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May 18, 2000 06:15am
Porn Stars Crave Recognition on Fringes of Cannes
Source: Reuters
by: Matthew Green

(CANNES, France) -- Playing in a porn film may seem like just doing what comes naturally, but international porn stars insist their acting is every bit as professional and demanding as the work highlighted at the Cannes Film Festival.

Poking fun at the official festival only a few miles away, the birthday-suit set handed out its own awards at a raunchy rival ceremony that ran on late into the night Wednesday at this Riviera resort.

Actresses ranging from young Eastern Europeans to hoary American veterans arrived at a hotel near Cannes like celebrities turning up for any regular festival bash, albeit clad in fluorescent rubber and cutaway leopard skin.

Any lingering illusion of normality was shattered when breasts were suddenly bared or skirts lifted to catcalls from a crowd of drooling young male admirers pressed against steel barricades.

There were golden trophies, red carpets and tearful acceptance speeches - just like at the official festival from which they are banned - plus graphic sex scenes relayed on overhead screens to hundreds of champagne-swilling guests.

The erotic genre may not be hot on dialogue, but stars were adamant their job was an art form that took hard work to perfect.

``I challenge any mainstream actor or actress to take off their clothes and have sex in front of people and tell me that's not acting,'' said platinum blond Stacey Valentine, thrilled after scooping the award for best American Actress.

Porn film producers sporting uniform dark glasses, which many kept on indoors, said a trend toward subtler scripts had taken hold in recent years.

``The quality of the production is coming up -- it's not just someone coming round and saying, 'I'm the pizza man.' We're trying to put stories in,'' said Julian St. Jox, a director at Black Market Video in the U.S.

The awards, a figurine of a golden woman angel bearing aloft a sheaf of corn, are named the Golden Hots, parodying the Golden Palm which is awarded to the best film at the Cannes festival, the world's largest cinematic gathering.

``It's my Golden Palm, for me,'' said Fred Coppula, brandishing his Golden Hot for ``Best European Director.''

Organizers of the annual porn awards explained that they aimed to improve the image of an industry they said was worth 25-30 billion francs ($3.4-$4 billion) a year in Europe.

``We want to reward what gets forgotten at Cannes,'' said Pierre Cavalier, a festival organizer for the past seven years.

The ceremony, which was held at a beachfront hotel in a Cannes suburb, has been banned from central Cannes by the mayor since 1992.

But Cavalier said he hoped one day it could return to the official festival's doorstep.

``We are not part of the Cannes festival, but now we are part of the landscape,'' he said.

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