Porn star dishes on Girlfriend Experience

METRO NEWS
Weekend June 19-21, 2009
ADAM NAYMAN

Porn sensation Sasha Grey stars in Steven Soderbergh’s The Girlfriend Experience.

The protagonist of Steven Soderbergh’s new film The Girlfriend Experience is a poised young escort who services New York’s philandering elite with uncommon élan.

Blankly charming and immaculately coiffed, Chelsea (Sasha Grey) is a strange and eminently 21st century creature — the call girl as image-conscious entrepreneur. Chelsea’s precociousness as both a sex object and a self-promoter gains credibility by Grey’s own back story: At the ripe old age of 21, the California-born performer is already a before-her-time legend in the porn industry and a mild pop cultural phenomenon.

“It did help me,” says Grey when discussing the resonances between her own career and that of her onscreen alter ego. “But I’m not sure about the idea of ‘credibility.’ After all, we’re not talking about a real person, we’re talking about a character in a movie.

“I always try to be introspective (about what I do), whereas Chelsea’s capacity for introspection is quite minimal. That’s why she uses personology. It’s an excuse so that she doesn’t have to be responsible for her actions. If something goes wrong, it’s in the cards.”

Grey is referring to her character’s pathological fidelity to a genre of New Age literature. In a crueler film, this might have simply been used as punch-line, but in The Girlfriend Experience — in theatres next week — it’s clear that Chelsea’s faith in “personology” is no more foolish than her high-rolling clients’ faith in a collapsing economy (Soderbergh started shooting the same week that news broke of the mortgage crisis).

“I don’t think that the film is trying to manipulate anybody’s thinking about anything,” says Grey, “whether it’s the idea of prostitution as a business, or about the men who hire (prostitutes), or about the economy. Whereas another film might be looking to vilify or glorify its characters, I think Steven leaves things up to the audience.”

Certainly, it’s on the audience to decide whether Grey’s fascinatingly opaque performance is evidence of subtle, controlled acting or simply a case of shrewd casting. In the film, Chelsea suffers the multi-syllabic slanders of a porn critic she’s asked to review her services); this episode seems to refer to Soderbergh’s ambivalence about the influence of critics, but Grey says that for her, it’s simply best to not pay attention.

Original on Metro News

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