Sasha Grey (born Marina Ann Hantzis; March 14, 1988) is an American former pornographic actress, who has since turned to mainstream acting, modeling and music. Later in her adult film career, she was profiled by several popular culture magazines and television programs. She won several AVN Awards between 2007 and 2010, and has also been featured in music videos and advertising campaigns.
After her feature film debut as the lead in Steven Soderbergh's The Girlfriend Experience, she shifted her focus to acting, starring in the black comedy/horror film Smash Cut as April Carson, as well as having a supporting role in season 7 of HBO's Entourage. She has also appeared in independent films Quit, The Girl from the Naked Eye, Life, and Mark Pellington's I Melt With You. She is a member of aTelecine, an industrial music band.
Grey was born and raised in North Highlands, California, to a working class family. Her mother worked for the state of California and her father is a mechanic. Her ancestry includes Greek, Irish, English, and Polish. Her parents divorced when she was 5 and subsequently she was raised by her mother, who remarried in 2000. She's stated that while her parents do not like everything she does, they get along.
Grey attended four high schools, among them Highlands High, before graduating, having been unhappy in each one, though she graduated a year early at 17. In late 2005, she attended junior college and took classes in film, dance, and acting. She waited tables at a steakhouse through March 2006 and saved $7,000 for a move to Los Angeles.
In May 2006, Grey moved to Los Angeles and started her career in adult films just after turning 18.Originally she toyed with the name Anna Karina, taken after the French New Wave actress, before deciding on her present name. The name "Sasha" was taken from Sascha Konietzko of the band KMFDM, and "Grey" represents Oscar Wilde’s novel The Picture of Dorian Gray. Her first scene was an orgy with Rocco Siffredi for The Fashionistas 2 by John Stagliano.
Grey quickly made a name for herself in the business after she asked Siffredi to punch her in the stomach, however, she later stated that she was improvising and it was taken out of context. Less than six months after entering the adult industry, Grey was featured in the November 2006 edition of Los Angeles where she was flagged as a potential major star, perhaps the next Jenna Jameson. In December 2006, Grey was interviewed on the syndicated entertainment industry news show The Insider.
In 2008, she became the youngest person to win the AVN "Female Performer of the Year" award as well as "Best Oral Sex Scene" for a scene. Grey was profiled in the Rolling Stone "Hot Issue" for the December 2008 edition. Grey formerly represented herself in the adult industry through her own agency, L.A. Factory Girls. Grey has indicated particular appreciation for the work of Andrew Blake and Kimberly Kane. A. O. Scott of The New York Times described her pornographic career as "distinguished both by the extremity of what she is willing to do and an unusual degree of intellectual seriousness about doing it.
In 2011, she was named by CNBC as one of the 12 most popular stars in porn. CNBC noted that, while she is no longer acting in porn films, her current mainstream roles have kept interest in her earlier porn work high, and several companies continue to release compilations of her earlier work. Grey filmed her last pornographic film at age 21, although she did not announce her retirement for some time after, realizing that many of her fans still believed her to be an active performer in the industry. On April 8, 2011, she officially announced her retirement from adult films on Facebook.
She has modeled for French fashion designer Max Azria's ready to wear line Manoukian, Italian footwear brand Forfex for an international campaign, and American Apparel. She's modeled for Richard Kern as a part of Vice magazine's anti-fashion layout, and appeared in a three-part VBS program, "Shot by Kern". She also appeared in Taschen’s 25th anniversary reprint of Terry Richardson’s Terryworld. Among other collaborations with Richardson, she has also appeared in Wives, Wheels, Weapons, a companion book to James Frey's Bright Shiny Morning. She has also modeled for artists James Jean, Frédéric Poincelet, Zak Smith, and David Choe.
Grey has appeared in Playboy Magazine twice, once for a December 2009 pictorial, as well as the cover feature in October 2010. In January 2010, Grey appeared nude in an ad campaign for PETA advocating animal birth control. In February 2010, Grey stated in a PETA interview, "I think spaying and neutering is incredibly important. … It keeps the animals out of the shelters, and there's too many unwanted animals out there already".
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Grey appeared in an episode of James Gunn's PG Porn with James Gunn, as well as a cameo role in Dick Rude's independent film Quit, and stars in the 2009 Canadian low-budget black comedy/horror film Smash Cut from the Ottawa-based Odessa/Zed Filmworks. She plays a TV news personality who goes undercover as an actress in a horror film production, only to discover her older sister's murderer. In March 2010, Grey was cast as an anti-sex Christian in the horror film Hallows, directed by Richard O'Sullivan.
Grey played the lead role, "Chelsea", an escort girl who is paid to act as the clients' girlfriend, in Academy Award-winning director Steven Soderbergh's film The Girlfriend Experience. Soderbergh cast her after reading the article profiling her in Los Angeles magazine, commenting that "She's kind of a new breed, I think. She doesn't really fit the typical mold of someone who goes into the adult film business...I'd never heard anybody talk about the business the way that she talked about it." In having Grey prepare for her role in The Girlfriend Experience, Soderbergh asked her to watch Godard's Vivre sa vie and Pierrot le fou. Vivre sa vie concerns prostitution, while the relationship portrayed in Pierrot le fou was suggested as a model for the dynamic between Chelsea and her boyfriend and clients. Grey and Soderbergh also interviewed two escorts, and borrowed character traits and behavior from them. Critics had mixed assessments of Grey's performance.
Grey was cast for the seventh season of the HBO show Entourage, where she played a fictionalized version of herself. Her character was Vincent Chase's new girlfriend in a multi-episode arc. Grey co-starred alongside Thomas Jane, Carla Gugino, Jeremy Piven, and Rob Lowe in the thriller I Melt With You which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2011. She then starred in the lead role in the Indonesian film Shrouded Corpse Bathing While Hip-Shaking. The film premiered in Indonesia on April 28, 2011. She subsequently starred in the lead role in the French film Life, which was released on DVD in France on August 10, 2011, and voiced the character Viola in the 2011 video game Saints Row: The Third, which was released in November 2011.
In February of that same year, she appeared in the music video for Eminem's song "Space Bound". Grey plays the role of Eminem's girlfriend, whom Eminem strangles only to realize she is just a figment of his imagination. The video was premiered on Vevo on June 27, 2011. Previously, she appeared in the music video for the 2008 song "Birthday Girl" by The Roots. She also is featured in the artwork for The Smashing Pumpkins 2007 album Zeitgeist and appears in the music video for their song "Superchrist".
In 2008, Grey began an industrial music collaboration, called aTelecine, with Pablo St. Francis. They have since added members Anthony D' Juan and Ian C. Their first EP, aVigillant Carpark, was released in 2009 by New York label Pendu Sound in 7 inch vinyl only. Grey also contributed vocals to the Current 93 album Aleph at Hallucinatory Mountain. She also regularly performs as a DJ in the US and Canada. In 2010, aTelecine released their first LP, ...And Six Dark Hours Pass, and in November of the same year followed it up with the LP A Cassette Tape Culture. In August 9, 2011, aTelecine's first full length album, The Falcon and the Pod, was released; this album is the first of a planned trilogy.
Sasha Grey is also listed by Narnack Records website as a guest artist on Repentance, the 54th studio album by Grammy-winning reggae and dub icon Lee "Scratch" Perry, though Perry himself denied her involvement in a 2009 interview.
Grey's first photo book, Neü Sex, was released on March 29, 2011.
Since 2006, she has been developing an autobiographical documentary, illustrating her experiences from the age of 18 to 21. She was reported in a Rolling Stone interview in 2009 as being engaged to filmmaker Ian Cinnamon. Grey identifies as bisexual
In November 2011, Grey participated in the Guest Reading Program at Emerson Elementary School in Compton, California. Although her involvement in such activity was first denied by school officials, it was discovered later that Grey had read books to children, but that her name appeared on the guest list as Marina Hantzis, her real name. Some parents were upset that a former pornographic actress would read to their children as part of an education program; Grey responded to the controversy: "I believe education is a universal right. I committed to this program with the understanding that people would have their own opinions about what I have done, who I am and what I represent."Grey also appeared on the American talk show The View where she defended her involvement and also explained that one of the reasons why she became a pornographic actress was "to stop the stigma and stop the stereotypes against the adult film industry".
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