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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This was a well-done documentary well worth seeing.
It's not everyday that you get to meet and converse with a porn star, but that opportunity recently presented itself. Christine Fugate's documentary about award-winning adult video actress Stacy (Baker) Valentine, "The Girl Next Door," was playing at a nearby theater and the additional draw was: come see Stacy in the flesh (well, not really!) Not only did Ms. Valentine and Ms. Fugate field an open and honest Q & A session after the 82-minute movie, but my viewing partner won a movie poster (for being a bleached blonde!) that we later had Stacy autograph.
Making a documentary is no walk in the park. Documentarian Fugate had an idea to delve into the inner workings of a porn star, but searched for two years before the ideal candidate emerged. Then, for over two years, she dogged Stacy, following her on-again, off-again romance with fellow porn star Julian, interviewing her parents back in Tulsa, Oklahoma, talking to her various directors on sets all over the San Fernando Valley, witnessing Stacy's highs and lows from Las Vegas to Cannes, as well as operations to make her lips bigger and her breasts smaller.
The result? A very even-handed, non-judgmental, frank, and occasionally very funny portrait of a very pretty, almost guileless all-American girl who wanted nothing more than to be a successful housewife. Getting her start when her now ex-husband submitted nude pictures of Stacy to Gallery magazine, she parlayed a follow-up spread in Hustler magazine into a trip to Hollywood in early 1995 to make her mark in adult videos. Dozens of films later, she did just that. And she wouldn't change a thing. (Stacy filmed her last adult video in February, and is now selling a pair of female clothing lines, "Good Girl" and "Bad Girl".)
Christine Fugate got a lot a mileage from her credit cards in financing this effort. She (and her editor) ably knows how to fix up the business side of Stacy (grabbing a broom to sweep away ants from a pool-side scene or gamely dealing with artificial smoke that is choking her on the set) and the human side of Stacy (sharing a very emotional, tearful moment with her mother or interrupting an in-vehicle interview with a realistic "You fu**er, nice turn signal"!).
Along the way, the audience is subjected to some very disturbing penetrations, and I'm not talking about anything in "Anal Professor," "Hillbilly Honeys," or "Cumming Clean." Very graphic, clinical scenes of replacing a larger saline bag with a smaller one in Stacy's left breast and the injection of collagen into her lips are not images for the squeamish, but are memorable and thought-provoking nonetheless. Stacy describes looking in the mirror and wondering who she has become...it's a very good question.
It's interesting to compare "The Girl Next Door" with an earlier documentary about porn actress Grace Quek, "Sex: The Annabel Chong Story." I didn't like the latter, and after seeing the former, I like the latter even less. Not only is TGND better edited and better filmed, but Ms. Fugate did a far more compelling job of portraying peaks and valleys in her subject than did Gough Lewis in his "Sex." I can't recall any peaks in "Sex."
I would be remiss if I didn't mention a very amusing scene involving Stacy's mother and stepfather outside their Tulsa home. Their conversation had the audience in stitches and helped to make "The Girl Next Door" a documentary well worth viewing.
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