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April 30, 2017

Bauer & Gradus Deny Porn Stars' Charges Re: HGW: Turned On

HOLLYWOOD, Calif.—Journalists Jill Bauer and Ronna Gradus haven't fared too well in their attempts to document what happens in the adult industry. Their original production, Hot Girls Wanted, portrayed the South Florida portion of the industry as uncaring and violent, and their "sequel," the Netflix series Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On, has been roundly criticized by several of the actresses who appear in it, as well as others more familiar with the industry than the filmmakers. But now, Bauer and Gradus are attempting to fight back against the voluminous negative publicity surrounding the series via an interview with the Hollywood trade journal Variety, and to hear them tell it, they've done nothing wrong. The filmmakers spend most of the interview defending their "fair use" of footage of webcam models Effy Elizabeth and Autumn Kayy in the series' sixth episode, "Don't Stop Filming," because "Elizabeth and Kay [sic] broadcast the footage on Periscope, fair-use doctrine and the app’s terms of service protect its inclusion in a documentary." What isn't mentioned, however, is that although neither camgirl is identified by name in the show, their Periscope footage is used as a lead-in to the main focus of the episode, "a teenager who faces being labeled a sex criminal because she Periscoped a friend’s rape." It's hardly any wonder that neither Elizabeth nor Kayy, whose cam work is entirely consensual, are upset that their on-screen activities are juxtaposed with footage posted by a non-cammer/non-sex worker of the ultimate non-consensual sex act: rape. Elizabeth and Kayy also have complained that while their cam work reaches only a select customer base, its inclusion in the widely available Netflix series will bring them unwanted attention, and the women, whose close relatives already know what they do on camera, felt that they have to warn those relatives that their on-camera activities have nothing to do with rape. They also expressed their concerns on their Twitter feed. Gradus' excuse? "[T]he great irony here is that they identified themselves as sex workers ... We didn’t know who they were. We never would have known, the viewers never would have known, unless they themselves identified themselves." Trouble is, as far too many adult performers have found out, when someone in the media is talking about you and showing what you look like to a mass audience, the ignorance of the producers is not bliss. Far too many young women have faced dire family and job-related consequences when their work in adult entertainment was exposed. The other performer mentioned in the interview is Gia Paige, an adult actress who originally agreed to appear in the series—until she got to know its makers and began to suspect their intentions. "Paige said she initially agreed to appear and did sign a participant release, but changed her mind after she felt the directors kept pushing her boundaries and pressuring her into talking about her family," reported Vocativ's Tracy Clark-Flory. "She alleges that the producers agreed to shoot additional footage of her former fiancé Riley Reynolds, a porn talent agent, in exchange for cutting her out of the series ... During one scene, her Facebook profile is displayed on-screen along with her real first name, which Vocativ verified with an image of her passport. Her last name wasn’t included in the show, but that was largely luck. 'I’m very fortunate I took my last name off there sort of recently,' she said." In the interview, however, Bauer essentially called Paige a liar. "Bauer rebutted those claims, saying that Paige, like all performers filmed for the series, signed a release form and that she never expressed to filmmakers a desire to be cut out of the final product," the Variety article states. Apparently, that "like all performers" phrase is mean also to deny the complaints of the myriad other women who appear in the series who have also voiced complaints, including Salena Storm. “I was definitely misled,” Storm told AVN. “They 100 percent told me this is about women empowerment, about ‘females like you who are owning it,’ and they don’t show any of that ... They told me this time around it was going to be more positive and they were covering girls that actually treat it like a business and care about what they’re doing and not partying every night. But then I watched it and it was the same Hot Girls Wanted—just Take Two." But that's all wrong, according to Gradus: "Criticism of the series, she said, is likely fueled by sensitivity over how the industry is often portrayed in mainstream media—and that performers who have spoken out against the show may be doing so because they feel they have to." Fact is, there have been plenty of documentaries about the adult industry that have dealt fairly and sensitively with the performers—but considering the fact that this one is playing on Netflix and has scored a massive amount of mainstream publicity, Bauer and Gradus, along with producer Rashida Jones, can probably expect even more blowback from those they have wronged. Pictured, l-r: Jill Bauer and Rashida Jones.  

 
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