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Porn stars strut their stuff at awards

Published: 12:00PM Monday January 09, 2006 Source: Reuters

Cameras whirred and fans pressed 10 deep against a velvet rope in Las Vegas to catch a glimpse of their favorite stars sashaying into one of the first entertainment awards shows of the year.

As at any Hollywood awards ceremony, photographers asked the performers to twirl and pose, and reporters stationed along the red carpet begged for quips about the next project or the state of the industry.

But unlike the Golden Globes and Emmys, the goody bag contained "Barely Legal" playing cards and Hustler condoms, and the stars such as Arnold Schwartzenpecker and Britney Rears were not quite household names.

The 23rd annual Adult Video News (AVN) Awards, the Oscars of porn, boasted a higher attendance than ever this year, with more than 5,000 watching Sunday night's two-hour-long event in a huge ballroom at the ritzy Venetian Hotel.

The winners were as earnest and even as tearful as their Hollywood counterparts in their appreciation of the glass trophies they took homepraise.

Actor Manuel Ferrera, who picked up an award for Male Performer of the Year, drew laughs when he thanked "everyone, especially the ladies".

Best Film Actress winner Savanna Samson was cheered when she recognized the support of her peers as crucial because "most of my family is pretty ashamed of what I do."

X-rated

Interviewers on the red carpet asked the usual questions but the answers were often as X-rated as the movies being honored.

Ron Jeremy, a portly porn super star, pledged to keep delivering the goods for his fans.

"I'm still working, not as much but as long as everything works I'm going to exploit it," he said.

Porn is big business. Adult entertainment, including porn videos and films shot mainly in Southern California's San Fernando Valley, racked up estimated sales of $12.6 billion in 2005, according to statistics compiled by AVN.

That compared with US theatrical revenue of $8.9 billion for mainstream Hollywood films, according to figures from box office tracking firm Exhibitor Relations.

Like Hollywood, the US porn industry is dominated by a handful of privately held studios: Wicked Pictures, Vivid Entertainment, New Sensations, Digital Playground/Adam & Eve and porn queen Jenna Jameson's company, Club Jenna.

Unlike Hollywood, they do not disclose revenue or production costs, making it difficult to gauge the size and profitability of the industry.

The porn studios maintain stables of starlets and studs who can make a dozen or more films each year.

This year's most-nominated film was Digital Playground's "Pirates" starring AVN awards host Jesse Jane and a slew of beauties who do battle with a band of marauding skeletons in between sex scenes.

The movie walked away with the award for best video, while Wicked Pictures' remake of "The Devil in Miss Jones" took best film honors.

Jameson, resplendent in a candy pink dress that barely restrained her bosom, claimed awards for "Miss Jones" and for Best Crossover Artist, and was inducted into AVN"s Hall of Fame.

Another famous pornographer, Larry Flynt, picked up a Hall of Fame Founders' award for free speech related to the industry, which has lately found itself under attack by President George W. Bush's administration over obscenity.

"Adult (entertainment) has gone to a $10 billion business, and it happened because it's a business that everybody cares about and takes seriously and I think we ought to remind the rest of the country about that," the wheelchair-bound Flynt said.

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