Sex: The Annabel Chong Story

***1/2

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Annabel's real name is Grace. She was born into a middle-class family in Singapore. She went to school with nuns. Her mother says, "I pray for her. She will always belong to God." Her mother thinks she is a student in California. "I'm going to make it," Grace says. "I'm going to make them proud of me." Tears start in her eyes.

Annabel had a mission, "to become the most famous porn star in the world." She was different from most of the girls. She loved sex. Five years ago, at Elegant Angel Studios, Los Angeles, on a set that resembled a sacrificial altar in ancient Rome, she took on 251 men in 10 hours. The subsequent video became the biggest seller of all time.

Annabel was not paid. She says, since the men weren't, it wouldn't have been fair. The producer smiles his sick smile and patronises the interviewer with platitudes. "Why?" Grace is asked. She looks defensive. "Why not?" She makes a shy little giggle. "It is no different from having sex with one guy for 10 hours. And I've done that."

Later she talks of the power of female sexuality - "We are not victims" - and speaks at a Cambridge University debate, looking elegant in a black evening dress. "I like to think I changed something." She becomes emotional again. There are contradictions that cause confusion in her head - the love of her parents, the pleasure in her fame.

Gough Lewis's documentary is hardly the apology Grace would have liked. It shows the base cynicism of the US porn industry at its worst. Macho trucker types, who call themselves directors, talk of sex and what the girls must do with such disregard for human sensibility, they could be discussing the torture of animals. Others, the older ones, speak of the trade as an art form. They wear scuffed leather jackets over comfortable bellys.

This is a hard, scary movie that debases the act of love to its lowest commercial denominator. Annabel would disagree. She is loud and proud. "I think sex is good enough to die for." Grace turns her head away. "I will regain dignity for you," she promises her mother. In California, such promises are hard to keep.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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Documentary about the woman who had sex with 251 men in 10 hours.
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