My most vivid recollection of my years running AVN is the absolute, impenetrable, near-comic inability to make anyone happy. At all. Ever. Anyone. Really, there’s just no winning. At a certain point, you just accept that fact, move on and laugh. For me, that point came after the 1999 awards. That year, the winners were all over the map; nothing really swept. The video category was wide-open with contenders like VCA’s Café Flesh 2 and Forever Night, Wicked had Exile (a little throw-away movie that I still think is one of the best things Brad Armstrong has done) and the beautiful-but-laughable PornoGothic. Sunshine — yes, Sunshine — had a big-budgetredux of L.A. Confidential called L.A. Uncovered that Gene Ross and Mark Kernes really liked (I… well, the word “loathe” comes to mind… I seem to remember Tod Hunter being on my side with this one).

On the film side things were much tougher. Sin City had an extremely strong feature with Kris Kramski’s Models. Vivid had Masseuse 3. Private released the massive Tatiana trilogy. Metro had James Avalon’s big-money Stacy Valentine flick White Angel. Wicked was pushing it’s deeplyflawed Jenna über-vehicle Flashpoint. And Pleasure Productions had a little Nic Cramer movie called Looker.

I never got the impression Looker was any big deal to Pleasure. Back in those days, they had Nic Cramer doing two small films every month, and I think this was one of those shows. It wasn’t an epic production, and we certainly hadn’t heard much about it. In fact, the story was more-or-less a boilerplate Martin Brimmer porn noir detective yarn. With Mike Horner as the detective, even. Again. But Looker was really well done. For some reason, the stars just aligned, or Nic Cramer decided to really put his heart into this one, or the editors worked some real magic.

Whatever happened behind the scenes, the resultant movie was a real gem. We actually found itduring nominations. I was sick at home missing a nominations meeting, but still looking at movies, and I found Looker. I called into the meeting and told them we were going to have to go back through the film categories. Deeply unhappy and with much grumbling, Paul & co. dug up a copy of Looker from the warehouse and watched it. Everyone agreed, and we realized that yet another freelancer (I remember who it was but he shall remain nameless) had let a great movie slip through the cracks.

So, with all that extra effort, Frank Koretsky who owns Pleasure must be my best buddy, right? Nope. In fact, Frank hates me. He has ever since 1997(?) when I wrote a less-than-glowing story about a miserable week I spent in Mexico at a fan-attended resort-vacation-turned-porn-shoot event Pleasure was sponsoring in Jalisco. Nic Cramer? Nope. Met him maybe twice before when he came to get awards show tickets.

Ahh, so Lauren Montgomery, the co-star of the show, must have come over to bang me, right? Actually, I didn’t meet Lauren until a few years later, when she was basically out of the business. Maybe Shannah McCullough? Much as I love Shannah, I have never, sadly, fucked her (or happily fucked her, even), nor has she expressed any interest. And I had really disgusting green mucelage pouring from my nose at the time, so I didn’t feel like banging anybody. Hell, I didn’t even check with AVN Advertiser CentCom to make sure Pleasure was feeding us adequate ad revenue to justify this expense of my valuable time.

Baffled as to why we spent the effort to hand Looker a slew of nominations? Hmmm… could it be because it was a great movie?


In the end, Looker took Best Film, Best Director Best Actress, and three other awards. Models got two for acting. Masseuse 3 took a few, White Angel took one (Metro’s ONLY award that year), and Flashpoint got a single, well-deserved nod — for Best Marketing. The big video awards got scattered between the various contenders more-or-less evenly (okay, L.A. Uncovered got a single acting award for Michael J. Cox, and that was a stretch).

How popular do you think we were that January? Russ Hampshire from VCA was convinced —convinced — we were in Wicked’s pocket. Vivid was convinced VCA had bought us off. Metro decided Wicked and Vivid had made a payoff. Wicked figured we had to be doing a deal with Pleasure. Sin City took their two awards for Models and promptly pulled their ads. And Pleasure? They couldn’t care less. They’d released 20 films since Looker had come out, and Koretsky still hated me. I’m sure he thought the awards were a gift from Paul to make up for the “terrible Mexico article.”

That was the January I learned to laugh. I liked Looker a lot, but I voted for Models.

This year the no-win-situation is the trophies. For 20-plus years, recipients have bitched and moaned that the trophies aren’t personalized; they just have the category, not the winner’s name. This year, for the first time everAVN is ponying up the extra money and effort to engrave the fucking trophies. As a result, people are now bitching and moaning to the gossip sites that they have to wait for their trophies to be mailed. Apparently, the prevailing opinion is that the “Winners Only” folks — those who got announced but didn’t get to go onstage — were the only ones who have to wait.

Wrong. I went up onstage twice. Both times I got a trophy. Both times they took it away from me backstage ’cause it was a dummy, dummy. And, incidentally, they do the same thing at a little awards show you might have heard of called The OscarsI remember seeing a great interview with F. Murray Abraham talking about how he refused to give the dummy back when he won forAmadeus so he could show it to his family that night. He later traded it for his personalized statue.

As with every other show, there were a lot of problems with the AVN Awards just passed. Issues with the new venue. Issues with the seating. We had to listen to the fuckin’ Stingers again. And, like everyone else, I’m still waiting for my trophies. But it’s what we have. It’s our moment to dress up and play pretend and treat ourselves like human beings. So, yeah, you can choose to be an ungracious cunt like Amy Reid, or you can go with the flow and enjoy yourself. I was geared up and ready to lose at Mandalay Bay, and I was planning to clap my heart out for whoever kicked our ass. This show might be flawed, but it’s all we’ve got.

So when guys like this bleeding hemorrhoid make the implication that Corruption only won because I used to run AVN (after all, it certainly wasn’t ad revenue, and it couldn’t have been because we made a great movie), I just laugh my January laugh. It only shows how little these people understand the way Paul Fishbein works. Or AVN. Or anything, really. All they know is that somehow, somewhere, something was rigged. It might not be verifiable, and it might not even make sense, but somehow, some way, AVN did it. They might not even be sure what “it” is, but they do know that blaming AVN makes them happy. And that’s the closest AVN is ever going to get to a satisfied customer.

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If you can’t learn to do it well, learn to enjoy doing it badly. — Anonymous