Disc One: Tips from the Stars
Disc Two: Tips from the Stars (clean), Red Carpet with Chi Chi LaRue, Pick Up Shots, Behind the Scenes, Photo Gallery
Tips from the Stars (10:00) features several male-female porn star duos presenting humorous "tip" skits that were shown during the awards ceremony (and are seen during the DVD presentation). For performers not known for their personalities or acting ability, they do a decent job of making funny as they provide advice on everything from having good anal sex to the proper way to dress for a porn. Two of the better clips, Jenna Jameson and Randy Spears showing proper cumshot technique, and Steven St. Croix and Lauren Phoenix showing how to fake an orgasm, are actually quite enjoyable.
Disc Two presents a sanitized version of the awards show, but why, I do not know. I can't imagine what market this was aimed at. Who wants to watch a porn awards show, but doesn't want to see porn? A puzzling concept.
A cut down version of the Tips from the Stars segments is included here as well, along with additional footage to fill the disc space left behind by the excised porn. Red Carpet with Chi Chi LaRue features more of the interviews that are seen at the beginning of the show. It's a trainwreck watching her/him talk to these porn stars, but like a trainwreck, you can't look away, for the entire 57 minutes. Pick-Up Shots includes 35 minutes of B-roll, or extra footage, shot on the red carpet, behind the scenes and during the show, while Behind the Scenes showcases 28 minutes of interview footage show in and around the awards. These videos won't interest anyone but the hardest of the hardcore fans, but for them, it's good filler.
A slideshow photo gallery wraps things up for a disappointing and largely unnecessary disc of extras.
This disc is top notch, with crisp visuals and good sound, including the two musical performances, which span the spectrum of "music." The clips from the award winners are presented in a letterbox format, and look terrific, no matter which company. That's probably why they won.
Body of Review:
The 2004 AVN Awards, hosted by comedian Jim Norton and porn star Jenna Jameson, is the big date to circle on the calendar for those in the porn industry, especially those who want more recognition than a box cover appearance. Since I didn't have to keep track of actor names and positions, I figured I'd write this summary as I watch, so it's rather stream of consciousness. And considering that the awards were given out six months ago, I'm not going to worry about giving anything away.
The show kicks off with the usual red carpet entrances by the stars and big names. It's like the Oscars, without Joan Rivers and just slightly less clothing. Crossdressing director Chi Chi LaRue fills in as the red carpet host, interviewing the talent with his fake breasts both visible and disturbing. The segment moves quick and quickly clues you in to the general feel of the night.
Norton delivers a filthy and self-deprecating opening set, joking about his being completely out of his element, while dropping porn names left and right. Girls flashing and/or looking bored punctuate the comedy, to maintain the connection to the adult industry. After 15 minutes, he makes his exit, and Jenna Jameson takes over, looking amazing in big blonde curls.
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The award presentations begin like any other awards presentation, complete with a joke about the length of the show. Best Couples Sex Scene - Video goes to Belladonna and Nacho Vidal, for their scene in Back 2 Evil. Her short, "sweet" acceptance speech led right into clips from the scene, including the pop.
A missing piece of most every award show was the display of the nominees, as the list is read fast. Seeing the anticipation in the eyes of nominees is always a kick. It's too bad we don't get it here.
Next, Steven St. Croix's win for Best Supporting Actor - Video brings up clips from Looking In. One wonders if there's a competition for shortest speech, as he accepts his award with an understated "Thank you."
Heavy Handfuls 3 takes the next award, for Best Oral Sex Scene - Video, thanks to a seven-way blowjob scene done in an office. Another short speech is followed by an interstitial that's covered in the extras section.
Some awkward comedy between Norton and Jameson, another carry over from traditional award shows, is followed by the award for All-Girl Sex Scene, given to The Violation of Jessica Darlin, for a six-girl assault on the veteran star. The clip does nothing to make me want to see what looks like a rather violent film.
I'm curious to see what will be shown for the next winner, Flesh Hunter 5, the Best Gonzo Release. Surprisingly, the clip is very standard, with a gangbang and one-on-one fuckfest.
Another break from the action, and we return with Jim and Jenna. This time, they stick to the job at hand, introducing the presenters, who introduce the nominees for Best Three-Way Sex Scene. The previous two winners, Jessica Darlin and Jules Jordan, are back for more, for their roles in "Weapons of Ass Destruction 2. I've never been a fan of gagging, and this video is unlikely to change that. The heavy cumshots at the end are top notch though.
Some literacy issues slow down the next presentation, for Best Ethnic Video - Black, which goes to Hustlaz: Diary of a Pimp. I got a good laugh here, as a rep for Hustler Video, who looks like the head of some Republican committee, accepts the award for Hustlaz. When he thanks Snoop Dogg, it just takes an odder turn. In the accompanying clip, I swear I saw a clown hat. Plus an Asian girl and a white guy. But I guess that's allowed.
Sadly, Norton felt like making a joke again, as he and Jenna brought more girls to the stage. It passes quickly, though, and the Best Couples Sex Scene - Film award is presented to Compulsion's Ashley Long and Kurt Lockwood. Finally, a movie with clips that make me want to call up Don Houston to borrow it.
Best DVD, which I didn't get to vote on, sadly, went to The Fashionistas, a well-produced, but somewhat bizarre bit of semi-fetish porn. The DVD producer nearly breaks down while accepting, which makes it well-worth giving it to her.
Some sales based awards are handed out next, with another trophy for The Fashionistas, for Top Rented Release. The audience shots grow increasingly sexual in nature, as the industry folks can't seem to stay clothed for such a long time. The Hustlaz people return to the spotlight for another win, this time for Top Selling Release. Larry Flynt himself takes the mic, to a standing O (ovation? orgasm?), captivating the crowd with his froggy voice.
Some attention is paid to the trophy girls, before Best Oral Sex Scene - Film is announced, with the win going to Sunrise Adams and Randy Spears, for Heart of Darkness. It's wonderful to see Sunrise work a cock, so this clip is a nice distraction from an otherwise boring show. Especially when he cums on her face. What a girl.
Dru Berrymore does what her namesake can't when she wins an acting award, Best Supporting Actress - Film, also for for Heart of Darkness. I've liked what I've seen of Dru, and this is no exception, though she's not on hand to collect her award.
Another break, another bad joke, another set of presenters. Ron Jeremy is on hand for this one, as the Best Male Performer award is given out. When the list of 16 or so nominees is read, it makes me wonder how exactly you get nominated. Then you find out, as clips of Michael Stefano fill the screen. He's a skilled cock wielder that deserves to win.
Jeremy introduces the winner of Best Female Performer, reading the nominees from his black book. Ashley Blue takes home the prize, though if given a vote, Savannah Samson would have been carrying my trophy. Blue is a cute girl who trades on her babyface to make her scenes that much dirtier. In a world that idolizes Britney Spears, she's a perfect pick.
It's time to ignore Jim Norton, so let's move on to the presentation of Best Director - Video. Michael Raven deservedly receives the trophy, for his work on Beautiful. He's truly talented, and may be the best working today in the industry. Best Director - Film goes to a legend in the field, as Paul Thomas gets the acclaim for Heart of Darkness's third win of the night.
A musical performance by The Tubes makes me wonder who got blown to get this group on stage. The song "Don't Touch Me There is simply bad, as these two unimpressive karaoke stars try to outsex a room full of porn stars. It's a lesson in abject failure on a Meatloaf-ian scale.
Jenna Haze comes to the stage to present the highly-coveted Best New Starlet award, a category loaded with worthy nominees. There could have been several unarguable choices, but Stormy takes home the trophy. A few scenes featuring her big tits and hot pussy show why she won.
Best Actor - Video is presented by Belladonna to Fabio imitator Evan Stone for Space Nuts, one of the best films put out in the past year, while Best Actress - Video gave Beautiful another laud, as Julia Ann won for her torrid fucking.
Randy Spears picked up another award for Best Actor - Film, again for Heart of Darkness, giving the film four AVN awards, but it was Space Nuts' turn to shine again after Spears left the stage. A win for Best Sex Comedy solidified the film as one not to miss, with three actors in it taking home awards. The clips included just hammer home the point.
My belief in Savannah Samson is justified when she is given Best Actress - Film. The clip shown of her award winning performance is the perfect porn portfolio. Why Savannah didn't win more awards is beyond me. Then, in one of the bigger categories of the night, there was a tie, as Rawhide and Beautiful both were named Best Video Feature.
Another extended mistake by Norton leads into a performance by The Ying Yang Twins and Lil' Jon. The porno girls in the crowd climb up on stage to get wild, so the clothes come off in the wildest part of this show, as well as the longest portion.
As the night came to a close, it could be expected that the award for Best Film would go to either Heart of Darkness or Beautiful. In the end, Heart won the top prize, as the old-school Paul Thomas film outdid the new-wave Michael Raven flick. The credits roll includes behind the scenes clips and footage of the award winners being photographed.
I'm not really sure who's buying these videos that they keep making them. Hell, they only included about a quarter of the awards presented, so it's not even like they're creating a reference work to be held for future generations to learn from. And don't get me started on that second "Wal-Mart" disc of safe porn. My esteemed colleague, Don Houston, gave last year's version, which was produced by VCA, a Highly Recommended rating, but this one isn't even close. I can't see this being of interest unless you're somehow connected to the industry. If you're looking to sample some good porn, just download the awards list and skip this one.