Putting the gay back in adult video awards showsEntertainment News Thursday, January 19th, 2012
2012 Cybersocket Awards
The list is legend
The GayVNs. The Grabbys. The Hookies. The XBiz Awards. The Hard Choice Awards. Presented in venues across the country from New York to Chicago to Los Angeles and celebrating the movers and shakers of a multibillion-dollar industry, gay-porn award programs are as diverse and sometimes as kitschy as the people they recognize.
But each event has its own spirit, its own agenda and its own vibe. And with the continuing demise of studio-backed gay porn production and the growth of Internet-based products, the Cybersocket Awards show, now in its 12th year, seems to have foreseen what others in the industry had not: The Internet revolution was a force that was not only here to stay, but that would disrupt, dislodge and eventually displace everything we had come to expect from gay adult entertainment.
Gay porn matters
Despite being the object of cultural derision, all-male adult video remains an endlessly fascinating and vital component of the gay-male experience, as does female-on-female porn for the lesbian experience (albeit perhaps to a lesser degree).
Why? Because it is largely within the realm of the gay adult picture that young gay men learn about the nature of their own sexuality.
Given the squeamishness and homophobia that continues to run rampant throughout mainstream Hollywood when it comes to depicting gay sexuality, and the limits imposed by geography upon the distribution of indie cinema – independent and alternative films are a secondary vehicle aside from X-rated media for communicating gay sexuality – it’s not at all surprising that young gay men still end up taking their cues from gay porn as a simple matter of sex education.
Cue the Cybersocket Awards
The Cybersocket Awards are presented each year by Cybersocket Magazine, cofounded (along with Tim Lutz) by the burly and eminently likable Morgan Sommer. When asked to summarize how his awards stand out from other notable awards programs (some now defunct), Sommer remarked, “The Cybersocket Awards were created originally to stand out from the other industry awards at the time, that ignored Web sites and the role the Internet played in the business.”
According to Sommer, at that time, Cybersocket produced the only adult-oriented Web awards program.
“Over the years, a few of the other big awards shows in the adult market added Web categories, just as we have added non-Web categories,” Sommer said. “At this point, everything has converged but we are still highly focused on Web content and voting online.
Fan participation is another big difference, Sommer says.
“It is akin to the People’s Choice Awards,” he told San Diego LGBT Weekly during a recent interview. “It was also a way for us to honor our customers and the sites we wrote about every month.”
And while this year’s program appeared to have record crowds, and with the demise of the GayVNs (sponsored by the adult industry publication, Adult Video News), not everyone is so sanguine about what has become of the pomp and ceremony attached to the ritual. J.C. Adams, of the widely read and sourced GayPornTimes.com, was somewhat more detached. “There is nothing like the interest in gay porn awards now as there used to be in the ’90s. I think it’s because gay porn is essentially a niche product now. People can find sex tapes from celebrities and tube sites and so on …”
However, he says, that indifference about gay porn could be replaced with the kind of interest made famous by the girls from Sex in the City circa 1998.
“Depending on where technology goes,” says Morgan Sommer.
But while the average spectator who comes to one of these programs as an adoring fan hoping to rub shoulders with one of their favorite stars, bloggers, tweeters and gossip mills are simultaneously busy at work, hoping to generate their own share of attention with accusations of favoritism and unseemly connections to Cybersocket’s advertisers, whom many accuse Morgan and staff of rewarding disproportionately.
Dewayne Helms is a San Diego native and, ironically, a relative of the late ultra-conservative standard bearer, Jesse Helms, about whom he writes on his popular adult blog DeWayneinsd.com.
Helms, who has been covering the gay porn scene for years, was quick to draw contrasts between the Cybersocket Awards and another, well-known program which has also seen its fair share of accusations about favoritism, the GayVNs. “Morgan Sommer has guided The Cybersockets into the Peoples Choice Awards of gay porn,” he said. “Sure, you might have some groaners in the categories, but you will have that in any popularity contest.”
According to Helms, there is a level of resentment among some in the more “establishment” porn news-and-awards industry.
“(Nagging) from San Francisco about The Cybersockets is just sour grapes since the demise of (certain) ‘bought and paid for’ (awards programs),” he said.
When asked to parse the distinction, Helms took no prisoners. “Returning to the analogy of the Peoples Choice Awards versus The Grammys: The perception is that the GayVN’s were the ‘industry awards’ and, therefore, more legitimate. The problem is the GayVN’s never grew up into a legitimate award governed by a valid gay industry and/or performer organization. It was producer-rigged and everyone knew it.”
“Absolutely not true!” retorts Janet Gibson of AVN. “The GayVN Awards are nominated by and through a committee, a committee that includes forty-two people [within the gay porn industry].”
More damming, according to Helms, is the fact that the GayVNs were never really a gay awards event.
“It was an off-shoot of the AVNs – the straight side of porn,” he said. “Why the hell did we need a straight-porn news site handing out gay porn awards?”
Before going by the wayside, Helms says, the GayVN’s were perceived by many to be the Raging Stallion/Falcon Studios awards, because of the prolificacy of recognition for those studios to the exclusion of many other worthy nominees. The favor, he says, was squarely in the corner of porn producers who “owned the show.”
The big night
Monday evening, Jan. 9, the 2012 Cybersocket Awards went off without a hitch despite, what Morgan Sommer describes as 19 hours of “pure hell” leading up to the event. For one hour, some of the biggest and brightest lights in the gay porn industry were shuffled on and off a red carpet hosted by legendary San Franciscan and Sister of Perpetual Indulgence, Sister Roma.
The awards themselves were presented by Los Angeles’ famed drag queens, Las Chicas Angels, on a stage in the main dance room of The Factory in West Hollywood, as gay porn legend Chi Chi LaRue made her presence felt as the evening’s DJ directly behind them.
As the crowd cheered on the winners and losers alike, and as the young Millennials took their place on stage, ready to take on the mantle of gay porn superstardom, one couldn’t help but notice members of older generations looking slightly nostalgic for a time before the Internet made these awards ceremonies and all that was magical and yes, even glamorous, about gay porn anything but the commercial, democratic and wholly unremarkable affairs they’ve become.
For a list of the evening’s winners, visit LGBTweekly.com.
Short URL: http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=19876