It looked grim.
After a Pasadena Rita-Carlton employee unpacked a box containing a Best Anal Scene trophy (designated for Hillary Scott), the hotel officially freaked out and pulled the second plug of the week on the Canada-based awards show.
How downtown’s Westin Bonaventure was secured and prepped so quickly (it happened in a day) is a miracle of organization. The Bonaventure’s San Francisco Room was beautiful, the lights were great, the sound was good, and the meals were, without a doubt, the best awards show fare I have ever had (I’ve eaten Emmy and Grammy food that I wouldn’t feed to my accessory potbellied pig).
But the fact that two hotels dematerialized in a week cast a pall over the ceremony, which already struggled with questions of relevance. Ticketholders began pulling out of the show and not returning phone calls after the Beverly Hilton cancelled, and the ballroom was half full last night. The official media sponsor, for whom a table of ten was reserved, did not show, and the only evidence of them was a stack of magazines.
UPDATE – XBiz editor Gretchen Gallen disputes this: “Not true, please correct. A few of us were there – just not sitting at the table.”
The sudden availability of seats allowed another entrepreneur of dubious adult conventions to benefit. He was overheard saying, “I got eight steaks – it’s OK; they’re already paid for.”
Aside from its half-capacity crowd, the ballroom was beautifully decorated. The band AM/FM played guitar-based 70’s classic rock. Aside from the shot pipes of the lead singer, they were awesome and, again, the best band I’ve seen at an adult awards show.
I sat with some pals from one of the few studios (Digital Playground, Wicked, Vivid, ClubJenna) who had sent a contingent. When we took our seats, champagne had been served, and the band started playing, we were more than anything really impressed that the event had been snatched from the jaws of defeat.
“I could leave right now and think the Temptation Awards was a success,” I said to someone as the band started playing some Boston.
Turns out I should have. While I think the idea was to have had jessica drake host, instead actor/comedian Andy Lauer came out. This formula’s return diminishes with each awards show. Lauer appeared uncomfortable onstage and he even got Jenna wrong.
Lauer may have been a major reason the show went south as soon as it started – this was unfamiliar territory to him and his heckler-handling, especially when America’s Sweetheart Holly Randall out-porn-girled every porn girl in attendance by demanding to show her tits (“I’m so bored, Gram,” she lamented. “There, there,” I said) – but the problems of the format were difficult to surmount. When Lauer began to lose the crowd, the idea of handing out awards to (major sponsor) Best DVD Retailer and (major sponsor) Best Web Host didn’t help.
The word went around that people not in attendance would not get awards. This was only partially true. Some awards had already been inscribed but others were left generic.
For the adult industry, which is by definition narcissistic, to not show up in droves to an awards ceremony honoring it is representative of the problems Temptation organizers faced this week.
But until people began walking in and out of the ballroom to a set of bars conveniently located just outside, things were great and people were having fun. In fact, the constant ebb and flow of people and the limited attention span looked just like the AVN awards on a smaller scale. And the food was better. And the band was better.
“I’m sure the AVN awards didn’t go off without a hitch their first year, either,” a photographer said.
The awards themselves were solid and heavy glass prisms. They looked pretty cool. I got to hold Scott Nails’ (trophy, I mean).
The ClubJenna girls were there, including the non-wax version of Jenna, as were Kirsten Price (Lauer got that wrong, too, but so does everybody), Vivid performers Lacie Heart and Monique Alexander, Barrett Blade, Tommy Gunn and Rita Faltoyano, the delightful Sunny Lane (the band played a little “Cat Scratch Fever”), Hannah Harper, Angie and Devan Savage (pictured above), Puma Swede, Sandee Westgate, Cytherea, Regan Anthony, Tyler Faith, Tristan Ryan, and Hillary Scott.
I experienced an unpleasant sub-Hollywood exchange between Jennifer James and Roy Karch. James and Karch had helmed, for different companies, “Memoirs of a Geisha”-inspired movies, both starring Mika Tan. Neither was aware of what the other was doing. Karch shot his the third week of December last year and James shot hers the last week of January, ’06.
“What?” Karch said, probably waiting for the right hook to come.
James explained that it was “odd” how Karch could release his movie with a boxcover so similar to James’, both starring Mika Tan and both containing the words “Memoirs of”.
I am in a unique position to rectify this problem, I thought, but then I remembered the Prime Directive.
“Yeah,” James was saying, still smiling, “just when you think you know someone…”
Why defend Roy Karch? I thought. Would he take a bullet for me? Would anyone, other than Angie Savage, take a bullet for Gram?
It was getting ugly in a very passive aggressive way. I thought I was home for Thanksgiving.
“I can explain,” I said. “Legendary Sex Z Pictures owner Bo Kenney had the idea first and conveyed it to Hall of Fame director Roy Karch, who shot a month before you did. Hustler released your movie in May whereas Roy’s was released in July. The responsibility rests with your respective employers. I doubt Bo Kenney and Larry Flynt have the chance to eat lunch too much, as one works in Manassas, Virginia and the other atop 8484 Wilshire Blvd., and it’s not as if Hustler’s media relations department was operating at full power when your movie was released.”
In another part of the lobby I met up with Cytherea and Regan Anthony. I didn’t recognize Cytherea because her hair was red.
“Oh it’s you,” she said. Rita Faltoyano had said the same thing to me at Erotica L.A. and I wondered what I had done.
“What did I do?” I asked.
“Hey, I love you, but – “
“I love you too,” I said. “Baby.”
” – but you’re very honest,” she said.
Now I was really confused. I attributed it to my haircut. Maybe she thought I was Mike Ramone or Peter Warren?
“Do you know who I am?”
“Yes,” she said.
(Here is every time I have mentioned Cytherea recently. Can you find any instance of my saying something mean? I couldn’t.)
She and Regan are very, very small. I asked how tall they could get in high heels.
“I can make it to 5’6″,” Cytherea said, “but my pinkie toe circulation gets cut off.”
“I can go to about 5’4″,” Anthony said.
“I saw Puma Swede at the AVN show and she was wearing high heels that made her taller than me,” I said. “It made my testicles recede.” (it didn’t, really. In fact, it made them tumesce, like frank tomatoes, but I offered that white lie as an icebreaker.)
In her search for a distribution company, Girl-on-Girl Next Door Sandee Westgate almost said Yes to doing guys on film.
“I thought about it,” she said, “but I ultimately decided against it.”
This fascinated me because Sandee Westgate’s girls-only stance is one of the only things I can depend on. If she does guys, where will my belief system go?
Back in the ballroom, Holly Randall was making a spectacle of herself, and my leg. It was shameless, but I knew why she was doing it.
“Here, bitch,” I said. “God is in the details.”
The Temptation Awards did some things much better than other award shows I have attended. It was the things it did the same, but not as well, that sunk it. In the end, there was nothing about the Temptation Awards – save for the food and music – that distinguished it from anything else. There was no Golden Globes vs. Academy Awards vs. Independent Spirit Awards thing happening to which anyone could point and say, “This is a unique perspective.”
To an only vaguely jaundiced observer, there didn’t seem to be a need for these awards; what it looked like was a really, really expensive business card with some typos.
At the All Media Play bash afterward, I asked Hillary Scott – who has talents beyond what you’ve seen in any movie, let me add – what she’d won while I was out getting margaritas.
“I don’t even know,” she said.
The band didn’t even play any Rush songs.