appreciate porn’s history are aging, and the people who don’t know porn’s history are not buying DVDs.
- The people who buy porn do not live in the places it is made.
Social networking has kept the savvy porn star from becoming the faceless collection of tabs and slots that much porn—at least the kind that sells—conspire to make her. But even her fans don’t care if she has won an adult award.
“But I do,” one recent recipient of XRCO’s “Orgasmic Analist” award recently told me. “It says that people who know that getting fucked in the ass is hard work respect the effort.”
You cannot argue with that.
The intrigue of last week (Krotts admitted to and resolved the most damning charge, that he had accepted money from Stuart Lawley’s .XXX; he says he returned it) was sad, but it does prove that people still care—even it’s only the people giving out and getting the awards.
I look forward to this year’s XRCO Awards, as I always do, because I can meet old friends who are getting older every day, even as I and all the Orgasmic Oralists and Analists stay the same age.