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On DVD: ‘Naked Amibition: An R Rated Look at an X Rated Industry’

from – AT ONE POINT in Michael Grecco’s documentary on the world of porn, actress and director Joanna Angel says, “Nobody feels lukewarm about pornography. They either love it or they hate it.”

And though Grecco’s film, “Naked Ambition: An R Rated Look at an X Rated Industry,” certainly sympathizes with the members of that world, it’s not just fluff. Instead, Grecco tries to get to the bottom of a subculture churning out $12 billion a year, and in doing so, he creates a relatable narrative and exposes personal stories that make the industry, its participants and supporters seem far less superficial than you would expect.

Grecco, a photojournalist who worked for The Boston Herald and the Associated Press before transitioning into celebrity portrait work, started with the idea of creating a coffee-table book about the porn industry that “people would actually put on their coffee table.”

But the key to capturing what he describes as a “bizarre, outrageous, just Fellini-esque” subculture is to look for the motives and personalities within the people involved — not just the physical acts themselves — and to do it in a “tasteful way.” So Grecco decides a visit to the 2006 Adult Video News convention in Las Vegas, which also includes the annual AVN Awards, is the way to go.

There, he’ll have three days to capture both the porn world and its fans, and though it’s a “scary-short time frame,” at least everyone will be at one place. As a result, the documentary — which Grecco narrates in first-person — is a look at those three days, the people he meets and the photos he takes, which vary from portraits of recognizable names such as Angel and Ron Jeremy to everyday convention-goers, such as a guy who has a female slave he touts around, to vendors showing their wares, including Matt McCullen, creator of the Realdoll, and David Lee, a Japanese aerospace engineer who designed guidance systems for missiles by day and developed the Tender Lover sex toy by night.

As Grecco notes, “I was fascinated more with the creator than the creation — someone who would rather design a sex machine than a war machine,” and his sense of wonder at the people he meets during those three days often mirrors the viewer’s own.


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