CHICAGO—Due to the coronavirus, the Grabby Awards were restricted to an online event this year—but it was the fight for racial equality that was a recurring theme throughout the event streamed live on GayVN Stars Saturday night.
“So much is going on in the world right now, it’s a little crazy. I hope tonight we can add a little levity and maybe take just a little break from the craziness going on,” opened co-host Honey West. “We send our love out to all the people struggling right now.”
She was joined by Chi Chi LaRue as co-host for the 21st year.
“We all stand strong, and we are all with everybody,” said LaRue. “I want everybody to know that no matter how bad it gets, there’s a lot of people out there together forever, and we are together forever tonight here. I want to give a shout-out to all the Chicago businesses that always supported us…everyone that welcomes us with open arms and puts up with our shenanigans.”
Some nominees and winners were not in attendance as they were attending protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement—including Sharok (who shared the Best Newcomer prize with Colton Reece), and Brock Banks (who won Hottest Rimming with Link Parker for NakedSword’s Scared Stiff 2: The Amityville Whore).
“Brock Banks is out demonstrating in downtown L.A. for Black Lives Matter, and I think that’s just so awesome,” said LaRue. “And I just want to give a little shoutout to Sharok…he took a hammer to the face and cut that gorgeous mug and chipped a tooth, but that will heal. That’s just a flesh wound. But he’s out there (again tonight) trying to make the world heal, so I’m very proud of him.”
Sharok posted a message to his Twitter account just hours before the show began last night, sharing his experience that left him with a chipped tooth and 30 stitches for a split lip after an anti-protest protestor threw a hammer into the crowd he was standing in.
“Until Black Lives Matter, I feel like none of us really matter in this country. What’s going on in this country right now—and has been going on and just recently been documented a little bit better—is atrocious,” Sharok shared in his video. “I personally have experienced racism due to the color of my skin and my ethnicity, but it’s nothing compared to what black people in the country have to go through on a daily basis for generations.”
Added West last night: “Only together can we make a change. And if any of us are marginalized, we’re all marginalized. It’s time to stand together, it really is, and I’m glad everyone is feeling that tonight. I’m really appreciative of [Banks and Sharok].”
Dante Colle shared the Performer of the Year prize with his close friend Michael DelRay, who also wasn’t in attendance.
“I was not expecting to win this one. First of all, thank you everybody. Michael is one of my best buddies, so I’m gonna thank on his behalf because he’s protesting and supporting everybody that needs to be supported right now. I’m just wishing for everybody’s safety right now, that’s all doing what needs to be done—just stay safe everybody,” Colle said. “This is a huge honor, and I am astounded. Thank you. Everyone seriously be safe, and support your fellow man, please.”
Boomer Banks—who won Hottest Flip for his Raw Fuck Club scene with Wade Wolfgar—also felt that there was more to the evening than just accolades.
“I did not expect it, I really didn’t. But more than anything, Owen Hawk and Ecksmen [David Eck], oh my God, they’ve been so amazing to me this past year. Raw Fuck Club is fucking amazing…they did everything first, so fucking pay attention. And I want to say for Brock, who is out protesting right now, that was more important to him right now. And he just sent me a text saying thank you to everyone for the award for Best Rimming. He’s home safe now, and thank you everyone. Thank you, Stacy [Bridges, Grabbys producer], for constantly recognizing what I have to offer in this industry, and everyone, you guys are awesome. Stay safe. There’s lot going on in this country right now, and black lives do matter. And as a man of color, I’m grateful that I’m able to represent. I love you guys, so thank you so much.”
Steve Cruz was the big winner of the night, but he too had conflicted feelings: “Black lives matter. Even though we’re all here tonight, I don’t want to lose sight of what’s going on in the world,” he said after winning Best Screenplay for Blood Moon: Timberwolves 2.
But the Raging Stallion director wasn’t done. He also won for Best Videography (which he shared with colleague mr. Pam), and Best Movie—the last prize of the night.
“I’m just kind of overwhelmed right now,” said Cruz at the end of the night, his voice quivering. “It’s a movie I wanted to make for like five years, and it finally came true. It’s all about the guys. I want to thank all the guys in the movie—Sharok, who is out there fighting in the street for all of us for equal rights, I love it. I love you. Ricky (Larkin), who is an amazing actor. Everyone who is in it…thank you Tim [Valenti], thank you Falcon Studios, and thank you to the fans who continue to support us through these hard times. They find a way to keep us going. And I love that we’re all together, I love you all.”
Performer, director, producer and everyman Trenton Ducati won Best Still Photographer, and was one of many to remember Mark Nagel, the Grabbys co-owner who passed away last year.
“I miss Mark dearly, and I feel like he’s with us tonight watching this show. I just want to send love out to everybody to stay safe protesting, and please be nice to our great city of L.A. They’re in The Grove right now, my favorite area, burning it down, so please be careful out there. And thank you to all the great photographers who have taught me and let me steal their settings…and thank you to Anthony Duran, who is sitting right here, who gave me all the tricks. And once I got the tricks, I fired him!” Ducati laughed. (“He can’t fire me!” chimed in Duran.)
The messages of hope continued during the Wall of Fame inductions, which included Toby Morris, VP sales & marketing for Falcon Studios Group. He was introduced by Bridges, who thanked Morris for helping him put things together behind the scenes at the Grabbys for the last eight years. Bridges shared how Morris was born and raised in Oregon and was “a hardworking, popular student” who came out in high school and performed in several plays in his hometown community theater. Upon graduation, Morris went to college in Chicago to pursue a major in theater.
In 2010, Morris and his husband sold everything and returned to the West Coast, landing in San Francisco. After a few months working for a startup, he answered an ad on LinkedIn for a director of marketing position for a major adult video company.
“Totally floored guys…so surprised. I really love this industry, I really love the people, I adore you guys. You know, between losing Mark (Nagel) last year and just really like embracing this industry and everyone who’s in it—and you Stacy—the Grabbys have a very special place in my heart. Of course, I went to school in Chicago…this is something that’s really special to me. This year has been so hard for all of us, and we’re trying to be as creative and as innovative as we can, and do things differently—and do things well. It’s a little more special that you put me on the Wall of Fame this year, and I so appreciate it. I really want everyone to stay safe, stay sane, do what you can to minimize this pandemic and do what you can to support Black Lives Matter.”
Morris thanked Falcon/NakedSword President and CEO, Tim Valenti, and former Falcon Studios President, Chris Ward, who hired him.
Bridges also announced inductee Dominic Pacifico (who wasn’t in attendance), and performer turned producer Owen Hawk, a “former mohawked stripper” discovered by LaRue who quickly became a breakout star with Titan Media’s Service Trade and Falcon’s Taking Flight and also graced “both box covers and gossip columns including the New York Post’s legendary Page Six. Now that he’s got his own company, he’s able to indulge his most perverse fantasies.”
The owner and producer at Raw Fuck Club also picked up the Hottest Cock award with Cade Maddox.
“I just want to say how wonderful it is to see all your faces,” he said after winning his first award. “I really miss all of you guys, and I really wish that we could be together right now as a family, and I can’t wait for the next time that we’re all together. In the meantime, I just want to say, black lives matter and fight the power.”
LaRue (whose Love and Lust in Montreal for Falcon won Best All-Sex Movie) introduced the other Wall of Fame inductee, CockyBoys co-owner and director, Jake Jaxson.
“(Jake) is somebody that I admire the fuck out of; he makes me a little jealous at times, and makes a lot of other people in the industry jealous at times, but that’s what we all wanna do, right?” said LaRue. “I love this man. He has grown this company which started out in one place, and then he took it over and made it into this Shangri-La for the boys that he signs to exclusives, and everybody that works with him, loves him. Him and his husband RJ (Sebastian), they create magic. They create gorgeous magic. He takes care of his boys, they all look up to him. He creates this equal playing field between them and the boys, and I admire that so much, I really do. I think he’s awesome, and I have had the pleasure of working with him, and it was an experience I will never forget.”
Jaxson, joined by Liam Riley at his side, was honored by the introduction and the honor.
“This is a big surprise, and I’m incredibly grateful. I just want to acknowledge the guys that are out on the street tonight, who are protesting in New York and L.A. Some of our guys are out there. You know, I’m not gonna lie: At first, I was very concerned and worried, and didn’t want them to be in danger. But I’m very proud of them all. And I’m very proud of everybody who is—in whatever way they can—taking a stand for the insanity that is happening right now,” Jaxson said.
“It’s been very uplifting to see everybody tonight from far away and in their homes. I hope you guys are appreciating that, because so often we all see each other at events and we never know what they’re gonna wear or how they’re going to behave or what they’re gonna do. But I find it very endearing and very sweet to see everybody in their homes tonight, and having fun in their own way.”
Jaxson noted that when he first started CockyBoys with Sebastian, they didn’t know what they were getting into.
“We were accidental pornographers, and the first day we were shooting, we saw the way the producers were putting it together and how they were treating the performers, and that’s when RJ and I decided we were going to start producing and directing our own content. We just didn’t like the way the performers were being treated, and we really set out with a goal to create content that was indisposable, just so our performers were never seen to be disposable. And so to that degree, I’ve worked with such amazing people throughout the years, especially every one of our performers past and present—you have all brought something not only to our work, but truly to my life, and I am so grateful for being a part of this industry inside and out. So thank you for recognizing me tonight; it means the world, especially in 2020. It’s been a fucking hard year, but we’re all going to get through it. I know that without a doubt.”
JustFor.Fans creator Dominic Ford was on hand to present the JustFor.Fans Fan Favorite Porn Star award to Phatrabbitkiller—and to make a call for diversity.
“Especially now as we talk about Black Lives Matter, the models on JustFor.Fans are incredibly diverse, from cis-gendered men, trans men, non-binary, cis and trans women—all make JustFor.Fans a home, and top sellers include all races, all ages, all body types,” he said. “Some are incredibly famous porn stars, and some would never be hired by a mainstream studio. They all have an equal chance on JustFor.Fans. I didn’t want to say something controversial, and my boyfriend just said, ‘Couch it nicely or you’re going to make enemies,’ and so I’m going to say it very nicely. Black lives matter, and it’s great that we can use our platform to say that. I’m watching all of the (video clips for Best Movie), I’m not seeing a lot of people of color. And so my hope for us this year is to use our platform to hire more people of color—in front of the camera, behind the camera, in the office. Because that’s what is going to end up mattering.”
Max Konnor and Skyy Knox were also big winners, picking up Best Duo for their Noir Male pairing. Konnor also won Hottest Top, while Knox won Hottest Body.
“I totally wasn’t expecting to win anything…I didn’t have anything prepared,” smiled Konnor. “Thank you, Chi Chi, for directing us in this wonderful scene. Thank you Howard (Andrew), thank you Stacy, thank you Skyy Knox for being such a wonderful, beautiful, sexy talented man. Thank you everybody.”
Added Knox: “Thank you Chi Chi for letting me be a part of the movie, and thank you Tim [Valenti] and the Falcon family for letting me also join Noir Male from time to time. I really appreciate it, because I love to work with Chi Chi as much as I possibly can, and Noir Male is such an amazing company. And Max of course—yes, our chemistry is hot. I love you so much.”
Avery Jones also won two awards, picking up Best Twink and Best 3 Way (with Jake Nicola and Adam Ramzi in Icon Male’s Uncle Bobby). He was grateful to LaRue, who directed the scene.
“As many people are aware, when I came back into this space, it was really important for me to make it positive. Chi Chi kind of found me in a really cool place when I just came back. I was really coming up in the industry, and she made that really positive for me. And this movie was so great. I got to work with so many people that were so sweet and we had such a good time, on and off camera, so I’m just really thankful to Chi Chi for putting this together for us,” he said. “I am no Skyy Knox…I am a tiny boy. I am literally only 115 pounds. I’ve got the most twink frame, and it was very nerve-wracking for me to work especially with Chi Chi, because I had not seen a lot of twinks there. I was very scared, but Chi Chi is so phenomenal to work with.”
Devin Franco won Best Bottom managing to go from light to serious in a matter of seconds: “Thanks for everyone who’s ever stuck their dick in my hole,” he laughed. “You know who you are. And thank you Grabbys. I love with working with all my porn family; thank you Falcon for being such an amazing studio. I love everybody, and Black Lives Matter—I don’t want to forget about that tonight, and all the crazy shit that’s been going on lately. So make sure you keep them in our thoughts.”
Colby Tucker won the first award of the night, Best Supporting Actor (for The Rental House at Men.com).
“Thank you Grabbys for having these awards, you know all of us really appreciate it. I just got off work at the hospital, and my dear friends set this all up for me to be able to get here and see it. We’re here in Nebraska. Marc MacNamara, thank you for having me be a part of this movie. Dante Colle, Damon Heart, everybody that was a part of it, Diego Sans…it was such a fun cast and so fun to be a part of. I’ve always wanted to act, and if you can’t make it on the big screen, you might as well be on the computer screen. So, thanks everybody—love you so much.”
Ricky Larkin picked up Best Actor for Raging Stallion’s At Large, and was joined on screen sitting side-by-side with a very excited mr. Pam and Leo Forte: “That’s an awesome award to win. I’m bad at speeches, but I’m so happy…that was such a cool movie to do, that was awesome. Steve, thanks for giving me the part, and Pam and Leo, you guys were there every step of the way. Dante (Colle), you were awesome in that one.”
MacNamara won Best Director All Sex (for Men.com’s Everglades), Jake Morgan won Hottest Daddy, Nick Fitt won Best Versatile performer, Missionary Boys was named Best Web Original Content, and Lucas Entertainment picked up Best Group for its 12-man “All-Star Orgy.”
Jessie Garcia and Karl Edwards picked up Best in Editing for Falcon’s Beach Rats of Lauderdale, which also won Tony Dimarco Best Director (Movie).
“Thank you, Stacy and the Grabbys, for doing this, and giving us a breather from what has been like the most fucked-up 2020,” said Garcia. “I know a lot of you are having some difficult conversations out there right now, so my love goes out to you—especially people of color, who are suffering through this.”
Bridges, LaRue and West then closed the show by thanking GayVN: “I just want to give a big shout-out to [producer] Jeff Roe and the folks at GayVN Stars for helping us out tonight,” said West. “You know, we were on the brink of not having an award show again this year, and they came to our aid.”
LaRue and West also offered more words of hope for better days ahead.
“I want to thank all the boys that are out there protesting and walking for Black Lives Matter, and protesting. This is just a really amazing business, and it’s like a family—and this is a family reunion right here. And I couldn’t be more proud of everyone in this industry,” said LaRue. “I just really love you guys, and I just think this business is fabulous.”
West then had the final words with a reminder of how ever-changing the world we live in has become.
“I’ve lived in Chicago a little over 30 years how, and just a few moments ago, something has happened here that I don’t remember ever happening: We’ve been imposed a curfew starting at 9 o’clock until 6 in the morning. Please be strong and be safe out there. There are a lot of people that are counter-protestors, and they’re not from our city, they’re not from your city. They’re plants, and they’re there to cause trouble. Watch your back. Please be safe because we want to see you next year, and we want to see more movies and we want to see a thriving industry.”
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