Flesh glints at film awards
By ANNE LINDBERG, Times Staff Writer
PINELLAS PARK -- At a former Sam's Club warehouse, just down the street from a super Wal-Mart, some of the nation's most successful porn stars gathered Monday night for a sort of people's choice awards for adult entertainment.
The Oscars it wasn't.
Some men wore jeans, others, business suits or tuxedos. A few looked as if they belonged to Tony Soprano's crew. There was a man with a lime-green mohawk, and another with his head shaved and a bar code tattooed on the back.
A number of women poured themselves into an assortment of fabrics. One wore a sheer white bustier with bikini panties, white stiletto heels and garters holding up sheer white stockings.
Held at the Pinellas Expo Center on U.S. 19 N, the former Sam's Club warehouse, the 10th Annual Adult Entertainment Awards were sponsored by Tampa-based Night Moves magazine to honor local and national entertainers. The awards are the third largest in the porn industry, estimated overall at more than $2-billion a year.
The winners were chosen from about 45,000 votes cast by fans.
Hundreds came early for a VIP banquet and show that preceded the awards ceremony, paying $75 each ($85 at the door). Others came later, paying up to $45 a person to see what local and national performers and businesses won awards ranging from Best Escort Service and Best Video Store to Best New Starlet, Best Actress and Best Film.
With off-duty Pinellas Park police officers providing security, a band entertained, a former porn star danced with flaming batons, and scantily dressed women modeled clothes, occasionally exposing their thong underwear.
Attendees also browsed kiosks offering pink furry chaps, cigars, adult toys and hot tubs.
In the past, the ceremony has been held at bars in Tampa and Clearwater but has outgrown such venues. The Expo Center was chosen this year for its size and location.
Yet for the better part of a week, Pinellas Park officials did their best to avoid any public comment about the prospect of being the host city.
Mayor Bill Mischler was reluctant to discuss it at all Monday, preferring instead to extol the evening he had spent helping one of his constituents celebrate his 112th birthday.
But Mischler conceded he had suggested last week to a radio DJ that folks who attended the event should go to the Bob Evans restaurant in town after the show.
"I couldn't think," Mischler said. "Disney World. Everybody says that."
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