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Winning The Oscars Of Porn Doesn’t Mean Much For The Success Of Porn Stars

It’s a fluctuating time for the porn industry. Porn has never been more mainstream, yet its accessibility and the fact no one pays for it anymore has left actors, directors, and producers feeling disoriented.

The Adult Video News Awards (AVN) are sometimes called the Oscars of porn. With 35 years of history, the awards are held every year in Vegas with the goal of celebrating the best performances in the business. This year they broke the mold when they booked Cardi B as a performer. “I’m so excited for these awards . . . more than the Grammys,” she told the crowd the day of the event.

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The AVN Awards have a similar structure to awards shows like the VMAs, who are inclusive of their fanbases. There’s 15 judge-based categories, 11 fan-voted categories, and the introduction of a porn star into the Hall of Fame, which is the highest honor of the night.

Winning an AVN award is certainly flattering, giving performers more notoriety within the industry and possibly facilitating job opportunities. Unlike award shows in the film industry though, what comes afterwards for adult actors is more complex than a career boost or a bigger paycheck.

Out reports that a large percentage of the porn industry functions like the Old Hollywood studio system, where actors are tied by contract to their studios who in turn pay them an annual salary. While winning an award might give some porn stars the chance to negotiate better deals, there’s no certainty that this will be the case.

“It won’t mean a model gets higher pay, and it likely won’t help a studio decide on hiring them,” says porn star Austin Wilde.

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For an industry that’s directly influenced by the internet, a large social media presence can be extremely important for porn actors, much more than winning an AVN award. “We can tell a model is a bang or a bust based on how many followers they get after starting with us,” says Kyle Ross, a porn star from Helix Studios and recipient of a GayVN award. Other critics claim that the AVN Awards are outdated and built to reward studios, closing the door on independent actors who might find more value with the notoriety that comes with the recognition.

It’s hard not to see the porn industry as a parallel to Hollywood, another business that’s also struggling to understand and come to terms with digital content. The Internet has shaken up our understanding of these mediums, introducing audiences to new methods of consuming content and creators to other ways of crafting media. At some point, awards will have to find some sort of understanding with audiences and members of their industry. If not, they’ll become more and more irrelevant with every passing year.

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