Sasha Grey is the adult industry's reigning princess of porn, a rock & roll 21-year-old with an actual mission statement — "Most of the XXX I see is boring, and does not arouse me physically or visually. I am determined and ready to be a commodity that fulfills everyone's fantasies" — and few taboos. Rolling Stone's Vanessa Grigoriadis jumped into Grey's wild world for a profile in the new issue, and describes the Kate Beckinsale lookalike as "the smartest person I've ever met in that industry" (Grigoriadis has previously visited porn sets to profile XXX goddesses like Jenna Jameson).
Though the pornography biz has been reshaped by the recession and the digital age, Grey has managed to make the jump from bondage flicks on the 'Net to a Steven Soderbergh film at the Tribeca Film Festival. But as Grigoriadis quickly learned, Grey is far from a typical porn star. She's co-managed by Dave Navarro, pals with Billy Corgan and cites French director Jean-Luc Godard in everyday conversation. While most porn actresses would jump at the chance to get naked on the Howard Stern Show, Sasha wants to appear on the shock jock's program with a Palestinian flag wrapped around her breasts to confront the man she believes is a closet racist.
Soon, Grey will be seen on the big screen as a call girl in Soderbergh's The Girlfriend Experience "She definitely has higher aspirations, far larger than porn," says Grigoriadis. "She wants to get into indie mainstream film; I can't see her being interested in any Michael Bay projects," she adds, referring to the director of blockbusters like Transformers. "She took acting lessons for 10 years in Sacramento, so she wants to be an actress."
Grey also told Grigoriadis she aspires to be like controversial French author/director Catherine Breillat, who elevated conventional pornography into something more artistic and sumptuous. "She is not that interested in a lot of the porn she shoots anymore," Grigoriadis tells Rock Daily. "She said, 'I don't need to see genitalia up close; I don't need to see a dirty yellow couch against a white wall. I want to see something different, like this is not exciting to me.' "
Grigoriadis, who profiled Taylor Swift for the country crossover's Rolling Stone cover story, reveals she sees some similarities between the unlikely pair of young stars. "There's some interesting comparisons there about two women who are incredibly precocious for their ages and really driven, ambitious and also really sure that their point of view is the right one, and that what they are doing is liberating for women," Grigoriadis says. "Both of them are very clear that they think that what they're doing [is feminist], even though Sasha's case is completely different than Taylor's." Grey, a 1970s film nut and bohemian who avoids listening to the radio, told Grigoriadis she's never even heard of Taylor Swift.
"To me, what's most important about her is her impact on feminism," Grigoriadis says. "Porn has been one of feminism's most divisive issues because it hits on such a raw level to so many woman. Here are the fantasies of men, and it's of course better to live out those fantasies through pornography than to try to do them in the real world, but the fact is the real world is impacted by it. Grey says, 'If you look at me and you think "Here's a woman who's intelligent, cognizant and making her own choices, and you still tell me that what I'm doing is wrong, screw you, because that should end the debate.' "
To read our full Sasha Grey feature, check out the new issue of Rolling Stone.