Thursday, the episode of syndicated schlock program "The Tyra Banks Show" featuring industry It girl Sasha Grey is scheduled to air. And if it would interest you at all to see an internationally famed TV personality knocked off-guard and upstaged in wit by an 18-year-old porn star, you might want to give it a watch.
Sasha and her agent, Mark Spiegler, were kind enough to bring me along with them for the taping of the show, and I watched with relish from Sasha's dressing room as she calmly and ever-so-eloquently threw Banks for a loop over and over again, making her resort each time to her only (literal) out, cutting to commercial.
To illustrate the topic at hand — teens working in the sex industry — Banks wrangled Sasha and "Victoria," a still-underage girl who began hooking at 14. Now just at face value, if the disparity between those two isn't screamingly apparent, then obviously, in the words of The Dude, you're not a golfer. But let's just put that aside and concentrate on Sasha and what actually came out of her mouth.
Repeating many times over that she chose the X-rated path as a means of "self-exploration," the intrepid Ms. Grey rebutted each probing "But why?" from Banks with the perfectly rational and well-articulated chorus that this was something she had thoroughly researched, thought out and approached with the utmost professionalism, and that if it wasn't hurting her and it wasn't hurting anybody else, it wasn't a problem. To which Banks recurrently responded, "Let's go to a break … this is very difficult for me."
Difficult for her to counter, perhaps.
Later, the host brought in Dr. Drew Pinsky of "Loveline" fame for his expert opinion. "The thinking here is very distorted," Pinsky said. "A heroin addict does it because that's what they want to do, but it's destructive."
Pinsky went on to say that if Sasha continues to do the sort of things she does in her movies (i.e. a whole lot of anal), she'll be wearing diapers by the time she's 30. Sasha attempted to jump in with a contradiction to that assessment, but was cut off.
One point she did manage to voice, however, which made for a moment of unequivocal glory, was that the profit reaped by others from her porn work was no more or less a case of exploitation than her appearance right there on Banks' show, for which she wasn't being paid.
"People are making money off of me, you, and her [referring to the eye-dabbing "Victoria"] crying right now," Sasha shot directly at Banks. "What's the difference?" Banks' response? "We'll be right back."
Now, I could pontificate about the delicious irony of all of this, but I'll just pass along some of Sasha's own comments from shortly after the taping, when I gave her the opportunity to say a few of the things on record that Tyra and crew didn't let her:
"For Dr. Drew, I mean, come on. Come on. He's trying to use heroin analogies for a young woman who is completely aware of what she's doing. There's really no balance there whatsoever. He's even had Nina Hartley on his show, and she explained that anal sex is not gonna fuckin' make you wear diapers by the time you're 30. That's ridiculous.
"[Banks] kept saying, 'This is a young girl, she looks like a middle school girl,' but they dressed me up in pink and put studded earrings in me … so they could portray me the way they wanted to. They definitely tried to portray me as a victim, and I knew they were going to do that, but if you watch the show and you're an intelligent person … I think maybe I changed a few minds. Maybe I opened a few minds, as well. I mean, there's still going to be the crowd that's, 'Oh, this poor young girl, Tyra's gonna fix her,' but there is nothing to be fixed. I'm not a victim of my circumstances, that's complete b.s., and what I'm doing is not self-destructive. I cognitively chose this as my career. I'm not a statistic."
Once again, the episode is scheduled to air Thursday, Feb. 8; check local listings for time and channel.