Ex porn star Aurora Snow returns to claim AVN award

Ex porn star Aurora Snow returns to claim AVN award
Las Vegas, Feb4:Aurora Snow, who traded porn stardom for raising a child in the Midwest, writes about her surreal experience returning to Las Vegas to be inducted into the AVN Hall of Fame.

Once a sprawling metropolis of sexual proclivities, the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo now offers a cozy, more intimate atmosphere having moved some years ago to a smaller off-Strip Vegas location. It’s also the site of the AVN Awards, porn’s self-proclaimed Oscars, which takes place at the end of the convention. It was the first time I’d been to the expo since it’s transition to a smaller venue. Back in the old days, when the Venetian was overflowing with porn stars and fans, I was honored with porn’s most coveted award just after my 21st birthday: AVN Female Performer of the Year.

Fourteen years later, I’ve returned to be inducted into the AVN Hall of Fame—this time trekking to the city of sin from the corn-fed plains of the Midwest.

I was there reporting for The Daily Beast, no longer an adult actress for hire, yet fans still flagged me down for photos. It was strange to have fans approach me for autographs while covering the event as a journalist. One fan said he’d been toting his photo for years in the hopes of obtaining an autograph. A sense of nostalgia washed over me when the first collector plopped a hefty stack of explicit 8x10s on the table in front of me. Before I’d given it a thought, I’d already pushed my lunch aside and began signing vigorously. Old habits die hard. I caught myself and laughed out loud, thanking the guy for being a fan. That kind of admiration never gets old.

I’ve never been one of those girls that sat in a chair and charged people to take my photo. Somehow it felt wrong. When people approached I jumped up to greet them with a smile, no matter how many hundreds of times I’d done it before. Some fans saved all year to attend, plus I loved the attention. Porn was more lucrative back then; the women didn’t have to worry about pushing merchandise because the companies they were signing for paid by the hour. Many of those same companies paid a small fortune to erect elaborate customized booths, which few can afford to do now. The atmosphere had changed over the years, and I began to understand why so many stars charged for photos now.

Thick thighs and round, dimpled cheeks were in abundance this year—a variety of shapes and sizes encouraging a realistic perspective. Walking around the convention I saw more cam models than porn stars, an increasingly blurry distinction as the industry’s income streams continue to diversify to chase web-based profits. The floor was crowded, but with less fans than I remembered. Some of those fans stood back mesmerized by the twerking and swinging hips, as the cam girls wiggled and jiggled not for them, but for the paying viewers on their laptop screens.

 While old colleagues warmly greeted me, there were less familiar faces at the convention as my generation slowly ages out. At the height of fame—even porn fame—few think about what comes later. I certainly hadn’t. Walking the red carpet for the AVN Awards, I felt like a star even before I’d won—blinded by flashing cameras, photographers, and fans screaming my name. I posed, smiled, spun around, and gave interviews to anyone who asked. It was the first time I’d felt seen. Fame had never been so alluring as it was in that moment.

The actual awards shows are less exciting and rather lengthy, though it’s always interesting to see people burst into tears for winning. I thought, Sure, this was the equivalent of winning an Oscar in porn, but I couldn’t imagine crying over an award I had to be penetrated to win. Tough as it was, it was still sex.

There were good days and bad.

I recall staring at Jenna Jameson and Chi Chi LaRue as they announced the category I was nominated for. Jenna was an icon in the industry, and everything a glamorous porn star was supposed to be: tan, pin-thin, long blond hair, big blue eyes, chiseled cheeks, and voluptuous implants. Everything I wasn’t. I have brown eyes that crinkle in the corners because I smile too much, a crooked front tooth, and chubby cheeks I try to suck in for pictures. No matter how many hours I’ve spent in the gym I never could get rid of my chipmunk cheeks. I barely heard them as they read through the nominations; all I heard were the voices of my own insecurity.

“And the winner is… Aurora Snow!”

Surely they’d read the name wrong. Frozen in place, I broke out in a cold sweat as everyone at our table stood, encouraging me to do the same. This was what I wanted, right?

With my long black skirt gathered in hand, for fear of tripping on my way up the stage, I rushed towards the spotlight. Yikes. I had to give an acceptance speech. And I was so unprepared.

Though I was taller than Jenna I felt tiny, eclipsed by her presence on stage. I felt the fat of my cheeks flame up. I become a shade of crimson when I’m nervous. I looked out into the darkened audience beaming, not knowing what to say. Seconds felt like minutes.

Being recognized as the best in my field should have been exhilarating. And while up there on that stage, burning under those bright lights, I realized that while I was grateful for the honor, it wasn’t my crown jewel. Part of me loved winning. But another, deeper part of me didn’t feel anything at all. What good was winning something I couldn’t share with anyone I really cared about? This was one award that would stay in the closet when family came to visit. It was a difficult accomplishment to brag about.

I mumbled a few quick words of thanks and rushed offstage for the obligatory photo op. So many congratulations and happy faces!

Coming back to receive the Hall of Fame award was a different experience altogether. This time there was no walk down the red carpet, nor did I attend the awards show. With a limited amount of time to shuffle the hundreds of necessary bodies through to the awards, passes to walk down the red carpet are numbered. Several hours before the event, I was told too many red carpet passes had already been doled out. Apparently being inducted into the Hall of Fame wasn’t going to make an extra one appear. A prestigious award in its own right, AVN’s HoF is considered a special achievement. To be considered for it one must be in the industry for a minimum of ten years, made a difference in the industry, and maintained a sense of integrity. I didn’t feel particularly special that night. And I was forced to collect my lifetime achievement award at the AVN offices on my way to the airport as I headed back home.

Since then I’ve been showered with apologies about the oversight, and everyone I’ve spoken to at AVN seemed surprised to hear what happened. I find it funny. That’s the business for ya. Honored as I am to have the recognition, this is one award that won’t be displayed in my office or home. As I clean out my storage unit next week in L.A., tidying up the last remnants of my move to the heartland, I’ll gather together all my porn awards and wonder: where do these things go?

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