Aroused: Film Review

Aroused Film Still by Deborah Anderson - H 2013

Aroused Film Still by Deborah Anderson - H 2013

Beautiful porn stars photographed nude in sexually provocative poses. And, oh yes, they discuss their lives as well.

Deborah Anderson's documentary profiles 16 of the most popular female performers in the adult film industry.

Filmmaker Deborah Anderson begins her documentary exploring the lives of sixteen notable adult film performers by proclaiming, “This is not a story about pornography…this is a story about women.”

Well, okay. But the fact that the beautiful profile subjects are constantly seen nude in sexually provocative poses makes Aroused rather more titillating than your typical cinematic sociological study. Although unlikely to attract the sort of raincoat-clad male crowd who by now have retreated to the privacy of their home computers, the film lacks the depth to be much more than a glossily sexy curiosity.

Anderson, a photographer famed for such books and exhibitions as Hollywood Erotique and Room 23, here profiles such well-known—at least to a certain segment of the population—porn stars as Alexis Texas, Kayden Kross, Lexi Belle, Tegan Presley and Misty Stone, as well as the exotically named Belladonna and Asphyxia, among others. Each provides intimate details about their personal and professional lives, the main theme being that they are real people just like anyone else, albeit in a rather more exotic line of work.

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The interviews are edited into brief snippets presented in collage-like fashion, making it hard to get a handle on the individual personalities. Far more provocative is the commentary by a veteran agent, who says of her clients, “They’re not failed actresses…they’ve been promiscuous all their lives.”

Not pulling any punches, she goes on to say, “I think every time they do a scene on camera a tiny bit of their soul disappears.” Explaining that she looks for willing 18-year-olds with “tight bodies,” she needlessly explains that “men don’t want to jerk off to a woman who looks like their wife.”

The actresses themselves frequently describe troubled childhoods, often with absent fathers. But they also demonstrate great pride in their professional achievements which “civilians” are just not able to understand. And although several take pains to point out the differences between their real and cinematic sex lives—“If you want to enjoy porn, never go to a porn set,” one advises--they also exhibit an undeniable enthusiasm for what they do.

“I get paid to have sex!” one gushes. “Why doesn’t everybody do that?”

For one reason, not everybody looks like these women do, as is made clear by the endlessly leering shots indicating that the filmmaker is not solely interested in what they have to say.  

Interspersed throughout the proceedings are pithy quotes from figures ranging from Erica Jong to Anais Nin to Joan of Arc, as well as predictable commentary about the prevalence of sex in today’s culture. “Sex sells,” proclaims Anderson in one particularly “Duh!” moment as images of such usual suspects as Madonna and Lady Gaga fill the screen.

Opens May 3 (Ketchup Entertainment)

Director/screenwriter: Deborah Anderson

Producers: Deborah Anderson, Christopher Gallo

Executive producers: Mike Moz, Trina Venit

Director of photography: Christopher Gallo

Editor: David Schenk

Composer: Damion Anderson

Not rated, 69 min.