Movie Review By Heather Clisby
"The Girl Next Door" is a documentary about how an Oklahoma housewife named Stacy Baker became a Hollywood porn star named Stacy Valentine. Directed by Christine Fugate, this is not a scintillating behind-the-scenes peek at a sexy industry, this is a sad and honest portrait of a young woman who feels successful but empty.
First of all, let me say for the record that I like porn - I find it much less destructive to society than say, for example, heroin, AK-47s or even cigarettes. I have no prejudice against people in the sex industry; I only wish there wasn't such a stigma attached to it.
But there is, and this is the crux of Fugate's honest approach to video pornography through the eyes of Stacy. She was adopted by loving parents and raised as an only child in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Though estranged from her father, she remains close to her mother and stepfather, both of whom are loving, supportive and interviewed throughout the film.
We watch Stacy's ups and downs - both in her relationship with fellow porn star, Julian, and in her quest for an industry award. We also witness her on the set of several shoots and her gracious handling of drooling fans at conventions.
I grew fond of Stacy quickly. She's very sweet and child-like with a strong sense of professionalism in an admittedly odd industry. Though she only got into porn when her dominating ex-husband pressured her to, she now honestly admits that, quite frankly, she's very good at what she does, makes a comfortable living and really enjoys sex. So what's the problem?
Well, for one thing, the disgusting surgeries she endures to create someone she herself does not recognize. I nearly fainted during the fat sucking/breast implant episode. I can't get the disturbing image out of my mind. Then a few days later, she openly discusses her low self-image and asks why do men only want to have sex and not just hold her?
She claims to be content, as in, "When I get horny, I go to work and when I need affection, I have my cats." By the end of the film, she starts to realize sex at work is, in fact, work and that George and Gracie, her furry companions, do not a fulfilling relationship make.
The most upsetting by far, however, is when she shows off one of her tattoos, a string of Japanese just behind her ear that reads: "Trust No One." For some, sharing one's body is easier than sharing one's soul. This is an interesting and honest film and not the slightest bit provocative.
© 2000 - Heather Clisby - Air Date: 3/15/00
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