Rashida Jones - from Parks and Recreation - produced the 2015 Netflix documentary Hot Girls Wanted. Depending on your taste, the 2008 crime drama Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father could top the list of the most depressing documentaries ever made, but Hot Girls Wanted may give even Dear Zachary a run for its emotional money.
The documentary deals with the dark side of the adult film industry, presenting facts about what goes on in front of and behind the camera through the lens of a houseful of aspiring young stars near Miami, Florida. The story is especially poignant because it's real people sharing real experiences. Jones produced the film as a passion project to call attention to the fact that there's no proactive regulation in the sex industry, which she maintains only serves to further harm, risk, and stigmatize its workers. Jones says she has no problem with real sex in film, but her goal is to shed light on bad practices inside a fast-and-loose industry. To each his or her own - as long as it's safe and consensual. In an unregulated, unmonitored industry, that's not often the case.
On its face - and with its suggestive cover - the film pulls in viewers under incredibly sexy pretenses, like a modern-day Pretty Woman. But all too soon, viewers figure out that Richard Gere isn't coming to the rescue. The intricate realities of life as a sex worker in America, as told by filmmakers following some of the girls who aren't faking it, is about as heart-wrenching as it gets. Hot Girls Wanted confronts some of what lies behind the sexy front of adult entertainment.
Females Are Held To A Higher Standard Of Aesthetics Than Males
19-year-old Brooklyn Daniels is another performer featured in Hot Girls Wanted. Like most of Reynold's "barely legal" performers, a heaping portion of makeup is necessary to cover her crop of acne while she finishes the throes of adolescence. But instead of goofy selfies in front of a camera, she's standing in front of a white backdrop as a portly male photographer gives his unyielding, relentless critiques. "I don't know what you're doing with your mouth there," he tells her flatly when she tries a new pose. "I have no idea what you're doing."
The photographer continues: "Remember - I wanna give you my money... I wanna pay you this thousand dollars, but your face is killing me right now! My boner's going down now - you gotta help me out, baby." He mimics a football player about to tackle someone, and she explains that she's tense but corrects herself as best she can. Then, Reynolds, who scouted Brooklyn, makes an appearance in a tee that reads: "I Rented This Hooker." Brooklyn stands next to him as they both preview the shots taken moments before.
The girls who live in one of Reynold's "model apartments" must pay for their own make-up, wardrobe, and other beauty-related expenses.
'Facial Abuse' Is A Growing Trend
There's actually a site that specializes in "facial abuse," and it's famous for taking oral to the extreme. By extreme, the goal is to penetrate a woman's face so carelessly and vigorously as to make her vomit. These abuse porn sites rack up 60 million hits per month. Hot Girls Wanted contends that 40% of online adult video sites are comprised of violence against women.
Off camera, a man with a high-pitched voice offers his own brand of what Ava calls "Latina abuse," which is stereotyping her personality all the while telling her he hates that. He addresses her using expletives and derogatory terms. Then he slaps her and spits on her face as he instructs her to say degrading things about herself. He verbally and physically abuses her with a sex toy until she vomits.
In another facial abuse video, Belle Knox (who later went on The View to talk about her experiences as a Duke student by day and an adult video star by night) is choked and dragged off a couch while crying expletives at her attacker, who's more than eager to slap her confused face. The violence is all part of the film's direction.
An Obsession With Underage Videos Is Driving The Teen Craze
In one candid scene, new girl Brooklyn Daniels is told she can't get breast implants at the age of 18 because she's been hired to rep the teen category, where a more underdeveloped look is preferable. She'll get booked for lots of "this is my first time" types of shoots, if she plays her cards right. According to the performers, your mid-20s is considered old for the industry, and older performers migrate towards MILF roles in films.
Ava Taylor confirms what it's like as a teen performer: "Everything is the same shoot: It's always your 'first time,' or 'I'm dumb as hell and I need $500, so I'm gonna get this random dude who I would never have sex with in real life." Ava also laments how male pleasure is the focal point of the productions: "It's all about the guy getting off. The girl's just there to help."
The documentary cuts to a scene where a young blonde who's locked her keys in her car is now in a back alley undoing a man's belt buckle as she kneels before him. "I've never done anything like this," the actress coos innocently after the male performer asks for oral in return for his assistance.
Each Year, Thousands of 18 To 20-Year-Olds Join The Adult Film Industry
According to the film, thousands of post-high school grads are finding employment in the adult entertainment industry each year. "It's really not that hard to take advantage of an 18-year-old that's [having sex] on camera," admits actress Stella May. "Most girls would say yes to anything; if it has a dollar sign in front of it, sign me up." In the Digital Age, teen performers are plunging into the tech-media world of "nothing ever gets erased."
Jones explains how part of her aim in making the documentary was to draw attention to the exploitation of teens and how their choices could affect their futures. However, filmmakers of Hot Girls Wanted have also been accused of exploitation, as they used some of the performer's real names without their consent. The performers expressed a perceived level of anonymity within their adult film careers, and the exposure on Netflix left some feeling vulnerable - to both stalkers as well as social stigmas.