Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Low self-esteem is a mother fucker. A man with low self esteem often leads to this dude having feelings of inadequacy and dismay ultimately leading to a very unsatisfactory and unfulfilling life. The same holds true for a woman with low self esteem, but low self esteem for a woman has the added dynamic of the potential for exploitation. My good friend L.A. Pete who I often mention in these various pages was informing me about some porn convention that he was invited to out west, filled wall to wall to with various scantily clad, saline filled porn starlets. A colleague who was with Mr. Pete wondered out loud: ‘why don’t these women control this industry?’ Which is a valid thought considering that without pretty young women there wouldn’t be much of a porn industry. Pete would tell this young man that the reasons these women allow themselves to be exploited in every conceivable way for pennies on the dollar is the same reason they don’t control their industry, and this is quite simply low self-esteem. Obviously this is an over simplification from Mr. Pete since there’s no one reason for anything that people do, but one would think that it has some merit since the vast majority of women who possess a high sense of self worth rarely allowed themselves to be violated on video tape. This isn’t to say that all women who enter the porn industry have low self-esteem, but I’m pretty sure a large number of them do, and after watching the documentary ‘The Girl Next Door’ directed by Christine Fugate, porn star Stacey Valentine, at least back in 1999 when this film was captured, certainly had some self worth issues.

Fugate follows two years of the life of Stacey Baker, a simple girl from Oklahoma whose most cherished possession is the love she receives from her mother. Stacey would tell us how she was chastised in high school by her bitchy classmates for being a ‘slut’, explaining how she thought sleeping with boys would make people like her more, and then how she entered into a unfortunate marriage with a verbally abusive

domineering husband. Though by any description this man she married seemed to be a complete and total asshole, he did fund Stacey getting some breast implants and cajoled her into sending her pictures to some girlie magazine which ultimately led to Stacey jumping on a plane and doing a pornographic scene in Mexico. Being totally at ease with herself in front of the camera, nude and engaged in various sexual acts, and also informing us that she doesn’t do anything particularly well except engage in sex, Stacey Valentine is born. The husband is quickly kicked to the curb and off to L.A. she goes to make a name for herself.

And it’s quite a name she would make as Stacey Valentine became one of the highest paid porn starlets in the industry. Fugate follows Stacey pretty much everywhere she goes for the next two years, as we are on set in the middle of various porn shoots, we get to witness Valentine’s disappointment at not winning some top porn star award and we get to tagalong and observe Stacey get lots of plastic surgery to make her big boobs even bigger, then make her big boobs smaller and make her lips bigger and get plenty of liposuction. More interesting were the personal relationships as Stacey interacts with a mother who obviously loves her daughter unconditionally, though this obviously isn’t the life she wouldn’t have chosen for her. Also interesting was watching Valentine and her interaction with her on again off again relationship with her boyfriend and fellow porn star who has only one name in Julian. The interesting thing is that this cat seems to be just as insecure, unsure and confused as Stacey is. The movie takes us all the way to Valentine becoming a ‘contract girl’ for some porn company, which apparently is like the holy grail for a porn starlet, and then all the way into her eventual retirement, complete with a party and a goodbye cake.

‘The Girl Next Door’ is a very interesting documentary and Stacey Valentine makes for an interesting subject. Ms. Valentine entered the industry at the ripe old age of 25, an age when most porn starlets are being drummed out of the industry so Valentine is unique as she entered pornography with far more maturity than your average 18 year old who gets roped into the pornographic process. Seriously, who among us at the age of 18 or 19 has made a single good decision? The good thing is that you can’t download my bad decisions to your hard drive or buy them on DVD where they are saved until society ends. Even though Valentine is comfortable with what she does, as the movies goes on we can feel her exasperation with herself. On one hand she proclaims that she’s not interested in a relationship, that she goes to work when she’s horny and she has a cat for companionship. But when her relationship with her loon of a boyfriend ends, she’s obviously shaken to her core. Near the end of her career the sex had obviously ceased to be enjoyable, the plastic surgery was taking an emotional and physical toll and she was still alone. Mind you this is one of the better adjusted and more emotionally stable porn stars out there.

After watching the documentary ‘Debbie Does Dallas Uncovered’ which was searching for that films star Bambi Woods, the producers of that film couldn’t convince a single woman who was in that movie to speak to them on camera. The men… no problem. The women on the other hand were still desperately trying to put that time in their lives as far behind them as humanly possible. ‘The Girl Next Door’ is a fine documentary, though perhaps a little raw and unrefined in its presentation, but it does give us a solid view into the somewhat sad life of this woman and leaves one hoping that she finds something that gives her life value outside of sex on video tape.

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