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A documentary about the rise to fame of adult movie star Stacy Valentine. Starting out as an under-confident woman pushed into entering a Hustler Magazine contest by her domineering husband, Stacy quickly became more sure of herself after winning the contest, dumping the husband, and embarking upon a remarkably successful career in the unconventional field of hardcore porn movies. Although having attained a fair measure of success, her life is still not without disappointements, as her past has made it difficult for her to drop her emotional barriers and share a completely trusting relationship with others. Written by
Jean-Marc Rocher <email@example.com>
Sorry I couldn't think of a snappier summary title, but this movie really (forgive the pun) got under my skin. An excellent, intelligent documentary about Stacey Valentine, a porn star in her mid-20's,how she ended up doing what she does, but more importantly, what it has done to her.
Any female (especially the younger ones) who is even remotely tempted to go into the industry should see this movie. I respected the fact that it doesn't have an obvious agenda, other than to entertain and give you a 90 minute glimpse of what a porn star's life is really like. It manages to show the unglamourous (at best) day-to-day realities of the business, how it can ruin lives and destroy self-esteem, without being the least bit preachy. If there was any voice-over, I don't remember it. Most of the story is told by Stacey herself, in interviews with the filmmakers, or through her interactions with other people including her parents, boyfriend, directors, fans, and friends. My husband said that when it started out, SV "seemed happy and pretty much OK for a while", but from almost the first shot of SV talking about how this is a great job for her because she loves sex and how the porn industry "is the only job where she would get people telling her she's sexy and beautiful", it was obvious that though she is smiling and sounding positive, but really just trying deep down to convince herself that she's happy. In the first few minutes of the movie she reveals that there is only one thing she has any sort of talent for that she could make a living from-sex. She tries to sound proud, but that's a tip off right there that her self-esteem is in the dumpster.
This movie is just incredible on so many levels, there's not enough room for me to go into it. It was so riveting, I didn't want it to end. Let's face it-most people (whether they will admit to it or not) would love to be behind the scenes for the filming of a porno movie, just to see what really happens behind the camera (and when the camera is off) and I was no exception. You get to see several scenes of that, and I think anyone who sits through the movie will agree that $1000-$2000 a day (the performers get paid more for the "kinky"-or, more realistically, the extremely uncomfortable, unpleasant stuff that most performers prefer not to do)doesn't even begin to approach the amount of money that women in the industry deserve to make. For one thing, it is not as easy as it looks, to say the least-an image that stuck with me was the ants swarming in a puddle of...( well, you can imagine what liquid needs to be cleaned up on a porn shoot), some of them crawling on SV and even biting her. Keep in mind, these are the high-end, high profile porn films she works in. There's actually some pretty funny scenes, too (especially the driving scene another reviewer mentioned).
The film shows in extremely graphic detail what breast implant, collagen injection and liposuction surgery looks like-I would not recommend hitting the concession stand beforehand. For anyone who regards porn stars as less than human, you see that they go to the drycleaners, have trouble meeting decent men, get cut off in traffic, feel insecure about their bodies, get jealous, and visit with their friends just like anyone else.
Some of the most poignant scenes involve SV visiting her mother and having an honest talk about her settling down (both of them end up teary), visiting a hypnotist to try to improve her self-esteem, talking about her on-again, off-again relationship with her boyfriend (also in the industry), leaving an Adult Entertainment Awards ceremony by herself, with no award, in the dress she was so excitied about wearing earlier that day, and petting her cat, saying since she doesn't have a special man in her life, there's always her cat for affection. In one of the saddest, she tearily talks about how nice it would be to have someone in her life who would touch her out of love and companionship, instead of for sex. In another, she's shooting some scenes for a movie with her boyfriend, and you can see the hurt on both their faces as he starts to slowly pull farther and farther away -especially after he's 3 feet away from watching the woman he loves perform oral sex on another man, even if it's "just acting".
It sounds cliche (it would to me, reading about it) but when you actually see the movie and watch her talking, looking young enough to get carded with her clean-scrubbed face and baggy casual clothes, you can't help but feel for her. I doubt that any woman, after seeing the movie, would trade places with SV for any amount of money. God, I just wanted to go up and give her a hug or something.
Having done plenty of research on the 'adult entertainment industry' (for a thesis in college-really!)and also talking and being friends with a few women in the industry, I can say the movie presents a very realistic portrait. Her life isn't a complete living hell- you do see her happy at times, talking about what she wants to do when she retires, laughing with her co-stars, looking like she's having fun doing a photo shoot dressed as Marilyn Monroe and even seeming to genuinely enjoy a scene with a female actress interacted on a live porn web-cam. But the sadness on her face and in her words speaks for itself. What's even sadder to consider is the subject of the film is one of the rarer, more "together" women in the business- SV is mentally and physically healthy, doesn't do drugs, didn't get molested as a child, is reasonably intelligent and has a good sense of humor, and her parents even approve (as much as a parent could, anyway) of her career. Imagine what happens to women who don't have it together as well. I was happy, however, to read that SV has retired and started her own business-hopefully she'll be one of the lucky ones.
One side note:not a good date movie if you are hoping to, er, get lucky afterwards, because after watching it, having sex will be the last thing you feel like doing. Trust me, you will NOT be in the mood and end up just playing Monopoly or something. About as un-erotic as you can get.
Unless you're easily offended, I can't recommend this fascinating, haunting documentary enough. 10/10 stars.
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