Someone Needs a Career Change 

A Life in Porn with the Girl Next Door

GOOD PORN DOCUMENTARIES are not made for the same people who like watching pornography. They're made for amateur sociologists, women's studies students, and scholarly voyeurs. The well-made ones are often depressing, delving deeply into the subject's psyche, and indulging the audience in the ultimate question: What moves a person to choose pornography as profession?

Girl Next Door gives all the right answers. It's the story of Stacy Valentine, a flaxen and buxom porn star who's an anti-pornographer's dream. On the surface, Stacy's tumultuous path to porn is straight from a textbook: absent/abusive father, controlling ex-husband, high school promiscuity, low self-esteem. One minute, Stacy tells us the reason she is in porn is because her ex-husband coaxed her into it. The next minute, she says it's all just because she really, really likes sex. She's unable to establish real intimacy with her boyfriend (also a porn star) because of trust issues. She's got an unhealthy relationship with her body. As the documentary unfolds, we see Stacy Valentine not only faking loud, whimpering orgasms, but getting extensive plastic surgery. (Girl Next Door's gut-churning operating room scenes are probably more graphic than any glossy porn Stacy's ever made.)

Stacy Valentine is a certifiable mess, and she fits into every sexually confused, psychological stereotype imaginable. The reason she inspires so much sympathy, then, is because she is truly the girl next door. At the beginning of the movie, Stacy is on the set. She is oiled and heavily made up, her peroxide hair is swept into a fuck-me chignon, and she's being very professional. At other points, we see Stacy at home with her cat, wearing a pink Polo shirt and no make-up, and she looks more like a girl in a Noxzema commercial than a woman who just filmed a hot sex scene by a swimming pool. In another part of the film, she's been nominated in five categories for the Adult Video Awards, including one for Performer of the Year. When she loses, she walks around dejectedly, as if she's just lost a tennis tournament.

As with most porn documentaries, there is nothing sexy about Girl Next Door. (After I watched it with a friend, he said, "I've never felt so un-horny in my life.") It's a well done, uncomfortable portrait/ morality tale of a sad, confused person who is unconscious about why she's chosen porn as a profession. Sadly, the audience can figure it out all too easily.

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