Millions of wankers went into meltdown earlier this year when news spread Sasha Grey was dead.
A tale spread in February the former S&M porn star had been moonlighting as a nurse for the Russian army when she was captured by Ukrainian militants who filmed themselves molesting her before they dismembered her with an axe.
After the rumour was carried by newspapers and websites, Grey jumped on Twitter and denounced it as a hoax. Apparently it had been a bizarre test by anti-Kiev propagandists to see if pro-separatist Russians were gullible enough to share social media rumours about Ukrainian depravity.
Her millions of fans panted sighs of relief after she posted news it was a weird prank – none of them would have wanted to think about tragedy in Ukraine when cracking one off to any of her 315 porn films. Grey wasn’t happy about being a very minor part of the violent conflict in Ukraine that has cost almost 7,000 lives since April 2014.
She bit back at Russian propagandists by seething on Twitter, ‘People are dying. People are losing family members and bullshit outlets mock the deceased with fappery.’
It was ironic she referenced the Hollywood ‘fappening’ in her response given she was happy to document every gaping moment of her sex life when she was working in porn.
But never mind international tragedy.
Grey now wants to promote the art she’s been creating since she left porn in 2009 aged 21.
She’s gone from being dubbed ‘the dirtiest girl in the world’ (Grey has licked toilet bowls during her porn flicks) to being a novelist, DJ, singer and Nietzsche-loving amateur philosopher.
Grey was on the promotional trail last year to promote Open Windows – a film in which she played an actress and Elijah Wood her stalker.
She talks here about her continuing battle to move on from porn and reveals how an unhinged fan targeted her in reality while she was shooting the film with Wood.
Grey also gushed about how she’s on an existential quest to find her “strong female voice” and why she’ll never return to the world of triple-X.
Her eternal problem remains, however, that she is still one of the highest-searched stars on PornHub.
Fuck Slaves, Anal Cavity Search 6, Throat: A Cautionary Tale and Babysitters.
They are the only films that have earned Grey any acting awards so far.
For Fuck Slaves, Grey picked up a porn gong for Best Three-Way Sex Scene. Babysitters saw her lap up accolades for Best Oral Sex Scene. And Anal Cavity Search resulted in an award for… Best Anal Sex Scene.
Grey swallowed a lot of praise in the porn industry after Throat: A Cautionary Tale got her an adult video award for Best Oral Sex Scene.
The Oral award was only six years ago.
Smoky-eyed, sylph-thin Grey did a massive 315 porn films in her five-year career as America’s ‘princess of porn’ from 2006 to 2011. One dedicated fan has calculated it would take eight days, 58 minutes to watch her oeuvre back-to-back.
She didn’t get any awards for the scene where she licked a toilet bowl. That video is called Sasha Grey Anal Licks Toilet Like A Dog, and it was promoted with the scene description, ‘Sasha Grey is one nasty ass slut with Chris Charming. After being forced to lick a toilet bowl, this babe goes right to work deepthroating his massive white shaft before being nailed in the ass. She takes his wang in various nasty ass positions before swallowing a load of gooey nut butter.’
“I saw a lot of people die, a lot of people go to jail and a lot of people become addicted to crystal meth, coke or heroin when they were only 16 or 17”
When Grey was in porn she boasted she used “all her holes”, earned at least £130,000 a year, contracted STDs and was into “spitting, slapping, choking, submission and sensory depravation”. She has insisted none of it was “abusive” and said the only acts out of bounds for her were “anything to do with children or animals”.
Now things are different and Grey has moved into mainstream movies. The only problem is, unlike her turns in porn movies, her performances in Hollywood films have received mixed reviews, to say the least. Grey’s breakthrough role in the world of mainstream flicks was playing a high-end escort in Oscar-winning director Steven Soderbergh’s 2009 film The Girlfriend Experience.
Reviews were horrific and Grey returned to the grind of porn after critics sneered her performance was, in the words of one hack, ‘just shit’.
She made Seinfeld: A XXX Parody and The Butt Sex Bonanza before her next big break came in the mainstream. Grey’s performance in The Girlfriend Experience caught the eye of Entourage creator Doug Ellin.
He cast Grey as herself in the seventh series of Entourage, as the girlfriend of lead character Vince – an opportunity about which she gushed, “You can’t get any better.”
Entourage was the start of the end of her porn career. In 2009 Grey announced her retirement from the industry by saying she was quitting while she was “on top” because she had done “everything” she wanted to do in the industry.
She said at the time, “I didn’t feel there was anywhere else for me to go. I outdid my goals in that industry.” When Grey, now 27, starred in Open Windows opposite Elijah Wood critics smirked it wasn’t the first time she’s performed with a man who has the surname ‘Wood’.
Again, the reviews were savage.
One critique of Open Windows by Variety sneered there was too much wooden acting without the presence of Elijah Wood.
Variety’s critic said about one scene, ‘Trembling with mock fear and loathing in a partially open bathrobe, Grey could be enacting a more-twisted-than-usual bondage-porn scenario.’
Actress Jill Goddard was Grey’s character in Open Windows – a diva trying to shed her image as a Hollywood badgirl. The film was a failed attempt at high-tech Hitchcockianism – a modern mashup of Rear Window and Rope. It told how Jill was the object of Wood’s character Nick Chamber’s rabid affections. Directed by Spanish cinema trickster Nacho Vigalondo (of Time Crimes and Extraterrestrial), the film unfolds using footage flashing up on Nick’s computer screen, and takes in plotlines involving stalking, privacy, hacking, surveillance, blackmail and murder.
Grey revealed art imitated life and there were two parallels with her own life and the movie.
Firstly, she said she is fighting for respectability, just like her character Jill, in her continuing battle to become established in Hollywood.
Second, while Grey was shooting the flick about a stalker she was suffering in reality at the hands of her own demented fan.
Grey said, “Jill has had a really successful career but she doesn’t feel respected. She wants to change. She was portrayed as the bad-girl actress of her generation and looked at as a second-class citizen. When she wants to change she’s met with two forces – forces from her internal circle of friends and managers, and this force from outside in Nick.
“In one respect I’m used to being very public and open about my life. But then at the same time, I don’t know what it’s like to be an actress like Jill. But she deals with fame in a different way than I’ve had to deal with it. I’ve had to expose myself in a different way, therefore I’m less interesting to people because I have nothing left to expose, so in that respect it’s different.
“But I’ve definitely had to deal with criticism and scrutiny and online haters and cyber stalkers. Those things are very real and very, very scary. While we were shooting the film, I was dealing with something very scary so I had a lot to bring to the film and I’m glad I’m involved.
“It’s a very real thing for me so it was a good experience. Acting has set me on a path to find a strong female voice.”
Grey was born Marina Hantzis in North Highlands, California. She was the youngest of three children and her parents, a devoutly Catholic mum and a mechanic dad, split when she was five.
From that point Grey had minimal contact with her father, who she says always supported her choices and just told her “not to fuck up” when she told him she was in porn.
“I’ve had to deal with criticism, scrutiny and cyberstalkers. Those things are very real and very, very scary”
Grey’s father died in June. She marked the occasion by posting a picture of Lake Garda on Facebook and referenced Sartre in a message next to the image. Grey wrote, ‘Difficult times are always easier with someone by your side. But as Sartre said, “I can not meditate on the sea”… however in this case it’s a lake. Point being there’s no right or wrong way on how to deal with loss.’
Grey reckons being exposed to the harsh realities of life from an early age helped her toughen up. She has said, “I saw a lot of people die, a lot of people go to jail and a lot of people become addicted to crystal meth, coke or heroin when they were only 16 or 17.”
Surprisingly, Grey says she was the last of her friends to lose her virginity, although it still happened at the tender age of 16.
Like many an actress, she waited tables to save for her move to LA before she issued adult film directors with a porn ‘manifesto’ that announced her entry into the adult entertainment business. It vowed she was up for any sexual act and said she wanted to elevate porn films to the level of performance art.
Part of the manifesto read, ‘Most of the XXX I see is boring and does not arouse me physically or visually. I am determined and ready to be a commodity that fulfills everyone’s fantasies.’
When choosing her XXX alias, Grey didn’t go down the traditional porn star name-game route of combining the name of your first pet and her mother’s maiden name.
Sasha Grey is a combination of the German industrial musician’s name Sasha Konietzko and Oscar Wilde’s story The Picture Of Dorian Gray. There’s also a dash of the “scales of grey” measurement from sexologist Alfred Kinsey’s grade of sexual orientation. Grey proclaims herself bisexual on the scale.
Grey followed up the vows made in her porn manifesto by asking her first XXX co-star to punch her in the gut during their scene to make it more ‘real’. She was 18. He was 50 – and he nobly refused to give her a dig in the stomach.
Despite her apparent eagerness to elevate porn to the height of performance art, TMZ reported that Grey has since claimed her boyfriend Ian Cinnamon, who she started dating when she was 16 and he was 29, forced her into the industry. She claimed he told her he was a US spy who needed her to do adult films as it would be the perfect cover for his James Bond lifestyle.
TMZ also reported Grey said Cinnamon inflicted years of physical and mental abuse on her and she now has a restraining order against him.
Despite her mainstream movie appearances Grey still battles every day to reinvent herself. She constantly flaunts her apparent appetite for art and literature online to show she has put her past in the past. Grey constantly references her beloved Sartre, Baudrillard, Nietzsche, the French new wave and Italian neorealist cinema on all her social networks.
No matter how deep and philosophical she tries to get, Grey can’t escape fan comments that get posted alongside her social network posts – telling her they want to see her ‘ass and gash’ again ‘instead of all this book shit’.
Maybe that’s why she’s published two books.
Grey’s first tome was a photo diary that documented her days in porn. A Madonna-style herpes-and-all coffee table book, her photographic hardback Neü Sex was filled with photos of Grey with her make-up smudged and mascara running after porn shoots, and shots of her wearing the plastic pig nose she used to sport in rough humiliation scenes.
She writes in Neü Sex about Sartre’s “philosophy of the gaze”. Grey says in the book, ‘As individuals we are what others perceive us to be. They objectify us, and in turn we objectify ourselves. What’s important is how we redefine ourselves.’
Then there came Grey’s first novel, The Juliette Society.
It was published after E. L. James’ Fifty Shades Of Grey trilogy and its plot isn’t far off the S&M best-sellers. The Juliette Society follows a sexually restless student girl who gets inducted into an underground bondage society – a sort of Fight Club for the S&M world.
The semi-tongue-in-cheek hardboiled writing, while not exactly Raymond Chandler, actually isn’t bad.
Grey says about penises in the novel, ‘It doesn’t have to be big, but it definitely has to be hard and operated by someone with a licence to drive. Because there’s no point banging hard on the accelerator if you don’t know how to apply the brakes, turn the wheel, or shift gears. And that gear stick? If you want to put it in my box, you better know how to use it.’
The Juliette Society also contains a section called The Cum Chapter. Part of it reads, ‘Come – what is that if not a synonym for God? I’m going to state for the record: I’m a true believer. I worship come.’
Grey continues in her ode to jizz, ‘I like to guess what he’s had for breakfast, lunch, dinner and in-between from the way it tastes and the way it smells. Salty, bitter, sweet, sour and smoky. Beer, coffee, asparagus, banana, pineapple, chocolate. Sometimes it’s runny like half-cooked egg whites, sometimes thick and lumpy like semolina, sometimes both of those at the same time. And sometimes it’s smooth like cough syrup, which is how I like it best, because it goes down so easy.’
About the chapter, Grey has said, “When I was just discovering sex I thought come was disgusting. And then when I started shedding myself of those stereotypes – what I’m supposed to think is sexy and what I’m supposed to think is dirty – and I started to really enjoy it. Once you feel that confident as a woman, you don’t have to think it’s disgusting because we’re told it’s disgusting.”
Her book was published in 20 territories around the world, and Hollywood has already snapped up the film rights – a sign she is finally cracking the business.
Yet, still there’s no getting away from her past.
There is an online blog dedicated to how Grey is a “vapid bitch” who has duped fans into thinking she’s smart by name-dropping philosophers at every turn. She’s also been attacked by feminists and America’s reactionary right.
When Grey went on a Tyra Banks show about porn stars who had boyfriends she said after she was set up and ridiculed by the way the episode was edited.
When she tried to promote children’s reading, parents wanted her banned from giving talks at schools. But Grey persists with trying to build a showbiz career, giving faint hope to LA’s hollow-eyed drug-ravaged porn actresses they will be able to do likewise.
Grey says she has a picky policy now when it comes to choosing “projects”. She added, “If someone comes to me and asks me to work on a project you have to prove to me you can work in that context. If it’s a filmmaker I don’t know I have to watch what they have done before I even read the script to see if they’re capable of telling a story.
“If it’s a bigger project I want to find a character that is an outlet for my expression. My career is now obviously going in a new direction and I am looking for a strong female voice – that’s what I’m most interested in now.”
Loaded’s deputy editor John Earls has covered entertainment and sport across a range of national newspapers, plus several football and music magazines, since 1990. Follow him on Twitter at @EarlsJohn