All Guardian photos by Caitlin Donohue unless otherwise noted
“We gotta get 500 girls through here in two hours.”
Pre porn star-strutting, the faces on the red carpet before the AVN Awards 2012 were grim. Vegas raged around us journalists, the Hard Rock Hotel – site of the awards ceremony, countless before-during-after-parties, and annual fan expo – awash in men trying to appear nonchalant and tired women in heels. We had many rivers to cross and many starlets to question before the awards ceremony would begin.
The Guardian team was stationed between Howard Stern's ex-security guard (sample question from the gent, who was wildly popular with the more silicon-ed of the starlets who roamed the runway: “What is the strangest thing you've ever put in your asshole?”) and a dapper Frenchman from his country's first porno channel XXL.
We'd been chatting up porn stars for days (most significantly, Courtney Trouble's queer porn posse and the lesbian beauties from Jincey Lumpkin's Juicy Pink Box about the growth of queer adult films – read about those interviews in the Feb. 8 print edition) – but this was different, red carpet-different.
For one thing, Dave Navarro was there, escorting two women in sequin thigh-high boots and highly customized steampunk-y ballgowns, both of their skirts' significantly missing a front section. Robin Leach had ducked out on his anticipated appearance, but an under-done Chyna of WWF fame – also winner in the Best Celebrity Sex Tape category for Backdoor to Chyna – was there, as was a sloppy Dave Attell, manic in the hours leading up to his awards host gig. Creator of "Girls Gone Wild" Joe Francis lurked through en route to presenting a lifetime achievement award, longingly gazing in our direction for an interview that was not forthcoming.
And of course those 500 porn stars (they weren't all women), who lined up at the mouth of the red carpet area like so many shiny cattle. Popular looks for the evening included shattered mirror Gaga-inspired bodices, drop-back, crack-baring harem dresses. The self-proclaimed “Valley's goldstar lesbian” Lily Cade and legendary sex goddess Nina Hartley were notable exceptions to the cleavage-baring carnival at hand -- they wore suits. "I'm a fucking professional, so I'm going to dress like a professional," Cade told us that day at the Expo as she gamely sold her all-girl titles from a booth unfortunately stationed next to a man hawking bargain basement adult DVDs.
Princess Donna  found a last-minute date in Bobbi Starr  (good choice, Starr took the honors for Female Performer of the Year), porn educatress-onscreen legend Nina Hartley gamely chatted ass acessories with Howard Stern's buddy and waxed thoughtful on the current state of queer porn with the Guardian. We met porn stars excited about their budding hip-hop careers, porn stars excited about the new Fleshlight modeled after their various orifices, porn stars who were just plain excited.
Our favorite line of red carpet questioning was as follows:
- What are you up for tonight?
- What was your favorite scene from last year?
- What do you think of the new condom regulations in LA ? Is this going to dramatically affect the industry? Cue fallen smiles and synaptic struggles. For the record, talent was divided between the “I'm sexy and people are going to watch me regardless and the “get your laws off my genitals” camps – no one really thought the anti-AIDS measure was a positive thing.
And then it was the awards ceremony, we which will sum up like so.
Portrait of a Call Girl - This drama is reportedly awesome if you like your porn with lots of crying in it. Kudos to lead Jessie Andrews, who was also the most calm actor that made her way across the red carpet. It won Best Feature, Best Director - Feature, and Andrews took Best Actress.
Asa Akira  – The woman, thanks in large part to her work in Asa Akira is Insatiable 2, walked with no less than seven awards this year. Though her outburst after winning for Best All-Sex Release was memorable (“my ex boyfriend broke up with me over this movie, so fuck yeah!”), she is indelibly etched in my mind by her acceptance speech for Best Anal Scene, an honor she also took home in 2011. To whit: “Thank you to my asshole for putting up with all my shenanigans.” Akira's partner for said award-winning anal shenanigans was named Nacho Vidal, which we will now be bestowing on my most swarthy future male child. Vidal was nominated twice in the Anal category – making him and Akira a powerhouse couple not to be denied.
Good Vibrations  – The SF-based chain walked with the Best Boutique award, and since it's our Bay-Bay that makes us happy. (But does it still qualify as a boutique? Read our interview with the chain's leaders last week and decide for yourself.)
Too Short -- Perfomed a song to close out the show entitled "I Need a Porno Bitch." He got them -- about twenty game female actors swarmed the stage as he happily name-checked many of them in his lyrics.
Whoever was responsible for the Joint's A/V and technical performance – Truly, everything that could have possibly gone wrong here, did. We're talking no clips for the Best Actress nominees, people walking off into exits with no outlet onstage (okay, maybe that was the presenters' fault). The ceremony's fail screen – a static shot of a galaxy of stars – played so often we became accustomed to it, like a running joke you can't get your friend to stop telling.
Two-time Female Performer of the Year Tori Black, who was arrested on charges of domestic battery  along with her five-month-old son's father at the Hard Rock in the wee hours of Friday morning. Black says she hadn't drank in awhile (baby) and stirred up a scene after hitting the town Saturday night. Nothing to see here folks!
Anyone requiring more than four hours of sleep per night, or that enjoys daylight and monogamy.
For a full list of this year's AVN winners, you should definitely, definitely go here  because of winning titles like Mission Asspossible and Internal Damnation 4