XBIZ Honors Unites Online Execs, Creators to Celebrate Greatness


LOS ANGELES — The upper echelons of online industry execs gathered Wednesday to hail their peers and raise many a toast during a raucous XBIZ Honors ceremony at the Kimpton Everly hotel’s chic Ever Bar.

After three days of mixers, whirlwind panels, a wild XBIZ Wonderland party at Ballet nightclub, dinners at various nearby swanky establishments and networking galore, the XBIZ trade show crowd was ready to let loose. Decked out in everything from glitzy outfits and sharp suits to dressy jeans ensembles, they hobnobbed in a laid-back, open atmosphere that imbued the festivities with an upbeat vibe, and clapped uproariously as their colleagues stepped up to accept hard-earned XBIZ Exec Awards and  select XBIZ Awards laurels.

Overseeing the awarding of trophies were hosts Andra Chirnogeanu and Andy Wullmer. Chirnogeanu classed it up in a velvety green dress and long-sleeved white shirt, playing foil to the hilariously brash Wullmer, who prowled the stage in full “Traffic Captain” regalia.

“Make some noise, party people!” bellowed Wullmer. “Tonight is a very special moment to celebrate the best managers in our community!”

He then stalked forward, peering into the distance, to deliver a caveat.

“But when people come up to accept their awards… shut the fuck up!” he instructed. “Please, everybody in the back, I know you like to talk, but when the winners come up, you will make some noise, then go silent!” He raised his hands to demonstrate — “Make noise!” — then lowered them — “Silent!”

The crowd guffawed at Wullmer’s menacing drill sergeant impression, but the slightly-buzzed among them did indeed seem to dial down the buzz of their conversations.

Chirnogeanu, acknowledging the less-than-likely chances of the colorful gathering following orders, remarked, “We’re all a group of rebels, obviously!”

Wullmer added, “I think it’s crazy they let me go on stage and gave me a microphone for the whole fucking night.”

Chirnogeanu shot him a mischievous glare, pointing at the mic.

“Which turns off,” she warned, before again addressing the crowd.

“You all look amazing, by the way! Now, get ready to congratulate your peers and raise a glass of champagne. Let’s get the first presenter onstage!”

So began the steady stream of presenters gracing the stage to read out the nominees in each category, as names glittered on dazzling screens and winners ascended to claim their prizes.

The first category on deck was VOD Company of the Year. Presenter Jeff Wilson revealed AEBN as the champion, and Bishop Wages accepted the award, sporting a ponytail, dark sweater and slacks.

“Thank you, everyone!” he offered. “I really appreciate it. This year marks AEBN’s 25th year in operation, so it’s been a really exciting night.”

Next up was Alternative Payment Services Company of the Year, a title that went to Paxum. Chris Youngs accepted, in dark jeans, boots and pastel-bright dress shirt. He thanked his clients for trusting the company with their business for 17 years.

Presenter Tim Valenti then took to the stage to present the trophy for Business Development Exec of the Year. Listing off the nominees, Valenti marveled at how many of the names belonged to colleagues whom he knew and loved.

When Chirnogeanu herself was declared the winner, much to her surprise, co-host Wullmer hollered, “Make some noiiise!” from the back, in support of his compatriot.

“You guys!” Chirnogeanu said, giddy. “I’m shaking. Oh my gosh, thanks so much! All those people that were nominated with me, they’re the top of the top in the game. Thank you guys so much for keeping me on my toes. I want to thank the companies that helped me get here: Stripchat and My.Club. Have an awesome night!”

“Yeahhh!” shouted Wullmer, with a guttural growl.

“And also,” Chirnogeanu added, “I’d like to welcome onstage the next presenter, Megan Stokes.”

NMG maestra Stokes stepped up and announced the next category: Marketing Exec of the Year. The title went to Adult Time’s Loula Manousos, who was unfortunately not in attendance. Stokes accepted on her behalf.

The gentlemanly Brad Mitchell followed, presenting in the categories of Creator Platform Company of the Year and Merchant Services Payment Services Company of the Year. When the former accolade was awarded to Loyalfans, Dariusz came forward to accept, in a suit jacket, tie and baseball cap rocking the brand logo.

“Thank you, this took a lot of work!” Dariusz said, admiring the trophy before him. “And I think everyone is a winner tonight.”

MobiusPay won the Merchant Services Payment Services Company of the Year award, and a sparkly-jacketed Jonathan Corona, his high-tech glasses ready to capture the moment on video, gladly accepted alongside Matt Mund.

The soft-spoken Mund took the mic first, prompting audience demands of “Louder!” as his thanks initially went unheard in the boisterous room, Wullmer’s earlier admonitions having apparently been forgotten already. Mund enthusiastically did get louder, proclaiming, “I love you guys! You guys are family. We love helping you and your business, so thank you for putting your trust in us.”

Corona then grabbed the mic and exclaimed, “Holy shit, again!?” celebrating yet another victory in the category for the brand. “I love all of you. All of you!”

The following presenter was an effervescent Charlotte Stokely, clad in tight-fitting black pants, combat boots and glittering strappy red top. She bantered with the audience before reading the nominees for Brand Ambassador of the Year, observing that an ambassador “heads up” a brand — “And who doesn’t love getting head?”

She then shushed the audience in anticipation of the winner, and whispered huskily, “Shhh… put a dick in your mouth.” When the laughter died down, she revealed the winner: Sana Gaziani of Pornhub, who glided to the stage in a shimmering black dress, dark hose and heels, with a dark shawl.

“This is my first XBIZ Award, I don’t know what to say!” Gaziani confessed. “But can someone in the front row please take a picture of me so I can send it to my mother?”

MelRose Michaels was next, presenting the Progressive Leadership Award to Dariusz of Loyalfans, who returned to the stage.

“Well, thank you again!” he said. “We’re having a wonderful party tonight.”

The thunderous Wullmer reappeared onstage, once again imploring everyone to “shut the fuck up,” which the audience seemed to enjoy.

“And if you have a problem with that,” Wullmer added, “you’d better call Corey… Corey Silverstein! Make some noiiiise!”

In his business-casual best, attorney Silverstein took the stage to present the award for Web Services Company of the Year to MojoHost. Mitchell returned to the stage, this time as a proud honoree.

“So, this is a tremendous honor,” he said. “Thank you! I’m especially honored as this is our 24th year in business and this is award number 69. We love to support our industry. As I always say, you should vote with your dollars and work with companies that are good for the industry, like Pineapple Support and the Free Speech Coalition, who deserve our support.”

Silverstein once again took the podium, then announced quizzically: “Did someone leave their cell phone up here?” Gaziani gratefully ran back to the stage to retrieve the object in question.

That attended to, Silverstein proceeded to announce the winner for IPSP Payment Services Company of the Year: Segpay. The award was accepted by Cathy Beardsley, who sported a smart ensemble and kept it succinct.

“Thank you! And thank you to my team, because I’m proud of you.”

Leya Tanit of Pineapple Support then presented the Team Leadership Award to Roald Riepen, who could not attend, but for whom Tanit conveyed his thanks and gratitude.

After once again reprimanding the unruly audience, Wullmer introduced the next presenter by rumbling, “She’s cool, she’s hot, she’s Playboy!”

Holly Ruprecht then came forth, asking for a drum roll before presenting the trophy for Community Figure of the Year.

“And the winner of this prestigious award…” Ruprecht began. “Oh, shit. Why would you vote for this person? Just kidding! Corey Silverstein!”

Silverstein, a favorite target for affectionate ribbing in the industry, gave Ruprecht a mock-insulted glance before accepting the award.

“I love you all,” he said. “This has been an incredible show. You’re my favorite people in the world. Thank you to my quasi-partner and best friend, Larry Walters. Thank you all so much!”

Alison Boden, head of the Free Speech Coalition, then presented the newly-introduced FSC Award. Boden declared a tie, revealing the recipients as the FSC’s own Director of Public Affairs Mike Stabile, and XBIZ News Editor Gustavo Turner. Each thanked the FSC for being recognized for their industry advocacy work, and noted the continuing challenges the industry faces.

The award for Emerging Web Brand of the Year was next, presented by Austin Fiascone, who announced My.Club as the victor. Show host Chirnogeanu accepted the trophy.

“It’s amazing to be up onstage again!” she said. “We are just starting, and I’m so happy to accept this award on the company’s behalf. Thank you so much!”

Wullmer then welcomed presenter Clement P of Bang.com, who announced the 2024 C-Suite Exec of the Year: Shirley Lara of Chaturbate.

“It’s a pleasure accepting this from Clem, whom I think many of you know was the best man at my wedding!” Lara said. “Looking at the other nominees, this isn’t a competition. There’s enough space for everyone. So thank you.”

Grooby rep Kristel Penn then came up in her sneakers and black jacket, to present two categories. First, she revealed the winner for Gay Cam Site of the Year: Flirt4Free, whose rep thanked all the models. Next, Penn presented the trophy for Premium Cam Site of the Year to Streamate, with Liz Rekevics accepting.

“I want to thank everyone, my team and our creators,” Rekevics said, before following in the footsteps of Wullmer and Lara with a hearty “Shut the fuck up!”

With the crowd now settled a smidge, Vanessa Eve came onstage in a golden pantsuit with elegantly gilded fish bone-inspired earrings to present the award for Creator Brand Ambassador of the Year, which went to Siri Dahl.

“Thank you to Adult Time,” Dahl said, noting that she has been the company’s brand ambassador for two years now. “Thank you, Bree Mills and everyone who works for Adult Time. And thank you to my partner — he’s very supportive! Have a good night, everyone!”

Presenter Jasmine James took a turn admonishing the disobedient audience members in the back.

“Somebody give me a tomato!” she shouted.

James then presented the trophy for Creator Businessperson of the Year to Ricky Johnson. The Ricky’s Room entrepreneur had evidently not expected to win, as he was dressed in exercise clothes.

“He’s coming from the gym!” Wullmer explained helpfully.

Johnson assured the crowd that if he had known he was going to win, he would certainly have dressed up.

“But I want to thank you all,” he said. “I want to thank YourPaysitePartner for my site. Now, let’s all come together, unite together and make money together. Let’s celebrate together and win together!”

Mitch Platt of Vendo presented next, announcing Kenny B of YourPaysitePartner as 2024’s Businessperson of the Year, much to the delight of the audience.

Kenny B bounded onstage, triumphantly hoisted the trophy and said, “Thank you so much! I’m accepting this on behalf of my team.” He gave a shoutout to client Johnson for his win, and celebrated the recent hiring of employees from abroad, some of whom the company is helping to relocate. “We’re changing lives!”

The WIA Woman of the Year award followed, presented by Rekevics to her friend, ultra-maven Megan Stokes of NMG Management.

Stokes kicked off her acceptance speech with her own take on the evening’s emerging theme: “Seriously, I need everyone to shut the fuck up for two seconds!”

“Not everybody knows,” she continued. “But this year, I had the hardest year of my life due to a personal thing with my child. I always wondered: If I ever left this industry, who would I continue to talk to? So I’m going to embarrass a few of you.

“What blew me away was, when this happened, I had people like Jeff from Flirt4Free, who reached out to me and asked to take my son on a play date because I was at a hospital,” she continued, as the room at last fell quieter. “Shirley Lara sent my son gifts to entertain him with the nanny. Every one of you supported me this year, to a level that is humbling and is going to make me cry. And I realized, while we’ve always said we’re a big dysfunctional family in adult, I really felt that this year. We fucking love each other and have each other’s backs when it really matters.”

Wullmer then welcomed now-presenter Beardsley back to the stage with a chant of “I pay, you pay, we all Segpay!”

She announced the 2024 Cam Company of the Year award, which went to BongaCams. Reps Nathalie and Julia thanked the audience and “all the beautiful models,” affirming, “This award is definitely yours!”

Beardsley then announced the 2024 Paysite Company of the Year: YourPaysitePartner. As Kenny B again took the stage, “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen played in the background.

“Well, thank you very much,” he said, trying his best to balance all the trophies in his arms from a lucrative evening of victories. “Awesome! All of you are!”

For the penultimate category, presenter Juicy Jay announced VOD Site of the Year winner Adult Empire. A trio of reps including Colin Allerton thanked their peers and one another.

Then, Wullmer brought up Karen Campbell of OrbitalPay, who presented the final trophy of the evening, the Legacy Award, to her boss: Steve Bryson, OrbitalPay founder and CEO.

“Wow, a legacy award after 33 years!” Bryson said, before joking impishly, “Fuck, where was this 20 years ago?” He then offered a heartfelt speech, reflecting on his career and the industry’s evolution thus far, as well as the many friends and colleagues he has met along the way, some of whom have passed away over time.

All that was left was for the hosts to wrap things up.

“That’s it, people!” announced Chirnogeanu.

“It’s fucking over,” agreed Wullmer.

“Congratulations to everyone,” Chirnogeanu said. “You guys have been awful at being quiet, but you are amazing. You’re the ones who are making this industry happen. Thank you so much, XBIZ, for allowing the Euro folks to present awards this year!”

And with that, the celebrations continued long into the night, as winners, colleagues and associates drank, made plenty of blessedly guilt-free noise and looked forward to the next three days, when the X3 Expo and XBIZ Awards take over the Hollywood Palladium, capping a momentous week.