LAS VEGAS - Most adult movies don't require their performers to do much more than portray "sexy female" and "sexy male," but to win AVN's Best Actress or Best Actor award requires much more. It requires the performer to inhabit a character with the heroic (or villainous) attributes and foibles that make the viewer forget, for a few moments, that one of the main purposes of the production is sexual arousal.
While several of 2008's productions gave viewers realistic portrayals of everything from spurned lovers to innocent ingenues to '60s TV characters to Iraq War veterans, two performances rose above the rest to gain AVN's coveted Best Actress and Best Actor trophies.
"I wanted this award probably more than any award I've ever wanted before," said three-time Best Actress winner jessica drake, the hapless heavenly body of Wicked Pictures' Fallen. "I'm so excited, I can't believe it... Most of all, I'd like to thank Brad Armstrong. You're my inspiration, my encouragement. You yell at me sometimes and push me, but I could not have done this without you."
But it's also possible that director/screenwriter Armstrong couldn't have done the movie without Drake.
"I can tell you that once we decided to make a movie about a fallen angel - Angel's my real name and I've always been really into angels - and the more he wrote it for me, the easier it was to play it," drake told AVN. "I did every single sex scene in that movie with the intent to make it the best one I had ever done; I tried to make each one better than the last - and out of 11 sex scenes, I was in eight of them; one of them was my first d.p.."
On the other hand, Evan Stone, who took the trophy for his portrayal of lusty pirate hunter Edward in Digital Playground's Pirates II: Stagnetti's Revenge, was surprised at his win.
"I really didn't think I was going to win this one," Stone said. "It's the second time I've done the part, the second time I've won for the part, and it just doesn't happen; it's unprecedented. Of course, this time, I made Edward a little bit more complex, doing new stuff, trying to make the character a little deeper."
But despite his triumphant shout of, "You're fucking brilliant" (shades of Bono!) from the stage during the ceremony, Stone felt the award should have gone to one of his fellow performers.
"Tommy Gunn; that's who deserves it [for Hearts & Minds II]," he told AVN. "You know, I didn't get the thing about the facial hair and the soldier thing, but then from what I saw, he really nailed it. It was either him or Barrett Blade," recipient of Kaylani Lei's revenge-fuck in The Wicked.
But it was Stone and Drake who captured the critics' attention this year, and who deserve every second of their glory.