‘Hot Girls Wanted’: Documentary, Sex, and Technology

The new Netflix series explores the complexities of sex in the modern age.
By  · Published on May 11th, 2017

Episode 1: Women on Top

Erotic film director Holly Randall

The first episode, directed by producer and creator Rashida Jones, is all about female porn directors. These are talented and creative women who use their skills to create feminist pornography. Filmmakers Holly Randall and Erika Lust both note that having crews made up of mostly women and focusing on female desires and fantasies help create an incredibly comfortable environment for the performers. Randall is the daughter of Suze Randall, the first female photographer for Playboy — both mother and daughter are well-known for their high production values and aesthetically beautiful photographs. Liz Shannon Miller writes that this is the standout episode, due to how charming and sex positive the subjects are. Holly Randall sees pornography as a legitimate art form where women can feel empowered and understood, and Lust sees romance and beauty in onscreen sex.

The two directors stress the feminist-leaning aspects of their work, and Randall even says she wishes pornography was more inclusive of different races, genders, and non-traditional bodies. She expresses concern that she is unable to represent all the people she wants to represent in her work and stresses how important it is to make an effort to show a wide range of people in adult films. She makes a great point, and it should also be noted that feminist porn is all about desires that are not straight, white, and male. At university, I took a class on sex in the cinema, and Carlyle Jansen, founder of Toronto sex shop Good For Her, came in to explain feminist porn. She showed a number of pornographic films featuring all kinds of different sexual experiences. There were gender non-binary couples, groups of three or more, BDSM scenes, scenes featuring performers in wheelchairs, and people from all different backgrounds. Feminist porn sets out to be safe, comfortable, and accepting, while still being sexy.

The lovely Erika Lust

This is not the first time Suze Randall has been featured in a documentary about the adult entertainment industry. She was also featured in Bonnie Sherr Klein’s 1981 documentary Not a Love Story: A Film About Pornography. That film takes the viewpoint of the extreme anti-porn feminists, who believe that all sexually explicit images are violent towards women and should be eliminated from society. The filmmakers portray Suze doing a photoshoot, figuring out the best way to make the model’s body parts looks attractive and alluring. The filmmakers take on a judgmental attitude towards her, as they believe she is contributing to the oppression of women. However, Hot Girls Wanted espouses the idea that female pornographers (like Suze and Holly) can easily be feminists while also creating sexual images for mass consumption — especially when they are committed to portraying different forms of female desire and care deeply about the artistic integrity of their work.

Episode 2: Love Me Tinder

This is one of the few episodes which does not focus on the adult entertainment industry. The episode follows James, a 40-something former Big Brother star who frequently has sex with women he meets on Tinder, only to “ghost” them immediately afterwards. He speaks frankly to the camera about how he is only interested in casual sex and does not care to think about other people’s feelings. Interestingly, the episode also follows a woman who believes she is dating James but slowly comes to realize he is not interested in any meaningful relationship with her. It is extremely painful to watch her talk about her genuine feelings for him and then have the camera immediately cut to James discussing the dozens of women he sleeps with every month. She believed they were exclusive, while he acts as though he barely knows her.

This episode shows how easy it is for sex to become depersonalized when one uses dating apps like Tinder. Apps and cellphones become a shield against meaningful communication, therefore if someone is uncomfortable in the relationship, they can just ignore the other person’s texts and end up never speaking to each other again. Miller notes that it is difficult to feel sympathy for James, as he is willingly oblivious to how his actions affect other people, all in the pursuit of “having a good time.”

Episode 3: Owning It

This episode highlights the complexities and mixed emotions many women experience in the adult entertainment industry. The main focus of the episode is Bailey Rayne, a “cam girl” who is paid hundreds of dollars to recruit young women to join the porn industry in California. Bailey is an incredibly savvy businesswoman who has found the perfect way to capitalize on both her smarts and her sexuality. She makes a lot of money doing webcam shows, as well as by recruiting young women who are interested in the same career path as her. She speaks at length about how she enjoys her work, even though it can be physically and emotionally demanding.

Some of the girls Bailey recruits end up on drugs or doing illegal activities in order to make more money. The stress of watching other girls fail where she has succeeded is visible on her face throughout the episode. While she enjoys feeling sexy and performing on webcam, she also notes that sometimes she is too tired to be upbeat and sexual onscreen all day, especially when she is menstruating. The important thing to remember is that any job can be physically and mentally exhausting at times, and even though pornography is perhaps more sensitive as it deals with very intimate experiences, it is the same as any other kind of work in that it is a job and can be challenging sometimes. This does not mean that it should not exist, and it does not mean that everyone in the industry is mistreated.

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Actual film school graduate from Toronto. Always thinking and writing about queerness, feminism, camp, melodrama, and popular culture.