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Thank God: Sasha Grey Drew the Line at Working with Children and Animals

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Jenny McCartney writes on – “There is indeed – or was until recently – a voluntary code of practice in the LA porn industry, although condoms are compulsory on very few film sets: consumers, it seems, much prefer not to see them.

“Performers say that herpes is rife, and last week the industry was closed down by an HIV scare, which proved false, although a similar scare was accurate last December, when the 24-year-old bisexual porn actor Derrick Burts was informed that he had contracted HIV. Before that he had tested positive for Chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis. “I was performing with multiple partners several times a week,” he said, “STDs came with the job.”

“The treatment of performers on set and screen has become ever more extreme. Don’t take it from me: here’s Jenna Jameson, the most famous porn star in the world, writing frankly on how wannabe porn starlets get treated: “Most girls get their first experience in gonzo films – in which they’re taken to a crappy studio apartment in Mission Hills and penetrated in every hole possible by some abusive asshole who thinks her name is ‘Bitch.’”

“Since Jameson first “made it”, the trends in porn have moved towards using girls who look under-age, anal sex, and violence, frequently in combination. Jameson’s successor as the biggest female name in the adult film industry, Sasha Grey – who retired from porn earlier this year after moving into mainstream modelling and acting – asked her co-star, the Italian actor Rocco Siffredi, to punch her in the stomach during sex on her first X-rated shoot.

“Thereafter, her schedule was fully booked. Grey was regularly slapped, spat on and choked in her films: the only place she drew the line, she said, was at working with children or animals. But part of her appeal was that at, at 18, she could look much younger on-screen, a fact frequently reflected in her film titles and dialogue. In 2006 Grey complained to LA Magazine that directors ‘ask you to bring along with you the clothes of a 12-year-old.’ Even Grey, it seemed, thought that was a bit much: she didn’t say, however, that she had refused to bring the clothes.

“John Stagliano, the director on Grey’s first film, told Martin Amis in a 2001 Guardian interview of his relationship with his favourite male actor Siffredi: ‘Together we evolved towards rougher stuff. He started to spit on girls. A strong male-dominant thing, with women being pushed to their limit.’

“The industry has ‘evolved’ further in that direction ever since. The former porn actress and doctor to the industry, Dr Sharon Mitchell, has described some of the results of the type and duration of sex demanded by directors: ‘I sit there everyday and I sew up anal tears and anal prolapse and the physical conditions of what people are putting their body through is getting very, very far away from sexuality as we know it.’ Is this what sexual liberation was meant to look like?”


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