Hot Girls Wanted and the Human Being In Your Porn Videos

Hot Girls Wanted Movie

Hot Girls Wanted is a movie about a factory that manufactures pornography. Some of its employees, the people who clock in and out, are also its raw materials. They come from all over the United States, from houses right next to yours, to become a product, find freedom and exert control.

Like everything else in the documentary from Jill Bauer and Ronna Gradus which is now available through Netflix, freedom and control are fluctuating concepts that appear or dissolve depending on which side of the computer screen you’re on. The story focuses on several young women who are all crashing in a five-bedroom house in Florida, owned by their foot-faced porn manager Riley. He, like a fisher of women, puts out a siren call on Craigslist only to be inundated regularly by a fresh group of young ladies who haven’t been chewed up and spit out of the industry’s machinery yet.

As the movie explains, this is a new trend exploding in pornography – the overwhelming demand for content featuring the kind of girls who might be ringing up your groceries or delivering chicken wings to your table. This is the first instance of the real world blurring with the realm of fantasy, but it’s not the last. Hot Girls Wanted trades in the fuzzy contradictions that arise from peeling back the curtain, hoping for a visceral response.

The first to consider isn’t the most obvious, but it potentially colors the rest of the film’s presentation. The advertising for the movie itself deals in titillating images. The main promotional image features an anonymous girl in knee-high white socks and a black bra, her long brown hair covering her face, her legs tucked up under her body on a comfy bed. It’s admittedly meant to be poetically mysterious. She could be anyone, which evokes both the idea that her identity is inconsequential to what you want her for and the idea that she could be your sister. A flattened image that serves two goals and two masters.

The movie doesn’t shy away from pornographic images – and how could it? To avoid them would be disingenuous to the subject matter, and while there’s an argument to be made that the movie objectifies the girls by including them, it’s also the juxtaposition of these salacious videos with the living-room comfortable vision of young women questioning their choices that hits hardest.

It’s a move similar to the one the filmmakers made with Sexy Baby, making Hot Girls Wanted a pseudo-sequel to that exploration of three different views on sexuality in the media-saturated new century. That movie’s cover art (also on Netflix) features not women, but three pairs of legs, posed in varying states of clothing, stealing moves from the porn-sellers handbook. It’s questionable whether or not the filmmakers were involved with the advertising choices, but with the titles and promotional images on tap, you can see the Trojan Horse they’re building. Both movies use the female body to sell films, but they are aimed, hope in hand, at the very people who might be lured in by the lurid visuals only to find a stark reality waiting for them like the house lights at closing time in a strip club.

It’s a complicated relationship simply because Hot Girls Wanted is so clearly focused on presenting the girls of its narrative both as human beings and as disposable goods who have made the wrong choice.

The initial and overarching concept broached by the movie is the fuzzy line between pornography and the mainstream. Not only do we have the greatest access possible to all flavors of sexual imagery online, nudity and sensuality are as commonplace as bus stop advertisements. It’s in our vocabulary to such an extent that it’s become a realistic-seeming choice for employment for every small town cheerleader with a cute smile. What does it mean that a girl like Tressa Silgeuro – pictured in the header image – left her home to try to become a porn star?

Hot Girls Wanted Poster

This is the question that is never answered, and maybe cannot be answered, by the movie. It’s the question that Hot Girls Wanted hopes will burrow into your brain and refuse to leave. More than any other girl, this is Silguero’s story. She starts out excited about what she’s doing, comfortable in the lifestyle of independence that’s at her feet, but in her conversations with her mom and dad, it’s clear that she wasn’t running away from a bad situation at home. In fact, her interactions with her parents – even the difficult ones – are so sweet, understanding and loving that her actions become baffling. When asked why she did all this in the first place, she talks about freedom in the broadest sense possible – talking about getting out of her small town as if parroting a monologue from Footloose – either proving that even she has no idea why she did it or that the filmmakers chose not to show her more explicit explanation.

Silguero’s situation both propels and questions the sense of normalcy that she felt before leaving home.

The old accepted truth/myth about strippers and prostitutes and porn actresses is that they were sexually abused or faced hardships which made these lines of work desirable by comparison. Hot Girls Wanted seeks to destroy that myth (or to claim that it’s at least outdated). The girls we meet are strikingly normal. True girls next door. Without the simplifying myth to anchor us, we’re left with an existential crisis about what’s happening to our neighbors.

Granted, the film is exploring only one corner of the industry – one they claim is large – that revels in a crafted narrative of exploitation. Riley’s company is called Hussie Models. The videos the girls perform for have names like “Sexual Disgrace” and “Facial Abuse” and “Exploited Teens.” The content creators are so overt about making videos where the leading lady is preyed upon that they’ve convinced the actresses that they’re somehow in on the gag. Which, to be fair, is another element that gets lost in the reality/fantasy blur. The girls talk about cream pies and forced blowjobs the way you would TPS reports, bringing an air of professional boredom to everything, making you wonder if they really are enjoying themselves and the work they’re doing and the attention they’re getting on Twitter. Maybe this is a pain worth enduring in order to avoid a 9-to-5.

Then, in the quieter moments, you listen to their regrets and fears and pain, and snap back fully into reality. What’s more, the most strikingly obvious illusion is the house that they live in. All of the girls and Riley continually refer to it as a big house, as a five-bedroom house, as a sign of their power and independence, but it’s also more sparse than a college crash pad, constantly filthy, with a rotating gang of renters. It’s a modest space, inhabited by children who are all beholden to the next personal boundary they have to push in order to make more money.

The typical career trajectory appears to be initial success in “amateur” style videos, followed quickly by waning interest and the need to do “niche” content – an Orwellian term for more intense, more physical, more graphic videos.

In fact, the more you think about it, the more all of it seems like indentured servitude. The girls in Hot Girls Wanted all found Riley through Craigslist, accepted free flights to move to a new city, give him 10% of their money from bookings plus monthly rent, and the turnover rate is staggering. When Silguero works up the nerve to quit the business via text, Riley seems mostly unconcerned, and why should he be? He’s seen shortly after with the next crop of girls in the 3-month cycle from faux celebrity back to girl next door with a past.

Hot Girls Wanted offers a view at the monstrosity of the cash machine at work here. It is, like I said, a movie about a factory. The economy of the whole thing is staggering and allows for managers and producers (all of whom in the movie where men) to create any kind of working condition they like. It’s a buyer’s market, so those who plan to sell their bodies are going to end up selling cheap and finding themselves at the bottom of the barrel quickly. There’s always someone new to take their place. Always someone willing to do what they won’t. The only shortage that exists is porn star names.

So, if porn and the mainstream are combining, what’s the real meaning of “mainstream” that emerges? That watching and doing porn has become so openly popular that even porn stardom is a thing of relativity. These girls were all drawn to and relish in the celebrity status they attain via thousands of Twitter followers, but there are so many of them that it’s impossible for any of the girls to get within a hundred yards of a secure career where they have any say over what kinds of work they’ll do.

Near the end of the documentary, several girls are discussing the fame of Miriam Weeks, the porn star known as Belle Knox who gained notoriety as a Duke freshman who’s open about her side job. The professional jealousy is palpable because she’s doing the exact same stuff they are. They decide that she’s got an excellent publicist, a conclusion that illustrates better than anything else the dearth of self-awareness necessitated by buying into a fantasy and how far mainstream curiosity has ventured into pornography.

In the full blur of confusing realities and fantasies, we have the fantasy of big money being sold to an army of girls who are typically gone from the industry within months; the fantasy of importance offered and self-offered to Riley, whose personality is comprised solely of things he’s seen in music videos; the fantasy of a life worth escaping from and a life worth escaping to; the dress-up fantasy of playing a role to separate yourself from what you’re doing; and the fantasy for us, that the girls in these particular videos are things instead of human beings.

There’s nothing that sours a fantasy like letting you see it in the light of day.