Here’s the summary of our chat with X-Awards Founder Jett Black.
B.O.B: Can you tell us a little bit about your background in the Australian sex industry?
JETT: I turned 18 and my whole sense of self was a complete blur. Not really knowing how to fit in with the social conventions of being ‘gay’ or really understanding what that meant for my life embracing my sexuality as a young man with very little friendships, I downloaded a couple of social media apps, took a deep reassuring breath and stepped into the unknown of the Gay Scene of Sydney.
Dressed in my leatherette skinnies and a white mesh singlet, guy-liner layered on, favorite metal chains and leather cuffs; I ventured into the unknown of the gay party scene and very quickly made friends with Sex Workers, Night Club Owners, Escorts, DJ’s and Drug Dealers… they all had a thing for what they referred to as “fresh meat on the scene” (and at the time I was a skinny, virgin, gay boy innocent – trying not to look innocent haha).
Still struggling with my sense of self and identity, I found myself working as a bartender and glassy for a couple of night clubs in Sydney which then lead to a couple experiences getting paid for sex and I actually enjoyed the experience (some of the clients were club managers and DJ’s).
So…Hundreds of sex parties, tens of thousands of clients, copious amounts of drugs and not a single STI or STD later (touch wood… the earthly kind); I racked up ten years working as an independent sex worker, without the need for social media apps and advertising online; because my clients came from within the network I had established for myself in Sydney.
I met a lot of people, made a lot of money very quickly (but spent it a lot faster to experience and enjoy the next encounter or adventure along the way) and never really needed social media apps or directory listings to get bookings as sex worker. When I started… networking was key to my success as a sex worker.
B.O.B: You also have quite a diverse background in advertising, hospitality, journalism and all sorts of other random fields what is it about the sex industry that brings you back for more?
JETT: Yeah so a lot of people either know me from my sex worker, dancing or club-kid days; but tend to not realise that I am a bit of a nerd when it comes to learning and have studied my ass off with several degrees and diplomas, or that my first ever job in Sydney during my career as a sex worker, was in five star hotels as a Front Office Manager.
I’ve always been that annoying person that keeps ringing and texting, emailing and knocking on doors until I am given an opportunity to showcase my creativity, expertise and passion for helping others succeed; which is ironic because growing up nobody really helped me (other than my parents, who I love dearly and have always supported me and still do to this day).
My sex worker career actually introduced me to a lot of business owners, company executives and entrepreneurs; which became my clients and meal ticket outside of escorting and I was able to build a portfolio as a Marketing and Publicity Professional within ASX Companies, Boutique PR Firms and then… established my own!
Can you give us a little background on your company Sweet Release and how it paved the way to put you in the right position to create the X Awards and what was the inspiration?
JETT: During my career as a sex worker who had lots of clients without the need for marketing or any form of advertising online, I saw how hard it was for businesses and independent sex workers to actually market and promote themselves online as well as their day-to-day struggle working with mainstream agencies that judged or belittled them for their career choice in the Adult Industry. I also experienced first hand the judgment and ridicule from mainstream agencies I worked at because of my sex worker profession. Not a day went by where I was not judged for being a sex worker.
I also had a lot of adult businesses and sex workers asking me for help with their marketing, not to mention when the PR companies I worked at were faced with an adult business inquiry they would hand it to me because they were not comfortable working with them.
So… after being used and abused by mainstream PR Agencies that did not fully respect me as a professional and as a sex worker passionate about the Adult Industry, I decided to hijack my clients across to my own Agency that was dedicated to supporting them now called; Sweet Release.
Today, Sweet Release is a family-owned and globally connected; Adult Industry Publicity and Media Agency that exclusively supports Adult Businesses and Adult Entertainers; with the help of hundreds of industry peers who specialize in Marketing, Digital, Advertising, Media and Design.
As someone who identifies with the Adult Industry and who found their sense of identity being part of the Industry, I feel I owe it to everyone who is part of the Adult Industry to support them and provide a platform for them to be recognized, be celebrated and be rewarded for their contributions because it takes an immense amount of courage and strength to be part of an industry that is constantly challenged by society and this is how the idea for the X Awards came to be.
It is the strength, courage, perseverance, and passion of Adult Businesses and Adult Entertainers that motivated me to launch X Awards so that their stories could be showcased because I truly believe as an industry if we unite as one we can de-stigmatize the industry.
B.O.B: How would you like to change the stigma associated with the Sex Industry in Australia?
JETT: I wish that I could snap my fingers and make all the pain and heartache associated with the stigma associated with the Sex Industry in Australia just vanish, but it takes an army to win a war.
The Sex Industry in Australia is always being targeted by mainstream press and news stories tend to negatively skew the industry skipping over the underlying issues that contribute to some of the tragic occurrences from assault to murder, deaths, and trafficking; when it is not the industry that is to be held accountable – it is the minority groups that contribute and the outside world (mainstream) that attempt to take advantage of our industry for their own self gain.
With the creation of X Awards in Australia as well as Sweet Release Agency flying the flag for the Adult Industry globally; I would like to see the industry unite so that we can work together to destigmatize not only the Sex Industry in Australia but the Adult Industry more broadly.
B.O.B: Where would you like to take the awards in the next 3 to 5 years and what is the ultimate goal that you would like to achieve with the awards program?
JETT: Well we are excited, overwhelmed and thankful that the Australian Adult Industry has embraced the X Awards with over 19,000 votes nation-wide and 205 finalists across 30 award categories and over $57,000 in prizes sponsored by industry towards our award winners in our first year.
Our mission is very simple. To unite the industry and showcase their stories so that as an industry we can be respected, celebrated and recognized. so I’d like to see over the next 3 to 5 years the X Awards brand continues to grow nationally and expand internationally to bring the industry together on a global scale.
B.O.B: You guys work tirelessly behind the scenes to create an event of this magnitude who in your team helps you to make this dream become a reality?
JETT: One word, Family.
I am very lucky to have the support of my family with Sweet Release Agency including my parents as well as close relatives who identify with the Adult Industry, as well as my partners and industry associates across the world who are keeping me on track with producing X Awards.
I feel truly honored and privileged to have the support of our sponsors including NaughtyAds, Empire Industry Finance, Available Angels, Sin By Design, AdultPress, ByTheBi Podcast, Creative Jim, Ludus Escorts, JS Alternative, Rose Crompton, Gary Santos Photography, EasyTiger Photography, Chasers Venues, and Cherry Banana.
And of course, my extended family – the Adult Industry. Without the support of every adult business and adult entertainer who has actively participated in our first awards program from nominating to voting, digital promotions to ticket purchases we would not be able to produce the X Awards that have been designed for each and every adult business and adult entertainer Australia wide.
A special thank you to Jane Untamed, Daliah Amor who are supporting me with hosting the awards night, Jodie from Chasers Night Club who has helped me with catering and event setup, Jimi from JS Alternative who is my photo and media genius and my parents for their unconditional support, love and commitment to helping me help the industry.
So on behalf of myself and my team, thank you to each of you for your contribution to helping make the X Awards which was a dream, fast become a reality with our Awards Night held in Melbourne Australia.
CONNECT WITH THE X AWARDS • website: www.xawards.com.au• twitter: www.twitter.com/xawardsau• Instagram: www.instagram.com/xawardsau
DISCOVER SWEET RELEASE AGENCY• website: www.sweetrelease.agency• Insta: www.instagram.com/sweetreleaseagency• twitter: www.twitter.com/sweetreleaseau
SPONSOR LINKS:• www.empireindustryfinance.com.au• www.naughtyads.com.au• www.availableangels.com.au• www.cherrybanana.com.au• www.chasersvenues.com.com.au