The Return of the GAYVN Awards

This article originally ran in the August 2017 issue of AVN magazine. Click here to see the digital edition.

Earlier this year, AVN Media Network announced that the GayVN Awards—celebrating the best in gay adult entertainment—would be returning next January after a seven-year hiatus. As we prepare to bring back the GayVN Awards, it seemed like an opportune time to review the history of this awards show devoted to the gay adult entertainment industry.

AVN Media Network has always recognized achievement in the gay adult entertainment industry, but up until 1998 the awards were distributed along with the AVN Awards. That year AVN hosted its first annual “Gay Adult Video Awards” on December 4, 1998, at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, with director/DJ Chi Chi LaRue hosting a big bash after the ceremony.

“I remember when they first told us they were going to be having a separate awards for the gay portion of the industry,” LaRue recalled. “I thought to myself, well, finally we’re going to get the respect we deserve and people are going to finally pay attention—and we don’t have to have big giant boobs for people to look at us … LOL.”

For the next dozen years the separate awards show flourished. In 2000, the GayVN Awards played to a capacity crowd of over 900 attendees at Universal City’s Hilton. Dubbed the Gay2K Awards, the show was hosted by comedy writer/comedian Bruce Vilanch. 

By 2003 the event had become more intimate, beginning a four-year stint at Rage nightclub on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood—with each year also seeing Chi Chi LaRue filling the role of “Mztress of Ceremonies.”

Frequent award winner mr. Pam, director of production for NakedSword.com, began going to the awards during that period. “I live for gay porn awards ceremonies,” mr. Pam said. “The GayVNs have always been OFF THE HOOK, starting with my first GayVN Awards at Rage in West Hollywood—lying on the red carpet filming myself with Carlo Massi and Chris Wide—and then it grew and grew and grew! Bigger and better.”

Channel 1’s Rob Novinger also remembers the days in WeHo. “Can I share my worst memory? LOL. I guess that would be the year we were the official GayVN afterparty at the Abbey. Planned a super fun night and due to circumstances anyone who knew the late David Forest would not be shocked by, we banned [Forest] from attendance. Which of course made him want to come even more. Eventually we let him in, god or satan love him—one of the two! Then the fire marshal told the bouncers to stop letting people in, which burned up Hot House’s Steven Scarborough, who told them he was ‘porn royalty.’ He also got in—eventually.”

For 2007, AVN switched things up, moving the GayVN Awards Show to San Francisco, opening up the ceremony to the public and holding it at the iconic Castro Theater.

At the time, GayVN editor Doug Lawrence said, “We’d been trying to think of different ways to outdo last March’s overwhelming success at West Hollywood’s Rage Nightclub, and suddenly, we just said, ‘San Francisco!’ The city is gay friendly and gay-porn friendly, and most of the big gay XXX-video companies are headquartered there. What could be better?”

Other things made the 2007 show a real standout. First off was the host: comedian Kathy Griffin, who gave the event exposure on her Bravo Cable Network reality show, My Life on the D-List. And NakedSword streamed its coverage; as NakedSword’s Tim Valenti said, “San Francisco has a rabid porn fan base and the cultural propensity to host a world-class awards show that can succeed beyond limited nightlife venues. We’ll treat the GayVNs like the Olympic Games and NakedSword will be the event’s NBC.”

Award-winning director Tony Dimarco shared his recollections of that show. “I would have to say my most memorable GAYVN Awards hands down would have to be the 2007 GAYVN Awards, when Kathy Griffin hosted. The show can be fun, but when you win, it can take it to a whole other level. That’s year we won an unprecedented 14 GayVNs for the film I wrote and directed with Michael Lucas, La Dolce Vita [the Lucas Entertainment title still holds the record for the most wins]. That award show put me on the map and launched my career. There was great energy in the room that evening. It’s a night I will never forget.”

Director Steve Cruz recalled his first show. “I rubbed elbows (literally) backstage with Kathy Griffin at the awards of 2007,” Cruz said. “It was a big night for me. I was brand-new to the biz and so nervous. She made me feel at ease, like it was the most fun thing in the world. What a great lady!”

Mainstream hosts remained at the helm of the remaining GayVN Awards celebrations, which were also held in San Francisco. The 2008 awards featured prominent drag queen Lady Bunny with Sirius radio personalities Derek Hartley and Romaine Patterson, while the 2009 gala featured a triple header with comedian Margaret Cho, supermodel Janice Dickinson and Ugly Betty star Alec Mapa. And then Mapa returned in 2010 for the final GayVNs, held at the Castro Theater during the Folsom Street Fair.

Recalling that show, mr. Pam said, “I loved the Castro Theatre with Alec Mapa hosting, Michael Lucas storming the stage about Brent Corrigan, Wilfred Knight as crucified Jesus, my date Rafael Alencar shirtless with stripper-inspired (lack of) tuxedo ... and stealing the curtain because someone stole my mink shawl! I can’t wait for the GAYVN Awards to return—counting the days. Let’s rock this!

For the 2018 comeback, the GayVN Awards Show will take place in a new city—Las Vegas—as part of [email protected], the trade show within a trade show at Internext Expo, taking place January 20-23.

“We want to make sure the GayVN Awards come back in a big way, so we have more than 25 categories honoring performers, movies, scenes and more,” said Tony Rios, CEO of AVN Media Network.

Content released between Oct. 1, 2016, and Sept. 30, 2017, will be eligible for consideration for the 2018 GayVN Awards. Check back on AVN.com in September for information on submitting prenominations.

While AVN was in the process of planning the return of the GAYVN Awards, other big names in the gay adult entertainment field made their own comebacks. Adult star Blake Riley—named Best Newcomer at the 2008 GayVN Awards—made a splash with his appearance in Falcon’s Earthbound: Heaven to Hell 2 (click here for interview). French performer François Sagat—GayVN Awards Performer of the Year in 2007—returned with a three-part series for Men.com (click here for Sagat interview). AndFlava Works signed returning star DeAngelo Jackson to a two-year contract (read Jackson's interview here). These interviews were also published in the August issue of AVN magazine.