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Staying Power: Vanna Bardot earns second straight Female Performer of the Year trophy during high-energy XBIZ Awards ceremony

Seth Gamble, Queenie Sateen, Zac Wild, Emma Rose also nab top honors before packed Hollywood Palladium crowd

By Austin King / Editor

Jan 23, 2024

HOLLYWOOD—On a rainy Sunday evening on Sunset Boulevard, amid the roars and cheers of her colleagues and peers, Vanna Bardot found herself in a familiar place.

Center stage at the Hollywood Palladium.

Clutching the XBIZ trophy for Female Performer of the Year.

And not quite knowing how to react.

“Wow,” Bardot exclaimed into the microphone. “I really wasn’t expecting this.”

She wasn’t alone.

While far from shocking, Bardot’s triumph Sunday could be deemed as a bit of a surprise. Not because the 24-year-old stunner didn’t deserve the victory. Fueled by her Vixen showcase, Bardot’s 2023 resume was chock full of testaments to her versatility, excellence and hard work.

No, if there was any doubt surrounding a potential win, it lingered for one simple season: Bardot had already captured XBIZ’s most-coveted crown a year ago. And the narrative with almost any awards show is that you’d better savor your first win because a second one is almost impossible.

Unless, of course, your work is just too damn good to ignore.

That was obviously the case Sunday when Bardot became just the second starlet in history to claim back-to-back Female Performer of the Year trophies from XBIZ. The only other female talent to accomplish the feat is Emily Willis, who won in 2021 and 2022.

“I couldn’t be more thankful,” Bardot said.

Bardot’s victory was the cherry on top of what event organizers deemed as XBIZ’s most successful awards show to date, with a record crowd spilling into the historic Hollywood Palladium following a red carpet procession on Sunset Boulevard that lasted nearly four hours.

The long lines hardly seemed to sour the mood of attendees, as positive vibes and energy radiated throughout the venue from start to finish.

Hosts Cherie DeVille and Emma Rose deserve much of the credit for setting the tone, bounding onto the stage for a back-and-forth opening monologue that was—get this—actually pretty funny.

Emma Rose at the 2024 XBIZ Awards

If either of them were battling nerves, it hardly showed.

A 12-year porn veteran and one of the most-decorated MILF performers in history, DeVille is no stranger to manning the microphone. And Rose—the first trans performer in history to host the XBIZ awards—has clearly grown accustomed to the spotlight following a 12-month stretch of countless interviews and appearances that have garnered positive attention to her genre of porn like never before.

Still, as entertaining as Rose and DeVille may have been, the majority of Sunday’s show—as it should've been—was devoted to awards and recognizing not just the performers who won them but also those who were nominated. Attendees seemed appreciative that XBIZ played snippets of each and every nominated scene on video boards positioned on each side of the stage. Finalists in performer categories were saluted in similar fashion.

As always, the most anticipated category on Sunday was Female Performer of the Year. But XBIZ saved its final award for what was arguably the highest honor of the night.

Spanning all genres, Performer of the Year is an ode to porn’s top ambassador, the person who represents the industry in a positive light - not just in front of the camera but away from it, too; the person who is driven to help the business make strides in all facets.

This year’s winner, Seth Gamble, seemed like an obvious choice. Gamble appeared moved by the honor.

“I don’t get speechless very often,” Gamble told PornCrush, “but I didn’t know how to react to that. I do my best to try to give back to this business; I’m super humbled by this. I just want to keep doing things to better the industry. It’s good, but we can always do better.  I’m just trying to create on all levels to make it a better place for everybody. That’s all I’ve ever cared about and wanted.”

Along with his status as an A-list male talent, Gamble is also developing a reputation as one of the industry’s top directors. A protege of AVN Hall of Famer Axel Braun, Gamble recently launched his own banner, LucidFlix, after cutting his teeth as a director for Wicked. Few people, if anyone, work harder than Gamble.

“I didn’t realize that there was a view of me being something of an inspiration,” Gamble said. “I just try to be the best version of me that I can. I struggle; I’m a human. I just try to adjust and find a place where I can be a better human being and a better person. I can’t believe that I’m being recognized for that.”

Gamble’s win came one year after he was named Male Performer of the Year, and on Sunday, that distinction went to Zac Wild, who seemed more energized than anyone about capturing a trophy.

“Are you fucking kidding me right now?” Wild said during his passionate acceptance speech.  “This is the seriously last thing I expected. I was told by every talent scout and agency for 10 years that I would never make it. I was judged on everything. You’re not big enough, you’re not tall enough, your dick is not big enough. I was like, ‘Oh my goodness.’ I’m so grateful for this.”

Wild’s list of odd jobs before entering porn in 2018 is a story in itself. He was a DJ at a roller skating rink, a ski lift operator, a dishwasher and a butcher. He even gave bicycle tours of wineries, all the while dreaming of becoming an adult talent like the stars he’d long admired: Billy Glide, Tommy Gunn, Kieran Lee and even Gamble, who Wild said “has so many awards he could do squats with them. He’s incredible.”

“I’ve revered so many people who came before me, so this is a dream come true, to be honest,” Wild told PornCrush. “I just kept waiting for my chance. I grew up in New England watching the Patriots lose my whole life, and then I watched what they became. That’s what my life is like. I’m always fighting; I’m always battling uphill. I thought to myself, ‘I know I can do this. If I keep chipping away at it, something’s gotta give at some point.’”

Another one of the night’s most high-profile awards went to Queenie Sateen, who emerged from a talented list of nominees to be named Best New Performer. Sateen’s star ascended quickly throughout 2023 when she turned in scorching scenes for nearly every major studio in the business.

“I was shaking in my little Dior shoes,” Sateen told PornCrush after hearing her name called. “It felt incredibly surreal. I took every single booking that I was offered last year. I worked a lot, and I fucked a lot of people.

“I think mainly I was just myself. I’ve been in the entertainment industry for a while, so I’m a seasoned performer. Maybe not a seasoned porn performer. But somehow, I was able to integrate my experience of being a musician and a performer in the music world into my career as an adult.”

Sateen, who is in a band that plays dance music, said one of the highlights of her year came when Vixen executives asked her to write and perform the theme song for “Influence: Vanna Bardot,” which took home trophies for Best Star Showcase and Best Feature Movie.

“Vixen has been an amazing champion of my career in this past year and a half,” Sateen said. I always say that I’m a showgirl. I care about putting on a good show. I try to be creative and fun in my scenes. It’s all about being your authentic self.”

Speaking of authenticity, Gizelle Blanco is as genuine and well-liked as they come, which is why the crowd erupted when her name was announced as Girl-Girl Performer of the Year. Blanco told PornCrush she had only hooked up with two females before entering the industry in 2019.

“I’d always been into women, but I was never allowed to embrace them in the way that porn has allowed me to,” Blanco said. “I make love to other women the way I want to be made love to. That’s why I’m so thankful I was even nominated for this. It’s truly my favorite thing to do.

“There is nothing more sensual and passionate than making love to a woman—especially one that loves women, as well. You can feel the passion through the screen.”

Rose was named Trans Performer of the Year for the second straight time, and Ricky Greenwood nabbed XBIZ Director of the Year for the first time in his career.

Also scoring first-time victories were Anna Claire Clouds and Lilly Bell, who are widely regarded as two of the industry’s top all-around stars. Clouds won for Best Scene/Featurette for her sizzling romp with Codey Steele for Adult Time. And Bell captured the trophy for what may be her signature scene to date: a seven-on-one gangbang for Blacked.

"I remember sitting in my room back home in Portland and thinking, ‘I wonder if I’ll ever win one of these.’ And now I’m standing right here,” Bell told the crowd. “Thank you to all of the beautiful men that fucked me. I can’t wait to do another gang bang when I get fucked in my ass.”

Still, at the end of the night, no performer was exalted quite like Bardot. She seemed equally gratified by the two awards her showcase won, especially considering she lost her on-screen anal virginity during the project, which is comprised solely of backdoor scenes.

“I couldn’t be more thankful,” Bardot said. “So much work went into this.”

You could say that about Bardot’s entire career. In just five quick years, the Florida native has gone from a 19-year-old known for her braces to a high-end model—check out her jaw-dropping still photos—to a performer who some regard as the best girl-girl talent in porn. Now she’s dabbling in anal and DP and sharpening her already-strong acting chops.

All the while hauling in trophies from every major awards show in existence.

“From the very beginning, Vanna had a mindset for her career path that was very impressive,” said Mark Schecter, the ATMLA agent who has represented Bardot for four-plus years. “We allowed her to push herself to her own limits when she wanted to on her timeframe and terms. We guided her and laid the pavement so she’d have the best opportunities in front of her.

“It wasn’t one of those things where she catapulted and went vertical in the beginning. That’s not always a good thing. I think it was both her and our management style that enabled her to maintain a nice, steady pace in her career.

“If you look at the big stars of the past, they’ve all had very similar skill sets and characteristics. Always looking their best, always performing their best, crossing there T’s and dotting their I’s. There’s a select number of girls that follow that recipe.

“And Vanna is one of them.”

Austin King / Editor

Austin King spent nearly 20 years as a mainstream journalist before pivoting to coverage of the adult industry in 2020. He specializes in breaking news and in-depth features, with some of his best work to date coming for AVN Magazine in profiles of Gina Valentina, Casey Kisses, Anna-Claire Clouds, Kayden Kross, Chanel Camryn, Kenzie Anne, Lilly Bell and others. Austin resides in Texas but makes frequent trips to Porn Valley.