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from www.perthnow.com.au SASHA Grey admits she can feel shy about asking for what she wants during sex.
This is a woman who has starred in more than 200 adult films, and who, at 18, in her first shoot, went off-script and requested her Italian co-star, Rocco Siffredi, become even more extreme during one scene.
“Even women who really are confident in their sexuality, or know what they like, we’re still sort of submissive in the sense that we always want the man to make the first move.
“And when you find a partner you match with sexually, you often let the man take the lead and then that becomes dangerous, because it [gets] repetitive,” she explains.
So even porn stars find it tricky to shake things up in the bedroom?
“It’s been difficult for me, in the past, to demand what I want, especially when you love somebody, because you want to choose your words carefully,” she says.
This would come as a surprise to people, I suggest. Grey laughs: “Well, porn exists in a place where I could do what I wanted.”
This burning need to explore her sexual horizons is what propelled 18-year-old Grey – or rather, Marina Ann Hantzis from Sacramento – towards the harsh lights and flimsy plot-lines of the Los Angeles porn industry in the first place.
“I’d only had sex with a few people before I got into porn. I was very shy, I was the last of my friends to lose my virginity [at 16]. I started having fantasies before I’d even had sex.
Then I met someone I was able to explore with – things most people today are comfortable with doing – but I wanted more. I confided in a couple of girlfriends and they thought I was crazy, so it only made me feel more self-conscious.
“One of the main reasons I got into porn is that I wanted to explore those things safely, because how does an 18-year-old girl go and find somebody to explore sexually with? I don’t trust the internet enough to go and meet people with the same kinks as me.”
After a few years churning through puntastic titles including Face Invaders 4 and Sasha Grey’s Anatomy, she retired at 23, feeling she had “accomplished everything I could as a performer”.
Now, along with writing her debut erotic novel The Juliette Society (“I’m way too young for a memoir”) Grey is trying to build her non-X-rated acting career, having entered the mainstream consciousness with two pivotal roles: playing herself in Entourage, and a high-class escort in Steven Soderbergh’s The Girlfriend Experience.
She recently worked on a Spanish thriller called Open Windows opposite Elijah Wood.
The protagonist of The Juliette Society, Catherine, is a young film student who is drawn into a secret sex club. Grey – who has been dating her camera-operator boyfriend for almost a year – wrote the book because she saw a void in contemporary erotica.
“A lot of those novels exist in a hyper-fantasy world, much like romantic comedies. And who doesn’t like romantic comedies? But I wanted to create something where people really felt like this was something that could happen to them. My character isn’t out there looking for Mr Right.”
In the book, Grey controversially claims sex and violence are two sides of the same coin. As Catherine delves into the sexual underworld, there are graphic descriptions of women being restrained and much more – think Fifty Shades turned up to 11.
Has Grey met women who find this erotic? “Definitely,” she says emphatically. “Something might sound completely offensive to one person, but you have to understand there’s an entire community of people around the world who have been ostracised for their sexual kinks.”
For every woman who has the self-possession to indulge her sexual proclivities on camera à la Grey, there are plenty more who are ashamed to go there even in their fantasies. Grey hopes to help change this.
“It’s a community and a sexual interest that has long been criticised, which is why Fifty Shades of Grey is so important, because it’s addressing a facet of people’s sexuality and allowing people to talk about it openly.”
Self-expression and open-mindedness are one thing, but I mention to Grey my doubts about elements of that sexual underworld, particularly the proliferation of extreme pornography on the internet, which, regardless of the director’s intentions, can be enjoyed through a misogynistic filter.
“I… ” Grey pauses. “I think the biggest thing is, you can’t control who watches porn, so it’s a shame that some people will go into their sexual adult life thinking that all women enjoy being tied up. But I think that’s a very small percentage of people.
“You have more men thinking women don’t need foreplay before sex,” she says with a big laugh. “That’s the reality.” Fair point.
The Juliette Society (Little, Brown, $19.99) is out Thursday.