HOT GIRLS WANTED screened as part of the U.S. Documentary Competition at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. For more information, head here.
Hot Girls Wanted, directed by Jill Bauer and Ronna Gradus, offers an unprecedented and observant “peeking through the window” kind of look into the world of amateur porn.
Amateur porn is exactly what it sounds like: pornography that is meant to look more natural and less like a fantasy. Thanks to the internet, amateur porn has exploded, with certain sites getting more hits than Amazon (said a statistic that flashed across the screen at the beginning of the doc). The internet even plays a part in recruiting new girls, using sites like Craigslist to post wanted ads.
One such ad is what made a young girl named Tressa decide to skip college and move to Miami in hopes to become a big star. She wanted to get away from her family and do something for herself (cue Destiny Child’s “Independent Woman, Part 1″) and she’s recruited by a dude (I mean “agent”) named Riley who specializes in a roster of brand-new-to-the-industry girls. The newer the better, because this is amateur porn, remember? Tressa piles into his house with a handful of other girls who range between a day into the industry to a few months.
The doc doesn’t offer up much to educate one on the world of amateur porn other than the first person accounts from these girls and a handful of statistics that flash between scenes. It also manages to stay startlingly unbiased, allowing the girls to casually and candidly share their experiences without pushing it in one way or another. But hearing stories of showing up to a “professional shoot” that ended up being just a guy and a camera (*shudder*) to having to do more extreme scenes like bondage just to make money, it’s hard not to form your own opinion of the industry.
Tressa and the other girls start off optimistic, speaking about wanting to become rich and famous. In some ways, it’s empowering to see these young girls taking control of their lives and making their own money. But in other ways, it’s heartbreaking because the porn industry is tough and these girls are so, so young. Tressa says that she gets tested every few weeks, but isn’t on birth control because they don’t cum inside her. Just, what? No, sweetie. No, no.
Hot Girls Wanted was an interesting doc, but I really wanted it to be more. I found the Q&A, with members from Kinsey Institute for Sex Research (who contributed to the doc) in attendance, more interesting and arresting. They spoke about their research, including the need for better sex education to empower young people and also remove the mysterious and alluring taboo of sex and porn. Nevertheless, I see Hot Girls Wanted as being an important and vital conversation piece and a sobering look at a word that most of us really want to ignore.
In the words of Salt-N-Pepa, let’s talk about sex.
Siân Melton is covering Sundance for us live from Park City, Utah. Read about her other work, including her Toronto-based film series The MUFF Society, below.