Students in a UCLA class on "Video Production in the Arts" got a highly unconventional visit Thursday from 2007 AVN Best New Starlet nominee Sasha Grey.
Recruited by class T.A. Jaynie Aydin after she read Grey's profile in the November issue of Los Angeles Magazine, the precocious porn star answered questions and supplied her own prepared musings on topics ranging from her classification as a gonzo girl to the works of Jean-Luc Godard.
The session was moderated by professor John Bishop, a self-proclaimed "ethnographic filmmaker" who in his introduction of Grey remarked that it had been her own interest in Godard which intrigued him to have her in, quipping, "There are only six people in the world who like Godard, so I knew you must be OK."
Grey's invitation to the class was tied in to a visit Tuesday by director Kirby Dick, whose documentary This Film Is Not Yet Rated explores the guidelines used by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to determine what constitutes too much sexuality for an R rating.
Although Grey fielded a lot of standard "civilian" questions about the industry, the broader focus of the discussion revolved around porn as a veritable movie genre. As sort of a thesis statement to that end, Bishop called pornography "the most honest depiction of lovemaking in film today ... almost like documentary."
Going on to share his reaction to a "piece" of Grey's that he viewed in preparation for her visit, Bishop said he was particularly struck by her direct banter to the camera, remarking, "It was disarming! You called me a pervert!" Grey responded that she always does that during her scenes — sometimes to the director's liking and sometimes not — because it allows her to connect with the audience.
On the subject of directing, Grey expressed her opinion that there are no true directors in porn, just "glorified cameramen," though she did concede at one point that titles in the feature category do tend to have high production values and look very professional.
Upon one student's bringing up the hot-button topic of the format battle between HD DVD and the Blu-ray Disc, Grey stated simply, "I hate HD for porn. It doesn't look good, especially when you have lube all over your body. I think it's an opportunity to make even more bad porn movies."
And that's the very opposite of what Grey aspires to make. The current industry darling cited numerous career ambitions, from improving adult industry health care to starting a talent union to putting together a graphic novel, a photography book, an autobiography, and even a mockumentary in the vein of Boogie Nights meets The Office (the BRITISH Office, she was sure to note).
Grey told the class that she also wants to produce independent films. Since entering the business, she has begun work on a documentary that will follow her from her current age of 18 to the time she turns 21.
In response to Bishop's again invoking Jean-Luc Godard ("I could see doing a gonzo Godard film," he intoned), Grey revealed that she's been approached by a producer in Montreal about playing the lead in a pornographic version of Godard's Breathless.
Grey's visit to the class not only served as a crossover event of a heretofore uncharted nature (for a still-fresh porn starlet, anyway) — into the halls of academia — but significantly galvanized adult's status as a valid form of art.
"I'm a performance artist," Grey pronounced. "[What I do] inspires men and women. A lot of my fans don't even watch porn. People are finding me in different ways than watching porn."