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No nudes good news for awards organizers

Sighs of relief go up after an adult magazine parades porn stars across a stage without anyone misbehaving.

By ANNE LINDBERG, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 18, 2002

PINELLAS PARK -- Everyone connected with Monday's Adult Entertainment Awards spent the past few weeks fretting that something awful -- like nudity -- would happen at the gala event.

So touchy was the topic that city officials avoided public comment on the issue. Adult film types were defensive about the stereotype of porn stars as bimbos who don't know how to behave.

"Our girls aren't quite Julia Roberts, but our girls have class," said Paul Allen, 49, publisher of Night Moves, a Tampa-based adult magazine.

On Tuesday morning, all affected were breathing easier. Only a couple of incidents -- from the audience, not the stage -- interrupted an otherwise smooth night.

"From our perspective, it was very tame," said Pinellas Park police Capt. Mike Haworth.

In fact, he said, the four off-duty, uniformed officers who had volunteered to help provide security were pleased when "everyone walked up to them ... and showed their genuine appreciation for us. ... That was pretty refreshing. ... Everyone was glad they were there."

Said John LaChance, general manager of the Pinellas Expo Center, where the 10th Annual Adult Entertainment Awards were held: "I was surprised. We didn't have any real trouble. There were a couple of folks who were escorted out. Other than that, I was pleasantly surprised."

LaChance said it's possible the event will return next year to the Expo Center, which has taken over the former Sam's Club facility. He said he planned to discuss that this morning with Allen, the Night Moves publisher.

If Allen has his way, the event will return to Pinellas Park.

"I thought it was a great venue. I think we proved to Pinellas Park that we can put on a classy show," Allen said.

He repeated: No arrests. No drunkenness. No lewd, lascivious acts.

It's what he promised, Allen said, but no one believed him until it happened.

Police intervened twice. A woman flung a drink after a man at her table said something she found offensive. Security officers from the Pinellas Expo Center joined city police in asking that she leave.

Late in the evening, a woman disrobed while trying on lingerie at one of the vendor's booths on the perimeter of the Expo Center. Again, Expo security and city police joined to have her step behind a curtain to try on clothes.

Haworth said the incidents were minor.

"You could go to any bar and have two incidences, maybe more," he said.

Certainly, that's much less than city and Expo officials feared when Night Moves asked to use the site.

The prospect of having porn stars from around the country parade across a stage raised the specter of public nudity.

photo The Expo Center demanded assurances from Night Moves that nothing untoward would occur. Night Moves provided some security. The Expo Center provided more. And they both asked Pinellas Park to provide some off-duty uniformed help and agreed to pay $35.60 an hour for each officer.

Haworth said he was so concerned that several times he called the officers at the Expo Center, 10601 U.S. 19 N, just to make sure everything was okay.

It was almost boring at times. While entertainers were scantily clad, most had more clothing than might be seen on a local beach. The most risque portion of the evening was the patter between the male and female emcees.

But while the event was tamer than expected, many who attended were reluctant to let people know they had been there.

Dan, when asked his last name, replied, "I don't think so." He said Monday was the first time he had attended such an event. He alleged that he was there because "my sister is writing her Ph.D. thesis on the adult entertainment industry and I didn't want her to be here alone."

Dan I Don't Think So said he was a bit disappointed. He had expected it to be "less like a convention and more like an awards show."

Which likely pleased Allen, the Night Moves publisher, who defended the billion-dollar porn industry before the event. Just because the stars take off their clothes for the camera, he had said, does not mean they would disrobe when winning an award.

Allen also sought to refute the stereotype that female porn stars are stupid and unable to make a living another way. To prove his point, he introduced a reporter to Tera Patrick, a 26-year-old film star.

Patrick, an exotic beauty, said she began modeling at age 14 with the Ford Agency in New York. At 18, she said, she left modeling and got a nursing degree.

Shortly after that, she appeared on the cover of Playboy magazine. The covers of Penthouse and Hustler soon followed.

"I got a little bit of negative attention for it," Patrick said of the hospital where she worked. "I actually got fired from being a nurse."

That's when she got into films. She now has a three-year contract and is making much more money than when she was a nurse. "It's a business for me. ... I did the math."

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