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Whore Next Door: The Best Kind of TEA Party - By siouxsie-q - March 16, 2017 - SF Weekly
SF Weekly

Whore Next Door: The Best Kind of TEA Party

(Photograph by Isabel Dresler/Isabeldresler.com)

Award shows are maybe the weirdest part of my job.

It seems as though every month brings some work-related occasion that requires a slutty (yet elegant) red-carpet look, giant high heels, and a full face of makeup.

I’ve heard for many years now that the Transgender Erotica Awards, now nine years on, is the best of the bunch. At the larger awards shows that happen in January, kinksters, the transgender community, and those who talk openly about the other forms of sex work we do are in the minority. At the TEAs, though, it’s our party.

While adult content featuring transgender performers is one of the most popular and rapidly expanding genres of porn, trans performers — and the cis performers who work with them — face a palpable stigma within the industry. So the TEA show is a night to forget all that and celebrate the creativity and talent our community possesses.

“We are the the most important people in this trans struggle,” TS Madison, the host of our star-studded evening, said in a lengthy off-script aside at the top of the show. “We introduced the world to transgender people.”

At the historic Avalon Hollywood, just a stone’s throw from Jayne Mansfield’s star on the Walk of Fame, transgender stars and their allies lined up around the block waiting for the red carpet. The statuesque Morgan Bailey interviewed everyone as if they were the biggest star there.

I’ve been nominated for awards in the past, and I’ve even been part of award-winning films, but the straight industry awards shows are so big that the categories I’ve been affiliated with are usually announced at the end of the show on a screen, rather than onstage with speeches and all the trimmings.

But shortly after the curtain rose and the show opened with a latex-clad mermaid singing “Part of Your World,” the first and possibly biggest award of the night was announced. Best DVD went to Real Fucking Girls, the directorial debut from San Francisco performer-director Mona Wales. I helped develop the script for that groundbreaking film, which showcased the real-life sexual adventures and fantasies of the trans women who starred in it. The movie had already swept several other awards shows earlier in the season, and this final win marked the first time in history that one film received Best Trans Release accolades from all three major events.

Just as at the Oscars, the entire cast and crew headed to the stage to raise our fists in the air and glory in the acknowledgement of our peers. As a genre, trans porn often ignores the realities of trans women’s desires and focuses the attention of the scene on catering to the straight-male fantasy of a trans woman, namely how hard the woman’s dick can get and how big her load can be. Wales strove to make a movie that was different and showcased trans women having the kind of sex that genuinely aroused them. One scene, starring Marin County’s own Bella Rossi, hardly showed penetration at all, because the trans woman in the shoot (Tori Mayes) mostly wanted to perform cunnilingus on Rossi for as long as the film would reasonably allow — something all but unheard of within the genre.

Lifetime Achievement Award-winner Natassia Dreams and local MILF performer Simone Sonay received a nod for their sizzling scene in the film, set inside a women’s bathroom during — what else? — an industry awards show. This is a particularly edgy setting, considering the ridiculous anxiety from conservative quarters about trans women preying on cis women in public restrooms. Our community is far from immune: At the 2016 Adult Video News awards, a trans woman was harassed by a security guard at the Hard Rock Hotel and asked for ID when using the women’s restroom. Natassia and Simone’s scene may not have necessarily been a direct response to that incident in particular, but it certainly sent a strong message about the director’s point of view on the subject: Trans women are and always have been Real Fucking Girls.

In a world that tokenizes, preys upon, and dehumanizes trans people at nearly every turn, it’s crucial that those on the front lines of sex-worker stigma have more opportunities to be celebrated and recognized for the work they do to educate and entertain — even in the face of crippling violence and discrimination. This is a TEA Party I can get behind.