The porn industry certainly isn’t what it used to be. In fact, it’s safe to say that the porn industry has almost gone mainstream. I say almost, because you can’t access hardcore porn on Netflix or Stan or one of the other popular streaming sites that are increasingly becoming the norm for watching movies and television at home. It’s not far off I suspect. In the meantime the porn industry – as it’s always done – continues to eat its young. Hot Girls Wanted (2015) offers a fly-on-the-wall observation on one wee wedge of newbies, green and fresh off the boat. Soon enough they’ll have jumped ship or have the calluses and lost expression to prove their porn mettle.
Originally intended as an exploration of male consumption of porn on American college campuses the women filmmakers soon changed tack when they discovered the vast majority of porn watched by the students was of young girls, 18-early 20s. Directed and co-produced by Jill Bauers (co-produced by Quincy Jones’ actor and singer daughter Rashida) the Netflix documentary focuses on a small bunch of young women who have recently entered the amateur end of the industry and follows their working behaviour and aspirations over a period of a few months.
The filmmakers are not interested in offering their own voices, but it’s clear which direction the moral compass points. This is designed very pointedly as a cautionary tale. The stats that are illustrated are sobering at best, but mostly disturbing. The reality though is that this documentary is not a study about the dangerous allure of the porn industry, although that siren calls loud enough, this is a portrait of impressionable young women making poor life choices. Some escape bruised and scarred, some become hardened soldiers on the frontline, and some end up as casualties on the battlefield.
Much of the documentary follows young Tressa Silguero, barely out of her teens, who goes by the name of Stella May. Along with Rachel Bernard, who calls herself Ava Taylor, and a couple of others, they share accommodation in the Miami house of Riley Reynolds, a 23-year-old pro-amateur porn agent, who runs Hussie Models, and likes to think he’s living the dream. They all answered an ad on Craig’s List, and the bottom line is, they like sex and want to earn big bucks. Fair enough. However, the harsh reality is that most of the girls who enter the pro-am industry don’t last much longer than a month or two, six if they’re lucky, a year tops if they look after their skin, stay trim, and get a publicist. The pro-am industry is more hungry and ruthless than you can imagine.
Because California has a law that performers in the porn industry have to use condoms a lot of the pro-am agents set-up base in Florida, which doesn’t have the same restrictions. This way they can get their amateur talent to get down and dirty. While more people each month visit porn sites than Amazon, Twitter, and Netflix combined, there is a darker shark prowling the waters; consensual abuse. These are pro-am porn sites where the young girls are throttled, tied-up, beaten, and given forced blow-jobs until they vomit. And the demand for these sites is increasing. It is this section of the documentary that really shocks.
What’s even more alarming is the young girls who allow themselves to be degraded and humiliated for the sake of these videos and then claim on camera that they are not being damaged. Because they are being paid to participate in a so-called controlled and safe environment and as long as the people paying (although much of it is free if you know where to find it) and watching this violent content aren’t committing the acts in the “real” world then it’s okay. How deluded can you be?!
These young girls are sad and pathetic. They are living behind a black-and-blue dream fabric. But they are adults and they have the right to make their own life decisions. When considering who this documentary is really aimed at consider that there is no nudity, let alone actual sex depicted. The filmmakers and Netflix want the widest demographic possible to see this. The language is explicit, and the tone is cold and stark. At its core it’s a disquieting exposé on the some of the harsher truths – exploitative labour and social conditioning – about the world’s second oldest profession (or oldest, depending on which way you look at it).
One can argue Hot Girls Wanted is a warts-and-all look at entry-level pro-am, but it becomes clear its a thinly-veiled guise for porn shaming, and the hard truth is that in the long run it won’t succeed.
—- film review by Bryn Tilly of cultprojections.com