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Skin City: The 2006 AVN Porn Awards

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When High Times decided to gamble on flying someone out to Vegas to cover the world’s biggest porn convention, they put their money on black — Bobby Black.

There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who admit that they masturbate, and those who lie. Well, I’m not ashamed to say that I love porn. Listen, just because I can rattle off the bodily measurements and film histories of adult-film actresses the way most guys spout batting averages and fastball speeds, that doesn’t make me a pervert—just a very horny guy. So naturally, when my friends at Penthouse extended an invitation to spend the weekend hanging out at the world’s biggest porn convention, my curiosity wasn’t the only thing stimulated.

The 23rd Annual Adult Video News (AVN) Expo, held at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas the first weekend in January, climaxed with the legendary awards show — essentially, the Academy Awards of porn — on Saturday night. Among the many hopefuls this year were some friends of mine: 2006 Penthouse Pet of the Year Jamie Lynn, up against two fellow Pets and 12 other actresses for Best Solo Sex Scene, and Internet punk-porn princess Joanna Angel, nominated for a whopping seven awards, including the coveted Best New Starlet.

 

High Times has often been called “porn for potheads,” and the parallels are obvious—starting with the centerfold. Also, both getting high and having an orgasm involve arousing the senses toward heights of euphoria. And porn mags, much like High Times, fight the oppression of a puritanical “morality” while defending our right to enjoy the adult pleasures of this world, do with our bodies as we choose and announce our choices proudly and defiantly. So it’s no big surprise to me that the vast majority of the porn community loves High Times

Deal me in.

My plane landed around 11 on Thursday night. I’d made arrangements to meet up with Korby, a sexy rock’n’roll promoter/concierge I’d chatted with online who had offered to be my party companion while I was in town. As luck would have it, she was on her way to an industry party in the Skyloft suite of my hotel, the MGM Grand. After a few beers, Korby and I, along with some friends, headed down to the Circle Bar in the center of the casino, where we met a waify little porn actress and a foxy hooker, who sadly was too pricey for me to employ. I did, however, end up making out with Korby. My first-ever night in Vegas, and I was ending it in the black.

Ante up.

I left the hotel around 2:30 the next afternoon, luckily catching a ride to the AVN Expo with my friend Mike, who was in town for the CES Electronics Convention. Along the way, he busted out a backpack filled with about 12 jars of different strains of kind bud, plus two balls of hash bigger than my fist. It was like having a personal, portable Cannabis Cup. I grabbed a quarter ounce of Jack Herer to serve as my travel stash, and several hash-topped bowls later, we were flying high.

First stop: the Penthouse booth, which served as my home base during the expo. There I greeted my good friend Lainie (Penthouse promotions director) and a pride of Pets: 2006 Pet of the Year runner-up Cassia Riley and Pets Kelle Marie, Melissa Jacobs and Courtney Taylor. Right next-door: the Teravision booth, headquarters for my all-time favorite porn star, the gorgeous Tera Patrick.

I’d spoken with Tera’s publicist before coming to town, so when I arrived, I was ushered right in and quickly found myself discussing possible photo concepts with her and her husband/manager/co-star, Evan Seinfeld (a.k.a. Spyder Jonez). I’d first met Seinfeld years ago at the legendary Brooklyn metal club L’Amour, where I’d seen his hardcore-metal band, Biohazard, play countless times.

“I can’t believe it,” he joked. “I go all the way across the country and end up running into a fellow L’A-moron!”

I was about to photograph one college-themed booth decorated with kegs when one of the  girls came running at me as I snapped the picture. It was Penthouse Pet Renee Diaz, whom I hadn’t recognized under the baseball cap she was wearing, which read, “Wanna get lucky?” She winked at me as she pointed to it and then gave me a big hug and kiss hello. In return, I gave her a High Times girlie tee. Suddenly, every other female in the vicinity swarmed around me, all begging for a shirt.

As the expo was closing for the day, I bumped into my friend Ace and his crew from Reality Check TV out of San Francisco. I did a quick interview for them, then hitched a ride with them back to the MGM.

Check.

Other than the awards ceremony, the Penthouse party at the club Light in the Bellagio was my most highly anticipated event of the convention. A whole slew of Pets were there: Jamie and Cassia, 2005 POTY and HT model Martina Warren (“Penthouse Sweet,” Aug. ’05 HT) and two Pets I hadn’t yet met: Ashley Roberts and Charlie Laine.

As soon as I walked over, Jamie grabbed me and brought me straight to Charlie.

“Charlie, this is Bobby,” she said.

“Bobby?” Charlie responded searchingly. Then, suddenly, her face lit up. “Wait— Bobby from High Times? “she shrieked and dropped to her knees and began bowing to me like I was the Messiah. Everyone around us turned and stared in bewildered envy and reverence.

Time to up the ante…

The waiter brought each table in the VIP area a wire carousel with a giant bottle of Grey Goose in a bucket of ice that had six Red Bulls orbiting around it like some alcoholic astronomy project. I took a seat next to Jamie, her boyfriend Josh, and Charlie, and we started pounding back the jackass juice and having a blast. Every time the bottle ran low, a waiter would arrive with a fresh carousel.

Hit me.

At the end of the party, Charlie disappeared, Cassia reportedly left with New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, and Jamie and Josh invited me to come with them to Scores, but I was off to meet up with Korby at the Players Ball. First I decided to make a quick pit stop at my hotel room to pick up some more herb, where I stupidly passed out by accident instead. I awoke around 4:35 a.m. to a bombardment of chaotic messages; Korby had texted me every half hour, each time from a different location. The last one said to meet her at the Empire Ballroom (the location of the ball), which was just a couple of blocks away. But by the time I got there, Parliament Funkadelic had long since departed, so we headed to a 24-hour dive rock bar called the Doubledown instead, greeting the dawn with a round of Patrón shots.

Call.

I only slept about three hours, so it took me nearly four hours and a venti white mocha to get motivated and hop the monorail up to the Venetian. I had no intention of paying $50 to get into the convention again—like I was forced to do the day before—so I started asking around about press registration and was eventually directed to a small room down a long hallway.

“I’m sorry, sir,” said the gentleman behind the desk. “We’re only issuing passes to preregistered press.”

“You’re kidding, right?” I pleaded. “I was told there would be on-site registration. Damn—if I don’t come back with this story, my editor’s going to kill me.”

“Who are you with, a local paper?”

“No, we’re international,”  I said, reaching into my bag and pulling out a copy of the sex issue with Jenna Jameson on the cover and handing it over along with a business card. “I work for High Times.”

He looked at the magazine, then the card, and then he looked me dead in the eye.

Go ahead, buddy — call my bluff. I dare you.

“Okay. Here, fill out this form, please, and we’ll get you all set up.”

The BBD was in full effect.

As soon as I got in, I ran straight for the Adam & Eve booth. I was already late for an interview with another of my favorite actresses, Puerto Rican Brooklyn native Carmen Luvana, who was up for several awards, including Best Interactive DVD and Best All-Girl Sex Scene–Video. Her publicist pulled the starlet away from a long line of aspiring autographees to sit her down with me, but after a few minutes I realized that she wasn’t into weed at all. That’s what I get for choosing subjects based on the advice of the organ between my legs instead of the one inside my skull.

After the interview, I ran into the crew from Girls Gone Wild and told them my idea for a “Ganja Girls Gone Wild” joint project between HT and GGW—with me as host, of course. I get girls high; they show me their tits—what could be more perfect?

As I passed by the Metro booth, I saw the longest line at the convention, and at the front of it was the most recognizable face in porn — Ron Jeremy. I arranged a quick interview in the back room (see Almost Infamous-What a Dick) and also spent some time with two beautiful exotic dancers (Shayla and Sierra) who were part of Jeremy’s entourage. When I offered to send them pictures and magazines, Shayla grabbed a pen and started scribbling down her phone number.

“You’re giving him your number?” asked Sierra skeptically.

“He’s from High Times,” she replied. “He gets anything he wants.”

Think I’ll double-down…

By now the expo was closing, and I still didn’t have a ticket to the awards show. Oh, didn’t I mention that little detail? Back in New York, Lainie had told me there was a 90 percent chance she’d have a ticket for me, but now—just a few hours before the doors opened—there were none to be had. I flipped open the ol’ black Razr and started dialing anyone and everyone I’d talked to since I’d landed, in hopes of tracking down a ticket. An hour passed and still no luck, so I went back to the Penthouse booth to regroup and plan my next move. Martina, Kelle, Jamie and Charlie were all getting ready to leave.

“See you at the awards, Bobby!” Charlie called out.

“Doubtful,” I murmured grumpily.

“What do you mean? Don’t you have a ticket?”

“No, I can’t seem to find one.”

“Really? Well, actually, my friend runs AVN, and he gave me a ticket, but since Penthouse got me one too, I have an extra, so you can come with me.”

Dear, sweet Charlie! First you worshipfully prostrate yourself before me in public, and now you’re inviting me to be your date to the awards ceremony? I have a great idea: There’s this little Elvis chapel around the corner, and we have a couple hours before the show…. What do you say, Mrs. Black?

I met the Penthouse gang in front of the Grand Luxe Café, across the casino from the banquet hall, at 9. All the Pets began to arrive—and holy shit, were they stunning. Waiting in front of the Luxe, we spotted a few celebrities passing by on their way to the show: Verne Troyer (Mini-Me from Austin Powers)…

Heavy metal god Lemmy (whom I swore to track down and get a picture with later); and Best Actor nominee Evan Stone, looking larger than life as he came over to say hello to the girls. I took the opportunity to introduce myself.

“Hey, Evan…. I’m Bobby Black, from High Times magazine. I’ve seen a lot of your work. I’m a big fan.”

“Hey — High Times!” he said, shaking my hand.  “Well, Bobby, I’ve seen a lot of your work, and I’m a big fan!” Over the weekend, I found that pro-pot sentiment echoed by nearly all of the adult-film actors I met.

It’s difficult to imagine the feeling of nirvana that washed over me as I strode down the long red carpet toward the entrance, literally surrounded by a dozen of the most gorgeous women I’d ever set eyes on, elbow to elbow with the Pet of the Year, while a vast horde of paparazzi snapped away. Inside the hall, I sat with Jamie, Charlie and Cassia at their table on the aisle. Both Jamie and Charlie were nominated for the same award — Best Solo Scene — and were excited to see who would take home the trophy.

At 10, the show got underway with a hilarious opening set from comedian Greg Fitzsimmons. “After tonight, my balls are going over to audition for the Blue Man Group,” he joked. Fitzsimmons was soon joined onstage by his adorable blond co-host, Jesse Jane, for an extremely well-produced show, with funny short films between groups of presenters and everyone decked out in the most elegant of evening wear. It was, somewhat surprisingly, an extremely classy affair.

Only one of Joanna Angel’s seven nominations paid off — Most Outrageous Sex Scene, for her work in Re-Penetrator. My new pal Evan Stone won Male Performer of the Year and Best Actor–Video, for his performance in Pirates — a million-dollar pornographic take on Pirates of the Caribbean (with CGI and all), which also won Best Video Feature. “Take out the sex scenes,” Stone later joked to me, “and it’s total fuckin’ Disney!” But the real highlight for me was when Larry Flynt won a Hall of Fame award and gave an impassioned speech about the importance of the First Amendment, which he’s spent his whole life fighting to defend. I was one of the first people to rise in the standing ovation he received.

Toward the end of the show, I noticed a familiar-looking guy with a huge Mohawk at the end of the bar — my buddy Dominic, a porn director I’d met in Hollywood about a year before. I brought him over to our table to meet the Pets, and he in turn introduced me to two blond actresses he knew named Gina and Paris. As soon as the words HIGH TIMES came out of his mouth, Paris practically attached herself to me.

“Everybody told me the awards show would be boring,” I said, “but I think it’s pretty happening.”

“As far as I’m concerned,” she replied, slipping her hand between my legs, “you’re the most happening thing here.”

I see your Penthouse Pet and raise you a porn star.

Dominic said that after the show, they were all going to a very private party at a mansion behind the Rio Hotel and asked if I wanted to come. The look on Paris’ face told me all I needed to know.

“If she’s going to be there,” I said,  “then count me in.” I gave her my cell number and a big wet kiss goodbye, and off they went back to their table, promising to call me later with the details.
“Well, well, well,” Jamie said, her eyes overflowing with mischievous approval.  “Bobby’s got himself a groupie! Looks like somebody’s getting laid tonight!”

Shit, I sure as hell hoped so—with a pocketful of Kimono Ultra Thins, a sample-size tube of warming lube, two Viagras and enough blow left to keep me up until I got back to New York, I was ready for action. After the show, Dom and I went up to a suite party while he waited to hear from his friends about the mansion. Korby was there with her crew, as well as Ace, who informed me that Lemmy had left right before I got there.

Motherfucker!

It was a fetish-themed party, the centerpiece of which was a mostly naked girl hog-tied and gagged on a table. Pretty cool scene, but I was eager to reconnect with Paris and hopefully get me some. I told Korby that Dominic and I were leaving, and she asked to come, but I told her I’d prefer she didn’t because I was planning to hook up with a porn star. Suddenly, she got very affectionate — trying to persuade me to stay with her instead.

“Well, I’ll be honest with you,” I told her. “I really want to get laid. So—if you’re willing to promise me that you’ll come back to my hotel and stay with me at the end of the night, then I won’t leave.” She agreed.

I’m all in.

I saw no sense in leaving a slot machine I’d been pumping quarters into for two days—sooner or later, it was bound to pay off, right? I mean, why go try my luck at a new table when I’ve got a sure thing going at this one? Korby suggested some clubbing, so we went downstairs to Tao, but the overpriced drinks and loud hip-hop music soon became too much and we decided to bail. We tried a couple of other spots that turned out to be dead and ended up at a topless club west of the Strip. After maybe 15 minutes, I asked myself, “What the hell am I doing waving dollar bills at girls on platforms when I could be getting it on back at the hotel?”

“Come on, let’s get out of here.”

Let it ride, baby! Let it ride!

We made it back to my room, had a smoke and ordered some room service. When we were done eating, we unmade the bed and I began to unleash my frenzied libido on her—kissing, rubbing, licking, stroking. But no matter what I did, I couldn’t seem to get her juices flowing. Then she dropped the bomb on me:

“I’m sorry, Bobby— —  too tired. I just want to sleep. I mean, we don’t have to have sex, do we?”

Bust!

“Yes, we do! We absolutely have to have sex! You knew exactly what I wanted, and you told me you were down for it.”

“I know, but I don’t feel that good. I’m really not in the mood now. Is that all that matters to you? Am I not allowed to say no?”

Are you shitting me? I thought to myself. You’re trying to make me out to be the villain here? Saying no four hours ago would have been perfectly fine—saying no now is cruel and unusual punishment. I could’ve been with a porn star and gotten laid five times by now! But no — I chose to hang out with you. Why? Because I really like you. And now it’s 4:30am on my last night in Vegas, and you’re lying here in my bed, wearing a red silk-and-lace slip and looking hot as fucking hell, and I’m so hard right now I’m about to pull a groin muscle, and you’re telling me you want to go to sleep? Goddamn it — I’m horny! I want to fuck!!!

“Look, I’m sorry. I do like you; I just don’t want to right now. Maybe I should just go.”

“No, wait — I don’t want you to go.” I dug my palms into my forehead and took a few deep breaths. “Stay, please…. It’s fine.”

I fold.

This whole trip, I’d been hedging my bets, stacking up chips, gearing up for the big payout. But now I’d gone all in, on what I was sure was a winning hand, and crapped out. Looks like my getting laid just wasn’t in the cards. Korby soon fell asleep, but I just lay awake, struggling desperately to calm down, to no avail. Whether it was the coke, the Viagra or the gallons of adrenaline and testosterone coursing through my veins, sleep was impossible. As I lay there suffering the pains of my misplaced desire, resolving to do what any red-blooded man of conscience would do in that situation and take matters literally into my own hands, I suddenly had a revelation: That’s what this whole convention, the awards, and the entire multibillion-dollar adult industry were really all about. Porn isn’t about getting laid — it’s about not getting laid. In some crazy way, I’d found the eye of this whole silicone, celluloid storm.

There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who admit that they masturbate, and those who lie. Well, my momma didn’t raise no liar.

And right there’s your money shot, you naughty stoners.

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