Sasha Grey - Interview & launch party for her book Neu Sex - Housing Works Bookstore - March 28th 2011 -
New York, NY
This was an event I was greatly anticipating - Sasha Grey is the hottest woman alive in my opinion and one of the most interesting as well, in a myriad of ways. Feminist/Photographer/Actress/DJ/Musician/Ex-Porn Star and now author, tonight she was making a signing/interview appearance at Housing Works in NYC. One of my favorite bookstores in the city, Housing Works is a community healing project that battles AIDS/HIV and homelessness. Sasha donated all the books they sold to help support the amazing work they do.
I was first exposed to Sasha a few years ago in the video for the Roots' Birthday Girl- I knew absolutely nothing about her other than she was this incredibly hot woman in a video for one of my favorite bands. A closer look of course revealed a whole lot more.
She is a fascinating unique persona with her own set of contradictions. Highly intellectual, she's stated that she entered the adult industry willingly in an attempt to explore her own sexuality.
The presentation began with her being interviewed by Pitchfork alumni Brandon Stosuy, someone she sometimes collaborates with on other projects:
She talked about embracing female sexuality and working with Steven Soderburgh, on the film The Girlfriend Experience. She did her best to steer the conversation toward her transition out of adult film and into mainstream acting. When asked about her decision to start doing porn, she talked about growing up in an environment that made her uncomfortable with her sexuality.
“Women are constantly told to be sexy, but never sexual.”
There were parts of her speech that seemed transparent
”Using my body as a canvas, as the tool is the most important thing, when I first got into the adult industry, I decided to take my photography much more seriously. I started taking a camera with me to capture my experiences on set, so it was a moment in time, a memory for myself—not the video that would be seen by thousands of people"
For the most part, she was well-spoken and confident. During audience questions she graciously accepted a barrage of creepy and pathetic praises one overweight bald man slung at her:
“You’re so courageous. Look at all the brunettes in here. Look at all the black, I’ll wear black until they find something darker.”
"How do I tell my 39-year old son I’m a Sasha junkie?”
Everyone but her totally fucking cringed - her response? -
“Anytime’s a good time, my good man!”
Later in the evening I was asked to participate in a video journal for the Daily along with Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson (The Roots) (how's that for full-circle, not to mention I'm a huge fan...sidenote: I guess I'm not famous enough as they didn't use my footage in the finished product) and I heard Sasha tell Questo that that dude comes to all of her events on the East Coast so she's dealt with him before that's why she seemed so unfazed about it.
The thing that intrigued me so much was there was as many woman there as men if not more. The thing I kept hearing from them was that Sasha was somehow their first girl-crush and the inspiration to explore their own sexuality she provides. Others were there because Sasha is kinda the it-girl of the moment and also becoming influential in the fashion world as well as noticed by all the hipster fashionitas in line. It looked more like an American Apparel ad then a seedy porn event (which admittedly I had feared it had potential to become). All this talk about cross-over is no longer talk, its actually real.
One of the things Sasha and I spoke about is that she's also a musician. Her band Atelecine has yet to play a show, but released a great 7" last year A Vigilant Carpark (think Salem or Merzbow). She asked me if I had the new 12", and in order to answer honestly. I had to mention something, that in hindsight I probably shouldn't have. See, I pre-ordered that record a long 13 months ago from its makeshift label/distributor Pendu Sound in Brooklyn. It was supposed to arrive in May 2010 - I get an email saying its been pushed to November 2010. Though I saw reviews of it announcing its release, here it was March 2011, and I still hadn't received it.
I mentioned that I ordered it and she asked me what I thought and I told her that I never received it.
Poor girl is here to do a book signing, this isn't the fucking complaint department for Pendu Sound, why did I even fucking mention it? - But she was gracious, asked me if I had a card and wrote a note to herself on the back of it and said she wanted to ensure I got what I ordered. (She even followed thru with me via Twitter a few weeks later....which was insanely awesome and so great of her...but for the sake of the story...I still never received my record).
An interesting concept in theory, a porn star choosing to document her experiences living as a character in a fantasy world of sexuality. Or, that is to say, Marina Ann Hantzis (Sasha's real name) documenting Sasha Grey.
Pornography by and large is a lowest common denominator industry. The scenes that Sasha filmed for a porn movie would ultimately be edited by someone else who would, in turn, project their opinions on what is erotic or sexy based most likely on what would sell the most units. Leaving Sasha's goal of personal exploration a singular journey that none of us could ever hope to join.
So as I mentioned, in theory, a photo diary of Sasha's experiences within that world could prove to be a very interesting perspective. Captured and edited by her own hand, snapshots of moments that allow the viewer to estimate and empathize with the moment.
However, Neu Sex never truly feels intimate. As a book of photos by a creative, mysterious and interesting persona it succeeds. But as an intimate glimpse into that world, I'm not sure it succeeds. The photos feel self-aware which wouldn't be a bad thing if there were images that also contrasted that ever-persistent awareness
Sasha Grey (DJ set) - Lizard Lounge - August 14th 2011- Dallas, TX
Ok so the next night was something that I was greatly anticipating. Erin had been wanting to see me DJ but I didn't dare tell her about this gig because her jealousy would have compromised the event for me and I wasn't going to risk that after practically begging the owner of the Lizard Lounge to let me do this gig with one of the hottest and most amazing women in the history of the world.
She's an actress, writer, photographer, musician and former adult film star. Sasha Grey made her Hollywood breakthrough performance as the star of Steven Soderbergh’s 2009 motion picture The Girlfriend Experience. Sasha has continued to solidify her talents through various mainstream acting roles. At The New Museum in New York city, she took on the character of “Molly Millions” for a stage performance of Brody Condon’s Case, a reading of William Gibson’s Neuromancer. She also guest starred as herself on Entourage as my dude Adrien Grenier's girlfriend.
Musically, Sasha has contributed vocals on albums for Current 93 and Lee “Scratch” Perry. Her band, aTelecine, released A Vigilant Car Park in 2009 and is releasing a second full-length album this Fall. Sasha’s photography book Neu Sex released came out last year.
I had met her twice before, once at an informal gathering at a club while hanging with Adrian and Ari in Los Angeles, and the second time at the book release for Neu Sex earlier this year at Housing Works in NYC. Both times, she was amazingly cool and radiant beyond words.
She's as smart as you have heard and at 22, I was amazed at her knowledge of soul music. Both times I was successful in making her laugh considerably so I can check that one off the list.
Still we don't really know each other and when I heard that she was doing a DJ tour I thought "I have to do a gig with her!" - I knew it would be virtually impossible in LA or NYC so when I heard that we were gonna be in Dallas at the same time, I jumped on it and got the gig.
Just like last time, we had an easy rapport and got along great. I've heard people say they think of her as icy but in my experience she was always fun and eager to laugh - and do I even need to say anything about impossibly attractive she is?
She's also a really good DJ, and is into some really cool stuff. She likes alot of German industrial stuff like Einstuerzende Neubauten and Kraftwerk and really weird goth art-school shit like Genesis P Orridge and Brion Gysin, but her mix was creative and inspired and I liked it alot. You can listen to some of it right here -
DJ'n with Sasha Grey - January 28th 2012 - McFadden's - Addison, TX
So lightening struck twice for me as I got to do a DJ gig with Sasha Grey back in August and now I was getting the chance to do it again. I expected her last time to be super icy and all diva'd out but she was just the opposite. Totally cool, eager to laugh and I really enjoyed the gig. Not to mention, she was nothing but the epitome of perfection in terms of the way she looked and carried herself. I knew nothing of this place as this was their Grand Opening weekend and Sasha's appearance was just that of a promotional tool. This will not be the only time I will use to word tool to describe this establishment or its staff.
In this case however, Sasha is just another celebrity making a decent amount of money "hosting" parties around the country by "DJ'n" and saying a few words.
In this capacity this puts her closer to a Real World cast member than say DJ Shadow and quite frankly the whole thing seemed below her or at least in terms of the level of esteem that I hold for her.
For someone who's stage name is a cross between the singer of KMFDM and The Pictures of Dorian Grey and in an high-brow art band and is lauded just as much for her taste/intelligence as her looks, this place couldn't be any further from those aspirations. This was frat-house city, the latest breast-araunt and its patrons don't give a shit or are even aware of art-house Sasha, they were there to get a glimpse of the old porn star Sasha.