This weekend marks the beginning of one of our favorite annual events: The Transgender Erotica Awards. This is the eight time around, and every single time, it’s been a fabulous, sexy celebration of a porn genre that often gets overlooked — if not openly despised.
This year, they’re taking the show a little further than before, by kicking it off with TEACon, a one-afternoon conference at Stockroom Hall. From 1-5 PM tomorrow, fans will have the opportunity to meet, schmooze with, and get signed photos from their favorite stars, including Foxxy, Michelle Austin, Eddie Wood, and Soldier Boi. While getting ready for the festivities, we talked to Grooby Marketing Director Kristel Penn, who’s put an incredible amount of effort into making everything happen, about what’s going to happen at TEACon, and where the inspiration came from.
It’s hard not to be impressed — or even just overwhelmed — by the list of people that you’ve got lined up to appear at TEACon. Can you give me an overview of what you’re planning to happen with all these stars in one room?
We have so many great performers scheduled throughout the day and they’re all really excited to meet and interact with their fans. We’ll have a media wall for ample photo ops and many of our performers will be signing headshots and selling other merchandise. Behind the scenes we have a really talented videographer named Isabel Dresler interviewing the performers as well, so there will be lots going on all afternoon.
This is the first time that you’ve done a mini-con like this. What inspired you to expand the Transgender Erotica Awards in this way? What do you hope will come out of it?
I’m always looking for ways to grow our event, you know? And this seemed like the most logical step in the right direction. The Awards and After Party, for many people in our industry, are like mini-reunions scheduled throughout the weekend. For some, this is the only time they see each other. We greatly appreciate the mix of industry and fans we have in attendance, so we thought a low-key fan convention would be a great way to give back to the fans. I hope the fans are equally excited about the event as our performers are.
It seems like every year there’s more and more trans visibility in the mainstream media, and 2015 was no exception, with Caitlyn Jenner’s transition and media stardom. How do you think that the increased visibility affects transgender erotica and its fans — either for good or ill?
I think this is a complex question with no straightforward answer. In dollars and cents, some will tell you that an increase in mainstream media has not really affected our industry from a selling standpoint. I think overall, however, that mainstream media has given more visibility to our performers and helped to dispel some misconceptions about our community as a whole. There is definitely something powerful in seeing different bodies and identities reflected in media, which does include erotica. It is not porn’s responsibility to educate, but I do think it can be used as an unique space to discuss our own identities and desires.
I’m excited about where we are right now, and with all due respect to Caitlyn Jenner, I know there’s still a long way to go and there are other people like Laverne Cox and Janet Mock who should be receiving more acknowledgement for their work. Although mainstream media is shedding more light on the trans community, I think we need to also acknowledge the great things porn is continuing to do for the mainstream!
How would you sum up 2015 in transgender erotica? What were some of high points or low points?
I can’t think of any high or low points specifically, but I do think this year we’ve seen an increase in performers producing their own content and controlling their own brand. This year we have an increase in solo model sponsors at the 2016 TEAs and I don’t think that’s a coincidence.
What do you have planned for the rest of the TEA 2016 events?
The TEAcon is a great way to kick off our weekend! Sunday night we have the Awards (at the Avalon) and then on Monday night we have the After Party (at the Bardot, Avalon’s connecting property). I’m excited in particular about our entertainment for the Awards. Stockroom’s Hudsy Hawn has been working really hard for the last few months putting this all together and I think our guests will see what a labor of love this show is for all involved.
How fabulous is the TEA Show? Watch Stockroom Head Mistress and company close out last year’s awards for a taste.