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The Documentary That Will Make You Think Differently About Amateur Porn

Hot Girls Wanted, which hits Netflix on May 29, will make you think about the actual human beings you're jerking off to.

Posted on May 29, 2015, at 9:00 a.m. ET

Netflix

Tressa in Hot Girls Wanted.

The documentary Hot Girls Wanted — which follows several young women working as "amateur" porn performers in Miami — is a look at how the proverbial sausage is made. In standard labor exposé form, the answer is that the product you use (in this case, professional amateur porn) was made under objectionable conditions by workers who were often treated poorly. But that's not something many consumers of porn want to think about.

"This movie, in reality, should not be shocking," director Jill Bauer told BuzzFeed News on the phone. "Most people use [porn], see it, are aware of it. It's like the most ubiquitous thing in people's lives that nobody talks about."

"It's shocking!" her fellow director Ronna Gradus cut in. "It's the first time that people are actually thinking about it."

"I think it's shocking to us that people aren't thinking about it," Bauer said.

Hot Girls Wanted confronts you with the humanity of the women in these videos, and the lack of regulations in their industry. While working on 2012's Sexy Baby, a documentary about how the internet has shifted the way young people think and feel about sexuality, Gradus and Bauer watched a lot of porn for research. They kept seeing "amateur" videos, with a seemingly endless parade of young-looking women's faces.

"Who are these girls?" Bauer remembered thinking. "That was a really, really big question that we had."

In Hot Girls Wanted, they found out. They followed five young female porn performers who were living with their 23-year-old male talent agent. Without making a judgment call on pornography itself, the documentary asserts that the progression from average teen girl to sex worker to washed-up porn star has never been easier.

"They're all just looking for an adventure, and porn, because there's a recruiter right there offering them a plane ticket, is a very easy vehicle," Gradus said.

And yet, Bauer noted, "every assumption about who a porn girl is" — dysfunctional family, depressing childhood, etc. — "it's actually not true."

Hot Girls Wanted focuses on 19-year-old Tressa, a high school cheerleader and good student who leaves her parents in small-town Texas to go to Florida and work in porn. Bauer and Gradus were intrigued by her because she'd gotten into porn in a seemingly spontaneous way they saw as typical. "I needed some way to escape somehow," Tressa says in the documentary. "And I found an ad on Craigslist."

Tressa, like the four other young women the movie shows, is not in a strong position to negotiate her working conditions. In one scene, we see her housemate Rachel prepare uneasily for a shoot with a much older man she finds unattractive — she's directed to look like she's not enjoying the sex. In another scene, a performer named Jade describes a degrading blow job scene intended to make her throw up — it was the first scene she ever shot, she says.

"Most girls, whenever I was in the industry, would always say yes to anything," Tressa says in the documentary. "If it has a dollar sign in front of it, sign me up."

"Sometimes the girls know what they're getting into, but often they don't," Bauer told BuzzFeed News. "Eventually, they end up on a shoot with just a guy in a room with a camera."

The poor working conditions extend to their larger career prospects: Tressa quickly learns that she is disposable to the porn industry. "The shelf life of a girl really depends on how she markets herself," a male performer says in Hot Girls Wanted. "Worst-case scenario? One to three months. All right scenario: three to six. Best-case scenario...a year, tops." He'd been working in porn for five years.

"They'll shoot a girl a couple times and be done with her," talent agent Riley says in the film.

Hot Girls Wanted demonstrates how professional amateur porn actors can do widely consumed work, and yet their careers and their professional agency are frequently and upsettingly compromised. "It's really not that hard to take advantage of an 18-year-old that's fucking on camera," Tressa observes.

"Really, this is a labor law issue," Bauer said. "There should be fair-trade porn."

Hot Girls Wanted is streaming on Netflix.

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