"Shut up, please": the 22nd annual XRCO awards

When Bill Margold tells you to shut up, you definitely think about it.

The co-founder of the X-Rated Critics’ Organization stood on the stage at the Century Club Thursday night and faced the same sort of crowd he increasingly faces; people who are not aware of the adult industry’s history or Margold’s place in it. In a business so clearly built on the backs of the young, old-timers who haven’t made the transition to producers or company owners often feel forgotten.

The XRCO is a much smaller event than the AVN awards, but the two share a quick dropoff rate after the first few minutes as people with short attention spans wander in and out of earshot of the stage. Hence Margold’s shrill warnings to not continue if people didn’t “quiet down” or “shut up”. I have only been to two of these award shows and he has said the same thing both times. No one quiets down or shuts up and he continues anyway. The net result is that those of us paying attention feel 1.) sorry for Margold’s predicament, 2.) stupid for being treated like kids, and 3.) curious about the better time everyone else seems to be having.

The awards were hosted by Stormy Daniels, Lauren Phoenix, and Frank Bukkwyd, who is porn’s go-to guy for non-sex roles. The three seemed to be comfortable with the fact that only the first couple of rows paid attention, so they didn’t make the audience uncomfortable by complaining about how no one was paying attention. I am grateful for this.

Stormy and Lauren had a faux-bitchy repartee that consisted of lines like:

Stormy: Everybody knows that gonzo girls can’t read, so why don’t you just gape somewhere?
Phoenix: Why don’t you have your publicist write something about you?

…which was fun until it looked like they meant it. There were some off-mic exchanges that looked pretty nasty, including Phoenix calling Daniels a “fucking asshole.” Who knows? Maybe it was all staged. Porn is getting so highbrow and complicated lately.

The percentage of people who showed up for awards in general was about that of those who picked up their Hall of Fame placques: 60 percent. When Pirates won for Best Direction (Joone) and Best Release, only the director, Teagan, and Jesse Jane took the stage. This was different from when the entire Digital Playground staff accepted awards for the movie at the AVNs.

(Jesse Jane and Teagan should do a before-and-after commercial about the effects of prescription painkillers; one of them is very animated and one of them is very, er, isn’t. I saw Jane the next night at a Playboy taping and am now convinced that the trademarked character Jesse Jane is less a human being than a complex series of robotically articulated gestures with a mouth. She managed to say the word “pussy” using about seven syllables.)

One could also have conversations at the XRCOs without having to deal with an awful house band and, because the venue was small and the event free, the lower-echelon but just-as-interesting people who couldn’t make it to Vegas showed up to the XRCOs instead. That was nice.

But back to Bill Margold. That someone who has been around for so long and who has played a part in so many careers has to tell people to shut up is sad, but as anyone who has ever been or had a substitute teacher knows, the battle is lost long before the words “shut up” are ever spoken. Margold should know that trying to guilt a crowd into listening with ploys like “you probably don’t know this, but – ” can only end in frustration and tears.

Among the highlights were Hillary Scott thanking her asshole and two classy acceptance speeches by Randy Spears and new Hall of Famer Kylie Ireland, both of whom took their awards seriously and were gracious to the crowd.

As per usual, the audience fled to the lobby and smoking areas after the awards, which as always started late and ended pleasantly early, leaving the dance floor empty except for a lot of dry ice.

With the FAME awards coming up this summer, there are now four “major” adult awards shows per year; one in January, April, June, and November (the XBiz awards). This leaves a yawning void right around Labor Day. I might freak out if someone doesn’t have a convention in September.

For studios, Wicked, Digital Playground, and Evil Angel picked up the most awards. A director overlooked in the gonzo category was overheard saying, “Well, my FAME votes have gone way up since I got a MySpace account.”

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Gram Ponante is America's Beloved Porn Journalist

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