Backstage: Meet Sasha Grey, adult film actress, revolutionary

Sasha Grey, porn’s flavor of the month, was one of the keynote speakers during “Sex Week at Yale.” Grey’s star is currently in such ascendancy that her publicist rejected comparisons to the industry’s favorite daughter, Jenna Jameson, claiming that Sasha has already achieved more. There may be some truth in it: At 21, she has won a clean sweep of adult entertainment awards, played the lead role in Steven Soderbergh’s “The Girlfriend Experience” and started her own production company. Married woman, hardcore pornstar and self-proclaimed feminist, Sasha Grey bears all for scene:

Q. People talk about the dangers for young girls in the modeling industry; how do these compare to the dangers for women hoping to make it in porn?

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A. At the end of the day, they both suffer from similar clichés, and I can actually speak on my own experience in the fashion industry, and the people I know who work in it. Drugs, pressure to look or act a certain way, eating disorders and sexism, are all recurring issues.

Q. How would you respond to claims from certain sectors that porn is anti-feminist, or encourages sexual violence?

A. People can judge the adult industry as much as they want; it’s easy and popular to judge something that’s taboo and misunderstood … and often times these individuals happen to be the same hypocrites who are the largest consumers of adult videos and/or novelties. It’s like parents blaming Columbine on rock and roll; it’s an easy stab, because people are afraid to step up and deal with the realization of their problems at home i.e. a husband (or wife) who is sexually repressed, a hormone enraged teenager you have to raise, etc. In my professional and personal opinion, things become “anti-feminist” or anti-woman when the woman ceases to maintain control.

Q. What’s the difference between having sex for money on camera and having sex for money?

A. If you have conservative points of view: nothing. I can break it down for you: A woman who just sells her body is selling it as a product to the person who is “buying” her, and performers who sell themselves to a director (or production company) are selling themselves to an entire audience. There are plenty of women in every major metropolitan city who maintain sexual relationships with men for material items, and yet this idea is hardly explored or criticized. A trophy wife is a finely polished prostitute.

Q. You have done traditional acting as well (in “The Girlfriend Experience”): are there skills transferable from porn?

A. Not necessarily.

Q. Have you ever considered the world of theatre acting? Yale has a number of top-notch productions.

A. Yes, I belonged to several different theatre companies in Sacramento for a total of six years. I wish I would have had more time to get to know Yale’s theatre department!!!

Q. A recent New York Times article spoke of cost-cutting in the Adult industry, in the form of cutting dialogue and plot. What is your reaction to this?

A. This is when I say: Where has investigative journalism gone?! The economy is rough on everyone right now, and even publications have to print in a rush at times, to make their articles sell. Yes, some companies have started producing more “straight sex” movies rather than their normal features … but this has been the case over the past 10 years, before the recession. The large companies who are well known for their high-end quality feature adult films don’t need to change a thing because their brands remain strong.

Q. What is the future of “professional porn,” given the explosion of freely available Web 2.0 style porn on the internet?

A. Everyone is trying to figure that out right now. The obvious answer is to make a quality product, where consumers get more than they pay for, but what exactly defines that quality maintains to be a mystery … and also varies from company to company.

Q. If you could change one thing about the porn industry or the way “civilians” watch porn, what would it be?

A. Ha! I like that you use the word civilians! I wish it were more of a solidified industry. I’d also wish couples weren’t so afraid of openly watching it together, or separately.

QDo you believe the consumption of pornography improves or damages the sexual appetites of men and women? Can real life be as good?

A. There’s nothing better than the real thing, not even the Hitachi Magic Wand! Like anything, it should be consumed in moderation. Too many video games, movies, food, alcohol, sugar, can damage someone. You also have to base this answer on the personality of each woman or man. Some women accuse their spouse of being addicted to porn, but the truth is they won’t put out, so the man has to get sexual gratification somehow, so it’s not a fair assessment. It can also be used as a good tool to learn how to improve sexual skills, but again, in moderation — the performers are professionals, and everything isn’t always as natural as it looks. I think if it starts to impact healthy social skills, that’s when you may have a problem.

Q. When you’re not working, do you make love differently to when you’re on camera? Do you have any sex tips for Yale students looking to improve their fornicating technique?

A. YES! I don’t have to open up for a camera at home! Most directors want their performers to be aware of their body and it’s relation to the camera so every inch is in clear view! With the films I’ve recently been directing, I don’t care about that very much, I’m looking for a broader sense of cinematic intimacy and cinematic exploration of the male/female body. Meaning, there’s a lot of foreplay, and a lot of repetition. Communication is highly underrated; don’t be afraid to communicate your desires to your partner. There’s no reason to settle with someone you’re not compatible with.

Q. You’ve spoken of an “insatiable appetite” for sex. Do you enjoy being watched while having sex, or is your enjoyment almost entirely of the act itself?

A. I’m definitely an exhibitionist, which is why I am a big fan of looking at the camera and connecting to my audience.

Q. Are you genuinely aroused every time you’re shot on camera or do you sometimes have to lube up?

A. Yes, and I’ve made this an important point. I always masturbate before a scene, and wait to have an orgasm. This is also a safety precaution, because believe it or not, I am a small lady, and I don’t want to get hurt!

Q. How come the guys in porn have such big penises? Is it true that male actors inject their penises before going on set in order to increase their size? Do they really take supplements to increase the volume and viscosity of their ejaculate? Why do all girls have round butts?

A. It’s a wide angle lens! Take a photo of your penis on your iPhone, and guaranteed it will look bigger! I’ve never seen a man do such a thing to make their size bigger, but I wouldn’t discount the rumor!

Q. How do “real world” men react to your job? Are they comfortable dating a porn star? Does every guy try and hit on you, or do they tend to be too scared to approach you?

A. I’m married, so luckily I don’t have to deal with dating! Most guys are very respectful when they meet me, some are intimidated, and the ones who do hit on me are few and far between.

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