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Exclusive: Actress Sasha Grey Works "9 To 5: Days in Porn"

Part way through 9 To 5: Days in Porn, the new documentary about real life in the adult film industry, we are told about "the letter"—A missive so legendary, it sent shockwaves throughout the industry. Everyone recalls when and where they first heard about it. It was a multi-page dispatch that outlined in the kind of frank and professional language you'd expect from a legal document one woman's intention to become a porn actress. It introduced its author, broke down everything she saw as lacking or lazy about the industry, and then listed all of the things she would and wouldn't do on camera (let's just say, the "woulds" win by a landslide). Let's just say, it was a far cry from how many people gain entry into this world.

And it was written by an 18-year-old Sasha Grey.

It's not surprising, then, to find that the young actress is not only a total professional in her chosen field, but she also has gained a major foothold in the "mainstream" consciousness thanks to her challenging starring role in the Steven Soderbergh film The Girlfriend Experience. With 9 to 5 out on DVD now, we had a chance to chat with Ms. Grey about the lines she still won't cross, the things that still annoy her about the porn industry, and what the seasoned 23 year-old is saving for her autobiography.

MAXIM: Hello, Sasha. Before we get into 9 to 5, we have to ask—when you were doing press for The Girlfriend Experience, what question quickly became the more tiresome to answer?
SASHA GREY: Honestly, I think I dealt with a lot of very professional people during that time. I mean maybe one question probably was, "What do your parents think about your career?" Because that's already out there and, you know, I love my parents and they love me. There's no hard feelings. Of course they're not gonna like everything—no parent is going to be happy that their child has done adult films but at the same time they're still my parents and I'm still their daughter. So I guess that got a little that got old pretty quick.

A lot of adult film stars, once they go a "mainstream" movie, will quickly try and bury their past. You don't seem interested in doing that at all.
Yeah, right. I mean there are certain things, just like, anecdotal things about my childhood that I want to save for my biography and things about being a teenager because I think if you just give it up all at once, what do you have left for the extended future? I think it's much, much more interesting to look back on it as a whole rather than just give it all away at once in bite-size pieces where people are gonna read half a sentence and move on.

Fair enough. In the doc, everyone talks about this infamous letter you wrote when you were trying to break into the industry—they refer to it in almost hushed tones, like it's this legendary thing. What made you write it?
You know, I haven't seen the documentary in a long time so I don't know if this is in there or not but I researched the industry for many months before I made my move to L.A. and then right after my eighteenth birthday, I was at the computer and I was like, "OK, I'm finally going to contact people." But how do you say something to somebody you've never met? How do I tell somebody this is what I want to do and ask them if they will you represent me as their client? So I just sat in front of the computer and I wrote down what I felt at that moment and all the emotions and feelings that were going on in my mind and in my heart in those seven months where I was figuring out whether or not this was something that I wanted to do. I also just didn't want to send naked pictures with nothing to say because what's the point?

Do you find that this kind of calculating approach makes you kind of an anomaly in the industry?
I think at the time I was probably one of few who approached it that way. I mean, there were those who knew that was what they wanted to do but they started out slowly. They did nude modeling and then they got into videos. I think, in the past that was more the safe, traditional route for people who weren't totally comfortable going all the way.

Was there anything that still ended up surprising you about the business despite your intensive research?
Definitely [laughs]. You know, I wasn't used to getting my schedule at 6pm, 7pm. That was pretty frustrating in the beginning to learn to deal with, you know, other people and how last minute people throw things together and that was really frustrating because I like to plan things. I like to have a schedule, know what I'm doing, you know, it's just like, "OK, I know that I'm working for this person next Wednesday, but I have no idea what time I have to be there," and that kind of effects your whole day before. So that was really frustrating.

Wow. Of all the things you might think of that would be surprising or frustrating about the adult film industry, "lack of scheduling" wouldn't necessarily be on the top of our list.
I used to get on the phone with my agent and grill him, like, "I need my schedule. I don't care if you give me the times, I just need to know, like, all the specifics you have now," and he gave it to me and that's what counts.

There's a suggestion in the movie that you were bored with a lot of the adult movies you were seeing. What was it exactly that bored you?
I mean, anybody who enjoys adult films can sit there and watch it and enjoy themselves but for me it was to a point because everything that you see out there is so repetitive and it's so predictable. It's why they say anybody can do porn. It's just part of the industry because, for a large part, it is just a standard 1, 2, 3 and done. But I felt that there could be some creativity that it's easy to change.

In your experience, what are some of the major presumptions about the industry that are just wrong or unfair?
I would have to say one of the perceptions is that everybody's on drugs—that's probably the biggest one. I'm not gonna lie and say that everybody is 100% completely professional but at the same time most of the people who are in the business are here because they want to be, not because they have to feed a habit.

Is it easy to pull the plug on an unprofessional situation?
Definitely. I mean, I come first! [laughs] My health and my safety come first. So I never had a problem with it. It generally had to do with, you know, male/female talent, not directors or cameramen or PA's, it was generally the talent—if there was anything weird going on, that's where that energy came from, you know? If I had a problem with it, I'd speak my mind and if you had a problem with it, that's too bad.

You were pretty active on YouTube for a while, posting video clips where you answered questions about the industry and sex in general. Are you still doing those?
I actually stopped using YouTube because they don't protect my privacy. I mean, I do go on there to laugh at stupid videos myself but I don't really post my own original content on there any more. I do have a website that I'm going to be re-designing pretty soon where I'll be adding more of the 'Sasha Grey on Sasha Grey' type videos. I started doing that because of MySpace. I had a lot of fans asking the same general questions and I thought it was a great outlet to be able to, you know, just put a video blog out there for millions of people to see, that probably all felt the same way and the same questions. It was also kind of fun and ironic—some people take those so seriously! But, you know, for me it was kind of like a satirical, ironic thing to do and fuck with people so it's fun.

Does anything shock you anymore?
I'm definitely shocked by people. Especially right now, a lot of right wing conservatives shock me. That's what's shocking to me!

If some Maxim readers are looking to select the perfect mood-setting movie, what rules of thumb do you have for them?
You know, that's a tough question to answer because I think more women are open to watching adult films now so it's hard to just say, "Hey, these romantic movies with the storyline are things to watch with girlfriends or wives." That's not applicable to everybody anymore. Tastes have definitely evolved, especially the tastes of women. But my number one thing that goes across the board—whether it's watching adult films or just in regards to sex your partner in general—is talk about it. Don't be afraid to talk about what you want because you don't want to get ten years down the line and realize, "Hey, we're not compatible and we have two kids so we're either gonna get divorced or stay together and we're not gonna be happy."

 

9 to 5: Days in Porn is available on DVD right now.

 

 

 

 

Photo credits:

IMAGE 1
Photo by Cellina von Mannstein for
GQ

IMAGE 2
Photo by Pieter Henket for
Black Book Magazine

IMAGE 3
Photo by Ian P. Cinnamon