An ‘awards’ night that is well-suited for glitz of Vegas

Berl Falbaum

Once again, my editors barred me from seeking press credentials to cover a “fine arts” film awards program in Las Vegas January 27.

The event is the AVN (Adult Video News) dinner at which the best in the pornographic film industry is honored. This is the 41st time the program has been held and given my commitment to the highest journalistic principles and the “public’s right to know,” I have asked editors 41 times, through the years, to let me cover the ceremony. Alas, to no avail.

For those unfamiliar with this celebration, let me explain that the AVN hands out “Oscars of Porn” to industry participants.

Like at the Academy Awards, the awards are bestowed in more than 100 categories, ranging from best actor to top director.

Each year as I pleaded with editors, I pointed out that countless questions need to be answered to help the public understand the underpinnings of the awards.  (Since this is a family newspaper and a family column, I need to be careful how I write about my concerns and journalistic interests) That said:

--Like actors in Hollywood, do porn actors take lessons before becoming professionals and qualifying for AVN recognition?

--In the non-porn film industry, actors take lessons in speech. Do porn actors get help with panting, grunting, and other advice that will help them when filmed?

--Do directors shout instructions at actors while shooting a scene? Does that impact concentration and, more importantly, is that cheating and does such help disqualify a potential winner?

--How many times can a director instruct actors to reshoot a scene, particularly males?

--What if the actors complete a scene prematurely?

--Can actors refuse a partner?  You know they didn’t have the Bogart-Bacall chemistry?

Believe me these are just a few, very few, of the questions I have if my editors ever relent.

If I were to cover the awards, being a writer, I would concentrate on the scripts.  They never impressed me. Whoa…I will explain.

When I was a member in a fraternity (mucho years ago) we watched pornography in the basement of someone’s home, with the shades drawn.

I’ll admit, the dialogue was not the highlight of the films. The films were very much alike with intriguing titles like,” Housewife Meets Flower Delivery Man.”  The script:

(Stage direction:  Flower delivery man rings doorbell.  Off Stage “Ding Dong.”  Woman opens door.)

Flower delivery man: Here are some flowers for you.

Woman: They are beautiful. Would you like to come in?

Flower delivery man: Sure.  

Woman: Let me put these in some water. I will be right back.

She returns half naked and the woman thanks him for the flowers. She did not have to thank him; the flowers were from someone else. She asks if they can reach some kind of “settlement” since she did not have money to pay for the flowers.

Strange how I could remember the dialogue almost word-for-word after so many years.  

It did not really matter whether the character at the door was a delivery man, an electrician, cab driver, roofer, plumber, gardener, pool boy, or the next door neighbor. The only ones who did not succumb were the door-to-door Jehovah Witnesses.

But the major point I want to make is that the scripts were pretty much alike.  As to the acting, well we weren’t watching for that either.

Another question: what do the winners do with the trophies? Are they displayed above the fireplace in living rooms, and what do they tell grandma?  I did not even tell my grandma that I watched porn.

I was curious if the public can attend the award ceremony. Yes, they can. Ticket prices average about $250 for the upper balcony. For about $2,500, you can buy a pass that gets you backstage.

You will probably run into a “porn star” since the publicity brags that about 1,000 will be attending.  

And did you notice that actors in the porn industry are always “stars” -- not just actors -- while in Hollywood you need to reach a certain status to earn that recognition.

I also learned that the AVN has a Hall of Fame. I won’t even begin to discuss the questions I have on how one qualifies for induction. But, I assume, the standards are pretty high.

I do have a suggestion for the AVN. Why not invite Joe Gow, the chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, to be the principal speaker. He was just fired for producing and participating in pornographic films. That would give the event some academic respectability.

I would also like to suggest, humbly, a scene which begins with Gow dressed in cap and gown, handing out diplomas. The scene develops with coeds accepting their diplomas.

So, I will pester my editors again for permission to cover the 42nd annual awards dinner next year.

If you think journalism would be served by having them approve my request, send them an email.

Thanking you in advance.


Berl Falbaum is a long time political reporter and author.