Above, co-hosts Shangela and Alec Mapa. All photos by Jeff Koga. Click here to see Rick Garcia’s photos from the Winner’s Circle backstage.
Backstage at the 2019 GayVN Awards, Wesley Woods was trying his hardest to compose himself. A permanent smile on his face and tears glistening from his eyes, he had trouble finding words as the moment sunk in: Just minutes after accepting the win for Best Actor, he was back with another trophy for Performer of the Year—the first man since Jake Deckard in 2008 to achieve the rare feat.
As the questions and congratulations kept coming from the media and his peers, his voice broke with equal parts laughter and disbelief, the words coming slowly as the tears continued to flow so hard that he had to stop and cover his eyes with his hands. A comedian at heart, he was ready with a punchline to lighten the seriousness: “Literally speechless. I’m never lost for words unless there’s a dick in my mouth.”
Performer of the Year Wesley Woods, with his trophy and a gift from presenting sponsor ManyVids
It was one of many emotional moments from the GayVN Awards ceremony presented by ManyVids, which returned to The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas one year after its triumphant return—with an even bigger production and noticeably higher attendance, bolstered by a larger industry and fan presence that filled the floor.
“There was a lot of emotion. I got teary myself several times,” shared AVN CEO Tony Rios. “It’s just humbling. When we came back last year, there were so many performers who had never even heard of GayVN … and then they got to see what we are actually all about and what we’re doing, and how much energy we all put into this. We saw it tonight. We saw everybody coming together and giving back.”
In addition to Woods’ achievement, the show’s most touching moments included a rousing plea from Armond Rizzo for the plight of men of color in the industry; a posthumous award for Dave Slick; and a call for the respectful treatment of performers from a Hall of Fame inductee and other top industry names.
Max Konnor and Armond Rizzo, whose pairing for Noir Male won for Best Duo Sex Scene
Rizzo took the stage with Max Konnor, the two clearly surprised with their win for Best Duo Sex Scene for their Noir Male paring.
“It’s my first award … ever,” said Rizzo, the crowd cheering as his emotions instantly took over, forcing a long pause before he continued. “It is truly an honor to have won it with this incredible man right here. Since we literally got on set together, I’ve never worked with someone whose heart and whose energy was just as similar as mine. And we just hit it off … it was magic.”
But it was the performer’s plea for inclusiveness that got the crowd even rowdier, its applause and cheers building as Rizzo continued to speak.
“Thank you Noir Male for finally elevating how men of color should fucking be represented in this industry. About fucking time, honestly! Thank you to Chi Chi (LaRue) for listening to me, for listening to our voices and making that change, because that change happens from us—we don’t have to wait for the movie industry or Hollywood … we make that fucking change right here in this porn industry because we’re trend setters.”
Backstage, Rizzo continued the conversation.
“It means a lot to us. This is a long time coming, especially for me,” he said, pausing as he collected himself. “I’ve never won in award in the entire six years of my career, and for it to be my first one in such an iconic time … I’m speechless right now. Before, we used to have men of color portrayed as thugs or cleanup crew or stuff like that. And for once, men of color are being represented in such a light of beauty … it’s not easy for any man of color to succeed in the world, because you have a lot of pushback all the time. You have to work twice as hard to prove to the world what you’re capable of. We just have to go harder, hit harder, fuck harder.”
Konnor noted that he didn’t prepare a speech as he wasn’t expecting to win.
“Honestly I’m so shook, and I think we’re both shaking right now. I just want this to be a message to all of the performers that I’ve gotten messages from, and that I’m sure Armond has gotten messages from—people who think they just can’t make it in the industry. To all those who send us messages stating their concerns about the industry, this is proof that if you have motivation and dedication, you can make it. You can be something in this industry. I’m just so thankful. This represents a lot more than just this,” he said as he held up his award.
After an opening video featuring co-hosts Shangela (returning after a successful hosting stint last year) and Alec Mapa (“I hosted the GayVNS 10 years and 20 pounds ago”) interacting with fan favorite talent (including Austin Wolf being a good sport in a recurring Delta “mile high club” gag that was a hit with the audience), multi-platinum artist Danity Kane kicked off the festivities with a performance of “Show Stopper,” later return to sing their smash hit “Damaged.”
Bruce Beckham picked up the first award of the night, a Best Supporting Actor win for his role in NakedSword’s The Slutty Professor. While not in attendance, the performer was thrilled when immediately notified of the news.
“I’m so humbled and thrilled to win an acting award for this project. I’d never gotten to work with mr. Pam, and it was only my second time working with Chi Chi. This was my first scene in 2018, after fully recovering from my retina surgery in 2017, and I really wanted to come back—again—with a bang. It was so much fun to shoot, and I’m so grateful to the fans who embraced it and me.”
Tyler Roberts and “The Slutty Professor” director mr. Pam were present to accept the award for Best Three-Way Sex Scene.
That was followed by the most somber moment of the night, when Tyler Roberts took the stage to accept the award for Best Threesome—an honor he shared with The Slutty Professor co-stars Ace Era and Slick, who passed away last June.
“God rest David Slick’s soul,” he said as the audience clapped. “He would have been very happy about this.”
Backstage, Roberts continued.
“I can’t even put it into words at this moment. It’s just so touching because honestly there was so much energy put into the scene from everybody, and we lost somebody that was very, very important to that energy,” he said, soon recalling his favorite memory of Slick with a laugh: “We went to Hooters, and I had a few to drink. I had a conversation with the waitress about the all-you-can-eat wings, and Dave leans over to me and says, ‘Darling, you don’t want to seem like a fat girl, do you?’”
Pam, who accompanied Roberts on stage, shared in the sentiment.
“It’s a little bittersweet, and we’re thinking about addiction right now and people who struggle with that. It comes in all walks of life; it’s not just porn. It’s every industry, it’s all ages—and I just encourage people to go get help and reach out. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.”
Woods also expressed a sense of bittersweetness after winning Best Actor—an honor he shared with Diego Sans (for Men.com’s Pirates: A Gay XXX Parody). Woods was accompanied on stage by Woody Fox, his fellow nominee for Falcon’s Zack & Jack Make a Porno. An admitted people pleaser, Woods seemed more sad for his friend than happy for himself.
“I love this industry, I love everything that it represents. I love so many different aspects of what I get to do, and this movie was by far one of my favorite movies to ever be a part of—to eat, sleep and breathe. I didn’t want to leave. And Woody Fox was there the entire time with me.”
The two formed a close bond during the film, a natural chemistry emanating from the screen—despite never having a sex scene together for the film.
“You know, I think that’s what made it better,” Woods said. “I mean of course we woke up as guys do with morning boners, that’s part of it; but what me and Woody developed was a respect and a relationship that was much further than just the appreciation of what we are doing with our lives. We really bonded over what we’re doing with our lives, and how much potential we can see. He was pushing me while I was on set, and I was pushing him. The entire team—all the support staff, all the directors, even PAs … everyone was there for long hours making sure this film was exactly what they wanted it to be.”
Standing next to Woods backstage, Fox shared why they have such a special connection.
“Wesley was actually the first time in porn that I had made a true friend. I had never thought I’d ever be friends with a porn actor before, and then I met him, and it was instant friendship. He’s such a beautiful, honest, genuine person, and he’s actually what the porn industry needs, because he thinks outside of porn. He thinks about the gay community, and he thinks about pushing the sexual health. And for me, that means a lot.”
Woods smiled, immediately interjecting: “I fucking love this man, I really do. There can’t be enough said. This bond that we have will transcend porn, and it already has. We may bicker like brothers, but we love each other like family. I’m never going anywhere, he’s never going anywhere.”
Woods was quickly back on stage for the top performer prize, his disbelief endearing him to the crowd even more.
“I’m gonna cry cause I’m a crier. Oh my God … I have a lot to say,” he shared on stage, an attendee shouting, “We love you Wesley!” as he tried to compose himself. “I fucking love each and every one of you in this fucking house, and I mean that when I say that. I don’t care if we’ve not met yet, I don’t care if we’ve not spent time together—each and every one of you, I love. Tremendously. Without any and every one of us in this building right here right now, the sex industry would not exist.”
That promoted cheers from the crowd before he continued.
“So take a moment and recognize your … fucking … power. Be the goddamn CE-Hoe that you wish the world to see. Thank you to every fucking studio. Thank you Falcon, Raging, Hot House, Men, NakedSword … Kink … anyone who has ever fucking hired me, fucking thank you. I hope to work this much more going into the new year, cause a bitch is starting to do crossover porn, so I will eat pussy and be straight for pay, bitch!”
That caused a spike of laughter and cheers from the crowd, Woods then continuing to let the moment sink in back stage—where the likes of Boomer Banks, Adam Ramzi and more offered a congratulatory quip, tight hug or words of thanks.
“I really love everyone. I’m so happy to be a part if this,” Woods said, the tears building. “I really love this industry. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: This industry has released me from my insecurities, and it has made me comfortable with being who I am, when I am, how I want to be it, and I just want to live big and bold enough to make other people feel that way. If I can raise the bar an inch, I’m happy.”
Joey Mills, Liam Riley and Levi Karter annnounce the Best Actor winner … a tie!
Reminded of how rare a Best Actor/Performer of the Year double is, Woods was overcome.
“I really am so shocked now. I don’t know what to say. I love what I do … I love the shock value, I love the … I don’t know … I’m just at a loss for words. This has been a phenomenal awards season.”
Woods’ night solidified his placement in a select group of performers in the conversation of all-time greats, although he won’t hear any of it.
“I’m not there yet … no I’m not,” he laughs. “I am honored that that would even be mentioned. I grew up in a town of 97 people in East Texas. I never thought my life would be what it is today, and I never thought that I’d be doing porn, of all things. And I can’t imagine my life not doing it now.
“I’m a huge people person, and these are my people. We are constantly shunned, we are constantly stigmatized, and I feel safe here. And that’s what I hopefully am trying to make everyone feel, and maybe that’s why they’re happy—because I really do try to get outside of myself and my ego to be better for me, myself, my family, my friends, those that can’t be doing what we’re doing. I don’t know. I’m just tying to affect the world in a positive way every single day.”
Woods and Fox also had kind words for director Tony Dimaro, who shared the Best Director – Non-Feature award for Falcon’s Love & Lust in New Orleans with Chi Chi LaRue (neither was in attendance). The performers praised both directors, noting that Dimarco’s lower profile often has him overlooked.
“Tony Dimarco is by far one of the best directors that we have here. He makes me feel so comfortable, so welcoming, and he actually gets to know you on a personal level after the cameras are done,” Woods shared, adding he was sad to not see him in attendance. “We were literally talking about it. He texted me ‘Good luck!’ and I’m like, ‘You asshole! When am I actually going to ever hug your neck again?’ Because the last time I saw him was this project. I’m long overdue for a Tony Dimarco hug.”
Added Fox: “And to be fair, Tony is kind of the Batman of porn. He kind of purposely hides himself away from the cameras and the interviewers and everything, so that’s probably why.”
CockyBoys director Jake Jaxson’s “All Saints: Chapter 1” was a big winner, and the CockyBoys crew came on stage to accept the Best Feature award.
Director Jake Jaxson and CockyBoys had another huge night—repeating their wins for Best Director and Best Feature this year, another rare feat. They won this year for All Saints, following up on last year’s triumph for One Erection: The Un-Making of a Boy Band.
A fan shouted “We love you Jake!” as Jaxson took to the stage for his director award.
“They started the introduction saying (performers) wouldn’t be up here without a director, and the truth is, I’m not up here without them … all these performers that I’ve worked with, they’re heroes to me, and they should be heroes to anyone who is trying to discover who they are sexually. It’s true, you are. I discovered who I was as a little kid by looking at my first gay porn and realizing I wasn’t totally cuckoo crazy. So thank you to the men who have given so much to these projects I get to work on, because honestly, I’m heartsick when all of you aren’t up here on stage accepting an award for the work that you do, because you deserve it, all of you do.”
Jaxson was back up on stage with his CockyBoys contingent for the final award of the night, where he echoed his sentiment.
“These guys, thank you so fucking much for the work that you put into the industry. … I don’t know how much you all watch each other’s porn. I do, I really like my peers work—I absolutely love it and respect it. But if you haven’t watched it, please do so just for the fact of watching your fellow performers work and (seeing) how hard and how good they are. Like I said, I’m heartsick that y’all are not up here, because the reality is, this belongs to you.”
Carter Dane, a Best Actor nominee for All Saints, wasn’t buying all of it.
“He can say whatever he wants, but all of that goes to Jake, because he’s amazing. This project was very personal to him, very important, and it’s something that he’s been talking about for almost three years now. I am so happy for him doing the project, because we knew it was so important to him. We kept trying so hard—at least I’m going to speak for myself, I didn’t want to fuck it up,” Dane laughs. “I had to get this right as much as possible for him, because I knew how important it was for him. So I’m glad he got the fruit of his labor. It’s a big win for CockyBoys.”
Dane also won the Fan Award for Favorite Body (“The fact that it’s fan favorite, that’s what’s important to me … it’s really nice, because at the end of the day, that’s who we’re doing it for … I’m very happy”), but argued that the award belonged more to husband Alex Mecum, a nominee himself for Best Duo Sex Scene. “He deserves it. I’m going to go home and like scratch my name off and put his on.”
Mecum, smiling as he sat next to his husband, disagreed: “I don’t think that is the case at all!” he laughed. “Carter is very sweet.”
CockyBoys also won Best Marketing—Company Image, while Calvin Banks also picked up a Fan Award for Favorite Cock
“I’d like to thank genetics, because my mom’s dick is much bigger than mine … and also a shout-out to Michael DelRay because he said I could put this up his butt if I won. And I also really wanted to dedicate this to the female fans, because they are some of our most vocal supporters, and they are the ones who pushed this for me. The fans are the reason we’re here, and I love you guys—male and female, but the girls are so vocal, so thank you!”
Director Isabel Dresler and performer JJ Knight accept the award for Best Fetish Sex Scene in Cockyboys’ “Tie Me Up! Dick Me Down!”
The studio also picked up the Best Fetish Sex Scene award for JJ Knight and Sean Zevran’s pairing in Tie Me Up! Dick Me Down! Knight accepted the award with director Isabel Dresler, to whom he gave all the credit.
“I’m consistently shocked to see what she can do every single time she directs a scene with ropes because of the amount of knots and everything that you have to do with it … I’m shocked,” he said. “She does a good job of making sure the performers are comfortable with whatever she’s going to put us into, because the last thing you want to do is put something toward somebody that they’re not going to be fully prepared for. She’s amazing.”
Dresler had more goals on her mind.
“My biggest wish is that we could merge the two industries together … I work with both straight and gay performers, and there’s just so much divisiveness. This award show is really great because these boys work so hard and nobody gives them any credit. The amount of things that they have to go through on set, the fact that consent is never discussed on the gay side of porn like it is with straight porn. I think it’s really important to promote not only the inclusivity, but also to promote everybody’s achievements, because they just do so great.”
Dresler, who is genderqueer and transmasculine, helps grow the diversity of the industry.
“As somebody that is working in a non-binary range, for me—directing gay porn—I am shooting the ideal. I’m shooting a body type I know I’m never going to be, and so I get to channel all my feelings into creating this kind of work. The boys are so great, and they treat me so wonderful. I can’t imagine being anywhere else.”
Before working for CockyBoys, Dresler worked for Kink Men.
“My background is pretty extensive when it comes to making bondage and gay porn. Kink taught me a lot about what I want to see from my productions in terms of consent and boundaries, and hard and soft limits. For me as a director, it’s really important to let my performers explore what it is they actually want to do. I’ve done a lot of fetish scenes for CockyBoys his year, and one of my favorite things is to just set things in front of my boys and be like, ‘Hey, What do you want to try? What will make you feel good?’”
Adam Ramzi, a Best Supporting Actor nominee for All Saints and frequent CockyBoy, picked up the Fan Award for Favorite Daddy.
“Wow, I really was not expecting this,” he said as he took the stage to cheers. “Always the bridesmaid, never the bride. This feels awesome—thank you GayVN, thank you everybody here. I’ve been in this industry for like six years, and I’ve worked with so many of you here, and I’m so happy and proud to be part of this industry. Thank you CockyBoys, thank you NakedSword, thank you everybody, thank you to the fans. I always thought I was more like an uncle or a dad, not a daddy, but ‘daddy’ is a state of mind and this is such an honor.”
Ramzi continued backstage, calling the award an honor.
“‘Daddy’ is a state of mind—it’s the dynamics, and it’s an energy. I feel like this is the year I was going into feeling more of my adult self anyway, so this is such a cool way to start 2019 … this means that I’m reaching people. I’m thrilled.”
Top, Helix Studios founder Keith Miller accepting his GayVN Hall of Fame award. Bottom, Helix stars Cameron Parks, Joey Mills, Corbin Colby, Angel Rivera and Josh Brady, who won for Best Group Sex Scene.
It was also a huge night for Helix, highlighted by the induction of Helix Studios founder Keith Miller into the GayVN Hall of Fame. In his introduction, Rios shared that “the man we honor tonight demonstrated incredible foresight in taking a risk in entering into a still-untamed industry. But his ultimate destiny was on the creative side of gay adult entertainment. Since relocating to Las Vegas, he has lifted his company to new heights including shooting an ambitious feature called Vegas Nights, and publishing a series of biographies of Helix stars; all part of the mission to prove that adult performers are worthy of true stardom.”
Miller notes he was humbled to join the list of esteemed Hall of Fame members, and shared his story of growing up as a young Mennonite surrounded by 15,000 laying hens on a chicken farm in Northern Indiana.
“I gathered eggs and spent the long days dreaming of a different life. Those dreams could not come close to the life I find myself living in today.”
Miller was able to retire at age 34, and turned his attention to porn—starting to produce and star in fetish spanking videos. He bought 8teenBoy.com, and the small company that he started with his bare hands has now grown into Helix. Miller noted he has had to change his entire business plan every five years in order to adapt to the ever-changing market.
“It’s truly mind-boggling when you find yourself in Barnes & Noble with models signing books … truly amazing,” he said to cheers. “We’ve always had to reinvent ourselves and refine what we do, and Helix Studios is proof that all of these changes are paying off. Tonight, I feel extremely lucky to be invited into the GayVN Hall of Fame—at one of the most important awards celebrations in this industry. I look forward to working with everyone here. It’s a new era, and it is incumbent on us to shape the industry that we all want and deserve.”
He concluded with a passionate, pointed call to support talent and challenge industry perceptions that drew cheers from the crowd.
“We are all stars, we are all well known, and we have a loving fan base that supports and celebrates who we are. Production quality is at the highest levels we’ve ever seen. The industry and us are no different than the mainstream movie-making industry. It’s time that we change the negative perceptions that people have about the adult entertainment industry that’s been operating this way and unworkable ways over the last 10 to 12 years. We need to stand up as an industry and be proud of what we do. And that means that we must uphold the highest standards of quality and care for our models and all aspects of our job.”
Helix won Best Group Sex Scene for “Splash,” a scene featuring Josh Brady, Joey Mills, Corbin Colby, Cameron Parks, Luke Wilder and Angel Rivera. It was the second year in a row that the studio won the category.
“I think that it’s the chemistry that we all have with each other—more than anything, it’s the chemistry. We have all filmed with each other, because Helix has a lot of exclusives that have stuck around for some time. So when it comes to our group scenes, how it’s planned to be directed is just perfect for all of us … we’re just used to it,” said Colby. “I’m thankful to have a company where I can really work well with the producers, directors, models, and just make something beautiful for the fans to have. That’s what really matters—what the people desire. And that’s what it means to me.”
The studio also won Fan Awards for Social Media Star (Max Carter), Favorite Twink (Kyle Ross), Favorite Newcomer (Julian Bell) and Favorite Membership Site.
Best Newcomer Alam Wernik
Alam Wernik won Best Newcomer after a breakthrough year (“Thank you Falcon, thank you for having me; thank you Pam, thank you NakedSword, thank you fans … I love you guys!”), while Men.com director Marc MacNamara accepted the award for Best Parody for Pirates.
“How unfortunate that the night I win my first GayVN, I look like I’m hunting Dalmatians,” he said on stage in a memorable black and white furry top. Backstage, he recalled how difficult the shoot was.
“It’s probably one of the hardest movies that I’ve done. I mean, imagine being miles out on the ocean with like a rope tied to a ship so that you won’t float away, and there’s sharks in the water and it’s freezing. But I can’t complain, because look!” he smiled, holding up his award. MacNamara also noted the importance of the event and weekend for the community.
“It is very important, and we talk about this all the time—and that’s a big change that we’re going to start having at Men.com, is making ourselves present at these important events for our community. Because you know, there is the gay community and then there’s us. And sometimes we get treated a little worse than the gay community … but now I think it’s becoming more acceptable and people are showing up to these, as you can see. It’s a packed house tonight at the GayVNS, and I’m very proud of it. I’m very proud that you guys have done this, and to be a part of it.”
Pirates: A XXX Gay Parody director Marc MacNamara and star Diego Sans. The movie won trophies for Best Parody and Best Actor.
BelAmi picked up an award for Best All-Sex Movie for “Summer Break 2” and star Paul Cassidy (far right) won Favorite Cam Guy in the Fan Awards.
Paul Cassidy picked up the Fan Award for Favorite Cam Guy, thanking Bel Ami and Flirt4Free. “Thank you for the opportunity … I work so much, so I think I deserve it!” Backstage, he thanked the people he worked with and noted how happy he was doing it. “This is amazing … this is my first time in the USA, so I really love everything.”
Bel Ami also won Best All-Sex Feature for Summer Break 2, while the Best Bi Sex Scene went to Pierce Paris, Lance Hart and Dahlia Sky in Wanna Fuck My Wife? Gotta Fuck Me Too 11 from Devil’s Film. Teddy Torres won the Fan Award for Favorite Bear, while Beaux Banks won Favorite Butt. FamilyDick.com won Favorite Niche Site.
Alec Mapa gets trophy boys Dylan Hayes, Jacen Zhu and Nic Sahara laughing.
Presenters Alam Wernik, Skyy Knox and Manuel Skye (who also did interviews on the red carpet).
The evening was also special for performers in other important roles. Joining trophy boys Jacen Zhu and Dylan Hayes was Nic Sahara, who was all smiles all evening.
“I had so much fun just going out there giving out these awards that were well deserved. It’s absolutely huge to be a part of this, and there were so many moving moments tonight, We never really know exactly what each other are going through at any given time, due to race or losing somebody or anything of that sort. But if we can actually take a step into somebody else’s shoes and understand where they’re coming from—something we need to do in general in life, maybe it will make it a better place.”
Before the show, the red carpet featured long lines to get in that lasted well over an hour. CockyBoy Liam Riley was joined by straight adult star Christiana Cinn on one side, while ManyVids Boy Manuel Skye worked the other side.
“It was a lot of beautiful people … a big crowd tonight. It’s always very interesting to me. I came here with fun stuff to say to them or ask them; but in the end, what really happens is as I start to connect with them, I want to know about them because they have experiences to share that can be beneficial to other people—especially in the industry that we work,” said Skye, noting it was his first time hosting a red carpet. “You always see the final product, but you don’t see what’s behind it or the state of mind that it takes to reach that … and also to know that we’re not just porn stars, but we’re human beings with complete life experiences. That’s what I wanted to know from them tonight. … I’ve seen their work for most of them, but I still wanted to connect quickly with them to make sure I could get the best of them. And how you reach them? You have to read the person quick. It was fun … I had a blast.”
The GayVN Awards were also sponsored by CAM4, CCBill and the newly launched AVN Men magazine.
“I think the way to really talk about tonight is community. Everyone was here and we all support each other, we love each other,” Rios said. “Wesley summed it up perfectly—he loves everybody, and we’re all here and doing it. We’re making magic. We have a lot of power. Performers have a lot of power, and what I heard is that it’s all about the respect for the performers, and that’s what we do the show for. We want to give back, we want to honor these guys who put their ass on the line every single day. I’m humbled. My staff, my team, they all put their heart and soul into this, and it’s humbling to be recognized for that.”
Presenters DeAngelo Jackson, Bailey Rayne and Sister Roma with trophy boys Dylan Hayes and Nic Sahara
Musical act Brooke Candy
Musical act Danity Kane
Written by:Brady Jansen