This year marks the 20th anniversary of Grooby Productions. To mark this special occasion I wanted to do a column about what Grooby means to you; the fans, the models, the employees, the photographers, everyone. I asked you to share your thoughts about what makes Grooby special to you, whether it be the people, the events, the work they do, your favorite memories, or any other thoughts about Grooby. I really appreciate all the responses I received and I enjoyed reading what you had so say. It’s clear that Grooby and the people who work for Grooby have touched many lives and that there is a great deal of respect and love for everyone associated with the comapany. So without further ado, here you go!
When I think of Grooby I think about the people because to me Grooby is so much more than just a company, it’s more like a family. Grooby has accomplished a great deal, not only in the adult entertainment industry but also in the trans community, and most importantly, they have touched the lives of so many people, myself included. While the bottom line is that Grooby Productions is a business, they care about the people, whether they be employees, models, or fans. I was given an opportunity which opened so many doors and I got to experience things I could never have dreamed of, and it helped me to find myself and to be happy with who I am and my life, and I will forever be grateful to Steven and everyone at Grooby for that. But the best part was the people I got to meet and the friendships I made, which is why when I think of Grooby I think of the people.
So, Becca Benz asked me to write a few words about what Grooby means to me. The first word that popped into my head was “More”. Now, of course one can’t speak about Grooby without saying a few words about the beautiful models and the professional manner they’re portrayed within the Grooby Universe. If you’re looking for Transsexual Porn you really don’t need to look beyond the various sites that fall under the Grooby Umbrella. But, there is so much “More” to Grooby.
How about how they support various LBGTQ organizations? What about Team Grooby walking in the 110+ degree heat raising money for the continuing fight against AIDS? Always “More”! About a year ago Grooby not only created Trans Adult Industry Foundation (TAIF) they also announced they will support it with a monetary pledge. This could’ve been just a check but Grooby being Grooby, they wanted to involve the models & photographers, so for every model shoot they contributed a percentage to TAIF. Yes, even “more”
I’ll bring these few words to a close but before I do it would be a crime if I didn’t mention the Transgender Erotica Awards (TEA). Grooby sponsors the TEA, each year in Los Angeles. This annual event was created to recognize achievement in the transgender adult industry.
So, what does Grooby mean to me? That’s simple
More: additional, further, added, extra, increased!
If you were to ask me for a summation of my thoughts on Grooby Productions, its owner, photographers, and staff throughout the years that I’ve known some of them, many positive words would come to mind. It is unfortunate that we cannot always see the unfolding of Chaos Theory when it comes to companies like Grooby Productions, that impact so many different lives on so many different planes, because I think this case would be a fascinating study. What impact can one opportunity given, have on a life spiraling out of control? While I can only speak for myself, I’d bet my last dollar that there are countless other lives whose experiences parallel my own.
The opportunity to shoot for Grooby Productions site, Shemale Yum, came at a time when I was questioning my existence, value, and worth as the struggle to find acceptance in an increasingly complicated world continued to elude me. Today it is almost impossible to imagine a world without the interwebz; but back then, people like myself were often left to feelings of being completely alone in the world – hiding in the shadows of newsgroups, chat rooms, and Geocities. That first shoot gave me the confidence, knowledge, and financial means to set my life on a course that was 180 degrees from the direction it was headed in at the time. I can honestly say that if I had never been given the opportunity to shoot those few scenes, developed a small but loyal fan base, and had the chance to speak with Steven personally in those questioning times, my life would be far, far different from what it is today.
I suppose that in the larger scheme of things, it is rather grandiose to make such a speculation about a company that produces porn as its main business, but that’s really the point, isn’t it? To me, Grooby Productions is much more than just a company producing porn – it is a porn producing company providing opportunities to those who otherwise would have none – and doing it successfully. It is a company with its heart on display, proudly worn on the sleeves of those who represent it, right alongside the best T&A in the business.
Does porn with a conscience exist? Honestly, I don’t really know the answer to that, and I think everyone has to answer that question individually. What I can say with 100% certainty is that Grooby Productions is about as close to a for-profit business run by truly good people as you can get, and I’m so very proud to be a part of the Grooby Girl family.
Thanks Grooby and here’s to 20 more years of being on top!
In October of 2010, in my apartment in Austin, Texas I shot my first solo sets for Shemale Yum, and a few months later I was in a moving truck heading to LA to pursue a career in the adult industry and to host the 3rd Annual Tranny Awards (now the TEA Awards). This is my sixth year in the business and my whole journey has had Grooby a part of it.
When I was 20 something I was approached to shoot for Yum, it was early in my transition and I turned it down. Then a 30 something girl who knew herself was approached again and finally did it. Grooby has always supported my journey, supported my body image and helped me form the career I have today. Steven has been a mentor, when they first created the Grooby Network we met in his office in Burbank and he had asked me to be his first solo model on the network. From then on he mentored me and challenged me to make bold moves. My career wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for Grooby. The staff has been overly amazing, they have always made me feel a part of the family and to this day support my company and career.
I have many favorite moments but the biggest ones have been with the Tranny Awards/TEA Awards. Since hosting the awards in 2011 (which is by far my favorite moment.), no one knew who I was but that night I entered into a sisterhood. Every year we all get together and love each other. Hosting the awards made me proud and every year I have dedicated my time because I believe in Grooby and the awards and will continue to be a part of it until Grooby stops asking me to. Happy 20 Years Grooby! You have a big place in my heart and thank you for all the love!
Grooby has allowed an opportunity for trans woman to openly express their creativity through sexual exploration. We have gone from the unheard to being extremely mainstream. Opportunity is arising from all angles, which would not be possible without the presence of Grooby Productions. So I hope to see more growth from this company because that’s what they’re doing growing.
I first saw pictures of a trans woman I think in 2001, when I thought trans women were just an act or fantasy. Slowly over the years I found I was looking at TS porn more often, slowly becoming curious. I felt I really needed to date a TS girl but was quite scared. Finally in 2012 I went on my first date with a tgirl and it was a total shock – she was real, she sounded girl, looked girl, thought girl, in every way really a girl except with a surprise. A number of dates later I found tgirls to be right for me, the best part is their intelligence and drive. Later I realized it takes the strength I noticed to succeed at transition.
My interest kept rising as I read the discussion on HungAngels, the forumn about transsexuals, about the Awards show, and I watched the 2013 show recordings and pictures. One model was from Seattle, DeliaTS which is a friend of a friend and I soon met her, along with Kelli Lox and Stacie Miguire. Stacie and I started dating and we discussed how fun it would be to go the Awards, It was both exciting and scary to be heading to the 2014 TEA show. Stacie grew up in Burbank so it was her home turf, which helped. I had butterflies going into Cobra but soon things felt all right. Once Kelli and Delia both had given me hugs and the girls from the forum seemed to know me it became a very good night. I met both Steven and Scott that night but just talked briefly to them. By the end of the awards we had been invited to a lot of parties and the BBQ, it felt like we were adopted into the family. I attended by myself in 2015, and with a group in 2016. I work as a professional with no association with the industry, yes I advocate for trans women and have a number of tgirl friends but there is no business reason for my involvement, yet I feel honored to be part of the family.
Compared to what I thought from the outside of the Adult Entertainment industry, I see Steven and the companies that sponsor the TEA show to be a very good group of people. Yes they are businessmen, but they really do care about the models far above what is expected. I am in a number of professional organizations and the quality of the Grooby management is as good as any law or accounting firm.
Thru association with Grooby many tgirls find their confidence and become empowered women. Their product is likely the first place most people see photos of trans women and realize their true beauty.
Steven, congratulations on leading Grooby thru 20 years of growth and support for the community. I hope there are many more decades where Grooby is at the TS forefront.
Dan / Sparky Snakeden – Grooby employee
I started working for Grooby because I lived next door to Buddy Wood in San Diego back in 2006. I think I started as a freelance dvd cover designer; it was regular work for me since that’s what I did at a gay porn company at the time. I’ve been friends with Buddy since 2002 when we would go the gay bars and he would find a t-girl and I would find a gay guy and we would kinda play wing man for each other. There are tons of stories from those early day like meeting girls that become huge stars like Khloe Hart, Foxxy, Jesse Flores, and Yasmin Lee. So many models I got to know really well over the years! I guess I could name drop list but that sounds weird.
Buddy moved to LA first and I followed 2 years later when Grooby was moving from Hawaii to LA, so I was kinda was just in the right place at the right time when Grooby needed someone in LA to help them with the move. It was kinda the office bitch type of job, running errands and whatever work they threw at me, so they liked it I guess because I got hired full time.
Years later I then started up Grooby’s cam system tgirl-cams.com meeting even more of the models. Also around that time the first awards show Grooby did at Club Cobra and I made fake giant checks to give the girls on stage; they got the real check mailed, but I am one of the Grooby employees that’s dealt with the what is now called the TEA Show every year from start to present. I think I took like a year and a half break but have been working for Grooby around 8 years. We all know so much about each other, and I hang with Kristel Penn the most because we just mix together like peanut butter and jelly; who knew a gay graphic designer and a lesbian writer would be the dynamic duo of Grooby and that we’d be partnered for the fun Grooby events like dvd premier parties, our 20th Anniversary party at Bardot in Hollywood. I guess by the time people are reading this there will be a room swimming with trans pornstars from over the years with only a limited number of fans tickets available on the groobystore.com, so expect this to be a historic milestone to mark 20 years in a niche that was never taken seriously back then. And look where we are now.
The shorter answer is Groovy + Booby = Grooby
That’s what Grooby means to me.
Dev – Grooby employee
When I first started with Grooby a decade ago, I wasn’t sure yet what my role was in the overall picture. All I knew for sure was I just wanted to help create the best product I could.
One important thing I learned is you don’t have to necessarily see the entire way to get to your destination, as long as you can see what’s directly in front of you, you can always move towards it. We still have a long journey in front of us. Even now, as long as you strive to create the best you can, things have a way of falling into place.
It’s been an honor to work alongside the Grooby team. They’ve been a family to me. Cheers to another 20 years and beyond.
Grooby. A portal for self-expression that takes a social taboo and made it in to a legacy.
For years the shame and fear that accompanied my dysphoria was debilitating. When my bell had finally rung and I found myself confessing my need for help to the doctors at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, I had no idea that a British guy named Steven, who runs a company in L.A., would be playing such a huge part in my metamorphosis into the girl I have become and the woman I was meant to be.
When the first invitation found its way to me, I didn’t know what to expect. I was honored and apprehensive. I was (am) naive to the entertainment industry and was full of unwarranted concerns. What I found was absolutely contrary to my overactive imagination and turned out to be a family that I didn’t know that I had.
After being outcast, shunned and basically disowned from my family on the East Coast, The Grooby Girl family provided not only a social and economic network, but also an opportunity for spiritual growth and for girls like me, to learn from the best. I honestly don’t know where my transition would be if it weren’t for the awesome folks behind the scenes at Grooby Productions.
Thanks a million, Steven, Kristel, Dan, Dev and the rest of the Grooby crew. Much love.
Al Tom – Altomic Visuals
I’ve know Steven since the early years of Grooby. I’m amazed at how far the company has come and just what he did for the transgender adult market. From just a single website to now hosting yearly awards shows for the adult trans community to helping host hundreds of TS adults sites. I think Grooby has helped show that being a trans person doesn’t mean you’re not normal, but that you are just like everyone else. Society still has a long way to go to accepting all people of color, sexual orientation, gender orientation and religious views. But it’s one small step at a time and I think that’s what Grooby has done. They took that step and filled a niche in the adult market making trans people more visible to the masses. Being visible is a very important first step in helping society become more accepting. So congratulations to Grooby for opening the door for the trans community to come out and be proud of who they are.
Happy twenty years in the business and I wish Grooby the best for the future.
Kristel Penn – Grooby employee
When I started at Grooby nearly nine years ago, I spent my first day as a photo retoucher. I did 8 hours photoshopping out some toilet paper from you-know-where and I was slow. It was one the second day when Steven and I were discussing the newly formed (and not regularly updated) Grooby.com blog that he said, “Wait, you can write? Stop retouching. I want you to do this instead.” It was blogging and website updates at first, which soon expanded into other areas like social media, press and editorial writing, event management, and now marketing, branding, philanthropy, and education.
My seemingly random climb through the Grooby ranks may seem odd, but it’s more common than you think. We all started with a passion to create a good product and as the company has grown, so have we in different ways. Steven gave me the opportunity to flourish creative writer and thinker, but also encouraged my strong passion to support our community.
I’m really grateful for the opportunities and friendships working with Grooby has afforded me. As Dan mentioned, we’re like peanut butter and jelly, partners in crime, thick as thieves. We work well together and, along with Dev (who does so much TEA prep work with us), work hard to create something memorable each year for the people we care about. We are not a perfect company, but we try in every interaction, every transaction, and every decision to do our best. And when we fail or misstep, we do our best to take it in, process it, and do it better. I’m proud of that.
Alana Lorena de Gracia
This is really a new world to explore but Grooby gives me a lot of interesting things to think about. Like where humanity intersects industry, and how to balance it while remaining successful. Especially how it impacts our community since we are considered more exotic. The keyword struggle for trans vs. shemale is one example. Many of us would like to see the latter go away, and there’s a lot to discuss. Grooby seems to be upfront talking about it, giving me hopes for continuing discussion.
I’ve also seen that they are an opportunity provider, definitely providing opportunities for trans women to help meet financial needs. I would actually like to hear more about Grooby as a platform for expression for transwomen who want to sell and project their image.
For me, Grooby is the first experience I had with seeing transsexual women. Even though it took several more years, I came to the realization it is possible to live life as who I was supposed to be. I never dreamed back then that I would have the opportunity to be part of this great organization. I’ve seen the ways Grooby reaches out to the community with education and support, it really makes me proud to be a part of it all.
Hanna Rogers – Editor of Transformation Magazine
Taking over the publishing of Transformation magazine a few years ago was probably the single most challenging endeavor I have taken on, and one that I could not have managed without the support of Steven, Kristel, and everyone at Grooby. They have helped introduce me to countless people in the transgender community, shared advice, and are always willing to submit content for features and interviews. I remember being more than a little bit nervous the first time I went to Burbank to meet Kristel and Steven the first time because I felt like a fish out of water while at the same time way over my head, but I was immediately wrapped up in one of Kristel’s famous hugs and all the nerves simply evaporated. I feel truly blessed to call Kristel a friend (and fellow crazy cat lady), she is such an inspiration to me and knowing how hard she works day after day keeps me going, no matter how much I might be struggling with my own workload.
When Grooby invited me to judge the 2013 Tranny Awards (now known as the TEA’s) I was surprised, thinking I was too new to the industry to be of any relevance, but being included in such a way helped affirm not only my place in the community but also continued significance of Transformation magazine. And of course, the TEA Show is one of the most fabulous parties I’ve had the honor of attending and participating in; it has been an incredible experience to be able to talk face to face with so many of the gorgeous tgirls who have been in Transformation who I had only seen in photos up to that point.
As someone who had no real knowledge of the trans community prior to taking over Centurian Publishing and Transformation magazine, watching how fast this facet of the world has changed in the past four and a half years is incredible, and the fact that Grooby continues to expand their brand beyond the adult industry tells me a great deal about the integrity of the company and especially of Steven. The invaluable work they do is empowering and inspirational, much like the editorial direction of Transformation, and I look forward to working together with the entire Grooby family for many years to come.