OK, we get it: When you’re watching the latest Tori Black movie from the comfort of your bed, with the laptop positioned on your stomach, the last things you’re thinking about are profound societal issues. Chances are, you’re fantasizing about a walk-on role as Black’s oh-so-handy plumber, and jokes using the word “pipe” are coming to mind.
Which is perfectly understandable, but, as the fascinating and heartfelt new documentary Sexy Baby (which premieres tomorrow night at 7 p.m. EST in NYC, as part of the Tribeca Film Festival) points out, that degree of sordid entertainment is potentially much more damaging than one might think. And the negative effects stretch beyond the adult film industry, surfacing in everything from the lyrics in pop songs to the artists’ extremely sexualized music videos.
Directed by Jill Bauer and Ronna Gradus, Sexy Baby focuses on three ladies from different backgrounds and of varying ages, using each one’s struggles with sexuality and identity to emphasize a larger statement about the impact today’s digital world is having on youngsters’ views of sex and sexiness. There’s Winifred, a rather mature 12-year-old living in New York who dreams of both gender equality and achieving the same physical appeal as Lady Gaga; Laura, a 22-year-old model unable to feel totally confident due to her unhappiness with one body part in particular; and Nichole “Nakita Kash,” a former adult movie actress and stripper who teaches pole dancing (through her Pole Champ business venture) and has long battled through the stereotypes and misconceptions placed upon women in her industry.
Though it’s never heavy-handed or melodramatic (both good things, of course), Sexy Baby drives its messages home with an acute poignancy, largely due to Bauer’s and Gradus’ palpable respect and admiration for their subjects. Complex recently spoke with the film’s narrative kick-starter, Nakita Kash, about the positives and negatives of the cyber universe, owning one’s sexuality, why kids shouldn’t use porn for educational purposes, and the unexpectedly complicated art of the pole dance.
Interview by Matt Barone (@MBarone)
To find out more: Sexy Baby
How’d you first get involved with Sexy Baby?
I met the producers at an adult convention in Miami, in 2008, I believe. I was representing a company called X-Pole that sells home dance-poles, and they were just beginning to put the idea of the project together. They just inquired about women pole dancing at home for their husbands or for whatever reason, and what was involved with teaching women how to dance sexy and all of that.
That sparked some interest into my background and how I got into it, and, of course, being in an industry where I’m constantly involved in self-promotion and trying to get the word out about who I am and what I do, I jumped onto the project to speak whatever it is I have to talk about. [Laughs.]
In the beginning, did they fully flesh out with you what Sexy Baby was going to cover, or was it just about the basic pole dancing angle?
No, in the beginning they just had an idea. They’d seen women dancing on poles in nightclubs and regular women expressing sexual behavior, and they just thought that there would be a story behind that. They were literally in the process of investigating where the story could go, and I jumped on in the very, very, very beginning.
And how long did they follow you around, exactly?
It was probably about three years.
The film really goes all-access into your life, too. Were the directors constantly around throughout those three years?
Being in the entertainment industry, I actually had to do a lot of traveling, and the directors are based out of New York; I was on the East Coast a few times, so they met up with me there, and they came down to Florida, where I’m based, about three or four times a year, randomly, based on what I had going on in my schedule and if they wanted to be involved with it and film the process. Once, they just came to my house and asked, “What are you doing today?” And then they stayed and filmed a whole weekend of my life.
Was there ever any apprehension on your end, to let these two strangers so fully into your life and capture some very candid moments?
Absolutely. Being a public figure in the adultarena, you definitely put on a façade and you play a character to the public, so letting someone into your personal life and letting them know who you truly are is definitely nerve-wracking. I’m always open in front of a camera, and I usually try to be myself, but letting someone into my home and inviting them to spend time around my family was definitely tough. You don’t want to expose too much of your own personal being, but in a documentary you have to.
Was there a certain experience or interaction with the directors where you noticed that you started to feel more comfortable about that?
Well, you always try to watch what you say, because you don’t want to look back and go, “Oh my god, I actually said that?” [Laughs.] But, for the most part, the more time I spent with them, the more I realized that they’re a couple of great women who really have great personalities, and they’re actually really cool to hang out with. I know that I’d be friends with them aside from the project.
So they were really, really easy to talk to and be around, and they were very respectful. So, yes, as time went on it got easier, but I always had to catch myself and ask, “Am I getting way too comfortable in front of them? Am I saying things that maybe I shouldn’t?” I wanted to make sure to say the right thing. But we’ll see. [Laughs.] We’ll see how I’m perceived.
I think that I portrayed what I really, truly think and believe, so I’m totally OK with it all. But we’ll see what happens, though.