Thursday, May 21, 2009

Get Over Yourself, Kid
I'm not a big pr0n connoisseur, so it's probably not surprising that I'd never heard of Sasha Grey until very recently, when I read that she would be starring in a new Steven Soderbergh film called "The Girlfriend Experience." If you haven't either, the basic story as I understand it is this: Ms. Grey (not her real name) is 21, and has been working in what porn kingpin Al Goldstein, with refreshing directness, used to call "fuck films" since she was 18. According to this filmography, she has appeared in 167 productions since 2006, which I gather is about the normal pace.

But as she goes out to promote the Soderbergh flick, Grey is at pains to differentiate herself from other adult film performers (even as Soderbergh freely admits that he cast her to capitalize on her notoriety). And since it's a good story, and the hard up (heh heh) newspapers are particularly desperate for those right now, the feature writers are playing along:

Moreover, Grey is establishing herself as a burgeoning multimedia mogul. She calls herself a "performance artist," is filming a documentary, writing a graphic novel and a "sex philosophy" book and recently launched her own production company with the twin goals of changing the look of pornography and empowering women.

"Part of the reason I got into this business was to change it," Grey said. "I can take my fantasies and ideas and deliver those to an audience. It's all an extension of who I am."
The actress' literary agent, Marc Gerald, is working with Grey on a coffee-table book featuring photos she took on porn sets over the last few years; it will function as a kind of "manifesto" for her singular outlook. The as-yet-untitled book from Vice/MTV Books has a tentative publication date of early next year.He pointed out that the actress operates "to the extreme" in both her business and creative pursuits. "She has an intellectual curiosity you can't force or manufacture," Gerald said.

For her part, Grey -- a petite Sacramento native who speaks with a kind of flat affect and still possesses the physique of a teenage girl -- seemed more interested in talking about her new production company Grey Art than "The Girlfriend Experience." The plan going forward is for her to act as her own manager, work exclusively for herself (rather than one of the big agencies that represent most porn performers) and even direct her own movies.

"All women have the right to be feminist whether you're pro-porn or anti-porn," she said. "But I think it's definitely about continuing to put the control in women's hands. And sending a positive message to our society that every girl in porn is not abused and cracked out."

Her past films include "Face Invaders," "I Wanna Bang Your Sister," and "The King of Coochie 4," which presumably is difficult to follow if you haven't seen the first three; those are all from 2009. To be fair, though, the project Grey did before "Coochie 4" was "Throat: A Cautionary Tale," which presumably has some philosophical heft along with (I'm guessing) multiple penetration action.

(Actually... I did look up a review of this movie. Link definitely NSFW, but I have to admit that it does sound at least sort of interesting plot-wise. It sounds like a remake of "Deep Throat," which I've also never seen but supposedly represented the high point of "art" in the field.)

I don't mean to be (very) judgmental here, nor do I doubt that people in the porn trade can be thoughtful or creative like anyone else. If Sasha Grey wants to be an artist, best of luck. But let's keep it real: people aren't watching this stuff to have their minds expanded, and on the cognitive dissonance scale her behaving as if they are is kind of akin to a NASCAR driver trying to peddle a book of poetry.

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