TEA Show Turns 10, Takes Over Hollywood's Avalon

Above, the final award of the show: Best Hardcore Performer Aubrey Kate; all photos by Rick Garcia

HOLLYWOOD, Calif.—Trans stars, producers, photographers, company owners and fans of trans erotica flocked to the Avalon on Sunday night for the 10th Transgender Erotica Awards, known as the TEA Show.

The lobby of the concert venue, located across Vine Street from the landmark Capitol Records tower, was dominated by an orderly queue leading to the red carpet photographers. The lobby restrooms were conspicuously marked with laminated signs reading GENDER NEUTRAL. Some attendees bypassed the queue and headed directly to the auditorium, where low-volume music encouraged conversation and networking, and attendees found their assigned tables stocked with matte-finished event programs.

"We're maxed out on sponsors," event organizer Steven Grooby said, looking at the crowded floor. "As far as seating goes, there's not much space. This year's been amazing, huge sponsors, People like ManyVids, Bad Dragon, TransAngels—that's a Mindgeek property—we've got mainstream porn companies as well as our longtime sponsors, people who've been with us 10 years. Transational Fantasies, which is the old Shemale Strokers from RodnieVision, have been with us 10 years. I'm still a bundle of nerves."

"I just came for educational purposes," performer Lucky Starr said. "I love the transgender community and came in support of everything they stand for."

Performer Alix Lovell echoed Star's fact-finding comment: "I'm getting ready to do my first two TS scenes, with Chanel Santini and Natalie Mars. I'm looking forward to meeting more people. I've been in for three years now but I haven't met a lot of TS performers because there's such a disconnect. It's a new environment, like being at AVN Expo for the first time."

Gender X's Steve Volponi and Jim Powers were getting ready to give the Gender X Performer of the Year Award. (Many of the individual TEA Awards were sponsored.) "Gender X is Zero Tolerance's new transsexual company," Volponi said. "It's doing very well."

"We're looking for men. We need some performers." Powers said. "We've got a lot of women, we need some men to lay down the lumber. We're gonna get ’em hard, get some pictures," he added with a laugh.

Jessica Drake told AVN, "This is one of my favorite awards shows, but I'm a little biased. Wicked Sensual Care has been a sponsor three years in a row. We're honored to be a part of it." Drake was nominated for Best Non-TS Female, and her scene with Aubrey Kate, Domino Presley and Venus Lux in Jessica Drake is Wicked was up for Best Scene. "I'm honored to be nominated in a different area for me. I'm really happy to be here."

"We've met some really interesting people in the last couple of days," Baltimore-based backstage interview host Amy Spacekitten told AVN. "Buck Angel gave me so much motivation. I had a blast talking with him. L.A. reminds me of the Burning Man community, but for profit. I like the city vibe."

The awards began with a comedy performance of two brides tussling over a groom, with show co-host TS Madison as one of the brides, lip-syncing "I Am Not Going" from DreamGirls while fighting. This was followed by co-host Hudsy Hawn taking the stage, observing, "Wow, that makes me want to get married for the third time" before giving a quick history of the TEA Awards, saying they "honor each and every person who has dipped their ... toes in the water and worked in some capacity in this unique industry." Referring to the judging process, Hawn observed that "watching hours of trans porn may sound fun, but trying to judge one against another is very difficult."

The first award was given for Best DVD—Real Fucking Girls 2 (Grooby)—and director Mona Wales was joined onstage by some of her cast: Jelena Vermilion, Riley Nixon, Shiri Allwood, Natalie Chen and Siouxsie Q. And the Best Photographer winner, Radius Dark, was announced next.

Then came Gender X Model of the Year award, which went to Chanel Santini. Presenter Jim Powers said, "She really put it out there every time she did a scene. If you’re out there, you know what I mean." Best Internet Performer went to Natalie Mars, who shyly observed that "My Internet personality is much better than my in-person personality" before retreating from the stage.


Real Fucking Girls 2 cast with director Mona Wales


Gender X Model of the Year Chanel Santini with Jim Powers and Steve Volponi

The Industry Professional award was presented by Aiden Starr and Aubrey Kate to producer/director John Stagliano, who observed, "The trans community has been rather exciting to me for a long time. Joey Silvera has brought to my company some really great stuff, and I have to thank the performers, the directors. ... It's an honor to be here. We've come a long way and it's a wonderful thing."

Best Scene went to Chanel Santini and Lance Hart for Wonder Woman from TransAngels. "Getting to play Wonder Woman was everything, so this is such a huge honor," Santini said. Mona Wales won Best Non-TS Female, and threw down a gauntlet: "Our industry moves slowly, and the best thing we can do to people we don't like in this industry is take their jobs." Best Scene Producer went to Aiden Starr, who yanked the podium mic down to accommodate her diminutive stature, explaining, "I'm short as fuck. I was not expecting this to happen, so I don't have anything prepared to say. I'd like to thank Joey Silvera and John Stagliano for paving the way at Evil Angel. I want to thank Aubrey Kate, our contract girl, and everybody who's ever worked for me in a movie. You're fucking amazing and I can't wait to shoot the shit out of you." Co-host Madison observed, "She is small" as Starr went backstage with her award.

The first Lifetime Achievement Award went to Nicole Montero, who expressed her delight that it had been possible for her to travel from Chile to accept the award. The second went to a familiar face at the TEAs: Jesse Flores, a cam performer since 2006 who established her own TS-Jesse.com website in 2008, and won a TEA award for Best Solo Website in 2013. "I've been in this business for 12 years now, and 10 with my website," Flores said. "When Steven told me I had won this award, I cried. I felt so appreciated. Thank you very much."


Host Madison with Lifetime Achievement Award honoree Nicole Montero and presenters Morgan Bailey and Tatiana Summers.


Host Madison with Lifetime Achievement Award honoree Jesse Flores and presenters Buddy Wood and Natassia Dreams.

Best FTM Performer winner Eddie Wood observed, "it is a big, huge year for FTM. If you're not doing FTM, you're forgetting an important thing: You can take TS fans, and you can make them FTM fans. We're not the elephant in the room. We're fuckin' hot, all these girls are going to fuck our pussies, and it's only going to get better."

Ms. Unique winner Nadia Love thanked "everybody I've worked with, and everybody who's jerked off to me. I'm just excited to see what I do next." Transational Fantasy Girl of the Year winner Brooke Zanell, holding her award, smilingly drawled, "This deserves a blow job!" Aubrey Kate, winning the Fan Choice Award, joked, "This is actually my very first award that I've ever won in my entire life." A few minutes later, AVN’s reigning Transsexual Performer of the Year also won for Best Hardcore Performer.

The show concluded with Hawn singing a new lyric to the disco classic YMCA ("It's fun to go to The T-E-A"), inviting winners to join her on stage.

"When we started this show, we only had 150-200 people," Grooby told AVN as the crowd dwindled. "Now it's 350 to 400. We're still doing it with the same staff. My girls and guys are running around so much, I think we'll need a bigger staff next year."

The complete TEA Awards winners list can be found here.


Best Solo Model winner Natalie Mars with host Madison and presenters Chanel Santini, Damon Cins and Mercedes Carrera