WATCH: Sasha Grey on her first big failure, moving on from adult films, new projects
There's so much more to Sasha Grey than her former career as a porn star.
Today, at just 26, she has already co-starred with actor Elijah Wood in acclaimed Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo's thriller Open Windows (2014); actors Thomas Jane, Jeremy Piven, Robe Lowe, and Carla Gugino in director Mark Pellington's indie film I Melt with You (2011); actor Adrian Grenier in the seventh season of the Mark Wahlberg-produced HBO tv series Entourage (2010); and Oscar award winner director Steven Soderbergh, best known for Ocean's Eleven and Erin Brockovich, in The Girlfriend Experience (2009), an experimental drama that captured the zeitgeist of the financial crisis of the time through experiences of a call girl whose clientele includes bankers and businessmen.
She has also, among other things, authored two erotic thriller novels and currently finishing a third and provided voice acting for the video game Saints Row: The Third. She is even the former vocalist of industrial band aTelecine, provided vocals for the likes of Throbbing Gristle, and appeared in the music videos of The Roots, Eminem, and The Smashing Pumpkins. It is her latest foray into music as deejay that brings her to Metro Manila tonight, November 13.
Grey is performing at Hyve in Taguig as part of her 'Here I Am tour that includes stops in India, Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, and South Korea. Rappler talked to the artist today hours before her performance.
Music means a lot to Grey. She attests, “I love music. I guess I’m lucky to come from a household where I listened to all genres of music, I was exposed to every genre of music and it was encouraged, so it was nice to have that around me growing up because I felt like my peers didn’t necessarily have that. Everybody was sort of stuck in their own genre, in their own world.”
Watch Grey talk about getting into music here:
Her stage name itself is inspired by both music and literature. Born Marina Ann Hantzis on March 14, 1988, she took the name “Sasha” from Sascha Konietzko, of the German rock band KMFDM, and the name “Grey” from Oscar Wilde's novel The Picture of Dorian Gray.
No easy time
Grey has paid her dues. After attending Sacramento City College where she took classes in film, dance, and acting in 2005, she saved enough money working at a restaurant to move to Los Angeles a year later to pursue a career in acting.
“You have to know what it's like to struggle, I think, to appreciate what you do have,” Grey declares.
Shortly after reaching the legal age of 18, she entered the adult film industry. In 2007 and 2008, she won several explicit categories from the AVN Adult Movie Awards.
Despite baring all and doing everything onscreen – and precisely because of it – Grey remains a deeply private person. She explains, “I think a lot of people expose a lot of themselves and I know that's an ironic thing for me to say, but I don't like to divulge a lot about my family and friends because I know how insane the public can be. And while that's a burden I have to deal with, I don't even want that to be a burden for my loved ones. So I always try to draw a line there.”
After appearing in more than 50 adult films in a span of just three years and winning numerous awards, the entrepreneurial Grey naturally wanted to expand and take control of the business side of the industry. But this proved to be a cataclysmic experience for her. It was also providence.
Grey recalls, “When I made the transition [from porn to mainstream], it was after The Girlfriend Experience  and I was still performing in adult films, and I was still auditioning and going out to do the press for The Girlfriend Experience.
I started my own company [Grey Art Productions, 2009] with an old business business partner – this is an adult production company – and within 3 months the company just imploded. I decided, this is it. I can either start from scratch and find me financing. Or I can take these other opportunities that are coming at me and really being offered to me and take it seriously.”
Grey Art Productions had signed a deal with Spice Digital Networks in 2009, poised as it was to become one of a few elite few companies who have an output deal with the leading broadcast adult content provider, before things fell apart that same year.
Watch Grey talk about her earlier failures here:
That brave decision has led to success in mainstream entertainment. Besides movies and music, Grey has modeled for for fashion brands Manoukian and American Apparel, and has worked with the controversial fashion photographer Terry Richardson.
Curiously, she has even appeared in the Indonesian horror film Shrouded Corpse Bathing While Hip-Shaking, even while she continues to star in major Hollywood movies and television series. Grey works with multiple media, her reach global, and she herself is restless and relentless.
She admits, “I like to stay busy. I know from the outside, it looks like just a succession of a many things that I've done. But I've also sacrificed a lot. And I've also tried to do other things that don't necessarily always happen. So there's a lot of things behind the scenes. I could be working on two projects at the same time and one will take off and one might not. That's just the way life is in entertainment, wether it's film or music or writing even.
I'm working on the sequel to my novel right now. You never really know. That uneasiness is a big motivator for me, for sure.” – Rappler.com
Writer, graphic designer, and business owner Rome Jorge is passionate about the arts. Formerly the Editor-in-Chief of asianTraveler Magazine, Lifestyle Editor of The Manila Times, and cover story writer for MEGA and Lifestyle Asia Magazines, Rome Jorge has also covered terror attacks, military mutinies, mass demonstrations as well as Reproductive Health, gender equality, climate change, HIV/AIDS and other important issues. He is also the proprietor of Strawberry Jams Music Studio.
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