As the month of January recedes into the past, the adult industry inevitably heaves a collective sigh. Another AVN Adult Entertainment Expo (AEE) has come and gone.
The feelings—the anticipatory excitement for upcoming projects, the satisfaction of seeing old friends (and making new ones), and the outright exhaustion that comes from being in casino-hotels longer that any human really should—are all there as members of the community from ’round the globe make their ways back from whence they came.
Though it’s difficult to pack even more into one’s AEE experience, surprisingly, that very thing happened to me this year. In addition to everything else, I experienced art at the 2019 show.
It’s been said that art and emotion are linked—that it makes you feel something. Not all art impacts all people in the same way, but when you find art that speaks to you, it’s palpable.
Truth: I’ve never felt anything like that.
I don’t get dots and splatter paint. I like photographs, but generally only when there are people in them. “Can’t Buy Me Love” is still my favorite movie. And yes, I know there are endless types of art besides film and photography and painting. My point though is that, in spite of liking lots of things and totally not getting many others, I have never once felt a profound emotional response to art. That is, not until I popped by Evil Angel’s booth at the show this year.
It was Wednesday, and the show floor had just opened. Nothing was really very busy. I made my way from hall to hall, finally heading into The Joint. I made a beeline for Evil Angel, the biggest booth in the space, and immediately noticed their exceptional display—a giant banner setting the background for a raised VIP area. I cut around the growing line to get a closer look.
I began oohing and ahhing over the clever, touching homage. Marking 30 years in business, the company had created a super cool compilation of its directors over the years: “XXX Years of Evil Angel.” The whole gang was there—Belladonna and Aiden Starr, Lisa Ann and Dana Vespoli. John Stagliano himself, Lexington Steele, and Jonni Darkko. There was even some guy with a magazine covering his face, who I later learned had designed the poster itself and was integral to creating the original Buttman magazine. The movie theater layout was super neat and embodied so much about each director’s persona.
I was delighted, but all that went away when I noticed an observant figure just outside the mix on the left hand side. Exposed in a way that made him seem like an apparition, watching over the directors, the company and the community, was Christian Mann.
I immediately felt an intense physical and emotional response—goosebumps on my arms, tears in my eyes. I gripped the elbow of Nate Glass, who was standing with me. He saw what I saw almost simultaneously and was in the midst of his own profound reaction.
Mann passed away in 2014. As AVN wrote honoring his memory, “For those who knew Mann well, two attributes stand out above all others: his willingness to help others, which grew out of the help Mann himself had received in learning to lead a sober life, and his devotion to his work, whatever it may have been at the time.”
Glass credits Christian Mann with being a huge supporter of his company, Takedown Piracy, from its beginnings and for being a role model of honesty, humility, and integrity within the industry, as well as in life. He said, “When I first saw the banner, my reaction was how cool and classy it was for Evil Angel to honor their directors, both past and present. What I didn’t expect was to be moved to tears seeing Christian watching over everyone.”
“Great art can evoke intense emotional responses, and the banner on display at Evil Angel’s booth did exactly that for me,” Glass added. “Christian’s legacy will live forever, and I hope those of us he touched will share our stories and feelings with the people who didn’t have a chance to get to know him.”
Times are currently somewhat tense within the adult industry. Emotions are high as issues related to performers’ wellbeing, community fracturing, free speech, and plain old business strategies and successes demand to be addressed. Within that context, a reminder that a truly great Mann is still out there—encouraging us to fight the good fight and be better than the easy road—is truly profound.
Pictured above: Front row (left to right): Jay Sin, Belladonna, John Stagliano, Joey Silvera, Rocco Sidfredi, John Leslie, Nacho Vidal; second row: Jonni Darkko, Lexington Steele, Lisa Ann, Manuel Ferrara, Gregory Dark, Christoph Clark, Randy West; third row: Christian Mann, Jules Jordan, Bobbi Star, Jake Malone, David Aaron Clark, Aiden Starr, Chris Streams, Dana Vespoli, Aiden Riley, “Mystery Man,” Bruce Seven; Back row: Toni Ribas, Proxy Paige, Bryan Gozzling, Misha Cross, Mike Adriano, Jessy Jones, Brian Pumper, Mark Wood, Francesca Lé. Image used with permission from Evil Angel.
Find Dr. Chauntelle Tibbals on Twitter at @drchauntelle.