Will Sasha Grey ever be "post-porn"?

Can the former adult film star leave her sexy image behind? Does she even want to?

By Drew Grant
Published March 30, 2011 3:31PM (EDT)

Sasha Grey wants you to know she's more than a pretty face that you've seen screaming in ecstasy. The 23-year-old adult film actress is also a legit celebrity, appearing in last season's "Entourage" as well as starring in Steven Soderbergh's "The Girlfriend Experience." She's also a musician, playing with artists such as David Tibet and Lee "Scratch" Perry, and recently published a book of sexy photos of herself, "Neü Sex." The Daily spoke to Sasha after her appearance at Housing Works bookstore, where she was promoting her book.

Sasha is a troubling figure for me, particularly because I want to believe in her: that a young woman can have total agency in the world of sex work, and that she can then expand her horizons and be known for other things. But the problem with Sasha is that even though she's taken a hiatus from being a porn star, she still uses that credential to validate everything she does. So while "The Girlfriend Experience" wasn't about an adult film actress, it was about a high-paid escort, a not-so-subtle leap for audience members who know her only from her AVN work. And when she's on "Entourage," she's playing Sasha Grey, a porn star who has no problem showing Vincent Chase (and HBO viewers) full frontal.

Which isn't to say that Sasha should pretend that Hollywood isn't interested in her past in porn, only that if she does want to be taken seriously as a legitimate ... whatever ... she needs to have another trick in her bag. Some actual talent would be nice (although she was incredible in her more infamous films, she often comes off as wooden and flat in her mainstream appearances), and she should be making some smarter choices than appearing in this PETA ad in 2009, in which she was compared to a neutered dog

Ultimately, I'm not sure I see what's so empowering about going from being objectified in one line of entertainment to being objectified by the more kid-friendly Hollywood. She's still working off her looks, but then again, she's never claimed to be doing otherwise. It's only now that Sasha is trying to prove she has talents beyond porn, and for that, she'll have to show, not tell. She may be known as the "smart porn star," but listening to her say things like "Having control allows for a completely different sense of vulnerability that isn't often shown," in a sound bite sums up the actress's whole persona for me: It all sounds really good at first until you realize that it doesn't make very much sense at all.


Drew Grant

Drew Grant is a staff writer for Salon. Follow her on Twitter at @videodrew.

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Celebrity Pornography Sex Television