Porn awards fall-out
by John F. Karr
Call it The Bareback Wars, and throw in some tidbits about rigged juries. Our usual merriment is interrupted this week for sorry news about the David Awards, which were presented on Friday, Oct. 19 in Berlin, and sponsored by GAYeLine magazine. The ceremony had been considered the European equivalent of this country's GayVN Awards aka "the gay Oscars."
Four gay content producers have protested this year's David Awards, saying the quality of the winning work was substandard, voting hinged on support for the magazine that sponsored the awards, and perhaps most important in an industry wracked with safer sex issues, too much bareback content was recognized.
Although he was unable to attend the awards show in person, Titan Media founder and president Bruce Cam on Friday refused via proxy to accept the David Lifetime Achievement Award, and offered this statement: "I cannot in good conscience accept a lifetime achievement award from an organization that glorifies and promotes bareback content alongside my own. I have worked my entire adult-industry career to promote and eroticize safer sex content in all of my films. It would be against every single fiber of my moral being to accept this award.
"Silence is acceptance, and I can no longer sit by and watch the industry where I have worked and which I have helped shape be destroyed by others seeking financial gain at the expense of performers and the entire gay community. I cannot and will not accept this award, as it is tainted with the blood of others."
In 2006, the David Awards' first year, bareback films were excluded from consideration, citing the same standards employed by the GayVN awards.
A Titan press release noted, "It appears that this year's list of nominees were kept from Titan Media and other nominated studios in an apparent attempt to conceal the amount of bareback films and studios being nominated. Had Titan Media been informed of the fact that the vast majority of the nominees were bareback, we would not have supported or attended the event."
Titan Media vice president Keith Webb did attend the show, and declined to accept the award on behalf of his business partner Cam. In the Titan press release, he said, "We were truly shocked and appalled by the overwhelming amount of low-end and poorly produced bareback films being honored at the awards. When it became known to the producers of the awards show that I was going to refuse the award on Bruce's behalf, the award was pulled and I was refused access to the stage. In my opinion, the entire event was a set-up meant to showcase and promote bareback films, and [it] was the most biased and poorly produced awards show I have ever attended. The event was an embarrassment to the entire gay adult industry, and I am sad to say we were even represented."
The heads of at least three other companies in the gay adult entertainment industry joined Webb and Cam in voicing displeasure, as related in GayVN magazine.
Director Chi Chi LaRue said, "I was really disappointed that the David Awards seem to have taken the focus off good filmmaking and quality movies in many of the categories, and turned to honoring and promoting all things bareback." LaRue received an award for Best US Director, but has not yet, to my knowledge, rejected it.
Representatives of one European company, XXX-Project Germany, gave back its David Award because it felt the judging involved unfair criteria, saying their award "was totally unfair. We got the award because we paid to sponsor the show, and other awards were given to companies which paid for adverts in the GAYeLine magazine. We tried to communicate this while we were at the stage, but they took away our microphone."
Filmmaker Michael Lucas told GayVN that a solicitation for so-called sponsorship was the reason his company, Lucas Entertainment, did not take part in the awards. "They said point-blank that only under the circumstances of giving them money were we going to get an award."
I checked out the experience of several local companies. Representatives of Hot House were unavailable for comment, but Colt Studio head John Rutherford told me his company had declined to participate in the David Awards. "We were only told by retailers in Europe that the David Awards were held by producers, so we felt that it was biased and not legitimate."
Raging Stallion owner Chris Ward told me of a different experience. "RSS won Best Fetish Movie for Fist and Shout without making any financial contributions — no ads, nothing." A vocal supporter of safer sex, he added, "I feel I need to do something to try to stop the drift towards bareback, but I worry that the cat is already out of the bag. I hope the story of those guys getting infected in England is a wake-up call."
Next week: the story of those guys getting infected in England.