Sundance Film Review: Hot Girls Wanted

Posted January 31, 2015 in
Hot Girls Wanted
Porn is a shady industry. Film: Hot Girls Wanted, Photo: Ronna Gradus

Hot Girls Wanted
Sundance Film Festival
Directors: Jill Bauer, Ronna Gradus

Hot Girls Wanted principally examines Tressa’s (aka Stella May) foray into amateur porn. She is a case study for this documentary that reveals the competitive reality of the amateur-porn machine that renders 18- and 19-year-old girls starry-eyed once they learn—often via Craigslist—of how much money they can make per scene. Three months is the marker at which most girls survive in the industry, however, lest they consistently take less desirable work in genres mentioned in the film like facial abuse (which induces female actors fellating males to vomit), hardcore bondage and even as ethnically niche as “Latina abuse.” Such is the case with Tressa, who lives with about four other girls in talent agent Riley’s house, who helps them contract with porn producers and takes a 10-percent cut. Tressa has a mom, dad and boyfriend, Kendall, in Arlington, Texas; her mom and Kendall cope with her professional porn life as Tressa struggles to unveil her occupation to her father. Other female actors alongside Tressa in Riley’s house include Rachel (aka Ava Taylor) and Jade (aka Ava Kelly). They view participating in porn mostly as their job and write off bad scenes as going to work and generating a consumable good for sites that garner 41 million hits per month, thereby increasing their own online visibility and branding. Work it is indeed—the documentary shows the girls experiencing exhaustion from and disillusionment with having so much sex, and Tressa even incurs a cyst behind one labium. Hot Girls Wanted effectively demonstrates that despite the sense of independence and empowerment they may feel in doing porn (with Belle Knox being a feminist counterexample to the mentality of the film’s subjects), the porn industry imbibes and regurgitates them as expendable commodities. In the post-film Q&A after the screening on Saturday, Jan. 31, at the Egyptian Theatre, Director Ronna Gradus indicated that most of the female actors come from an American working-class background without any feminist role models growing up. The conversation led to the suggestion that the lack of sex education in America could lead to any young woman, regardless of monetary wealth, to enter this industry without the lenses of sex safety or genuine feminine empowerment. I would be surprised if Hot Girls Wanted doesn’t get picked up for broader circulation—it’s an informative and necessary film. –Alexander Ortega

Screenings: N/A