Back in university, I had a curiousity towards stripping. Perhaps it was because sexuality was relatively new to me, as was my maturing body. Or maybe the drive to seduce came with the recent discovery that I could control men with the power of seduction. I’m not sure what lead me to walk into the strip club and ask to dance, just as I’m not entirely sure what held me back from ever returning – but it sure has been a lingering thought, even ten years later. Flipping through the back pages of NOW or EYE , it doesn’t matter whether you are a pervert or straight laced – you are bound to wonder what those peoples lives are like. How did they get there? Are they happy? Do they make more money than I? Do they have a pimp? Do they enjoy what they do?
Directed by Steven Soderbergh (Sex Lies and Videotape, Traffic, Erin Brockovich) The Girlfriend Experience is a quiet film that steers you through the life of a high end Manhattan call girl. Starring real life porn ingénue, Sasha Grey, as the withdrawn and demure call girl – audiences not only follow her character Chelsea but can’t help but wonder how Sasha herself ended up captivating the porn industry at such a young age. Set in the weeks leading up to the 2008 Presidential election, the storyline offers a very current take on the New Yorker state of mind – frightened by the economy, off balance but still hungry for carnal lust, or at least human touch.
Making a pretty penny, Chelsea lives in an apartment that most her age could only dream of. She drops money on designer clothes and gets art as gifts from showy clients. She is even able to maintain a somewhat normal relationship with a chirpy, clean cut boyfriend. The struggles that most of us face – paying bills, working for condescending or erratic bosses, struggling long hours for little reward – seem completely avoided by Chelsea, who spends her days having relaxed lunches, pleasing orgasms and receiving affirming affection from men. Of course, this glamorous façade quickly crumples if one client acts particularly pervy in an uncomfortable way or switches flattery for humiliation.
So how did young Sasha find her way into this life? Born in ’88, Sasha fled to LA at eighteen and immediately fell into the adult industry, but did so with an artistic approach. The name “Sasha” was taken from Sascha Konietzko of the band KMFDM , and “Grey” represents Oscar Wilde’s novel The Picture of Dorian Gray and the Kinsey scale of sexuality, (says Wikepedia.) She soon became an instant favourite of photographer Terry Richardson , the Vice dudes and American Apparel , likely because her look was both exotic and very ordinary girl next door. Sasha sticks out from the onslaught of blonde porn stars with big fake tits and squeaky pines for cock.
Although her porn career has earned her wins for “Best Three Way Sex Scene” and “Pet of the Year,” critics aren’t sure if she is in fact a good actor. We aren’t decided either-but it is undeniable that she’s intriguing to watch and certainly offers sensual stimulation in The Girlfriend Experience – more for the confidence she projects in the nude with docile body movements then the actual fucking with lost stock brokers and unfulfilled married men.
So many worlds exist in a big city, and immersed in busy social lives we sometimes forget about the lives of others that are happening around us – mysterious, not talked about or represented in media – but nonetheless happening on a fairly major scale. The Girlfriend Experience gives a unique perspective on the industry that is neither Pretty Woman nor down and out, laced with drugs and gangs. An unusual perspective that is filmed with care. In the loud, unforgiving and crazed streets of downtown Manhattan this story is surprisingly sexy, sensual and soft. Following the film, you may want to fuck, but are probably more likely to engross yourself in a conversation that raises big questions about your own life and the morality of others around you.