When I leave porn to become a U.S. Senator and pro hockey player, I will probably not disavow my former occupation, despite my deep misgivings about some of the people and institutions I’ve encountered in the adult business.
Sasha Grey doesn’t disavow porn as much as she abandons sex for narcissism in her intriguing new coffeetable book, “Neu Sex.”
Grey, who announced earlier this year that she was moving on from porn, last month released “Neu Sex,” a book of photos and essays crafted between 2006 and 2009, which she will be signing Wednesday, May 4, from 6:30 to 8:30 at the Martha Otero Gallery at 820 N. Fairfax Blvd. in Los Angeles.
Grey says that “documenting myself has almost become a necessity” because of the thousands of stray photographs taken by other people over which she has no control. When we think about the tightly-controlled world of Hollywood celebrity, of which Grey is now a part, and the utterly decentralized world of porn, where everyone is not actively discouragedfrom posting candid photos everywhere, it’s understandable that Grey might want to put together a more or less blessed account of those three years.
Grey herself says there is no definite aesthetic or plan to the photos, so the pictures only tell the story of the days when Grey, or her partner of five years, Ian Cinnamon, brought a camera along. As such they show a very attractive woman, advancing from barely legal teenhood (in some photos Grey looks very young) to painted and jaded porn celebrity.
Interspersed among sexy candids, posed, self-conscious pieces, and images that don’t feature Grey at all are musings about photography, art, and tolerance in porn. Grey quotes Jimi Hendrix and Rush, and poses in Bon Scott-era AC/DC shirts (I approve), saying things like “Human sexuality is drastically misunderstood and therefore remains an incredibly taboo topic.”
For the entirety of her career Grey has been saddled with a Too Precious for You persona that she couldn’t help but inflate and deflate every time she opened her mouth. For most people, her brains did not jibe with her choice of profession, but as her profession was about the fact that she was young, and since there are no filters in porn, she never had a chance not to come off as smarter than thou. This is the downside of being beautiful at the same time she’s young and famous. Most of us get to be young and condescending in obscurity.
“Neu Sex” reads like a printout of any smart and pretty 23-year-old’s MySpace page, save for the nipples, and features no sex whatsoever. Is “Neu Sex” No Sex?
Regardless, Grey is intelligent and thoughtful and sexy and wise ahead of her years, and I hope that “Neu Sex” (published by VICE Books and distributed by powerHouse books) serves for her as a good document of her first, and perhaps only, go-round in porn.
I attended an event recently in which a porn star equated the debauched lives of classical musicians with porn (and she made a good point). But, after mentioning the names of Mahler, the Schumanns, and Brahms, she remarked “but you probably have no idea who those people are.”
This is a defense mechanism common to overcompensating smart people who forget that not everyone is as dumb as the average porn consumer.
We are in an adjustment period in which people like Sasha Grey are changing that.
Previously on Porn Valley Observed: “Malice in La La Land”—Sasha Grey’s (last?) porn movie; Porn scenes from an Italian restaurant; Profiles in missing the point
See also: NEU SEX