Writer's block is the journalistic equivalent of a soft cock. When doing something that is such an extreme combination of fear and excitement, it can make it difficult to come up with the goods required to complete the job at hand. This is exactly how I felt when I got a call from my editor asking if I "minded" interviewing one of the world's biggest porn stars while she was in Sydney to promote her first mainstream film--Steven Soderbergh's The Girlfriend Experience. Of course I was like, "Sure, no, that's fine I don't mind at all, think I can manage that." And cue 14-year-old school boy enthusiasm combined with what-the-fuck-am-I-going-to-do panic. After all, it's not very often you meet someone that you've seen in every sexual scenario imaginable before you have even shaken her hand. The following is my conversation with Sasha Grey, quite possibly the most exciting 20 minutes of my life.
Vice: Wow, so Sasha Grey. I guess I first noticed you from the Shot By Kern interview you did on VBS. You've done a few things with Vice since then right?
Sasha Grey: Yeah, I did that Shot By Kern interview and then we did an anti-fashion shoot for an issue and I am also working on a book that is being published by Vice, which is coming out later this year.
Right on, so I guess something that you would have been asked about a lot is how you managed to essentially fast-track your career within the world of pornography. A lot of it had to do with a 12-page article on you as an 18-year-old porn star in Los Angeles Magazine, correct?
Yeah, that's right, it came out in 2006. I received a lot of exposure through that article and things just kind of snowballed from that.
I actually read that article the other day and noticed that the writer compares the career path of the director of your first porn film with that of Steven Soderbergh. Were you familiar with Steven's work before this article came out?
Oh yeah, I was a huge fan. I love his work.
Because that's how Soderbergh discovered you, through that article?
Yes, exactly that's right. I actually totally forgot about that journalist making that comparison, that's pretty funny looking back on it now.
Were you concerned about your role in The Girlfriend Experience being seen as a predictable move, crossing over from being a real-life porn star to playing a high-end escort in a film?
If it had been someone that I was unfamiliar with who approached up to me and said, "I'm making this film about an escort," I probably would have said no. But because it was Steven, it was a totally different thing and a lot easier to say yes to. I mean it wouldn't have really mattered what the role was, if it was a film that was being made under Steven's direction, I probably would have said yes to it.
In the film, it's clear in your character's role that her profession as an escort puts pressure on her relationship with her partner. Does that same pressure apply with your line of work and your relationship with your current partner? Is there ever a jealousy thing?
No, not so much. You know, in the adult industry you're not play-kidding your partner. Everybody knows why we're there. You know you are going there to have sex, we get tested, and we are there to do a job. There's very little room for any emotional growth to happen. At all. I guess the first three months of my relationship were the hardest, because at the beginning you're trying to adjust and you can't just have spontaneous sex. I mean that is half the fun of having sex, so it kind of takes that away a little.
You're a walking example of that point. I mean, you've released your own record, done vocals for The Roots and Smashing Pumpkins, and you're a writer and an actress. What I'm curious about is that unlike a lot of girls who move to Hollywood to become stars and then perhaps end up in porn, you decided before you were 18 that you wanted to move to Los Angeles to become a porn star.
Yeah, I just knew.
Is it a misunderstanding that girls do porn in the hope that they'll become famous and be recognized by mainstream directors ?
I think so. That would be a very small percentage of the adult stars. That's like the Boogie Nights thing — that was a film made in the 90s about the industry in the 70s. It's 2009 now and the industry is very different. I mean, if your goal is to be a "legitimate actor," then go for that. Don't get into porn because your chances are very slim.
Yep, that's how it happened.
Within the adult world, you have said a number of times that Belladonna is a huge inspiration to you?
Yeah, I always enjoy her performances. She kinda re-invented the wheel of girl-on-girl porn and took it to a whole new realm. Prior to her, it was something that people weren't that into and she just made it that much more interesting. She is really into what she does.
Any female actors who particularly inspire you?
Someone I really enjoy is Jennifer Jason Leigh, I think she is amazing. I think it's the tomboy in me that I generally lean more towards male actors, but I think Jennifer is incredible. She's fucking great.
You have said in the past that you would like to direct your own porn films and I'm wondering whether you'd like to direct non-porn films too?
Yeah, I would love to direct a film, but would I really do it? I dunno. I write my own scripts right now, so we'll see.
What are your thoughts on the vast amount of streaming porn that's available for free on the internet? Do you foresee something similar to what happened in the music industry happening to the porn industry?
Totally, that is happening right now and it's obviously taking money out of peoples' pockets. And to make things worse, because it's the Adult Industry, courts don't see it as being legitimate, so it's very, very hard to fight for what you own and what you have a copyright for. I think it is very unfortunate that we have to deal with that. It is the negative side of technology, but I guess it all comes back to the fact that you gotta make a good product, you gotta make something that people want to buy. We can all see a girl have sex in four positions on the same couch we've seen 100 times, but what is going to be that point of difference, that something a little extra? With my website for example, I offer a multitude of things. It is a multi-media website and offers more to my fans than just sex and that's what fans want to see--they want to get a look in and see all the different sides.