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A star is porn

Adult-film star Sasha Grey makes her mainstream debut
By PETER KEOUGH  |  May 18, 2009


VIDEO: Sasha Grey on the politics of porn.

Sasha Grey is barely 21, but already she has 150 feature films to her credit, and — four years younger than Orson Welles was when he made his first film, Citizen Kane — she's about to make her directorial debut. True, her films have titles like Cum Fart Cocktails 5, Gang Bang My Face, and Grand Theft Anal 11, but she doesn't believe that diminishes her

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Read the full interview with Sasha Grey: Part 1Part 2Part 3

accomplishments. She's an award-winning porn actress and proud of it, and now she's making her mainstream screen debut in Steven Soderbergh's The Girlfriend Experience, in which she plays "Chelsea," a $10,000-a-night call girl who along with the usual services provides her clients with quality time that includes discussions of movies and politics and relationships. As it turns out, in real life, Grey has a lot to say on these subjects as well.

I heard that Steven Soderbergh got in touch with you like a fan, by contacting your MySpace site.
One of his writers, Brian Koppelman, actually wrote me through MySpace, of all places. I didn't have a manager then, I didn't have an agent, so that was the only place you could really contact me at the time. He and Steven had read an article about me in Los Angeles magazine that profiled me for the first three months of being in the business, and they were interested. It was a really unorthodox way of casting, but I met up with Steven after that, maybe for about 45 minutes, and that was it. And he went off to film Che and The Informant, and now here we are with The Girlfriend Experience.

So what was the Soderbergh experience like — easier or more difficult than your other movies?
I would say this was a lot more intimidating, just because it's not something I do every day. I do have acting experience, but I was trained in theater, and aside from one film called Smashcut that I did in May right before this, I didn't have a whole lot of [mainstream] film experience. So going into this was a lot different, and you're working with someone you really respect and admire, so you always want to do good in those situations. I'd go back to my hotel at the end of the night and think about a scene we did and think, "Oh, I wish I'd done this differently," or, you know, "Maybe I shouldn't have done that." But the preparation, I mean, the whole nature of this film was to bring part of my personality into this character while at the same time building a character. That I found to be really challenging.

How does this character's profession differ from your own?
We don't have the emotional or fake emotional quality that Chelsea has to bring and give to her clients. In adult films, everybody knows why they're there. Yes, you are getting paid to have sex on camera, but the situations and the way they work are quite different. You don't have to get on set and pretend like you're somebody's girlfriend and care about them and love them and call them when you're done and ask to go on another date.

So you wouldn't be interested in any of that kind of work yourself?
No.

You've described yourself as a commodity. Can you discuss that a little bit?
Well, getting into the adult industry at 18, I knew that a lot of people would have problems with it, and I wanted people to know that I was very clear on my intent. That, yeah, I know I'm selling sex, and I'm not just getting into this by accident or by mistake. I may have other reasons as well, creative and artistic goals to reach, but it's still business, and I understand that and I'm okay with putting myself out there as an object.

Also, these adult films are incredibly political, because you're dealing with the First Amendment, and two adult-film companies right now are on trial for obscenity, when obscenity is still not something that's clearly defined in our Constitution. I feel like our rights are being taken away. We're not hurting anybody. This isn't involved with the mob or slave trading or sex trading.

As Steven was saying the other night at the screening, at the end of the day we're all selling something, and we all want something, whether it's monetary or not. But now I have transitioned from being the laborer, where I get a small piece of the pie, to owning my own company, directing my own films, where I solely benefit.

And your directorial debut is what kind of movie?
It will be a feature, actually, for adult films. For my company. It's . . . well, I don't want to give it away.

But it's got a narrative?
Yeah.

And graphic sex?
Mmm.

Related: Review: The Girlfriend Experience, Review: Che, Review: Duplicity, More more >
  Topics: Features , Entertainment, Movies, Orson Welles,  More more >
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