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March 07, 2016

Grooby Debuts Inaugural TEAcon at The Stockroom

LOS ANGELES—Since founding Grooby.com 20 years ago, owner Steve Grooby hasn't been letting any grass grow under his feet—and his latest concept has been TEAcon, a convention devoted to the transgendered which first saw daylight Saturday afternoon, March 5, when it opened in the performance space next to The Stockroom on Sunset Boulevard, adjacent to the Silverlake District. The space, next door to The Stockroom's Syren Boutique, was small by conventional (sic) standards, measuring roughly 100 by 100 feet, and that includes a small stage which appeared to have been used for demonstrations of BDSM equipment. But when TEAcon opened at 1 p.m., several folding tables had already been set up and were being staffed by various trans people and others selling trans-related content such as signed photos and DVDs. Though Grooby's Kristel Penn had warned in an email that the space would only hold between 70 and 100 people, by the time the convention was winding down at 5 p.m., attendance had easily exceeded that hundred, making navigation somewhat difficult since without an established floor plan, as more tables were set up, the makeshift aisles became more and more crowded. But, of course, none of that stopped transgender fans from all over the country from trying to get close to their favorite performers, and quite a few big names were only too happy to greet them. "We're busy making lots more FTM porn," said Texas-based Michelle Austin, whose table was stacked with DVDs from her company, Kennston Productions, and was being aided by several trans men, including her frequent star Dicky Johnson. "They're in hiding; pretty hard to find," Austin responded when asked if there were a lot of FTM performers in her home state. "But MTF's are everywhere in Texas; it's probably one of the biggest states for trans women. Florida has a lot of them too." She's currently at work on Trans Men Adventures 3: Casting Couch, "and I have another DVD I'm doing, FTM Hunter, and then later this month, we have T-Boi Strokers 2, with all bois doing solo stuff." "I have a DVD that just came out, Dicky Johnson Misadventures," Johnson added. "I'm also co-owner of FTM.xxx. shooting all the best trans men out there that we can find. I am based out of Philly, so I do have an easier time finding some trans guys. I'm in T-Boi Strokers. I do have my own website, DickyJohnson.com, and we're doing pretty good with that. I'm really excited; trans guy porn is up and coming. It's starting to blow up, and I'm really excited about that." Right next door to Austin was legendary performer Tyra Scott, and she mentioned that she also has a few projects in the works. "I've got my new DVD out her today, American T-Girl Stroker: Tyra Scott," she said. "It's four solo and two bonus hardcore scenes, so I'm excited about that, and I'm shooting new content for my website, new stuff that I have never done before while I'm here: I'm gonna be fucking some trans men, so I'm excited about that. "You know, Buck Angel really pioneered the idea of trans men in porn, but there wasn't a big thing about it until Michelle Austin and her Kennston Productions started shooting them, and she has totally reclassified that whole genre," Tyra added. "It's very erotic, and they're everywhere now. It's sexy, it's hot, it's dirty, dirty fucking—and I love it!" Another "old-timer," TS Jesse, was there in "meet-and-greet" mode—and trying to figure out how she could get people to stop using her real last name after it came out a few years ago. "I'd rather that people just use 'TS Jesse,'" she lamented, "but most people know my last name now already, so it's no big deal anymore." Along with photos and slicks, one thing that set Jesse's table apart was her sex doll from CalExotics. "I'm not the first to have one of these," she noted. "I think Gia Darling had one, but I woudl say mine has probably the most realistic face. They even put fake lashes on it, so it actually has a nice face; it doesn't look like some creature from Planet Mars. The only thing I didn't like about it is, they didn't make the hair long enough. they also molded a dildo off of me too, but my contract with them is over now, so these are collectables. They're pretty much sold out everywhere, so they're hard to get." Jesse said she's just now getting back into shooting, after experiencing a "lull" for several months, but she's spent the time working on her website. Another long-distance traveler was Fran Marquez of Mancini Productions, and her table was stacked with various "she-male" titles. "We are busy shooting, shooting, shooting," she stated. "We are pretty good at shooting solos, and we've won several awards for those—but of course, we'd always like to win more. We're one of the top solo sites, but we're definitely low-key people. We like ot do our little shoots; we definitely like to bring out the beauty in all of our models. We shoot in Seattle, we shoot here, in Portland, the Bay Area, and sometimes we shoot across the country if we can, plus we have some people who shoot for us in other places, like Texas. Sammy [Mancini] does most of the shooting." When we mentioned that we were surprised that Mancini could get so many trans performers in Seattle, Marquez observed that, "A lot of people are actually moving there now. It's just behind Portland in people who are part of a mass exodus from San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York. Seattle is becoming a new mecca. The economy is still good; it's still relatively cheap, though not as cheap as it was five years ago, but we've had an influx of a lot of people, and there are a lot of trans models who have day jobs, working at Microsoft, Amazon, and there's even professional masseuses, so you'd be surprised at some of the day jobs our models have." Also on hand was actress/director Aiden Starr, who was wandering the aisles looking for new models. "I love all of the models who are here right now," she said. "All of these ladies are in my movies. I just shot Aubrey [Kate] this morning, then Ubered her over here so she wouldn't miss the convention. We are shooting Hot For Transsexuals 2 right now. Everybody loved the first volume, and I'm shooting all sorts of stuff for Evil Angel: cuckold movies, BDSM movies, interracial movies—all of the weird stuff. I like all of the niche-y things." One attendee that everyone seemed to want to chat up was actress/director Simone Sonay, down from San Francisco to scout new talent for upcoming productions. "There's always a little bit of something on the books," she said, referring to the shooting schedule at Kink, where she hangs her hat. "I'm their talent recruiter, so I don't shoot as often as I'd like to, but I've got several upcoming things that haven't been shot yet, so my March is super busy. I recently shot a gangbang for Kink; a cherry pie themed gangbang, so that was pretty hot, and there was some creampie involved. I have a 'Kink University' shoot coming up where I'm gonna teach the interested boys how to catch a MILF, so a little bit of this and a little bit of that." But some of the biggest TS news was yet to be revealed. "Coming up is my VR website," noted the famous Kelly Klaymour. "I know it will be the first solo site for a trans model. If I can beat Steve here at Grooby, I'll be the second U.S. company with TS VR, and as far as I know, the third worldwide, so i'm trying to jump the gun as quickly as possible. I've got three scenes so far, and they're all with another performer, too, Rizzo Ford out of Chicago, so it's not just solo stuff. We've got foot fetish, a POV blowjob, we've got a shower scene, and I'm going to do some solo stuff too, and that's going to launch as soon as I get home from here." Kelly's also been spending her time in San Francisco as a production assistant, helping Mona Wales in her directorial debut for Grooby Productions. "It was incredible!" she exclaimed. "It features five TS performers, and each one got to pick their scene partner. It was non-formula, so it was, 'Camera's on. Have fun.' Super-organic with people who were super-attracted to each other, and with good makeup and awesome sets." Trixxy Von Tease had a table near the stage, and one of the first things we noticed was the t-shirts she was selling—available only in sizes "small" and "extra small"—but she also had several magazines in which she'd been featured, and several head shots. "Mostly, I've been working on my website, trixxyvontease.xxx, made by Grooby Network," she told us. "I've got a lot of new content coming out, a lot of fun stuff. Me and my lovely companion/friend Brittany Boykins, we're going to do a shoot pretty soon for tgirl.porn, and that should be pretty good." Right next to Trixxy was 10-year industry veteran Honey Foxxx, though looking at her youthful face, one would be hardpressed to believe that. "I got in the business when I was 18," she said. "I've been doing movies, and I just launched my website this past December, so I'm doing that and shooting for all the regular companies: Grooby, Kink, FoxxyGirls. I'm also up for Best Solo Model and Best Hardcore Performer at the awards tomorrow night." There were also quite a few newcomers to porn in attendance, and fans seemed just as happy to see them as the more familiar faces. "I moved to L.A. last September to work for Venus Lux Entertainment," said Becca Benz, an emigree from Portland who spent 14 years in the Mid-West. "I write a column for her magazine, TransGlobal. I haven't done much modeling; I've been doing more writing, but I'm planning to get back into modeling and do more shoots, possibly with Grooby." "My name is Aspen Brooks; I'm 18 years old; just got into the industry in October; pretty new but, you know, up and coming," said the young hopeful. "I've done about 12 or 13 scenes so far, a lot with Joey Silvera; I shot with him a couple of times this week, and I've worked with just about every big company in the trans world so far." Aspen hails from Switzerland by way of Ohio, where she's lived for 10 years, and commutes to California and Las Vegas for work. "I'm in Vegas a lot, all the time in Vegas," she said. "I'm always on a plane, building up the miles." Perhaps the shortest-timer we met at the convention was Isabella Meriscalco, who just joined the industry this past December—and of course, that was through a layout for Grooby. "I plan to go as far as I can in this business," she stated. "I've done some webcamming on Chaturbate, but I want to get into the mainstream adult business. If I make it, I make it; if I don't, I don't. I'm transgender and I'm gonna give it my best and hope for the best. You prepare for the worst, but if you get the best, well, nothing ventured, nothing gained. I'm very happy to be here, seeing all these girls I've idolized for years. My favorite is Kylie Maria, and I've been a follower for so many years. they're big inspirations to me." And what did this giantess of a woman do before porn? "Welding. I'm a welder by trade, and if I'm not the best welder, theone who is the best is looking over his shoulder, scared I'm gonna take over his position or her position." One performer who's been webcamming for the past year, mainly on Chaturbate and Streamate, is Sarah Webb, who did her first photo set for Grooby just two months ago. "I'm a cam girl; I just did the porn shoot as a side because I thought, 'Oh, this is interesting. I wonder what it would be like to do this'," Sarah said. "I've just met so many interesting people in this business. It's wonderful. I love it. It's an interesting backstory to my life, and I'm lovin' it." We didn't stay for the entire convention, but even as we were leaving, more models and fans were walking through the door, and it fell to Grooby Public Relations Manager Kristel Penn to get everyone set up—but she seemed to be weathering the tasks well, as evidenced by her undiminished perkiness at the following night's Transgender Erotica Awards. All in all, one would have to call the first TEAcon a success, and Steve Grooby said he plans to have another one next year—though possibly in a location with more availabe parking. TEAcon photo by Chris King.

 
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