The Ropey Volley Awards: Gram’s Dirty Dozen of 2009

RV2K9_15I watched about 500 porn movies this year, which amounts to almost a month of women slapping their own asses, penises entering the frame, and cumshots missing the face, skipping across the eyelash, and vanishing into Eternity.

While I watched, I typed, talked on speakerphone, ate lunch, paid bills, fretted about the economic collapse of the porn industry, took notes, Googled “irrumatio” and “Snake Pliskin,” and didn’t masturbate once. Full disclosure: the one time I had sex with another person whilst watching a porn was unspectacular.

So even though I am beloved of you, I’m afraid I’m not like you. But not because of the above reasons: I am not like you because I get this stuff for free and so I must grasp at each title’s significance beyond those really significant three minute spurts.

(And I’m not complaining – I could still be doing the job I had at 15, incinerating amputated body parts at a hospital.)

Almost every movie I’ve received this year (save for the tranny titles and “The Lingerie Salesman’s Worst Nightmare”) would have been the type of thing that friends of mine from high school would have kept for years, memorized, and replayed countless times. Because, in a very real way, all porn is good.

But the following titles were better.

DSC_58831. “The Sex Files: A Dark XXX Parody.” With its excellent production team headed by Lee Roy Myers, a fanboy script and thoughtful direction by Sam Hain, a Red One camera and a lot of cash, and nuanced performances by Kimberly Kane (Best Actress) and Anthony Rosano, “The Sex Files” not only raised the bar for all porn parodies but it also snagged the elusive “sex as a believable part of the story” prize.

Written like a sexed-up spec script of “The X Files,” its umpteenth porn parody captured the look of the original as well as credibly tapped the mood of the show just as Mulder tapped Scully’s ass in the year’s Most Grateful Sex Scene.

RV2K9_162. “Faithless” and “Throat: A Cautionary Tale.” Vivid director Paul Thomas not only made the best celebrity crossover movie with “Faithless” and former Miss America Kelli McCarty as a desperately unhinged and unabashedly sexy MILF, but he allowed Sasha Grey to make the most of her Sasha Grayness in the dark reworking of “Deep Throat.”

Both movies took lots of risks and didn’t skimp on what “Big Lebowski” pornographer Jackie Treehorn called feelings. Kudos to Stephen St. Croix and McCarty for the Angriest Sex Scene of 2009. Also: Steven St. Croix – Best Actor.

vlcsnap-30608433. “Big Wet Asses 15” wins Gonzo of the Year for its sheer exuberance and its ability to make me want to pull a reverse “Ringu,” crawl through the screen, and fuck the shit right back into all those asses.

William H., who is a pornic genius, balances adult fantasy with just the right amount of casting reality to capture the innate sexiness of Gianna Michaels, Ava Rose, and Kimberly Kane, among many others.

DSC_32204. “Not Married with Children XXX.” Porn is about numbers, and it’s the rare company or director who can knock one out of the park each time. I can’t help but think that the independently wealthy Paul Thomas of Vivid is doubly lucky in that he gets to make a couple of good movies a year rather than fight the uphill battle of spraying product every few weeks.

So the porn parody machine that is All Media Play, headed by Jeff Mullen (Will Ryder) and Scott David, doesn’t have the luxury of firing on all cylinders each time (see “Flight Attendants“), but with “MWC,” they parodied a show that was porny and lowbrow enough already so that what Eric Swiss (Best Actor – Comedy) as Al and Kagney Linn Karter as Kelly brought to their characters was pure entertainment. That is why “Not Married with Children XXX” is my choice from a very crowded field for Best Porn Parody.

RV2K9_105. “Insatiable” and “The Devil in Miss Jones” share the Best Reissue award. “Insatiable” distributor Dynasty Group has lovingly restored the original and tracked down a lot of extra footage, including interviews with the late Marilyn Chambers and coverage of the movie’s 1980 Pussycat Theatre premiere.

But “The Devil in Miss Jones,” reissued by VCX, was the real revelation. While the sex was ho-hum, the movie unspooled like a morality play, with the final scene (featuring Georgina Spelvin and director Gerard Damiano) genuinely stark and chilling. This movie reveals porn’s counter culture roots.

RV2K9_66. “Pure.” The late director David Aaron Clark (Best Director) updated the already pornographic 1976 film “In the Realm of the Senses” and set the tale of romantic obsession in Los Angeles. DAC included little that was not necessary, so the title was doubly apt. He also filmed much of the movie near his home in downtown L.A., which was a welcome change from the standard Porn Valley backdrop. Stars Keni Styles and the beautiful Asa Akira brought an urbanity and sense of decorum and restraint to the movie (some of which took place in a BDSM dungeon, so the restraint was appropriate) which nevertheless, like “Faithless,” didn’t pull punches.

RV2K9_137. “The Crash Pad” wins Best Series because it remains high concept (a San Francisco apartment is used for sexual liaisons and is kept under surveillance by a dispassionate voyeur) and evergreen; there is no end in sight to the way the Bay Area’s gender-groovy will concoct to get in each others’ pants or what-have-you.

Director Shine Louise Houston continues to present these exchanges both efficiently and sweatily, making “The Crash Pad” a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to be its linen service.

8. Speaking of liberal San Francisco, Private/Kink.com’s “A Real Swingers’ Orgy” and Good Vibrations’ “Seven Minutes in Heaven” share the prize for Most Gleeful Porn of 2009, as Kink.com’s Peter Acworth races around the city putting the finishing touches on a planned orgy at his massive Armory building and, on the other side of the rental market, a bunch of women try each other on for size in an apartment that can barely contain them or director Courtney Trouble’s joy in being there.

DSC_41109. I think it was the XRCO that coined the award “Best Epic” to describe the big-budget porns with which studios reward their contract stars and directors, even if the movies themselves don’t make a lot of money. But Adam & Eve, whose mail-order catalogue provides coveted spots for eligible movies from other studios, is always guaranteed a sizable return of investment for its movies – even the risky ones.

Such is “The 8th Day,” a truly epic tale of Kayden Kross’s journey across a blighted post-apocalyptic landscape populated with boobed mutants, shyster evangelists, and sex bazaars. Not only was the production itself embattled (sort-of studio Sex Z Pictures threatened to sue Adam & Eve because one of its contracted employees was working on the production, and the litigation-averse Adam & Eve actually stopped production), but the subject matter and content were both far out of Adam & Eve’ comfort zone.

Finally, “The 8th Day” was an epic journey for Kayden Kross who, come January, will become the performer who has held contracts with the most studios when she leaves Adam & Eve to join Digital Playground (an announcement that followed former DP contractor Teagan Presley’s move to Adam & Eve). Contract girls are high-strung thoroughbreds protective of their image, and Kross (who even belonged to that anonymizing group known as Vivid contract girls) deserves props for allowing herself to be crucified in a porn movie.

vlcsnap-6409037 210. Just because Adult Source Media’s “Pirate’s Booty” was the only animated gay porn I received this year doesn’t mean that my choosing it as Best Animated Gay Pirate Porn is suspect. In fact, I learned a lot about pirates, ghosts, gays, and The Sea from this movie, which features the voice talents of the game Evan Stone.

Throughout the movie I wished I could hoist a topsail or deliver a cumshot as well as those cartoons.

RV2K9_1211. Because the porn industry itself has a real and measurable case of low self esteem, it gets very excited to receive any mainstream coverage, even if that coverage stings it again and again. On the other hand, it often recoils at its depiction in mainstream movies.

Such was the reaction to “The Auteur” by some in the porn world who felt this very funny independent out of Portland, OR hadn’t given the business the respect it deserved by making light of how seriously porn takes itself. Oh well. If I wanted reality, I’d look in my sock drawer; “The Auteur” was entertaining.

“The Auteur” shares with another independent, “Black Devil Doll,” my prize for Best Gateway Drug, the type of movie not made by an actual pornographer that nevertheless occupies Step One on a road that ends with “Dirtpipe Milkshakes.”

“Black Devil Doll” is Charlie McCarthy by way of Eldridge Cleaver and Russ Meyer. It was a wonderfully offensive movie with cumshots that rivaled those of gay pirates. (Check out the Back Devil Doll soundboard here.)

_MG_388512. Finally, Kimberly Kane’s “Live in My Secrets” and Erica McLean’s “Hardcore Circus” share the Independent Spirit award. Both are creatively (and by that I don’t mean “incompetently”) shot and are very sexy and individualized snapshots of the dirty minds of Kane and McLean.

Not every performer who steps behind the camera can translate his or her “vision” to the screen, and that has something to do with the fact that not every performer likes sex. But Kane does, and she made a “Personal Jesus” of a porn movie (I’m thinking of the first scene in particular) that ends with her and Sasha Grey wading through some cherry syrup on the way to each other.

McLean’s “Hardcore Circus” was also a contender for Most Gleeful but is more appropriate here because the viewer really gets the idea that the director has let him or her in on a very nice surprise.

As I think about it, this last award is the most meaningful, because porn, Readers, is about people fucking people, and these two movies give you a sense of who these people are.

Sadly, this year also featured a winner for Worst Porn Movie in “The Lingerie Salesman’s Worst Nightmare.” I believe a marketing psychologist would be able to point to the inclusion of the phrase “worst nightmare” in the title of a porn movie as a prediction of how a viewer might react to it, but it could have been called “Gram Ponante Is America’s Beloved Porn Journalist” and it still would have been awful.

Honorable Mentions

RV2K9_14Most Elegant Riding Out Her Contract movie: “Stoya: Scream
Europorn of the Year: Viv Thomas’ “One Night Stand
Tranny Film: “Girlfriends???”
Comeback of the Year: Rocco Siffredi in “Rocco Ravishes L.A.

Previously on Porn Valley Observed: Oscars of Porn (2008); Oscars of Porn (2007); Also-Rannies (2006)

6 thoughts on “The Ropey Volley Awards: Gram’s Dirty Dozen of 2009

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  4. Hey Gram,

    Any idea whether Kelli McCarty will make more movies for Vivid? She seemed pretty happy walking up the red carpet with Hirch at the AVN’s.

  5. Pingback: Around the world in 4077 days with Chanel Preston and Eric Swiss | Porn Valley Observed con Gram Ponante

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