LA life

Last weekend was an important one on the Hollywood calendar. Not that you are likely to have heard much about it in England. It didn't even rate a mention in the LA Times here.

It was however, a major annual award ceremony at which movie stars sparkled in sequined gowns, fans screamed outside, presenters fumbled for winners' names from golden envelopes up on stage, and 2,200 people sat down to dinner in the vast ballroom in Caesar's Palace, Las Vegas.

These were the awards that Hollywood doesn't really like to mention. Dubbed the "Porn Oscars", it was the prize-giving event of the Adult Entertainment industry, in which, just like the mainstream Academy Awards, the creative efforts of its stars are recognised and presented with a golden statuette to put on the mantlepiece.

A girl who once helped me with an article I was writing about the "industry" called last week and asked me if I wanted to go with her. So I did. And I shall never look at a prawn cocktail without thinking of her ever again.

For just as we were about to tuck into our dinner, the giant video screen above our table sprang into life to reveal the parts of a girl's anatomy that most of us like to reserve for the gynaecologist. I tried not to look shocked. It was, I suppose, only natural that they would be showing clips from some of the films, but somehow my appetite left me.

Otherwise it was a very glamorous event - just like the Oscars. There was a cocktail party beforehand, dancers up on stage and lots of teary acceptance speeches. But the starlets were rather better endowed in the bosom department than your average Oscar nominee. Their gowns were more daring, their shoes had higher platforms and their escorts looked a little rougher.

The nominations also were different. As well as the usual categories like "Best Actress" and "Best Cinematograpy", they also have nominations for "Best Gang Bang Scene", "Best Solo Sex Performance", "Most Outrageous Sex Scene". My favourite was "Best Ethnic Themed Video" with such titles as My Black Ass 2 and Black Street Hookers as contenders.

The fact is that the porn industry turns out more films than mainstream Hollywood - an astonishing 150 titles a week; it makes double the money, and in the last 10 years has turned LA into the world's porn capital.

"Whether people approve of it or not, porn is a big part of life in LA," said my neighbour. "Isn't it funny that our local paper doesn't even acknowledge it."