LOS ANGELES — Andy San Dimas fought back tears of joy. Tommy Gunn stood speechless. So many XBIZ Award winners displayed a range of emotions on Wednesday night backstage at the Hollywood Palladium after their names were announced.
“This is so amazing,” San Dimas said. “I can’t believe I won Female Performer of the Year.”
San Dimas’ outstanding body of work included lead roles in several high-profile feature movies as well as some 30 gonzo releases in 2010, capping a memorable year for the former adult store clerk from Baltimore, Md.
Gunn, who is in his eighth year as one of porn’s most reliable studs, was humbled by his win for Male Performer of the Year.
“I’m just happy to be doing what I do,” Gunn said. “I just showed up and did my best. I’m kind of speechless to be honest, but this is a great day.”
Winners were crowned in more than 100 award categories covering every major sector of adult at Wednesday’s event. The ninth annual gala was the largest in XBIZ Awards history.
After the star-studded parade of red-carpet arrivals generated national media coverage, the show unfolded in front of a crowd of more than 1,000 adult industry professionals at the iconic Palladium. Digital Playground exclusive Jesse Jane and naughty comedian Whitney Cummings kept the mood lively as the hosts for the evening in between live entertainment that even included professional pole dancing.
But perhaps the most lasting images of the night were the looks on the faces of the victors, such as the Best Acting winners Kayden Kross and Keni Styles, who both told XBIZ that careful preparation went into their performances.
Kross won Acting Performance of the Year-Female for her lead role in Digital Playground’s firefighter epic “Body Heat.”
“This is so rad. I’m so excited. This is freakin’ sweet!” Kross said, adding “my feet hurt!”
“‘Body Heat’ was the one movie I really cried for — real tears — so I think that says something,” she continued. “I worked with an acting coach with this specific script. I didn’t feel like I was doing porn, I felt like I was playing a role.”
The Asian sensation Styles was ecstatic with his triumph for Acting Performance of the Year in the Miss Lucifer Production “Malice in Lalaland” that was distributed by Vivid.
“I wish [director Lewis Xypher] could have been here,” Styles said. “I put a lot of work into researching Johnny Depp’s character in ‘Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas.’ I watched the movie again and again, trying to get down his characteristics. A lot of people just said it came naturally to me. I put myself into the role. And I’m already a zany character.”
Styles continued, “Working with [Sasha Grey] was really good. She helped me raise my game so much. I learned a lot from Sasha. … Lewis just had his first son and he is celebrating that [in Belgium]. When I call him up on Skype later this will be the cherry on top of the cake for him.”
The night was just as sweet for Wicked Pictures, which took home Feature Movie of the Year and Best Cinematography for their all-action, motorcycle drama “Speed,” in addition to Feature Studio of the Year honors. When “Speed” director Brad Armstrong & Co. took the stage, he said, “Thanks to the Wicked Girls, to my editor Scott Allen, to my videographers Francois Clousot and Mark Nicholson and to all the people who worked so hard on the cast and crew.”
Armstrong directed what will be remembered as one of the finest ensemble casts in adult film history in “Speed,” which was lifted by the acting and sex performances of numerous established stars who each had equal screen time and billing.
“I really love my job. I love directing, writing and producing, and the people I get to work with. I literally get to work with my best friends every day on my shoots. How can you beat that?” Myers said. “My crew made me. I’d be nothing without them.”
Myers added, “‘Lebowski’ is my baby. This project is based on my favorite movie. Everything just clicked on it, from the acting performances to the sex. I’m so glad it’s being recognized.”
Nominees traveled from all over the country to attend the XBIZ Awards.
“I literally just arrived [in L.A.],” said Gisele of GotGisele.com, who was named Web Babe of the Year and had just stepped off a plane from Houston a couple hours earlier. “I was the first winner of the evening. I’m completely shocked. I was not at all expecting this.”
The former Hooters waitress started GotGisele.com 10 months ago after working for five years as a popular web cam model.
“I always had a fascination for nude modeling,” Gisele admitted.
R.J. from the Bay Area-based SexEntertain told XBIZ when he was on stage accepting the Content Licensor of the Year award, he thought simply, “I’m glad I dressed nicely.”
“I’m appreciative,” R.J. said. “I’m glad and I’m honored. … We are the largest and longest lasting content syndicator on the market.”
IVD/ECN founder Frank Kay, who traveled from his headquarters in Hightstown, N.J., thanked all his vendors for contributing to his company’s award for Distributor/Wholesaler of the Year.
“I’m very happy to win a great award like this,” Kay said. “We couldn’t accomplish this without all our staff and vendor support.”
Shap, the owner of Twistys.com, will bring a trophy home to Toronto after accepting the award for Solo Girl Affiliate Program of the Year for TwistysCash.
“This is awesome, a lot of hard work,” Shap said. “This is our first award as an affiliate program, and our second award overall. We pour our hearts into this. We’ll have our 10-year anniversary in 2011.”
Nicholas Steele, the director of ambitious parody “Bat FXXX: Dark Night” for Bluebird Films, was accompanied by “Bat FXXX” star and Bluebird exclusive, Madelyn Marie, in accepting his Best Director – Individual Project honor.
“Twenty years later, this is the first time I’ve won an award,” Steele said. “And this is my first digital movie.”
“Bat FXXX” later was awarded Best Special Effects for its cinematic quality.
Meanwhile, Chanel Preston, a native of Alaska who resides in Hawaii, completed a fantastic first year of performing by earning the coveted New Starlet of the Year award.
“When I look back I feel so lucky that I’ve had an extremely successful year,” Preston told XBIZ, adding that she’ll be going to the Magic Mountain amusement park to celebrate the victory. She gave a special “thank you” to Wicked Pictures and Brad Armstrong and Jessica Drake who “shot my third scene” and “really helped me a lot.”
Erik Teno and Cathy Beardsley of CommerceGate won for Billing Company of the Year – Merchant Services, a company is based in L.A., Miami and Barcelona.
“This was a big surprise,” Teno said.
Beardsley added, “Our whole focus is taking care of our clients. Customer service is No. 1. We’re listening to our clients and we’re adapting.”
Justin Ross from the Screaming O recalled how six years ago he and Keith Caggiano started their company out of a garage and guesthouse, and now they run a 20,000 square-foot facility. For their mainstream friendly marketing endeavors they earned the award for Crossover Novelty Company of the Year.
“We have a product that is unique and able to cross over to different areas where others aren’t. It takes a lot of energy and effort,” said Ross, a former finance executive. “We knew if we executed our strategy right we would grow and we have even bigger plans than where we are now.”
Speaking of crossovers, Digital Playground’s Riley Steele said her win for Crossover Star of the Year means that “all my hard work is paying off right now.”
“And with ‘Top Guns’ and everything that’s coming this year I feel it just gets better from here,” said the blonde San Diego native, who had a memorable role in the feature film Piranha 3-D last summer and will star in a new season of Cinemax’s “Life on Top” this year.
Burning Angel founder Joanna Angel, who won Specialty Affiliate Program of the Year for Joanna Angel Bucks, said her award was especially gratifying.
“I’m so honored. This really feels amazing. I don’t know what to say. I’m shocked. There are so many incredible affiliate programs out there and to know we stood out,” Angel said. “I do it all myself. This is the root of my company. I’d be nothing with Joanna Angel Bucks.”
Another standout was the 6-foot-6 Flash Brown, who won New Male Performer of the Year. Just a few years ago the Memphis, Tenn., native was playing professional basketball overseas.
“I feel privileged. I’m very honored and grateful,” said the 29-year-old former shooting guard.
Dale DaBone, who starred in Axel Braun’s hot-selling “Batman XXX” for Vivid last year and most recently played Elvis, won the award for Comeback Performer of the Year after returning to the industry in 2010 after a seven-year hiatus.
“I’m proud of ‘Batman’ and all the other stuff I’ve done,” said DaBone, who did professional motorcycle stunts, coached tennis and played drums while he was gone. “I told you about some of the mistakes I’ve made in the past and I’ve tried to make amends and it’s still going. Now I think ‘Elvis’ is going to be bigger than ‘Batman.’”