Skin Trade

I begin my interview with Sasha Grey by telling her that even though she’s only 21 years old, she’s performed in more movies than 76-year-old Michael Caine has. She’s made 182 films. He’s made 142. She laughs at me.

“Yeah but, uhhh, it’s a lot different,” she says. “You can shoot one in four to six hours.”

What she means is, she can shoot one porn scene in half a workday, and voila, a porn film is born. In her case, she’s made 182 films since the day she dived into her first orgy porn — on her 18th birthday.

She immediately became a rising star, coming to the attention of mainstream magazines, depicting her as a rare, intellectual-ish porn star with a penchant for hard-core S&M.

That led to director Steven Soderbergh’s choosing her to play a prostitute in last year’s “Girlfriend Experience.” She also posed for sought-after art photographers. Frankly, she became the arty-intellectual’s first mainstream-porn “It” girl.

And as porn’s new top superstar, she’s still making naughty-naughty sex movies, alongside her fiance, photographer Ian Cinnamon (they’re in an open relationship, obviously). Grey produces porn, too.

And she hawks her hot, naked, glistening, insatiable, appreciative, inviting, universe-affirming body, along with long and detailed diary entries, on

The porn industry is clearly excited someone broke through to the mainstream. This year, she was named “keynote speaker” at the Adult Entertainment Expo at the Sands Expo (that’s at 1 p.m. today).

For G4 TV, she’ll also cover Saturday’s red carpet, during the AVN Adult Movie Awards at the Palms. She’ll unveil a PETA ad. And she’s nominated for Best Actress, Most Outrageous Sex Scene, Best All-Girl Couples Sex Scene, Best All-Girl Group Sex Scene, Best Anal Sex Scene, Best Couples Sex Scene, Best New Web Starlet, Best Oral Sex Scene, Best Solo Sex Scene, and she’s already been named The Jenna Jameson Crossover Star of the Year.

Being a celebrity is weird, she tells me. But she’s used to it, because she’s been on TV shows (among them, “The Insider” and “The Tyra Banks Show”) defending career choices against “ridiculous people.”

What’s more important to her is making interesting, high-quality porn with a “tone and feel like a real film,” so that people will buy it — because she is competing for cash against free quickie porn that dominates the Internet.

“My goal now with my company is to make adult films that aren’t predictable — something that you can’t fast-forward or else you’ll be confused as to what the hell is going on.”

Grey does have an eye for serious nonporn films. A year ago, she gave a list of her five favorite movies, in order: John Carpenter’s “Escape from New York”; John Cassavetes’ “A Woman Under the Influence”; Catherine Breillat’s “Fat Girl”; Jean-Luc Godard’s “Pierrot le Fou”; and Werner Herzog’s “Stroszek.”

She tells me she doesn’t remember which movies she listed back then. But Grey (who was raised in a troubled home and transferred from high school to high school, according to her) agrees with my film-freak father’s assessment that her top movies are mostly about sad people who are societal outcasts.

“Today, we don’t have too many filmmakers making films about individuals you can relate to in real life. It just seems like in movies today, everything is so perfect. Even after a conflict, everything ends well. There’s always a happy ending, and I’m kind of sick of that. Because life’s not easy. And life is not a fairy tale.”

I say to Grey, who always seems so gleeful when I interview her: Wait, aren’t you a happy porn superstar?

“Yeah,” she says. “But you don’t go to bed every night and go, ‘Oh, that was the perfect day,’ or, ‘Oh, millions of people just died overseas and I’m happy about that because none of those people are related to me.'”

I tell Grey plenty of women (women who don’t enjoy sex or sex on camera as much as she does) probably think she has a hard day every day, since she does all this wild sex all the time.

She says she does hear from conservative, anti-porn feminists. But more often she hears from women inspired by her and porn, exposure that has been revolutionary thanks to the Internet.

“It’s the next step in helping women not feel ashamed about their bodies and about wanting to feel good — not feeling guilty about it.

“I’ve had women tell me, ‘I didn’t know how to “do” a (certain sex act). OK, that sounds kind of weird, but that’s how they felt. And after watching my movies, or other people’s movies, they felt more confident in that and their sex life.”

And then Grey and I chat for a while about positions that regular women are doing lately that seem inspired only by Internet porn. I’d fill you in on this conversation, but I’m quite sure my editors would freak out.

Doug Elfman’s column appears on Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays. E-mail delfman@reviewjournal. com. He also blogs at

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