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Netflix Doc 'Hot Girls Wanted' Humanizes the Teenagers We Objectify in Our Porn

By Brian Byrd | Streaming | June 4, 2015 | Comments ()

By Brian Byrd | Streaming | June 4, 2015 |



Of all the thoughts bouncing around our heads while watching porn, the backstories of the girls getting bent over the kitchen counter by the surprisingly ripped postal worker with a thick Eastern European accent don’t typically rise to the top. Porn serves a singular purpose. The less we know about those involved, the better. Humanizing the participants is a counterproductive distraction, like naming a cow five minutes before you drive a bolt through its head. Even the most empathetic individuals would admit to carving out exceptions for pornography, because to see these actors as anything but objects torpedoes the entire exercise. Your enjoyment level plummets dramatically when Sexy Brunette With Epic Rack becomes Aunt Mabel’s granddaughter.

“We’re just processed meat,” says Rachel, one of the stars of Hot Girls Wanted, a captivating documentary examining the amateur porn industry. “As long as you have boobs and a vagina and an ass, that’s all that matters. They don’t care about who you actually are.”

Anyone interested in remaining emotionally detached from their masturbation materials should probably avoid Hot Girls Wanted. The Sundance hit from directors Jill Bauer and Ronna Gradus and producer Rashida Jones (yes, that Rashida Jones) forces viewers to confront the uncomfortable truth that the young girls we use for sexual gratification online are also daughters, girlfriends or sisters, former high school cheerleaders and aspiring photographers, well-rounded human beings who frequently struggle with their decision to fuck on camera for money.

The doc follows five young girls — Rachel, Tressa, Jade, Michelle and Karly — as they attempt to rise (or merely survive) in Miami’s seedy, unpredictable amateur porn world. For you overzealous Varys cosplayers out there who don’t succumb to self-gratification, amateur porn utilizes unknown 18-21 year old girls rather than recognized porn stars and shoots video using anything from a GoPro to an iPhone. There are often ludicrous, half-hearted attempts at verisimilitude. “Everything is the same shoot,” Rachel says with disgust. “It’s always your first time. You’re [forced to act] dumb as hell and pretend like you need $500 dollars. So you’re going to get this random dude who you’d never have sex with in real life and have sex with him and say things you’d never say and do things you’d never do. It’s all about the guy getting off. The girl is just there to help.”

Sounds ridiculous, but as Hot Girls Wanted illustrates, the industry’s rapidly increasing popularity creates an insatiable demand for fresh talent. Individuals like Riley, the girls’ agent/handler/pimp, earn serious money by recruiting young women with promises of riches and adventure (Riley, a posthuman Florida Man, is what happens when stained jorts fucks a Confederate flag inside a dilapidated double-wide and forgets to pull out). He posts Craigslist ads with phrases like “Free flight to Miami” to bait the hook. You see this and laugh at the absurdity. Who would fall for a trap this obvious? Then Riley matter-o-factly predicts he’ll have “five responses within 12 hours,” and the grin fades.
riley fuckfface.jpg
The industry’s transient nature is as much of a focal point as the stars themselves. One amateur porn veteran lays out a stark timeline early on. “Worst case scenario for these girls: one to three months,” he says. “Best case scenario? A year tops. Tops.” This later plays out with the film’s subjects. Twenty-five-year-old Jade is a de facto den mother who floats in and out of the industry and now only books MILF videos. After a promising start, Tressa has to accept riskier bondage gigs in order to stay afloat. Other darker, more dangerous opportunities lurk just outside the margins.

Tressa’s relationship with her family and her boyfriend, Kendall, is where Hot Girls Wanted really dials up the discomfort. The filmmakers follow along as she travels home to Texas to visit her parents, the camera lingering on baby pictures and yearbooks and countless other reminders of humanity. It’s tempting to assume most porn stars come from shattered homes with lousy parents. “Your only job is to keep your daughter off the pole,” Chris Rock famously joked. Yet Tressa’s folks appear to be fundamentally attentive, present parents. Their biggest sin appears to be naming their kid “Tressa.” Her mother is more shocked than angry as she tearfully reveals her knowledge of her daughter’s new career. “Not in a million years I’d have thought something like this,” she sobs. “You have so much going on. … She’s the first thing I think of in the morning and she’s the last thing I think of at night. Every. Day. I shouldn’t have to. And it’s not a good think. It’s a worry, it’s an upset, and it’s a stress.”

Kendall initially supports Tressa’s profession but predictably sours on the idea as the relationship grows. Eventually, Kendall asks, “What is the hesitation of you quitting?”

“It’s just the money and the ability to travel everywhere,” says Tressa. “That’s awesome.”

“What’s the cost, though?”

Hot Girls Wanted scatters wonderful human moments like these throughout. Karly spends a weekend finishing the Angela’s Ashes sequel. Tressa and Kendall shuffle uncomfortably as friends at a party ask Tressa where to find her videos. When Rachel and Jade’s learn about Belle Knox, the Duke University student who gained notoriety for acting in porn to support her education, their reaction isn’t surprise or solidarity. “This bitch, dude!” Rachel says. “She’s one of 100,000 bitches doing the same…fucking…thing.” “She has a really good PR person,” agrees Jade. Rachel gets stoned and unleashes a freestyle abysmal enough to make you pine for a new Iggy Azalea track.

Ultimately, Hot Girls Wanted makes you care about the main players while doubling as a David Simon-esque commentary about how little things truly change as a result of this newfound knowledge. Sure, we see these girls as much more than attractive sexual objects. The next time you visit your preferred porn site, though, you’ll watch a video starring a girl whose parents you haven’t met. Will one hour-long documentary really alter how we think about pornography? Doubtful. And even though a few of the leads leave the game, eight new seemingly interchangeable girls occupy Riley’s pad by the end of the film.

Where’d you find Riley? the filmmakers ask.

“Craigslist!”

What made you want to do porn?

“Sex!” “Money!” Sex and money!” answer the daughters, sisters, friends and lovers.


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