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March 20, 2017

TEA Con 2017 Saw A Mix Of Top TS Stars & Newbies

HOLLYWOOD, Calif.—Falling right between the Transgender Erotica Awards (TEAs) Pre-Party and the Awards ceremony itself, the "Trans Weekend" (as we'll call it), which took place March 3-5, also saw the second outing of "TEA Con," an informal gathering set up by Grooby Productions' Steve Grooby to give trans fans a chance to meet their favorite stars, buy DVDs, photos and other merchandise, and just hang out in a crowd that shares their interest in all things transgender. Held at the Avalon club on North Vine Street in Hollywood, and even with a scant amount of publicity—there were no press releases targeted to the convention; just mentions of it at the bottom of TEA Show promos—plenty of fans nonetheless found their way to the club. Even better, though plenty of the trans women and men had partied heartily the night before, many of them managed to overcome their hangovers to set up tables (at no charge, thanks to Grooby's policy), sell their wares, promote their brands and not only meet their fans but network with each other, plan shoots and just get to know the trans community. "Call it 'TEA Con 2: The Return of TransCon'," joked Kristel Penn, Marketing and Editorial Director for Grooby Productions and head of her own PR firm, Ikigai Marketing. "The way we structured it last year, TEA Con was first, and then we had the awards and then we had the after-party. This year, it's backwards: We did a pre-party, which ended quite late, and now we're doing TEA Con. So there are a few people who are still hung over from the party, plus this venue is a lot bigger, so things are a lot more spread out compared to The Stockroom, which was a great venue for us, but I think having the space this way gives people a lot more room to mingle, and there's also benches in the back, and as people drink their orange juice and nurse their hangovers, they'll come over before the event ends at 5. "I'm really appreciative that the models come and donate their time," she added, "and it's an opportunity for them to meet their fans, get their photos taken and sell merchandise, but sometimes the performers, because of their busy schedules, it's a little bit like herding cats. A lot of them are not local, a lot of them have shoot commitments, and we were all up until 4 or 5 in the morning, so everything ends up being a little less clear the next day, but the venue is really great. They gave us this space, so that part was easy, but I think the actual running of it is a bit trickier." Still, before the afternoon was over, we counted at least 30 models, both women and men, at the tables set up in the "mosh pit" area at the front of the club, as well as some surprise appearances, including Beverly Hills-based plastic surgeon Dr. Alexander Sinclair (whose table was being watched over by one of his patients, Daniela, a photo model and dancer who hasn't broken into the movies yet) and a financial services provider, Marie Thomasson, as well as some familiar faces, including Hannah Rogers of Transformation magazine, and Karly Kroft of Flirt4Free. "The magazine is doing really well," Rogers said. "Issue #100 just came out this year and it's been selling like hotcakes. It's an expanded edition, 132 pages, which is pretty big, and has a variety of content, interviews, articles, a great bondage photo pictorial that was shot by Lord Morpheus, artwork from the Centurion catalog—it's been great." But it hasn't been an altogether happy time for Rogers: "Jerry Lee who was the founder of Centurion, the founding editor, he passed away last summer, so we wanted to recognize him and his contribution, and there's a homage to him in this issue. It was tough for me to lose my mentor, and so it's all on me now, and I had hoped to do a really in-depth interview with him for issue #100 but he passed away too early. It's sad the he almost made it to that landmark, but at least I managed to get up to issue #100 and the magazine has been 30 years in print, which is a huge deal." Flirt4Free had a fairly large booth, and since we didn't remember seeing any publicity about the site's trans offerings, we figured we'd get the story right from the source. "Flirt4Free is loving the trans community and expanding our trans offerings and trying to get as many models and users as we can have," Kroft assured, "because we are a big, loving, happy trans family. We have always had trans peopole on the site, but just recently, we have really been ramping it up and ramping up our offerings, and thinking up ways to have our trans users engage with the users who love them. There is definitely a rise in the popularity of trans performers and of the users who are always demanding more and more and more, and since we've started pushing some quality traffic their way, we can see how lucrative it is, and we're really excited to tap into all of that." One TEA supporter that was bound to attend was Exquisite Multimedia, which distributes Grooby Productions' DVDs, and that table was ably represented by salesman Edward Smith. "The transgender community is one of the biggest family communities in porn; it's not cutthroat like traditional porn seems to be," Smith reflected. "This is a big family supporting everybody. That's exciting, and I'm happy to see it. And there's been a lot of interest in our titles here at the convention. We have Transsensuals 2, which just came out, and it's killing it, moving big pieces. We have our Tran-Tastic Four, that's a cosplay movie that continues to do well in all stores; it's a must-stock. Tranny Vice is a great, uplifting, fun movie, everybody tells me. We have the Aubrey Kate Superstar; we have the new Domino Presley—she kills it, and they're all here today, signing and having a good time at the show." Indeed; one of the first stars we saw was the gorgeous Aubrey Kate, who was up for several awards the following night, and took home both the Best Scene Award (for Phoenix's Marie's TS Threesome) as well as Best Hardcore Performer, on top of her AVN wins for Transsexual Performer of the Year, the fan-voted Favorite Trans Performer and Favorite Cam Model, which trio of wins, she said, put her "past Cloud 9, all the way to Cloud 13!" "I took a mini-vacation after the AVN Awards, went on a little cruise and all that, but I'm springing back from everything," she said. "I just got to LA a couple of days ago and I'm already busy. I'm doing a magazine cover, a centerfold, I have four scenes coming up, and I'm doing a dance tour, so I'm pretty, super-crazy busy, and then I'm actually going to Europe and I might be filming in London with Grooby. I'm trying to get them to do that. It'd be fun. But right now, I'm just here selling my DVDs and meeting my fans. I like meeting everybody. That's my favorite part." Next to Aubrey was another star who'd also been on vacation for a bit: Tyra Scott, holding down the fort at the Mancini Productions table with company Public Relations Manager Fran Marquez. "I'm just getting back into the swing of things; took some time off and now we're getting back into the game 100 percent, full-blown, full speed ahead again," Tyra explained. "I had some other stuff going on in my personal life that I had to deal with and get all taken care of, but now I'm ready to get back to work." On the table was Tyra's latest title, American Tgirl Strokers: Tyra Scott 2, a mix of solo and couples scenes. "Almost every DVD out there is all hardcore action, but I think you need to mix it up a little bit and do something different, and we're doing three more Tyra Scott DVDs that will be coming out this year from Kennston, so I'm very excited about that." Though Sammy Mancini himself was not on the floor, Fran was doing a fine job of representing the brand. "I'm here promoting our She-Male Strokers; we are one of the top three websites for trans content and trans erotica, and we are here with our lovely model Tyra Scott, who's  promoting our line of DVDs and signing autographs, and we're here to give out our She-Male Stroker of the Year award—and to see what everybody's wearing. Sammy's here; he's just busy shooting. We are also always interested in finding new models for sure, always."  Anything new on the horizon? "We are working on a kind of surprise project," she confided. "I can't really say anything yet, but we are definitely going to be increasing our brand awareness through a really awesome new platform." Just down the row from Mancini was Kennston Productions' Michelle Austin, who told us she was happy to live in Houston, "one of only three big cities in Texas that are mostly Democratic." "We just released, and AVN featured it on their website, Transcest, the DVD," she said. "It's the first time that a trans company is tackling the incest/step-mommy/step-kids genre, but our company is always trying to do things like that: Either make fun of straight and gay porn and stuff like that through Trans Men Adventures, or tackle a taboo that really is not tackled in trans porn. That's Transcest, and we ended the DVD in a way that it could be a series. FTM Hunter is the new DVD I'm working on, coming out in the next month or so, and that is basically kind of like Tranny Chaser, that type of thing, but I'm chasing FTMs and using them as bait." We also noted that the title was released by Michelle Austin Productions, and since she was the founder of Kennston, we had to ask, why the new label? "We separated the two a little bit because Kennston is going in a different direction," she said. "We have an FTM magazine that's not adult related and a clothes line and different things for trans men, so we separated the two. Michelle Austin Films is more of the porn film producer, and then Kennston is everything; it's like the umbrella. Kennston is about sexuality, but it's not Playboy or something; it's more like, yes, there's boys talking about their sex lives, but it's still geared to—everybody can read it; it's trans. It's a trans men magazine, so it's basically trans guys talking about transitioning, talking about relationships. We have a guy who does all sex toy reviews for trans guys. It's unique, so we're trying to get it all out there." We also caught up with Jesse—she does not like to be called "TS Jesse"—who's also been absent from the movie production scene recently, though for a different reason than most. "I just had my tenth boob job, so the girls are bigger and better than ever, and so now I'm back," she told us. "I went to a bad doctor for my second boob job and I've spent ten years trying to fix it, but now they're perfect, better than ever; I'm fully healed now and I'm back to work starting today. I'm here to hit up the companies and get them to start hiring me again." Though the following night's awards passed her over for Best Solo Site and Fan Favorite, Jesse has her eye set on history: "Hopefully one of these years I'll get one of the Legend awards. I've been pushing for that from both AVN and the TEA Awards; I think I've earned the Legend award by now. This is my 11th year in the business; how many girls last 11 years? But I guess I look like a newbie, so..." she trailed off, smiling. Also working the floor were some unfamiliar faces, including the very soft-spoken newcomer Mica Angela, who started posting to her website in 2004 but, she said, "I haven't really gotten into it here until the past three years, so I guess I'm very new; back then, the dabbling was just recreational, so I've really been in it about three years, and I like what I see so far. I'm waiting for more opportunities to come my way, and they're slowly trickling in." But what was particularly interesting about her was what she does in her spare time. "I wear a lot of hats," she said. "I live in South Lake Tahoe, and I snowboard on a very high level, and I have a snowboard agent who has represented Olympic snowboarders, and we've been trying to figure out a way to combine the masculine-driven action sport world with the trans erotica world, because I'm in the middle of it. I snowboard hard and I am a model, so I'm working on being the trans snowboarder. I've got 19 seasons of snowboarding under my belt, so I think I already am, but we need to make it official, so that would be so cool if that actually came to life, a sponsored trans action sports athlete, that would be huge; it would dispel so many of the misconceptions of, you know, 'Oh, trans folks are inept in whatever way.' No, you get out there and ride with the best of them and show everybody that we are just as capable if not more capable than the general population, especially when it comes to spiritual fortitude because of the pain—you have to be strong." Meanwhile, Mica's been creating content for and editing her own website, MicaAngela.com, and it's quite a trip. Other trans women and men we spotted at the show included Nikki Montero, Trixxy Von Teese, Honey Foxxx, Natalie Chen, Jelena Vermillion, Kacy Tgirl, Chloe Wilcox, Kai Bailey, and Phoenix Savage. Pictured, l-r: Jack, Tyra Scott, Michelle Austin, Eddie Wood, Tyler St. Syn and Phoenix Savage.

 
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