Not surprisingly, the recent announcement that Sasha Grey will be playing the lead role in Steven Soderbergh's "The Girlfriend Experience" has led much of the mainstream media to "discover" Ms. Grey. MTV, Variety, and the Guardian, among others, have all penned pieces about our reigning Crush Object. It's mostly what you would expect: hard hitting investigative reports on the contents of Grey's Wikipedia page, with more than a few mentions of her fascination with Godard, existentialism, and, of course, her fast-paced rise to porno stardom. But through it all, we've had a hard time escaping the thought that none of these journalists really get Sasha.
Of course, we'd be hard pressed to say that we get Sasha ourselves: she's a pretty unique person--and not just because she's a pornstar with a brain (we know quite a few of those, actually). But we suspect that any attempt to categorize her into any tried and true story lines will ultimately fail: if there's one thing we're fairly certain of, it's that Sasha is anything but ordinary.
The reigning theory seems to be that Sasha is attempting to parlay her porno stardom into a more mainstream (and therefore "legit") kind of fame--hence the music videos, the indie film projects, and, of course, the Soderbergh film--and that, perhaps, this was her plan all along. After all, didn't she draw comparisons to Jenna Jameson very early in her career--Jenna Jameson, the crossover star who now clings so desperately to her mainstream identity, rejecting her porno past with every opportunity?
Except we have a hard time imagining a girl with hopes of mainstream stardom launching her career with titles like "Slut Puppies 2" and "Fuck Slaves." You don't do the kind of porn that Sasha does because you want to be a Hollywood star: you do it because you want to make porn, because you don't care what having "Slam It! In A Slut!" on your resume does to your credibility.
So then, what are we to make of Sasha's mainstream stardom? Is it an accidental by product of her porno fame? Probably not: she seems far too smart to "accidentally" wind up in a Soderbergh film. If anything, we suspect that Sasha is attempting to remake the notion of what a mainstream star is, and does--much the way she's remade any notions of what an 18-year-old pornstar looks and sounds like.
We can't even pretend that we know what Sasha's grand plan is, or if she even has one. But if the Soderbergh film is a success, it seems that there are a few likely outcomes. Sasha could very well go the way of Jenna Jameson, abandoning her porn roots for a shot at mainstream fame; though whether she'd ever break out of the sex worker pigeonhole and move beyond roles as a stripper, prostitute, or other sexy girl is difficult to tell. On the other hand, it's also possible that Sasha could rise to fame in the mainstream cinema while continuing to work as an adult star--perhaps completely remaking our notions of what it means to have crossover appeal.
It's probably not that hard to guess which outcome we're hoping for. How it all turns out, of course--well, only time will tell.
· Steven Soderbergh Looks To Porn Star Sasha Grey For ‘The Girlfriend Experience' (moviesblog.mtv.com) · Soderbergh casts porn star as lead in The Girlfriend Experience (guardian.co.uk) · Porn star cast in Soderbergh film (variety.com) · Thumbnail from nsgalleries.com via Ask Jolene