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‘Night of the Stars’ Is All BusinessBy: Mike Albo (Courtesy of AVN.com)
Los Angeles – The Free Speech Coalition held its 19th annual "Night of The Stars" Awards Show Saturday night at the Los Angeles Center Studios downtown.
With Sister of Perpetual Indulgence Roma and Tim Valenti serving as co-hosts and presenters, the evening had a definite flamboyant edge. Think Sonny and Cher filtered through an LSD fog.
The honorees ran the gamut from accomplished performers to those on the front lines of the freedom fight.
The first honoree, receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award, was performer-turned-businesswoman Jill Kelly. Naming her many inspirations in the business, Kelly gave a heartfelt thank you to all who had helped her get where she is today. She thanked the late director Jim Holliday four times.
As Kelly walked off stage, drag queen Roma cited Kelly’s lasting legacy when Roma noted Kelly’s performing skills: "You sucked dick like a fag."
Also receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award was longtime industry stalwart Mr. Marcus, who noted that "Being black in this industry isn’t easy."
Winding up the Lifetime Achievement Award winners was gay director John Rutherford. Rutherford noted that he was honored and "humbled" by the evening’s recognition of his contributions.
Another Lifetime Achievement Award winner was gay actor Michael Brandon. Brandon noted that creating his persona was "so much fuckin’ fun!" Brandon was also the most emotional award recipient, his voice catching and quavering as he thanked his friends and significant other.
Next on the program was the naming of the Joel Warner Good Guy Award which went to Williams Trading’s Bob Pyne, Sr. Pyne made sure to remind the attendees that "we all need to help." Putting his money where his mouth is, Pyne announced he was making a $5,000 donation to the Free Speech Coalition with money he had made from a soda fountain he’s installed at his company’s headquarters.
Carrying on with the theme that the efforts of the FSC need to be supported and helped along by the industry was the winner of the Advocate Achievement Award, Angelina Spencer of ACE National. "What begins here [with the adult industry] as censorship will spread," she noted.
Taking the stage from Roma and Valenti, attorneys Jeffrey Douglas and Reed Lee presented the Hal Freeman Freedom Isn’t Free Awards to industry veteran Dave Cummings, New Beginnings LTD’s Lenny Friedlander and Peekay Inc.’s Phyllis Heppenstall.
Before announcing the winners, Douglas bought up the current negotiations involving the so-called 2257 agreement: "Our job is to make sure the 2257 agreement will protect you."
The longtime industry figure Cummings talked about the current state of the union and advised all in attendance to "vote, keep church and state separate and support the troops."
Friedlander, who couldn’t attend the event, had his representatives receive the award for him.
Heppenstall received her award with grace and told of her early difficulties opening a store in Washington state. Heppenstall advised the attendees on the importance of supporting the FSC and each other.
Following the awards show, there was a reception that featured food, drinks, and a cigar bar.
At 19, the FSC is no longer a youngster, and is now all business. Nobody, apparently, has told any of those in attendance that business can’t be fun.