“I was on set one day and this guy and I got in this argument over lube,” porn icon Sasha Grey tells me with a laugh, making me feel even more uncomfortable than before. We’re sitting across from each other in high back red chairs and I’ve never felt more intimidated by a woman in my life.
Starring in Steven Soderbergh’s latest film, The Girlfriend Experience, Sasha is not your run-of-the-mill porn star. But the film is only part of what sets her aside from her silicone-riddled contemporaries and makes her so intimidating.
Having gone into porn at the tender age of 18 and earning herself a reputation as one of the industry’s most extreme stars when in her first scene she asked porn veteran Rocco Siffredi to punch her in the stomach, Sasha has been garnering a lot of attention from the media due to her enterprising approach to porn as a business as well as her outspoken views on sexuality.
“Our sexuality is still an untapped part of people, of people’s nature,” she explains as I lose myself in her deep brown eyes. “It is the last taboo, it’s the last thing we’re not comfortable to talk about, and I think some people want it to remain taboo because it’s that much more dangerous to them if it’s out in the open because they’re so ashamed.”
“People treat it like it’s something you should talk about behind a curtain with a couple of your friends, but the minute we’re open and honest about it we’re condemned for it. You know, we glorify people like Hugh Hefner and, I mean I have nothing wrong with the man, but once a woman steps forward with her sexuality and she’s independent and liberated and she’s young and has goals and aspirations, then she’s a slut. Ok fine, you can place your judgements on me but I don’t have to subscribe to them.”
She finishes her answer and I’m left stumbling for my next question, having left them somewhere in her eyes or cleavage. Regaining my senses, I ask her about what made her want to move into porn in the first place.
“I was going to college and I was working full time. I was really busy and I really had no time to myself so when I did I would watch a lot of porn,” she giggles, “and to put it simply I saw a blank canvas that needed to be painted.”
“I saw porn as an opportunity to continue to explore my sexuality in a really safe environment and to encourage men and women to not be ashamed of who they are. I’m not saying, hey everyone get into to porn and not feel ashamed you know, I’m just saying I’m one of the people to say ‘hey it is ok,’ because there are very few younger female, sex-positive icons for other young females to relate to.”
Managing to hold onto my wits by picturing Barry Humphries and Burt Newton Greco-Roman wrestling in a vat of creamed corn, the conversation drifts over to her now famous appearance on The Tyra Banks show where Ms Banks, having conveniently forgotten she founded her career on the psuedo porn that is the Victoria’s Secret catalogue, accused Sasha of having no morals and helping to contribute to the decline of American society.
I don’t know about you but in my eyes just because your breasts are covered by a thousand dollars worth of fabric doesn’t make them anymore artistic than a pair covered in a few mls of semen.
“The whole thing with that show is, I knew going into it they were going to exploit me, and I was fine with that because I got something out of it. We both used it each other, but in the end was I pissed off? Yes, of course, they didn’t show the things I really spoke about which is the most frustrating part of it, not being called a slut.”
“The funny thing is though, that that was two years ago, you know, I’m over it but I still get people contacting me all the time saying I saw you on Tyra and I loved what you said etc, so it’s strange how things like that can work out.”
And work out it has with Sasha moving on to projects such as The Girlfriend Experience, while Tyra remains the impotent queen of her tiny kingdom of daytime talk. The film itself, which sees Sasha playing the part of Chelsea, a high priced escort who offers her clients not just sex but a simulated relationship, is one of Soderbergh’s most experimental and innovative films to date. Shot with a 4K-Red digital camera that’s so light sensitive that only two scenes in the film need lighting other than what was naturally in the room, it was all shot in 16 days on a budget of US$1.7 million.
He also decided to cast non-professional actors in the roles, using a script that was more of an outline with which the actors were encouraged to improvise. The result is that the conversations in the film play out like conversations in real life with the characters speaking over each other and stumbling on their words.
“I think that’s part of the beauty of this film, it’s not supposed to be perfectly scripted with everybody saying the right thing at the right time.”
Much like my abysmal attempt at an interview. Once again caught in my own web of arousal induced brain shutdown I decide to wrap things up, make a few clumsy attempts at asking her out for a drink and take my leave.
Talking to her was interesting and exciting but as I’m leaving the room an all too familiar pain strikes me. The pain of walking away from a gorgeous confident woman who you know you’ll never get to fuck.
God I’m pathetic.
The Girlfriend Experience will be out in September through Icon Film Distribution, but be sure to head to http://tube8.com if you want to see some of her other films.