As I blogged some time ago, I was honored to be asked to participate as one of the judges in the first-ever Str8UpGayPorn Awards.
I consume porn at least as much as the next gay man, but I had not watched a full gay-porn movie since, oh ... Big Guns? I took my job very seriously and watched every nominated movie and performance, and was pleasantly surprised that most of the nominees for which or whom I voted won.
The event was not without controversy. Some in the porn industry complain that Str8UpGayPorn.com's editor, the outspoken Zachary Sire (pictured, showing his own legit surprise at who we judges chose), is doing more harm than good. I think that while I am not aware of the truth behind every spat, Sire is simply extremely well-informed, not afraid to shine a spotlight on things some performers would rather he didn't (Twitter feuds, arrests) and has a taste level that demands porn productions look good and accomplish what they should without cheating the viewers.
A mini-controversy from the Michael Lucas camp didn't work, so the announced hostess, Sandra Bernhard, showed up as promised, as did a healthy number of faces from porn's who's who.
I arrived early to cover the carpet, watching porn vet Bruce Beckham and the delightful mr. Pam interview the X-rated glitterati before the photogs, including myself, would line them up for posed pics.
Most of the guys in gay porn (the gay ones!) are sweet, friendly, bubbly types who enjoy attention, which makes for great subjects and very few unpleasant exchanges. I was maybe a little too excited to see some of my favorites in the flesh, not least of which a generous helping of Bel Ami boys (including too-stunning-for-words Hoyt Kogan), enough Helix boys to fill a playground (why is Kyle Ross so adorable?), a flock of Cocky Boys (Carter Dane, Taylor Reign, possibly others who rhyme) and porn legends like Chi Chi LaRue, Diesel Washington and Brent Corrigan with beau JJ Knight.
One thing I found charming was how worried the Bel Ami boys — in prom-style tuxes — were about looking sweaty on the red carpet. I did some party shots they vastly preferred, which was hard to take seriously considering they look like this:
All the models were only to happy to pose again and again. The only NO, PLEASE! I got all nice was when I mistook a caiter waiter for a porn god, which, if we're being honest, is not a hard mistake to make.
The show started a little late, but went off without any serious glitches. Bernhard was a hoot, completely unruffled by any missed cues or other minor bumps in the road. This was kind of her attitude:
She was professional, gave a funny opening monologue, was totally game and also gave a great pep talk about how people who do porn are at the forefront of living free and authentic lives. She called Shangela Shan-GELLA, like Frank Langella, but she also happily posed for pictures off to the side of the stage and shared a great story about how, in the '70s, she was in love with a famous drag queen. “She was my boyfriend,” she cracked.
As controversial a site as Str8UpGayPorn.com is, the show was fairly drama-free. Diesel Washington, saved for the end, did point out that the room was very white, but he also did it in a way that was both firm and yet not accusatory, and he still participated. Not just participated — he wore a crazy outfit and brought his mom!
All that, and he's super nice and accomodating with the fans.
Check out more snippets from the ceremony here, including the double-Helix makeout sesh:
After the awards (gorgeous, crystal trophies) were all handed out, I was able to chat up some of the boys and congratulate them before my date and I headed up to the after-party on the roof. It was steamy good fun for all with no nudity.
Hey — they gave at the office.
Really, Zach should be proud of how well his event came off, and it will likely only get better over the years. I know already from talking with them that the winners were duly psyched to have been chosen.
Keep reading for tons more pics, plus you'll find more photos here ...