Plenty of fresh-faced girls enter the adult industry at a young age, following the common adage that most resort to porn after they realize their mainstream Hollywood ambitions have failed. But 20-year-old Sasha Grey, who has been variously described as the future of porn and “the next Jenna Jameson,” came to the industry knowing exactly what she wanted. At 17, she studied porn vigorously for a year in her hometown of Sacramento and moved to Los Angeles when she turned 18. In the two years since, she’s made over 150 films and routinely defended her career—on The Tyra Banks Show, for example—as performance art, as self-expression and as catharsis. Sometimes she simply says it’s fun.
Grey is out of the ordinary in porn not only in that she’s got normal-sized, unimplanted breasts and has sternly controlled her business affairs (she represents herself through her own agency), but also in that she’s got unpredictable, avant-garde tastes. The majority of her own films are the usual low-production, no-plotline porn fare, but she’s declared a curious inspiration in directors like Jean-Luc Godard, Werner Herzog, Pier Paolo Pasolini and Catherine Breillat. Likewise, her iPod is filled with experimental bands like Throbbing Gristle, Faust and Tape Recorder. It’s easy to find porn stars who rock out to AC/DC—but Squarepusher and Behemoth, not so much.
Grey, a left-handed guitarist, has joined the experimental music arena this month by releasing a limited-edition clear-vinyl 7-inch with her noise duo, aTelecine. She calls it an “experimental-death-dub-orgasm kind of project.” With six tracks and collage artwork by Grey herself, the record’s first run of 300 copies sold out quickly in preorders. The Brooklyn-based Pendu Sound, who released the 7-inch, also sells LPs and cassettes by art-noise groups equally influenced by John Cage and Slayer; they plan a cassette-only release with aTelecine in the near future.
Grey’s got a hectic schedule of sex in front of a camera, but says that aTelecine are planning to play live and to release more mixed-media material in the future. She’s also been cast in a Steven Soderbergh movie, The Girlfriend Experience, crossing the famous firewall between adult film and mainstream film, and two more independent films in which she appears, Quit and Smash Cut, are in post-production now. Recently she shot music videos both by the Roots and Smashing Pumpkins, as well as contributing vocals to a Lee “Scratch” Perry album. A renaissance porn star? It’s possible.