Like everything else since COVID-19, the 2021 Grabby Awards are a little bit different this year—but this is more than just making Zoom seem somehow interesting or dynamic. Instead, the Grabby Awards revitalized its entire structure in two fell swoops: The beloved gay porn awards combined with Europe’s Prowler Awards to become the Grabby Awards and International Grabby Awards, and all nominations stemmed from the community at large.
Not that the new process was without hiccups.
“That was a bit of a task in itself, when you open it up to the fans to nominate their favorite movie,” says Grabby Awards owner and publisher of GRAB Magazine Stacy Bridges. “No matter how much you explain to them the release dates [or the rules]…. For favorite porn star, someone nominated Jeff Stryker.” He laughs, then has an idea. “Maybe next year I’ll open a favorite-porn-star-ever category.”
So far the reaction has been encouraging. “I’ve heard nothing but positive feedback, which is always a plus,” Bridges says. “Sometimes everyone wants to give you their opinion whether you want to hear it or not. And when you do an awards show, everyone thinks awards can be bought, and that’s never been the case with the Grabbys. It’s been a very fair system.”
Certainly opening nominations and voting to the industry and fans alike only serves to underscore that fairness. For many years, the Grabbys ceremony served as a destination for porn fans, who comprised 80% of the attendees, according to Bridges, By contrast, he adds, the AVN Award ceremonies were 80 percent industry. But with the world turning to streaming technology, a lot of previously inaccessible events suddenly became wholly accessible, leading to a bit of an existential crisis in terms of what separates the Grabbys from the slew of other awards, from GayVNs to Fleshbot to XBIZ.
After 30 years, every awards show needs space to reinvent itself, but some things remain sacrosanct. Among them, porn legend Chi Chi LaRue as co-host. After a difficult year for the directing legend, Bridges had no qualms about inviting her to return to the Grabbys stage, with co-host Honey West.
“Chi Chi’s been nothing but professional at the Grabbys on stage, so I never doubt for one minute that she will pull a good show off,” he says firmly.
And the show is a surprisingly robust one, given the shutdown that so many studios underwent last year.
“We didn’t know if there would be enough movies released,” Bridges admits. “And much to our delight, there were! I get screeners sent all the time, and they just never seem to end.”
Plus, it’s a double-sized Grabbys ceremony May 29, starting at 5PM Eastern. “The fun thing with this year’s livestream is we’ll be doing the European Grabbys first, and then there will be a two-hour break and fans can come back and watch the American Grabbys,” Bridges says. “The best part is we can do a much bigger show, with much more participation. When we held the Grabbys as a live event, we’d have 700 to 800 people in the show. We had 5,000 people watching last year.”
With more fan favorites than ever before thanks to the one-two power of a pandemic and fan platforms, that means a lot more porn star power for the ceremony. Which means a lot more opportunities to watch your spank bank come to sexy, charming life when you tune in May 29!
Voting for the Grabby Awards closes May 1.