Wicked Pictures contract star Jessica Drake has been chosen to host the 24th annual AVN Awards Show on Jan. 13, 2007, at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.

The event will honor the best movies, performers and production companies in adult entertainment for the past year.

Drake, a native of San Antonio, Texas, who began her career in 2000, is a three-time AVN award-winner who has been a Wicked Girl for the past three years.

“I’m amazed. When I found out I was going to be hosting the next AVN Awards, it came to me in two parts. At first I thought, ‘oh my God, I’m going to be hosting an awards show that I’ve wanted to host ever since I won my first award in 2001. I had just gotten back from New Zealand and I was really overwhelmed and really excited.

“Then I started thinking about what it meant. It’s such an honor. I’ve been in that theatre at Mandalay Bay for other things in the past, and I know exactly how big it is and what a grand scale this is going to be on. I’m just thrilled… honored… grateful… amazed, astounded.”

Drake continued, “It is something that I’ve really dreamed of doing since I got into the business. I love being in this business, and I love to be on stage and to also be on stage for what could possibly be a big year for Wicked is quite an honor. I don’t know how it could get any better. I’m floored.”

Drake said her first memory of the AVN Awards is “being overwhelmed by the sea of photographers.”

“That was my initial impression, ‘oh my God, it’s huge. It’s so big.’ And then as time went on, I realized it was actually very impressive. You understand the amount of preparation and months of rehearsal that goes into it. It’s all taken very seriously. That’s what differentiates the AVN Awards from other shows.”

The 2007 ceremony is already special because the public is now able to purchase tickets through the Mandalay Bay Events Center box office and Ticketmaster, making it more mainstream than ever. The past seven AVN Awards Shows have been staged at the Venetian Hotel grand ballroom, which held a record 4,200 people in 2006. The new venue has a capacity of 7,000.

“Jessica is definitely overdue,” AVN President Paul Fishbein said. “She has proven to be a consummate pro. She has a good screen presence and a good stage presence and we think she’ll do an amazing job.”

AVN Awards Executive Producer Gary Miller agreed.

“I think she’s going to be absolutely fantastic,” Miller said. “She’s a Wicked Girl and she is deserving of the position. She’s got a fabulous look and I think she’s going to do a great job as host. We felt that this was the year for her and we felt she would be the best choice.”

Drake won the AVN award for Best Actress – Video at the 2005 ceremony for her role in Wicked Pictures’ Fluff & Fold.

“She showed an incredible stage presence in her acceptance speech back then,” Miller noted. “She’s a class act in our industry.”

That award was especially gratifying for Drake, who came up with the idea for the project and developed it with Wicked’s award-winning director, Brad Armstrong.

“I think it was probably the pivotal movie for me,” she remarked. “Halfway through it we realized that we had something special. And to this day 50 percent of my recognition comes from that movie.”

The 5-foot-8 stunner also said her “bad girl” performance in The Collector was one of the highlights of her career that has included about 200 screen credits.

“I started becoming a lot more experimental at that stage,” said Drake, who won the AVN award for Best Oral Sex Scene – Film for her performance with Chris Cannon, Cheyne Collins and Voodoo in the feature. “It was a very liberating time.”

The starlet also enjoyed making One Man’s Obsession, which came about when Wicked Pictures President Steve Orenstein, along with several Wicked employees, noticed that many of drake’s fans make repeat trips to the Wicked booth at various conventions just to see what she is wearing.

“So [the movie] has me running around in all sorts of tight outfits and its shot from a voyeur’s perspective.”

Drake told AVN.com that in April she renewed her Wicked contract for the duration of her career, something she never made public until now. “I locked them up,” she joked. “I think we’re perfect for each other.”

Orenstein added, “I think AVN choosing Jessica to host the Awards this year is a great choice. I know she'll do a fantastic job. When you add the new venue at Mandalay Bay to the equation, this could be the best show we've seen yet.”

Even though Drake has taken the AVN Awards stage numerous times as both a presenter and award-winner and has appeared on live television, she admits she still gets nervous before she steps into the bright lights. Then she rises to the occasion every time.

“I’m kind of funny like that. Any type of hosting situation or live TV experience I’ve been in, prior to it I get extreme stage fright. And to this day when I’m [feature] dancing and the DJ is reading my intro, I’m the same way. I’m all tingly. But when it comes down to it, that’s just what I do and this is one of the arenas. I just feel complete when I’m on a stage like that. I’m extremely comfortable,” Drake said.

Drake’s first AVN award came in 2001, when she won Best Tease Performance for her scene in VCA Platinum Plus’ Shayla’s Web. Now three of her latest projects could contend for future honors, as Wicked this year has already rolled out Curse Eternal to critical acclaim and is set to release Manhunters and Fuck.

Manhunters is the hardest movie we’ve done. We did a lot of physical training, weapons training and ammunition training, and we did a lot of rehearsals,” Drake said. “I’ve been blown away when I look at some of the stunts I did myself. We also had Carmen Hart, Kirsten Price and Exotica in the movie, and I don’t think we could’ve had a better set of talent.”

Through the years Drake said she has come to realize the impact of the AVN Awards on the industry.

“I really think for the industry at large, for the talent, for the producers, for really everyone that’s ever been involved at a serious attempt at producing adult content, it’s a justification of all their hard work,” she said. “I know there are several times during the year where it can be super demanding, when the director will drive us harder and harder and the conditions aren’t conducive to making sweet love. … That can one of the hardest parts of my job, but I’m always thinking about the Awards Show. For a lot of people it just validates all their efforts they put in all year around.

“Whether they’re established people or new to the industry, every year we set a different, higher standard.”

Drake added that aside from signing with Wicked, “this is probably the greatest thing that ever happened to me.”

“I also feel I owe a large part of this to Wicked,” she continued. “They have developed me and trained me for a moment like this and allowed me to chase my dreams and do the things I wanted to do. I owe so much to Wicked. I’m so incredibly grateful to Paul and everyone at AVN that they believe in my ability to do this.”

Industry members may request tickets at www.avnawards.com or by calling (818) 718-5788 for credit card purchases.