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Awards show leaves host city speechless

An awards show for the adult entertainment industry is coming to Pinellas Park.

By ANNE LINDBERG, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 11, 2002

PINELLAS PARK -- Being the host city for an awards gala featuring film stars from across America should be a heady happening for a municipality that has long craved recognition.

But Pinellas Park officials are going out of their way to avoid commenting on next Monday's show and banquet at the Pinellas Expo Center. The reason comes down to three letters: XXX.

The 10th Annual Night Moves Award banquet will feature stars like Ginger Lynn, Anna Melle and Ron Jeremy, best known for their roles in pornographic movies. Lynn may be familiar to many nonporn fans. She was featured in a biographical documentary last weekend on the E Entertainment cable network.

"As long as it's legal, I can't object. You're not getting nothing from me," Pinellas Park Mayor Bill Mischler said Monday. "As long as it's within the bounds of the laws, I really have no comment to make."

Between 3,000 and 4,000 people are expected to attend the event, said Paul Allen, publisher of Night Moves, the Tampa magazine that's sponsoring the black-tie gala. In addition, Allen said, 50 stars from the adult film industry will be flown in for the ceremonies, which will give out regional and national awards based on 45,000 who voted after seeing the nominations in Night Moves. The regional awards include such categories as Best Club, Best Dancer and Best Video Store.

"We have literally a Who's Who in the adult industry, ranging from wannabes to megastars," said Allen, who claims the awards night is the third largest one for adult entertainment in the nation.

Tim Caddell, the city's spokesman, said officials were "going out of their way" to make sure they had no comment on the event.

Officials were quick to make sure the happening would be legal and that entertainers would be clothed. When a Pinellas Park police officer reported that the event was scheduled, they called Global Spectrum, the company that manages the Expo Center, 10601 U.S. 19 N. They held meetings with Global Spectrum representatives and Allen.

"We contacted the owners of the hall and just wanted them to be aware of our ordinances dealing with adult use so there wouldn't be any problems," said Tom Shevlin, the city's zoning director. "We were concerned that there might be nudity."

Shevlin said the city was assured the activities would be within the law.

"It doesn't appear there's going to be any zoning violations," Shevlin said. "There is some entertainment, but what was explained to us is it didn't involve any nudity."

Rui Farias, Global Spectrum marketing and sales manager, described the entertainment as a "Las Vegas-type show."

"It's not an adult show. It's not a nude event. It is a black-tie event," Farias said.

Allen, the event's sponsor, likened the event to the Academy Awards. That program, he said, honors R-rated movies, but "you don't see Kim Basinger throwing off her top, running down the hallway." Likewise, he said, that won't happen at Monday's event.

Still, being the site for an event that honors the pornography industry is a bit embarrassing for Pinellas Park officials who, just weeks ago, declined to annex the Vixen bar because it had topless dancers. A majority of the City Council heeded residents' complaints that they did not want that sort of activity in their city.

"It's two separate issues," said Mischler, the Pinellas Park mayor.

For Allen, the vote against Vixen demonstrates the council's shortsightedness.

"Just for that alone, those city councilmen should be voted off. Look at all the (tax) money they cost Pinellas Park," he said. "If that was the only reason they didn't want Vixen, there's something wrong with their thinking."

He added, "They can put their head in the sand all they want. Adult entertainment is here. . . . It's a big thing. It's a million-dollar industry that affects thousands of people's lives."

The 4,000 to 5,000 people who will be at the dinner will pay between $40 and $75 each for tickets. Those folks will be coming from as far away as Orlando and Sarasota, Allen said.

Allen said he began the awards show 10 years ago. Until this year, it has been held at various nightclubs in Tampa and Clearwater. But the event has become so popular that it outgrew the seating capacity for most nightclubs. The Expo Center's 127,000 square feet was perfect, he said.

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