So, you know what opened this week? Pornactress-cum-actress Sasha Grey's movie, The Girlfriend Experience (it's her movie now, Steven!). Perhaps you've heard about it? She's doing a ton of publicity. Including Gawker!
I know, I know, what Lux says is true (internal: do I have to nsfw tag fleshbot links?): It's totally difficult to come up with a fresh angle on Sasha Grey. Even before the movie hype-machine shifted another gear, Sasha was giving out a lot of interview. And now profiling the smart-alternative-philosophical-fuck-machine has become just another media gang-bang that offers nothing new or stimulating.
But surely there are bigger and better questions to ask! Queries with more girth, if you will. Sasha's persona as it comes across through, uh, interviews is one of a straight-shooter who's not afraid of tough questions. Even better: She's deep. There's a feminist streak to her brand of self-possessed sexual liberation. So, myself an oversexed philosophy major, I was excited for thoughtful conversation with the candid Miss Cum Buckets #8.
Alas, as Vanessa Grigoriadis wrote in her Rolling Stone profile, "there is something about Grey that is hard to reach, like talking to a woman behind glass." And I'm here to report: It's true! Even over e-mail!
What follows is my interview with Sasha Grey. But instead of treating it like a straight Q&A we're going to deconstruct along the way, in search of answers, but perhaps finding only more questions.?.?
TAN: Do you think you can be seduced via email interview?
Sasha Grey (SG): No.
TAN: I haven't seen any of your movies (Really! Well, except for The Girlfriend Experience which I just saw — ed: these Q's were sent beginning of May.) What am I — and others out there — missing from the purely-visceral-porn side of your oeuvre? Do you consider yourself as having an "oeuvre"? I did read about you being asked to get punched in the stomach, and everyone loving that: is that something recommended, or strictly for professionals?
SG: That was sorely taken out of context; it never happened.
TAN: Everyone talks about how smart you are! It sort of feels like when Obama/black people are celebrated for being "clean and articulate." Are porn stars all idiots or something?
SG: I don't believe so, unfortunately there are people that perpetuate the stereotype but it doesn't mean we all fit into that category.
TAN: Are you familiar with the 10,000 hours theory, via Malcolm Gladwell and others? It suggests that masters/geniuses of their craft become so by somehow someway diligently working at their craft for 10,000 hours. Do you think you've hit the 10,000 hours mark for fucking? Are you a "fucking genius"? Are there masters of porn/geniuses of the craft of sex? Sexual "outliers." If one fucks for 10,000 hours will one be a genius? how would a layperson identify this sort of talent?
SG: That's just a belittling question.
I find this response telling *strokes chin*. I mean, there's an attempt at a humorous tone to my question, but the theory is real. And fucking for 10,000 hours, for pornstars at least, is real. So why the copout response? When I sent the questions these (amongst others that got cut) were subhedded as "About the Porn Industry". From the interviewer perspective, the questions are the opposite of belittling and represent a few different approaches to trying to get her to talk about work that others find controversial, but she takes very seriously. It's one thing to not answer, and be a Deniro, but "belittling"?
TAN: You often discuss the psychology of porn/sex. How that enhances the experience. Can you discuss why this is the case, and what is the best way to turn someone on psycho-sexually?
SG: I say that because many people come to set with a premeditated routine, I enjoy being able to break them out of that frame of mind, and get an animalistic response out of my partner. I don't think there is any one way to turn someone on, whether it be psycho-sexual or not, because we are all different. Everyone is turned on by something different, just as everyone likes a different color, genre of music, film, or taste of ice cream-it's such a simple fact but it's often quite overlooked.
TAN: In your Twitter-interview w/ Black Book, you mention ?uestlove being the one who got you on to Twitter (now 1,666 updates and counting!). Coincidentally, I'm in the process of trying to get The Roots more integrated into the Gawker comunity. Why do you love ?uesto, and/or The Roots?
SG: I've been a fan since I was probably eight years old or so. Their music is never disposable; you can actually listen to an entire album and enjoy all of it. The fact that they are a live hip hop band, a real band, is so rare in that "genre", they never phone shit in, and are always true to their "Roots".
TAN: On the same thread, the challenge of integrating The Roots with an audience that isn't a hip hop crowd, is similar to the challenge of being a pornstar with mainstream aspirations. There's this fighting of "the system" of American demographics. People are resistant to change, so even open-minded folks need lubing up to get comfortable with doing something out of their comfort zone. How do you handle the challenge of audiences/consumers being so fractured and niche, and yourself having such a range of interested and ideas/impulses? Seems the Artist Business Model in America is about consolidating and focusing your energies. But to cater to the "intelligent" crowd, for example, means to alienate another crowd, the "Maxim-loving frat-boy" crowd maybe, but that's an equally valuable crowd for you. Do you think about these things?
SG: I cater to many different people, partially just because of my individualism, it's never been a conscious decision of which audience I'm going to try and market myself to. If I only concentrated on one thing, I would limit myself in life. So, fuck the "system" I subscribe to my own way of operating.
TAN: You're young. Just recently turned old enough to drink, yet have obviously done and seen more than many your age. How do you feel about mortality, and getting older? It's a minor theme in the movie — how in this business you need to be extra conscious of looking good — so do you feel yourself getting jaded via the business?
SG: No, do you feel jaded being a blogger? I mean, would you ask anybody else this type of question that's not in the adult business?
Huh? Well, actually, yes, there is some jadedness to being a blogger. And, yes, I would ask anyone else in most lines of work that question. The existential influence of our mortality affects everyone, so far as I know, everyone gets older and tired and bored etc., and so I can't help but feel another door that leads to actually advancing the conversation has been closed. And very gruffly at that.
TAN: The maxim "youth is lost on the young" (or something like that) comes to mind: You're very self-aware etc, how do you handle the challenges of being a mature business-woman yet not squandering your youth and indulging it?
SG: By being very self aware and focused, you just said it yourself:) I don't waste time partying and worrying about petty things; I work hard while I have the energy.
A smile! It's not all bad. Can't wait to tell my boys about this! Still, not much meat to the actual answer. Admittedly, not my finest question ever, but I'm just trying to get in. This is the "backdoor of youth" attempt!
TAN: Finally, most view porn stars as abused or having dysfunctional issues. I saw an interview where you talk about having a healthy bond/relationship with your mother, despite her disapproval of your career choice. But you also mention a father who flew the coop. We often romanticize artists as being broken and such, that dysfunction being the fuel for their craft. Do you think we make too much of it, or is it a real thing? Are the best artists great because they're trying to fill an emotional void? Can you make art that grips you, has that fire, and be emotionally stable?
SG: Yes, I have a healthy relationship with my mother; and no my father didn't "fly the coop", my parents were divorced and I don't talk to my dad much-he has since remarried and had another kid. Sometimes too much is made of it, such as in my case...people enjoy making horror stories about the upbringing of "porn stars" so many details I've given in interviews have been looked over, and misconstrued.
The whole "trying to fill an emotional void when it comes to the best artists" is a loaded question; I don't like to generalize groups of people because everyone's an individual. I don't think any human being/artist is 100% emotionally stable, based on the human condition and our emotions that relate to it. Are you asking if I can make that kind of art, or can artists?
Here our interview ended, and fittingly with a question. There wasn't enough time to do any more exchanges. And, from what we have here, you couldn't feel certain it'd be worth the effort; I guess one could say any question asked is "loaded".
Sasha's young, and doing a lot of publicity, and kindly answered my questions. (Thank you!) But the responses, especially framed within the entire Sasha publicity complex, feel like another take of the same Experience. I mean, sure, her getting Carson Daly to stumble because she used the word "cum" on television feels like it adds to her legend, but not her narrative. Everything you read about this girl indicates there's more there. But when anyone probes, they get the glass wall. Or worse. I don't know, maybe she's just a girl who likes to fuck. And the rest is cinema.