'Portrait of a Call Girl,' Jessie Andrews Win Big at 2012 XBIZ Awards
LOS ANGELES — Director Graham Travis told XBIZ he came up with the idea for “Portrait of a Call Girl” several years before it got made.
“The original concept was actually in 2004, but it really wasn’t until Jessie came along that I really felt like I found someone who could make the movie everything that I wanted it to be,” Travis said Tuesday night, moments after the movie captured the 2012 XBIZ Award for Feature Movie of the Year to cap off a record six trophies for the gritty drama.
Travis was referring to the 19-year-old star of the film, Jessie Andrews, who made some history of her own, becoming the first girl in XBIZ Awards history to win both New Starlet of the Year and Acting Performance of the Year on the same evening in front of a sold-out crowd at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica.
Andrews landed by far the most challenging role of her young career with “Portrait,” an original story about a troubled young woman who searches for meaning through a series of remarkable sexual experiences. The former American Apparel sales associate from Miami, Fla., appeared in every scene in the movie and she delivered.
“It was amazing just being able to shoot with a company that makes everything so beautiful and they give you everything you want and need,” Andrews said. “And the people are so sweet and genuine. I just want to give them everything because they want to give me everything.”
Andrews told XBIZ that performing for Elegant Angel is like working for her “friends,” which allowed her to reach her full potential with the ambitious assignment.
“That character is kind of like how I am when I’m calm,” Andrews said. “I’m very mono and very chill. It kind of let me tap into that. It was nice. It was like I’m just chillin’. And when I read the script I only needed to read it once and I knew everything in it…Like when we were doing our lines, I knew everyone else’s lines too. It was really fun.”
Travis, who is also the general manager of Elegant Angel, took home Director of the Year – Individual Project for “Portrait,” while the movie also collected honors for Best Screenplay (Travis), Best Cinematography (Mason, Alex Ladd & Carlos Dee) and Non-Sex Acting Performance of the Year (Alec Knight).
“Being an executive is where my passion is,” Travis said humbly. “That’s what I want to do. If I have the opportunity to make a creative project every so often, that makes me happy. My focus is on running the company.”
Meanwhile, the sensational Asa Akira became the first Asian-American starlet to win the coveted Female Performer of the Year award, taking the honor in the midst of her fourth year in porn.
Akira, who was born in New York and lived for six years in Japan, told XBIZ that she sensed a breakthrough with her sexuality.
“I really became a sexual being this year,” Akira said. “I got to do a lot of the dirtier stuff and I think from the time that I started up until now I think I’ve grown a lot. I’ve matured a lot and I’ve come to realize what I like.”
Akira, a former cashier at Barnes & Noble turned dominatrix turned stripper, also starred in the XBIZ Award-winning Gonzo Release of the Year, “Asa Akira Is Insatiable 2."
“For sure ‘Insatiable 2’ is the biggest thing I’ve ever done,” she said. “I always say this, but in ‘Insatiable 1’ I think I found myself and in ‘Insatiable 2’ I just went for it."
One of the most animated acceptance speeches of the night undoubtedly came from Tommy Pistol, who grabbed the Acting Performance of the Year Award for his portrayal of classic anti-hero Travis Bickle in “Taxi Driver.” Pistol thanked the producers, the director, the crew and all his co-stars for his opportunity in the Sensuous Diamond/Pleasure Dynasty Parody, which was distributed by Exile Distribution.
Pistol got the part after auditioning in the parking lot for the director Rob Black, aka General Stone.
“It was towards the end of the day and [production manager] Dan OhReally was like, ‘How fast can you get down to the Valley?' I said, ‘as quick as possible,’ so he emailed me the script, but I didn’t get to read it because I was like, 'I got to get out of here,'” Pistol recalled. “From what I knew of DeNiro in the movie, I tried to do it the best I could. [Rob] was like, ‘Dude, you’re good. The final question is, are you willing to shave your head?’ I was like, ‘Dude, we can’t ball-cap this.' And he was like, ‘Alright, it’s on!’”
Pistol, a native of Astoria, Queens, said he was a fan of the original movie.
“That movie was such a landmark for New York for that time period, and the fact that I got to do something that was a full on homage to it is amazing,” Pistol added.
The star-studded night began with hosts Jessica Drake and Kayden Kross welcoming the industry to the 35,000 square foot venue at the Santa Monica Airport that has also hosted major events such as the MTV Movie Awards and the Billboard Music Awards.
The gorgeous duo got the crowd warmed up before introducing comedian Ben Gleib, who kept the mood light in between awards that were handed out to dozens of industry leaders across every adult sector.
Several luminaries took the big stage, including Hustler founder Larry Flynt, who accepted the first-ever Industry Icon Award for his tireless efforts as one of the country’s most high-profile protectors of freedom of speech.
“I’ve been there and back,” he told the audience during his remarks after which he received a standing ovation.
The Special Honorees also included Man of the Year Dan O’Connell, the owner of the Girlfriends Films, and Woman of the Year Diane Duke, the executive director of the Free Speech Coalition.
Before approaching the stage with a group of gorgeous Girlfriends Films starlets, O’Connell said simply, “It doesn’t get any better than this.”
Pipedream CEO Nick Orlandino would agree. He called his award for Pleasure Products Company of the Year “phenomenal.”
“We’re so excited, you have no idea,” he said after accepting the honor with his staff.
Speaking of excitement, the cast of “Beverly Hillbillies XXX” lit up the backstage winner’s circle, thrilled to emerge victorious in the hotly contested Parody Release of the Year – Comedy category.
Produced by X-Play and distributed by Adam & Eve, the lighthearted romp hit on all the right notes of the classic sitcom.
“This really was not expected,” director Will Ryder admitted. “With so many great parody movies this past year, we did not expect to win any awards so that makes it that much more special.”
Dana DeArmond played Miss Jane in the movie, earning a nomination for her Supporting Acting Performance. She said that she was definitely familiar with the show before getting the call.
“I was the only girl who read for the Jane Hathaway part and I’ve never had the opportunity to work with Will Ryder,” DeArmond said. “It was an amazing, family atmosphere on the set. It made it really cool for us to bond.”
Digital Playground’s mile-high epic “Top Guns” won the tight Parody Release of the Year – Drama race. Robby D helmed the project that was inspired by the classic fighter pilot saga, only this time the girls ruled the cockpit.
D said the movie was designed to be a homage to the original, not a parody, but he took great pride in the triumph nonetheless.
“With the strength of the Parody category with really great guys like Axel Braun out there doing amazingly cool product, it’s a great win and a win’s a win,” he said. “I never, ever, ever fucking expected it, but I’m just glad I could bring a ‘W’ home for the girls and the production team.”
Former Digital Playground exclusive Raven Alexis won the XBIZ Award for Supporting Acting Performance of the Year for her role in “Top Guns,” which also picked up the Best Special Effects honor for its elaborate flying sequences.
Alexis is battling cancer and was not at the show, however she told XBIZ on Wednesday, "Thank you so much for this award. It means so much to me, both personally and professionally. Robby D and all of the crew at Digital Playground made 'Top Guns' an incredible movie to film."
She continued, "I am very honored, humbled and appreciative, and I would like to congratulate all of the extremely deserving winners in every category this year! I am very proud to be an adult actress, and I hope to make many more contributions to our industry in the upcoming years!"
D, a 12-year industry veteran, later accepted the XBIZ Director of the Year Award for his Body of Work that also included major productions such as “Fighters” and “Babysitters 2” in 2011.
“I’m lucky enough to have a really, really strong team that I’ve trained for years now and we work together and everything seems to flow pretty well actually,” he said. “There’s a lot of respect for us as a production team. It’s a fun experience for everyone and I think that helps me overcome the challenges.”
Digital Playground founder Joone called Robby D's honor "long overdue," adding that "he is constantly trying to improve and learn more about the technical side" of making movies.
"We just like to make movies that we would want to watch and what gets us excited," Joone said. "We really are a filmmakers' company."
Tommy Gunn, the 2011 XBIZ Performer of the Year, performed with five Digital Playground contract girls — Jesse Jane, Kayden Kross, Riley Steele, Stoya and Selena Rose — in one of the most memorable scenes from “Top Guns.”
“That was a lot of work actually,” Gunn said seriously. “We really had to hold the girls back and maintain control of the scene, so they would not just try to out-fuck each other. We did well. We started that scene around 10:30 p.m. and finished around 2 a.m.”
The newly crowned Transsexual Performer of the Year Jesse Flores told XBIZ she was grateful for the victory, pointing to movies such as “American Tranny” and her toy line with California Exotic Novelties as part of the fuel for her stellar year.
“After six years it’s a highlight to finally be acknowledged,” Flores said, adding that she likes performing because of “the adoration from the fans… I love being the fantasy.”
Meanwhile, youth was served with another double-winner as the Columbus, Ohio, native Xander Corvus won the New Male Performer of the Year award and Supporting Acting Performance of the Year for his role in Wicked Pictures’ sci-fi epic “Horizon.”
“I’ve always been an actor, I was on Nickelodeon for a little bit before I did this,” said the 23-year-old star. “I’ve done a lot of acting. It’s another mindset. Becoming other things and having Xander Corvus be what he is has opened my mind so much to what else I’m capable of."
Corvus in 2011 emerged as one of porn’s go-to leading men with acting range and performing chops.
“I can become a character when I want and be in that character and live in it,” he said. “It’s a really beautiful experience just being able to walk in someone else’s shoes and feel somebody else’s emotions. The fact that you can actually tap into it on your own is just beautiful.”
Vivid Girl Sunny Leone, who returned to L.A. from India just a day earlier, accepted the first award of the evening for Porn Star Site of the Year for SunnyLeone.com.
Leone claimed the honor as her international popularity continues to soar on the heels of her appearance on the Indian reality show “Bigg Boss 5.”
“The website has gone through the roof,” Leone said. “I’m the first adult star in India history to be on national TV. It’s been a completely unexpected amount of positive response from the whole country of India.”
She said she has been online since 2001 and “every year it gets better because we see what we’re capable of doing from the last.”
Former mainstream model Rocco Reed said he was “blown away” to find out he won the Male Performer of the Year award.
“I love absolutely everything about this industry and I feel so blessed by everything it has done for me in the past five years,” said Reed, who played college basketball at the University of South Carolina. “I have made money to build towards my business, been to beautiful places all over the world and made lots of friends, some which may last a lifetime. This win shows that today’s porn star has to be overall talented in acting along with being a great sex performer.
“Never would I have dreamed growing up in a town of 2,000 in South Carolina would I ever win an award of this magnitude. Thank you.”
Reed was set to compete in a Crossfit competition in Seattle this week, so he was unable to accept his trophy on stage.
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For a complete list of 2012 XBIZ Award winners, click here.
Photo of Jessie Andrews by Jeff Koga.