This past Monday, Spearmint Rhino played host to one of the UK’s biggest adult industry events, the Paul Raymond awards. Though the awards have been running for a short time, it holds a high level of prestige for all UK based adult performers and production companies.
When I arrived the queue was enormous, stretching past McDonalds and round the side of the building. Luckily it didn’t take too long for me to get in (it was absolutely freezing outside!) Just before entering the building there was paparazzi stood to the left of the entrance, it’s rare that someone such as myself gets ‘papped’ so I find that experience quite amusing.
Upon entering the downstairs foyer I saw a number of well-recognisable faces; from performers to models to producers.
I milled around conversing with some of the attendees before grabbing a glass of complimentary champagne and catching up Ben Yates. He was kind enough to offer me a place on his table prior to the event. He seemed to go all out ordering drinks for his party. Ben has a great sense of humour and we spent some time bantering about nonsense. We were also joined by two of his friends, Marco Van Der Akker of Computernext and a little afterwards Jerry Barnett of Sex and Censorship, who I also spoke to in quite a bit of length.
The main room itself was dark and atmospheric with the odd tiny spotlight moving around the room. The stage was well lit and the room soon filled up when the commentator announced that the awards would be starting soon. The only issue with the darkness was ensuring I didn’t fall over. I tripped at one stage over a woman’s high heel that she had poking out into the gangway. Apart from the health and safety aspect, I love the atmosphere the lighting created.
The night kicked off with dances from some of the Spearmint Rhino girls as well as popular adult starlet Lou Lou Petite, exercising her Pole dancing skills. The Apprentice finalist, Luisa Zissman and comedian Russell Kane were the hosts of the evening. Russell really got into the spirit of the evening with lude and crude jokes, some of which were actually fairly witty and he basically had fun with some of the award presenters and winners. Luisa looked stunning in a black and nude full-length gown by Jovani Fashions. I felt sorry for both presenters as they were battling through the awards though at least half the audience were too engaged in their own conversations for a large percentage of the evening. Even a couple of the winners arrived on stage late as they were either not in the room or not paying attention. Hmm, it was not looking very professional on their part.
Two Spearmint Rhino girls were on hand to take photos with the award winners and hosts. I felt that the Spearmint Rhino played a great host to this kind of event. The venue itself is perfect for these awards: from the alluring and elusive décor and lighting to the extravagant booths and stunning playboy bunny-esque costumed waitresses. Though the venue was packed it didn’t make you feel boxed in. I think it’s a shame there isn’t a proper smoking area as you are basically on the street, however due to the building’s location I think it would be next to impossible to create one.
I saw Mark Hassell, the event organiser briefly. He was extremely busy, zipping around from one part of the venue to the next and being momentarily interrupted by attendees. Though I haven’t had the pleasure to speak to Mark in great detail yet, he strikes me as a very proactive person and has a friendly demeanour. We’ve spoken briefly online and said a quick hello at the event, I hope to speak to him a little more at an upcoming event. He did fantastic job with the event organisation: from the table’s complimentary blue-lit vodka, the served canapés and champagne to the live entertainment and host choices. Paul Raymond really did pull out all the stops.
There were a number of nomination categories so I will just highlight some of the main ones, the full list will be posted online:
Paul Raymond Girl of the Year – Lexi Lowe
Club International Cover Girl of the Year – Sophia Knight
Female Performer of the Year – Samantha Bentley
Escort Cover Girl of the Year – Brook Logan
Mayfair Cover Girl of the Year - Emma Green
Adult Film of the Year – Benefits Treat / Pure XXX Films
We were proud to hear that Benefits Treat won the award for one simple reason; we designed the cover! I saw Laura of Pure XXX Films for the first time that evening, her pride evident when accepting the award. We were also routing for Harmony Films, as they are a long-standing client of ours. I thought Down on Abbey would win as it has done very well and I really liked the attention to detail in terms of the locations, costume and styling. I’ve just realised that we designed the covers for 3 out of the 5 films nominated. I suppose you could say odds were in our favour…
Now when it comes to dressing to impress, adult performers are known to take it to another level. For example Aruba Jasmine wore a white, fluffy cropped shrug jacket with pink LED lights inside and a huge pink hair bow. Brook Logan wore pretty much just a pink top and pants. I also saw some beautiful dresses such as Rebecca More’s gold and black paisley full-length gown and Lucia Love’s black lace, vintage full-length gown. Speaking of Lucia Love, we had a quick chat in the ladies before the event started (where else). I also spotted and said a quick hello to Tina Kay and Stella Cox, both of whom are lovely. I really must nab them next time for a proper conversation! I also spoke to Lee Schofield of ETO magazine, Terry Stephens of UKAP, Lacey Starr, Top of the Babes and more.
Due to the nature of the event and the sheer amount of attendees it was impossible to get round to everyone I wanted to speak to. I suppose that’s why people were so fixated on their conversation, there are so few of these events in the UK so its one of the rare opportunities people in the industry get to interact with everyone.
The stage performances were also brilliant, there were two fire performances, a couple of pole dances, an aerialist, a male stripper and an MC. The aerialist (who was also one of the fire artists, part of the Spearmint Rhino Tabu act) was spectacular. Her tremendous skill, flexibility and agility were unquestionable. I found it annoying that very few were actually paying attention to this amazing act and somewhat rude. There was also a pole dancer who also demonstrated similar skills, at one point she made her way right to the top of the pole, against the ceiling before sliding her way down, head first at an alarming rate and balancing before reaching the bottom. MC Ironik on was on stage before I left the venue (It would be my luck to miss the male stripper!). His London new-school style MCing over some recent Drum’n’Bass tracks was engaging some of the female attendees at the front. Sadly, being the eternal Cinderella I had to say my goodbyes and depart. I had a feeling the evening was drawing to close soon after, as the awards had been given out and the stage acts had performed. I took a quick photo with Ben and Nichi before departing.
I found this event very useful in a number of ways; I had meet some new people, engaged in good conversation with some similar faces and got to know of more performers and business owners. Everyone seemed to be having an excellent time; it was event full of laughter and celebration. It made me look forward to next year’s event, which hopefully will be just as grandiose.
I’d like to say a special thank you to Ben Yates for his warm hospitality and crude humour and to Mark Hassell for having me at the event. Also to Jeremy Nargi for hosting the event at the Rhino.