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14-03-2014
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SASHA FIERCE
PHOTOGRAPHY FRANCESCO CARROZZINI
FASHION DEBORAH AFSHANI
TEXT JESSE ASHLOCK


"It is difficult to describe how it feels to gaze at living human beings whom you’ve seen perform in hard-core porn,” wrote the late David Foster Wallace in a 1998 essay about the Adult Video News Awards, informally known as the Oscars of porn. It’s also difficult to describe what it’s like to hear a voice on the telephone which you’ve previously heard making such statements as “I’m a dirty whore” (and worse)—and moreover, to have a pleasant, courteous conversation with that voice. The voice’s owner is Sasha Grey, 21, who has taken the adult industry by storm since her debut three years ago, last year becoming the youngest person to win an Adult Video News award for best female performer of the year. To be clear, she’s a hard-core porn star, performing not only straightforward Jenna Jameson–style scenes, but also considerably more exotic ones, often treating sex as a multiplayer sport. “For me, the more romantic-type scenes are the most challenging,” she says, “because that’s not necessarily the sex that I enjoy the most.” She doesn’t hold anything back.

Grey has also cultivated a reputation as an intellectual porn star, citing Nietzsche, Baudrillard, and Situationism as influences and speaking at colleges like Brandeis and UCLA. That reputation won’t change any with her latest project. She stars in Steven Soderbergh’s new low-budget HD film, The Girlfriend Experience, the spiritual successor to 2005’s Bubble. “I’m a huge fan of his, and I was a fan of Bubble,” she says. “I don’t know what he could have said that would have made me say no.” This isn’t Jameson popping up in Howard Stern’s Private Parts; it’s the lead part in a stylishly executed, structurally ambitious, improv-based film from an Oscar-winning director. Set against the backdrop of the economic crisis, the film follows Chelsea, a high-priced Manhattan call girl, who is pondering ways to “grow her business” while her wealthy clients discuss the economic stimulus package and how to “stimulate their packages.” Like Bubble, which explored low-income drudgery in an Ohio doll factory, The Girlfriend Experience is a cinematic ethnography exploring the ways the commodification of American life affects the people who live it.

Soderbergh has said that he cast Grey for her comfort and confidence in sexual situations, and she’s clearly in her element, although the film contains no explicit sex and almost no nudity. In fact, most of the needy men Chelsea dates seem more interested in talking than sex. “Thanks for listening,” one says. “I’ve been in so many relationships where people didn’t listen.” But while she puts on an attentive, slightly vacuous expression as her johns chatter about their families and finances, her character is more interested in the Michael Kors dresses and Kiki de Montparnasse lingerie she wears to her dates, and her next move after leaving the escort business. In these regards, Grey says she’s nothing like her character, even if she brought many of own experiences to the part (including a scene where she stonewalls a journalist). “That girl is completely vain. She’s always looking for a bigger mirror. I’m not sitting here thinking of what I’m going to do when I get old and can’t have sex on camera anymore. That’s a very bitter way of thinking, in my opinion.”

Indeed, Grey has been unwavering about her commitment to the art of having sex on camera since bursting on the scene at 18 to a wave of salacious press, which included a public scolding by Tyra Banks (“That was a calculated move—it was free publicity,” she says). Tommy Pallotta, a producer who is finishing a documentary about Grey’s life between the ages of 18 and 21, has been watching the whole way. “One of the most interesting things about her is that there hasn’t been this great character arc,” he says. “She’s done everything she said she was going to do. There hasn’t been a great epiphany.”

What she says she wants to do now is raise the bar for pornography. “I think it’s too easy to just show up and ****,” she says. “I want to see people try a little harder. For me, these past few years have been about changing things as a performer and challenging the people I’m having sex with.” She also wants to promote the idea that a female porn star can be empowered, however oxymoronic that might sound. “Some people believe in God and the devil and some people do not believe in anything,” she says. “Some people like porn and sex, and other people believe in monogamy. What one person sees as degrading and disgusting and bad for women might make some women feel empowered and beautiful and strong.” Pallotta admits to feeling “protective” of Grey, but acknowledges that she operates like a woman in control. “I started out thinking she was a naive 18-year-old and people would push her in different directions, but there’s no indication of anybody doing that,” he says. “I feel like people move in her orbit.”

Grey also wants to direct. Of course many young stars do, whether they’re in Hollywood or the Valley, but it’s hard to doubt her, considering how fiercely she has pursued her ambitions. She thinks porn should be more like Godard—yes, that’s right, the French New Wave director. “Godard always made it obvious that you’re watching a film,” she explains. “He didn’t try to trick you into thinking it was really happening. I want to see a fantasy.”

Directing would add just one more element into a rapidly growing personal brand portfolio. “Diversification is the most important thing for me right now,” she says. She sees herself not only as a porn star, but as a multiplatform artist—one who also has an industrial music project and a graphic novel and a photography book on the way. “A lot of people don’t want an intellectual porn star,” she says. “They don’t want a porn star to be a performance artist or a musician or a photographer. They just want the clichéd idea of porn star. I don’t think you should be in this business if you think that way. The adult industry is changing, and people are going to have to be progressive—and if they’re not, they’re going to fail.”





Source: vmagazine.com

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03-07-2014
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“Open Windows” Photocall in Madrid (2014.06.30)




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08-07-2014
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I love that outfit, it's so flattering on her! The hair, however, doesn't work and makeup is boring.

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Quote:
At this moment, Sasha Grey is easily one of the most interesting actresses in the world, hands down. For those who aren't already familiar, Grey started her career in the pornographic film industry before segueing into the more, um, traditional film industry. But that's not what makes her one of the more unique on and off-screen personalities; she's a novelist (albeit of erotic fiction) and DJ, is extremely well-versed on political issues, and is sweet—but not too sweet to be pushed over.

This month, Grey stars in the new Nacho Vigalondo film Open Windows opposite Elijah Wood as actress Jill Goddard. The film, available On Demand today, the dark side of technology and fame and pushes the current privacy debate to the edge.

So, clearly, you understand the one-way nature of the lens, and how erotic it can be to watch someone. Do you think there is something inherently sexy about web cams?

Web cams have always sort of irked me the wrong way. There’s something a little bit more seedy and perverted about web cams. And actually, when we were shooting the film, most of our scenes as actors were shot alone, and so, if you’re Skyping with somebody or you’re on FaceTime, or whatever medium you use to chat with somebody, you’re not usually looking directly in the lens. Your eyes are sort of all over the place, and you’re distracted doing something else as well. And that was a little bit unnatural at first, but of course its a film so, to look natural, we had to look into the camera, which feels unnatural, but it looked great.

Do you remember the first time you used a webcam?

I do not. I never had the external one that plugged into your computer, so it probably wasn’t until, like 7 years ago, when I got my first laptop. And even then, that was just with friends. And even with Skype, I kind of tried to stay away from that for a long time, and I mean, I still do. I don’t really like it as a format, personally. It feels too impersonal, but yeah, probably not until 7 years ago, probably.

The film kind delves into the kind of dark side to fame and how sometimes fans can cross the line into this horribly dangerous form of obsession. What’s the craziest thing a fan has ever done to you, and did you think that it was scary or sweet?

One that comes to the top of my head is that somebody mailed me a machete. And I thought that was really strange and scary but at the same time, I thought, like, I don’t think this person is capable of doing something, but at the same time, he sent somebody a machete. So that was pretty bizarre, and it was like they would mail me something once or twice a week for a short period of time, and that was very strange and off-putting. And I never had any encounters with that person; it was in another state. So yeah, that was definitely strange.

This film seems to particularly timely, given the recent photo hacking scandal where celebrities and their private lives violated. Do you think that celebrity necessarily means a certain loss of privacy, or is there something more sinister going on with that idea that the paparazzi and media are invading celeb personal space?

I don’t think it’s just a target for celebrities. I think it’s easier to create a scandal on something like this, and it is a scandal—it’s a violation of everybody’s privacy. But this is something that happens to regular people as well. And my hope in all of this is that some sort new law will be implemented because the internet really is like a Wild West. The upside of all of this is that celebrities have more reach, access, and power to create change, and hopefully this will bring more awareness and new laws will be implemented to protect everybody, should something like this happen because it’s impossible to prevent.

Do you think that the media feels like it can kind of “help itself” to the bodies and private live of famous women?

Yeah, I think that there’s a certain type of person that believes in this sort of ownership. There’s this idea and justification that because you are a celebrity or because you are in the public eye, we therefore have the right to know everything about you because that’s the job you chose. And I’ve heard that time and time again; I’ve read that time and time again. And I don’t think that’s right. I think everybody’s entitled to their privacy. But how will that change, and how will that develop through time? I don’t know, because the sad stories—the negative stories—are always the stories that sell. And so we’re sort of a society that feeds on that negativity, so we can see the people we put on pedestals sort of crumble and fall in a weird, warped way, and make ourselves feel better.

Has this movie changed the way that you think about celebrity reporting?

Not necessarily. I think I’ve always sort of felt the same way. It was a little frightening to shoot sometimes, because it was so real, and it was so scary. But the funny thing is that, when you’re introduced to [Elijah Wood's character] Nick Chambers—the young man who’s obsessed with [my character] Jill Goddard, he does seem a little strange and a little off-putting, but in the end you realize, yeah he might spend a little too much time caring about this one individual or this one person, but at the same time, he’s not out to hurt anybody or disrespect anybody.

And what was it that drew you to the role in the first place?

I actually was a fan, and am a fan, of Nacho’s films and I heard he was working on the new movie, and so I asked my manager at the time; I was like, “Hey, well, if he’s working on this script, can I get a copy of it, can I read it?” And he sent me a copy and I read it, I loved it. I thought it was a very relevant film, I thought it was very real, and I also thought the techology that was being used was very cool, and fun, and different. And I got to work with Nacho, so that was the upside.

At the end of film, Jill and Nick are left in an underground bunker. Where would you imagine them going?

I just sort of felt Jill would stay there until she decided what she wanted to do next. And it was very clear that she wanted to escape and use this fake death as a means to start a new life and start fresh. But I don’t think she really knew at that time what that was. She’s able to now do what she had been wanting to do for sometime, and that is take control of her life and be self-empowered. And for Nick, he had a little bit more anonymity, so it’s a bit easier for him to pack up and go. But definitely, not together. Not somewhere together. And I think that’s something that we all really loved and admired in the script is that it didn’t end on a boy-saves-girl moment and they live happily ever after. And I think that was a really strong point in the script that they both have a newfound sense of empowerment and go on and live their lives as individuals.
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Ever since she cut her hair, she's been wearing these weird unflattering haircuts. I wish she'd go back to some classic curls, they make her look a lot more elegant.

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