My interview with Sasha Grey is a little bit controversial. At least for me.
I'm sure Sasha Grey is lovely when you get to know her. But there's a part in The Girlfriend Experience where the journalist asks about her "wall" and if/when it comes down, and if most people get to see the "real" her. Sasha's character, a character in large part based on her "character" in real life, says probably not. Vanessa G in the Rolling Stone piece likened the feeling to a woman behind glass. If you read the many interviews both print and video online, you'll find inaccessibility to be a theme.
My interview doesn't intend to begrudge Sasha that wall. It makes sense to have a wall up for a number of reasons. My dilemma was simple: I don't want to trot out the same boring interview everyone else is. And I asked questions, a month ago, that would hopefully find some new territory. Of course in an email interview you have to go through a little bit of old territory to get there.
Point being, I approached this as an opportunity for an interesting conversation. This is how I've approached all my hot-ass interviews. I am not "belittling" her (another word Sasha has thrown at interviewers before, I'm not the first to belittle unknowingly), and to my mind they are the same questions I would ask any writers, artists, creative professionals. Yes, I wouldn't ask someone in a different industry about "how to identify a fucking genius", but I would ask any professional about the 10,000 hours, and what constitutes superlative achievement/talent in their field.
When I interviewed Jeff Chang, the questions were equally chunky with verbiage (this is how I approach the issue of miscommunication, missed tone in email interviews, by rephrasing the question a bunch and they choose the one which connects), and also numerous (I trimmed down the initial question list a couple times, to make it more manageable), but he also has no reason to be distrustful of media and indulged the spirit of the conversation.
There's the "seduced over email" question. As the first question, it seems an obvious warm-up to me. Every single female who goes on Late Show with Conan or Letterman gets a flirty question thrown at them. Ignoring the "commentary on our sexist society" aspect, it's mostly functional. All serving as an easy way to gauge the temperature, figure out the mood/tone of your interviewee etc.. If she's fun and flirty, you might go with it. If not, you move on. If the interview were with a basketball player you'd make a softball corny open about maybe playing a pickup game or something. Same idea.
Back to the original dilemma: an interesting interview. I think some people are into doing them, some are not. No one's going to do an interesting interview with Robert Deniro (well, except a close friend maybe) because he's not interested. I feel a little bad that this would give Sasha more fuel for her distrust of media. But my spirit was pure and true! Sasha herself trumpets individualism, not being boring, so what am I to do when she gives me a boring interview. Interviews can be art. Anything can be if you choose to approach it as such. Belittling presumes I'm trying to get over on you, but what if I'm just practicing my trade as best I can? From her side, if she's doing a million interviews it's easy see me as another dude trying to service his media master. But I did put work into this, and am trying to make all my interviews part of a larger more artful TAN complex. She doesn't need to know or care about that, but to write me off could be seen as belittling.
The ambition in this blog-post-interview was to connect a theme from the movie, the hype-media publicity machine, and my particular interview. There's this whole dichotomy of veiled mystique and unobtainable intimacy. And I found the most interesting part of our Interview Experience to be how it reflected The Girlfriend Experience. Again, everyone is trying to get their hand on or around the wall. With varying degrees of success. Whatever.
Anyways, I had that sitting on my chest and had to get it out somewhere. I think the gawker commenters are shading something that is not ostensibly mean as such. And I'm just defending my position. Cheers!
The Sasha Grey Interview Experience [Gawker]