"Hold on to your DICKS!" yells Dana DeArmond, porn star and red carpet host for the 2015 AVN awards. She's practicing her inflection. "You're about to get blasted!"
She tries again. "You're about to get BLASTED!" And again. "Hold on TO YOUR dicks! YOU'RE about TO get BLASTED!" One more time, for emphasis: "HOLD ON TO YOUR DICKS!"
The AVN Awards are the Biggest Night in Porn (TM?), and I'm standing in front of DeArmond, who is rigorously figuring out exactly how she's going to make it clear that everyone's dicks will need holding this evening. In between practice runs, she does vocal exercises, alternating "hold onto your dicks" with an almost feral "AWOWOWOWOWOWOWOOOOO" that forces a couple of people setting up on the red carpet to turn around to establish that no one is hurt.
As of yet, no one is. But if DeArmond's predictions are correct, at least one person will end this award show with their dick blasted off.
In a fluke occurrence, I have convinced Beverly—the woman running the show—that I am very important and should be given a press pass that says "roaming." Only one other reporter has one, and the two of us can come and go as we please while everyone else has to stand at their pre-ordained spot behind the stanchions. This contributes to my feeling that this red carpet event is very, very exclusive, which is both heightened and undercut by the reminders to 1) act respectable and 2) not be drunk. According to the email I received about the AVNs—which included a look book and a suggestion that I not ask what each performer is nominated for because we don't have all night, people—over 500 media outlets were denied the opportunity to cover it and those of us who made the cut—the cream of the crop, if you will—were to act accordingly.
In preparation, I got a $50 haircut, a $25 beard trim, and a $200 massage. None of this could be expensed, so you know I mean business. That's also why I chose to listen to my editors and forewent the bright blue tux—my partner/official event photographer Allen got orange—I was planning to wear. "You don't want to scare people," Erin Gloria Ryan told me when I asked about this. So I'm wearing a button down, a jacket and flop sweat, and I'm living a glorious nightmare in technicolor, because the porn awards are like nothing I've been to before.
Being allowed to roam means both that I am free to do whatever I want and also that I have no idea what I want to do, where to stand, who to talk to. While my other blogger friends (I have made many this week) chat with each other on the sidelines, I wander about and get in everyone's way until Beverly mistakes my utter incompetence for either boredom or malice, and drags me to what appears to be a quieter, more VIP area. Here, I can not only see the stars as they walk towards the theater but join in their reindeer games. I'm allowed to wander between red carpet and the pre-show cocktail party, bothering everyone with questions as they try to have a few drinks before the big event. The crying, I should note, has already started.
"Please, please," a woman whimpers behind me as she runs down the hall in a sparkly gown, "no pictures! I'm not ready!" I oblige her, partly because I'm following the rules and partly because I have no idea who she is and don't think it would be polite to chase after her and ask.
On the other side of me is an older woman in a beautiful evening gown. I try to introduce myself and she shakes my hand limply, not telling me who she is. She is clearly a little annoyed I don't know who she is. I take a bad photo of her, and send it to a friend asking "Who's this?"
"That's Lisa Ann, you idiot!" my friend texts back almost immediately. "Queen MILF! I hope you're not just spending the entire evening fucking up like this."
The sneaky photo I took of Lisa Ann, whom I mistook for Kyle Richards. My bad, Lisa Ann! My bad!
But I am. I am spending my entire evening fucking up like this.
"Have you ever farted on set?" I ask Mia Malkova as she hurtles down the carpet at me.
"Yes, but I always blame my queefs on the other girls," she laughs.
"I meant like the butt kind of farting," I say. "Like when you're having sex but you have gas. Like if you ate a big lunch." I am genuinely interested in this, because it's a problem I've had in the past. If I'm going to leave the red carpet with anything, it's practical knowledge on how to avoid sexual faux pas.
Mia Malkova and husband Danny Mountain, whose name I sincerely hope was inspired by the outdoor activities superstore Any Mountain.
"Oh yeah," Malkova says. "All the time. Then I just say 'I farted!'"
"Is that what I should do?" I ask her. "Sometimes I have this problem, too. Should I just own it?" Maybe I shouldn't have taken the beta-blocker before I came here. Maybe a little anxiety would have prevented me from asking things like this.
"Just own it," she says and excuses herself to get a drink, like any sane person would. I wander over to the only other roaming blogger, Rachel Rabbit White, and suggest we wander to the cocktail party together and tag team our interviews.
"You're from Jezebel, though," she says. "Like I'm going to ask weird questions and you're going to be asking like political questions and stuff." I don't correct her, even though the toughest question I've asked tonight is about farting, and another reporter has already asked Mia Malkova whether she'd kill Osama Bin Laden or Hitler if she had one bullet. I, unfortunately, do not hear what she says.
Rachel is here to find a sex party to crash, and while you'd think that this place would be full of them, the only person willing to take her to one is a dude with 90s hair who says that yes, there will be a sex party after the show, but that it will only consist of him and her. She passes. We end up wandering through the hardcore carpet, looking for people to answer the important questions, like "Who are you wearing?" Over and over the answer is "I don't know." That's a popular designer—I'm wearing him, too.
(The environment is tame in terms of drug offerings too. Rachel tells me that she joked that she'd love some cocaine to keep her up and a man in a gold jacket offered her some, immediately demanding she pay him up front.)
For me, the biggest delight of the evening is Evan Stone, who is three thousand years old in porn years (but only actually in his 50s) and has been in more adult films than anyone can count. I remember him from all the scrambled movies I watched on The Spice Channel as a kid and I tell him that. He claps me on the back and says he's been fucking since before my balls dropped and that he's probably had sex with every woman I've jacked it to. He laughs maniacally.
"Uh, I think I've jacked it to you, actually," I tell him nervously and he pulls me in for a hug. He's the nicest guy ever (everyone here is very nice, except Ron Jeremy) and when the guy next to me says "You're the best, man! I wish we could have a few beers together," Stone rattles off his phone number to him, which I get on tape.
"Evan Stone is the motherfucking MAN!" is a refrain I hear more than once this evening.
"How do you stay so up?" I ask. "I've been here for two hours and I kind of want to die." This is an obviously shared sentiment. Around me, many female performers have taken off their heels and are sitting on the floor. Nina Hartley is crouched down next to a beautiful woman who is crawling along the adult industry's "walk of fame" and laughing like she's gone mad in The Hunger Games. It's a scene.
"Coffee," Stone says. "Coffee keeps me up!" He laughs maniacally again, and says he can get me some coffee too. I tell him I don't drink it before I realize the coffee he's joking about is probably cocaine. I don't do that either. I like to think of myself as a grumpy and restrained person, but the reality is that, if I snorted cocaine, I'd have to be pried off the ceiling. I'd be up all night and the rest of the week.
With only 45 minutes to go before the show starts, Rachel and I head to collect our tickets from Beverly, who is devastated to tell us that she has only one for each of us. I whine about my photographer, who is also my partner. "Him or you," says Beverly. I want to argue further, but I am a little afraid she will actually murder me. I also want her to be my best friend. I also want the tickets. It's a conflicted time.
"It's gonna be me," I say. I laugh at my fun reference and then text Allen the news. He's been taking photos out on the red carpet and is not pleased that he's going to have to go back to the hotel after hours of work. It's not fair to him, and I promise to buy him some nachos later.
Then, Sunny Megatron and her husband Ken appear in the distance like a ray of hope. They have extra tickets, and they hand them to Rachel. Suddenly we have four tickets between us and after we thank Sunny, Ken and Paul Fishbein—the founder of The AVNs and the one handing out extra tickets—we conspire on how to get them out to our partners.
We choose to do it in the best way possible: by accidentally going down the red carpet, the wrong way.
As we rush out to the lobby we are suddenly overtaken by flashes and a crush of fans. Oh shit. We're getting photographed. "DUCK!" I yell at Rachel! "Run!"
And suddenly we're crouched over and running and trying to explain to everyone that we're not the ones who should be photographed.
"Please," I shout at the fans, "Please stop taking photos! I'm not in porn!" Then, feeling guilty that I'd thrown Rachel under the bus I shout, "We're not in porn! We're bloggers! You don't want to do this!"
There's nothing that I can do to accurately describe this moment of terror. My life flashed before my eyes and while I know I wasn't going to die, I also didn't know how I would explain to anyone, let alone Beverly, that we had hijacked the red carpet. We did not stick around to see if she found out.
The rest of the night is a blur. Allen and I got to our seats and watched half the show, which was a lot more than other people could say. (The official after-parties, which traditionally begin after an event is complete, start an hour into the AVNs, so people are constantly coming and going.) From our third-floor seats Allen and I watch performer after performer cry as they accept award for Best Anal and Best Girl-Girl Scene and while the people around us cheer and clap as their favorite performers come up on stage—if they're there; sometimes they aren't—Allen and I discuss how awesome it would be to get nachos.
And then it's time to go.
As Allen and I slide into a booth at Mr. Lucky's for those nachos I promised him, the woman next to us yelps in delight.
"What happened there?" I ask our waitress, whose name is Florida.
"She just won the award for Best Porn Makeup, I guess," Florida says
"But why isn't she up there accepting it?"
"I guess she never expected to win. Or no one ever goes to those shows. Or something," Florida says. "I told her congratulations! It's a big deal."
The Best Makeup woman rushes out of the restaurant. As she does so, a crowd of porn stars enters. There are porn stars everywhere and they're all eating nachos and diner sushi. And just like that, the entire porn convention is over and we have to leave the glitz and glamour of the AVNs and return to our hotel room, which is a ten minute walk away and in a building where an employee told me "no one can hear you scream" when I checked in.
"I guess the magic can't last forever," I tell Allen. He agrees and eats another helping of cheese.
The most magical photo of all: Ryan Driller and me about to fall in love. I told Allen this was an important photo and he absolutely treated it as such, producing the best-composed and most flattering shot of the entire week. Thanks, Allen!
Images via Allen Corona