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By Peter Berton
YNOT – On Saturday, Feb. 5, the annual Tranny Awards will take place at the Blue Moon Nightclub in North Hollywood, Calif. Sponsored by Grooby.com, the gala event is billed as “The Only TG [T-girl] Entertainment Awards Show.”
Grooby Productions owner “Grooby Steven” founded the Tranny Awards in 2008. YNOT.com spoke with him about this year’s edition, and also touched base with past TA winner Amy Daly and judge Caramel Black.
YNOT.com: What are the Tranny Awards, and how did they get started?
Grooby Steven: The Tranny Awards are the only awards dedicated to the adult transgender business. The current adult award shows that have transgender categories clearly do not understand the fans or the popularity of the models, due to some of their choices in the past few years. While I used to think this was malicious — or based on economics — I now believe it is just due to not being in touch with the transgender side of the industry.
We set up the Tranny Awards so models, performers and productions both online and [on] DVD could be recognized for their work. It’s now in its third year. The first year was online only. Last year we had a show, but this year is both larger and more prestigious.
This year I was able to get most of the big transsexual companies to become sponsors, including SMC Revenue, Trannybox [part of Gamma Entertainment], Shemale Strokers and Shemale Profit. Grooby Productions is the host. This event is not run for profit, and all sponsor money goes directly back to the models as prize money.
How are the nominees selected and the winners chosen? What prizes do they get?
We ask for pre-nominations from pay site members, people following us on social networks, forums such as HungAngels, HungDevils, TSChatter, as well as models and producers in the industry. The most popular or requested suggestions make it to a nomination list.
We then have validated voters — recognized models or industry members, fans who have a history on one of the above forums, website members — to vote on the Best Model/Performer and Free Website categories. A panel of five people, industry and fans, judges each of the DVD, DVD performer and solo T-girl website categories.
Model winners get $1,000 cash prizes. All categories get very nice crystal trophies awarded at the show in February. In total, $8,500 is paid out in prize money to models.
Tell us about the awards night. What happens?
Well, this is only the second time we’ve held the event, and this year it’s in a much nicer and larger venue. This is also the first time we’ll be announcing the winners at the actual awards, so anything could happen. We have a show starting at 10.30 p.m., and it’s going to be emceed by Michelle Austin. We have models and previous winners to present the awards, as well as some entertainment. Last year Yasmin Lee performed, and we’re hoping to have her back. We also are going to have a go-go “dance-off” during the break for the regular T-girl dancers at the Thursday night club, with cash prizes for the winners.
It should be a great night. A lot of models are coming into town specifically for [the ceremony], and it’s a chance for fans to mingle with them.
How important are these awards to the nominees and winners?
Amy Daly: I think it’s very important, not only for the girls, but for the transsexual side of the adult industry as a whole. For the girls, it’s going to give us much-needed press and recognition that can help drive sales for things such as our personal websites, DVDs, toy lines, cam rooms, and even get us more work.
Transsexuals are often swept under the carpet and hidden away from the spotlight in most aspects of the adult industry and even our personal lives, so not only will it help drive sales for us, but it gives us that recognition that we deserve. We bring in a lot of revenue to the industry, and we have to work harder at our craft than our female counterparts. I’d like to see some of the female performers try to get hard for some gross camera guy or gross male performer while on hormones and be expected to stay hard and cum at the end of the scene.
We are like Rodney Dangerfield: We get no respect — no respect at all. When TS girls get recognition and treated with respect, we will generate more sales, which means everyone gets more money out of us in the end and it’s good for everyone.
Caramel Black: The Tranny Awards is the only major contest specifically geared to T-girl performers. The eyes of all other performers, their admirers and the producers who create and promote transgender content are all on them, and that’s crucial to a performer. The Tranny Awards are the Oscars of transgender adult entertainment, and the exposure can launch performer’s career into the stratosphere. I’ve seen it happen to the nominees and winners of the first and second annual Tranny Awards. Being nominated is an honor and career booster in itself.
GS: I’m not sure of their importance, but they are appreciated. It’s a chance for the models and fans to see who are the fan favorites and for the DVD producers to see what is rated [highly] by their peers and fans and not simply guessed at like other shows.
A lot of models really get into the nominations and voting, lobbying for fans’ votes, and many of them — and fans — are flying in from across the country to attend.
The plan was to build this award show slowly over a period of years so we can get mainstream recognition, and we seem to be on course for that. Winners and nominees will use the brand to legitimize their websites or as a badge of honor, and fans really get behind their favorite models.
I think the most exciting and highly contested category is the “Best New Cummer” — previously “Best New Face” — of which previous winners were Amy Daly and Hazel Tucker. We also honor an industry veteran with a Lifetime Achievement Award, which I choose personally. Previous winners were Meghan Chevalier and Olivia Love. This year, there will be two winners in this category.
Finally, how serious a process is this? Is it pure promotion, or are you seeking larger industry recognition and approval?
GS: It’s very serious, and I hope it will grow more so in the future. Of course, for my company and for all the other sponsors, there is always going to be the underlying fact that we want the promotion to the fans, the branding of our companies and the goodwill from the models and industry in doing this. But we are all involved long-term in this genre. Most of the producers know the models personally, and to be able to engage fans directly is something most genres could only dream of.
Larger industry recognition isn’t overly relevant, as anybody interested in transgender erotica will either be aware of this or find it. What we would like is overall more media recognition.