Latex, Lube, & Love: My Trip to the 5th Annual Pornhub Awards Party

Pornhub awards

Asa Akira, Taylore Scarabelli, and Natassia Dreams.

A few weeks ago, noughties PR maven Kelly Cutrone sent me a cryptic voice note about pornography and fashion. The pitch? A press trip to Los Angeles to cover the 5th annual Pornhub Awards party, an exclusive event to celebrate the industry’s top performers, held at a nightclub attached to a John Lautner-designed Beverly Hills mansion owned by NBA fanatic James Goldstein. But there was a catch. Rather than simply reporting on the party, I, along with a group of the world’s top pornstars, would be dressed up in a custom look by Cutrone’s client and Pornhub collaborator, the sensuous London-based designer Luis de Javier.

I felt nervous and ill-prepared as I arrived at my fitting in a small suite at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel last Tuesday. I had been told that Diplo would be DJing the party on Thursday night, and that Stormy Daniels, at just 44 years old, would be receiving a lifetime achievement award for her work in the adult film industry. But it was unclear whether I would have access to either one, and I had yet to receive an actual invitation to the party. When I told friends and coworkers about the junket, some—mainly men (of all sexual orientations)—feigned jealousy, while others rolled their eyes and reminded me of the controversy surrounding the billion dollar company’s content moderation policies. But I’m no abolitionist, nor was I traveling to L.A. to do a deep dive into the politics of porn. Rather, I was on a mission to hang out with horny party goers, and find out how it feels to get dressed up like a Pornhub V.I.P.

Pornhub awards

When I entered the stuffy, talcum-scented suite, Asa Akira, the 38-year-old award-winning adult film performer, director, and host of the first and second annual Pornhub awards was positioned between racks of latex looks and stacks of designer shoes (“To elevate the outfits,” a stylist told me). She was getting her new double d’s laced up in a Luis De Javier red corset minidress fit with 3-D printed devil horns where her nipples should be—the same dress, she later exclaimed, that was worn by “Madonna’s kid” on the runway. IRL, Akira is effervescent and sweet. And though it’s her job to be an ambassador for Pornhub, I couldn’t help but feel seduced by how effortlessly she made me feel at ease—like when she introduced me to her colleagues, or when she stepped out of the fitting suite to give me privacy, a common courtesy that came across as overly polite when granted by a pornstar who has filmed over 500 scenes. 

While Akira finished her fitting, I sat in an adjacent room and chatted with Luis de Javier about fit modeling for Dame Vivienne Westwood, and his experience stripping in London clubs to make ends meet. De Javier may have had real experience with sex work, but he doesn’t have a fetish for latex, nor for any particular kind of porn. Instead, he’s inspired by the aesthetics of sex and female satisfaction (he mentioned the “For Women” porn category, though I’m still not sure exactly what that means). We then discussed his controversial Fall Winter 23’ casting (Julia Fox, Eartheater, and Lourdes Leon were joined on the runway by Pornhub favorites including Akira and Natassia Dreams) and my look for the evening: a made-to-measure black leather corset dress that accentuated my hips and made me feel as if my body was worthy of an X-rated scene.

Pornhub awards

A few days later, I was back in the cramped fitting room at the Roosevelt Hotel watching a stylist shimmy a light blue rubber number over ex-U.S. Army sergeant Kayley Gunner’s luscious curves while a small speaker blasted Ice Spice on repeat. It was nearing 8 o’clock, and a group of award-winning stars including Kira Noir (top blowjob), Kazumi (favorite newcomer), and Cherie Deville (top MILF) were flitting in and out of the dressing area in search of lube to shine up their latex looks. I had been there since five and—thanks to my own insecurities, had already survived a slight panic attack after getting glammed up by Glenn Alfonso, a porn beauty guru with a neon orange beard who once worked for this very magazine. While seated in his chair, I was one of the girls, but when I saw my reflection, I felt like a wannabe porn celebrity, undeserving of the over-the-top beat staring back at me.

That all changed once I’d adjusted my lip liner and slipped into my micro mini dress and spikey Balenciaga heels. I may have been a poser, but the girls didn’t seem to mind my presence, and thanks to Alfonso and De Javier, I at least looked the part. It was only when Stormy Daniels and her new pornstar husband Barrett Blade arrived that I began to consider the absurdity of my assignment. Daniels had denied my request for an interview and instead showed up anxious and eager to get to the party (at that point, the suite appeared to be liquor free, and we waited for what felt like an eternity for the last girl to get ready). Suddenly, I felt guilty asking a woman who had gone through a total media hellstorm for anything press-related. “I think I’m making her uncomfortable,” I whispered to Natassia Dreams as we took selfies in the hallway while Akira, who has co-starred in countless films with Daniels, worked her charm on the celebrity. By the time I walked back in the room, Daniels had visibly relaxed, and was opening up about life down south, and just how well her 12-year-old daughter is coming to terms with the ways in which her mom and step father make a living. 

On our way to the event, Akira, Dreams, and I talked about implants, pre-party anxiety, and porn preferences (Akira likes watching men masturbate) before being greeted at the mansion-club’s red carpet entrance by a horny Banana (Pornhub’s mascot). Inside, a bar and dancefloor lined with mid-century banquets topped a stunning poolside patio where views of Los Angeles battled for attention with my view of Angela White’s infamous 32 double G’s. I secured a margarita and chatted with a gay performer who complained that the party wasn’t queer-friendly enough (it was still early), before I ventured inside to find Akira and Dreams. The rest of the night, I followed them around like a puppy while Akira introduced me to megastars like Riley Reid, as well as her longtime agent, who she accurately warned me, looks exactly as you’d imagine he would (I later spotted him looking bored in the V.I.P.). The girls even let me trail them to the greenroom, where I had the honor of yanking opera-length latex gloves off of a butt-naked Cherie Deville.

Kelly Cutrone couldn’t make it to the party, but that didn’t stop me from introducing myself to and arguing with Kristin Doute, a former cast member of Vanderpump Rules, who was my favorite D-list V.I.P.—aside from the ancient, Balmain-clad Goldstein, who was having a hard time speaking but had no problems grabbing ass. Other highlights included my weak attempt to flirt with the tattoo-covered Austin Spears (most popular trans male), an encounter with writer and comedian Jordan Firstman (there was talk of Diplo’s dick), and an ice luge tequila challenge that involved both me and pop princess Isabella Lovestory getting soaked in alcohol while two older men filmed us greedily. There was no actual awards ceremony, but the night crescendoed when Diplo made a toast to Daniels (“We love your work!”) before jumping on the decks to DJ for the mass of silicone-packed pornstars. On cue, the seemingly horny crowd began grinding on each other in ecstasy. No one seemed catty, or clouty, or too drunk—rather, everyone appeared to exude a self-satisfied confidence, as if all the sucking and fucking had culminated in this glorious moment when they could finally celebrate their collective status as the most sought-after sex symbols in the virtual world. Or maybe they were just turning it on for a work party, sometimes it’s hard to tell when the performance is that amazing. 

James Goldstein and Natassia Dreams.

Pornhub awards