Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Vault - Sex: The Annabel Chong Story



Sex: The Annabel Chong Story (1999)
directed by Gough Lewis
starring: Grace Quek, Ron Jeremy

This documentary follows Grace Quek, a gender studies and sexuality student and rape survivor who became a porn actress under the pseudonym Annabel Chong, gravitated towards gangbang movies and became famous by setting the gangbang record in a porn video where she had sex with 251 men in ten hours. In the documentary Grace says that her goal was to do something so outrageous that it would turn the traditional image of female sexuality on its head -- and she certainly succeeded, judging from the sex-negative comments she inspires frThis documentary follows Grace Quek, a gender studies and sexuality student and rape survivor who became a porn actress under the pseudonym Annabel Chong, gravitated towards gangbang movies and became famous by setting the gangbang record in a porn video where she had sex with 251 men in ten hours. In the documentary Grace says that her goal was to do something so outrageous that it would turn the traditional image of female sexuality on its head -- and she certainly succeeded, judging from the sex-negative comments she inspires from a few pornstars and directors. But you can't watch this documentary without getting the impression that she had a few other reasons for what she did.

It is easy to dismiss Grace Quek as self-destructive or exploited. In fact, a friend of mine who came in halfway through the movie began ranting that very thing within three minutes of entering the room. It is a fact that Grace was the victim of a gang rape after having consensual sex with a stranger in London. It is also a fact that she grew up in an extremely sexually repressive culture in Singapore, and that (according to friends) she was very sexual when she moved to London and LA for college. In one scene in this movie we see her cut herself. In another we see her tearfully reveal her career to her mother, who demands Grace find a way to restore her (the mother's) honor. One porn director she works with seems sleazy. The gangbang producer doesn't appropriately screen participants for STIs and cheats her out of $10,000 (Grace claims not to care in either case).

But, on the other hand, Grace herself seems extremely self-aware and, on many occasions, insightful. She has healthy friendships with people who support her career. She articulately discusses her motivations for getting into porn. And, unlike, say, Catherine Millet, who joylessly describes her gangbang experiences in the book The Sexual Life of Catherine M., Grace Quek seems to actually enjoy the sex. Despite her tears when faced with her mother's condemnation, she doesn't seem to seriously regret doing porn. We never see her second guess herself.

We see a lot of facets of Grace's personality in this movie but I don't feel like we ever learn enough to analyze her -- which, paradoxically, is what this film is inviting us to do. She is without a doubt an extreme fetishist. She's going further than nearly anyone would want to. An aggressively sex-negative person would say she's a victim. An aggressively sex-positive person would proclaim her a totally empowered woman. I think she has elements of both, as you might expect from such an extremist. Does the fact that she was raped mean she's not allowed to be so hypersexual? I don't think so. Nor does her repressed upbringing mean she's now out of control. She seems like she knows what she's doing. She seems like she understands and accepts the consequences. In the end I could only draw one conclusion from this movie: Grace Quek is a complicated person.

2 comments:

  1. Just an aside about infidelity: I recall so many of the men waiting in line for their turn during the infamous gang-bang revealing to interviewers that their wives or girlfriends had no idea they were there and would kill them if they knew. *sigh* *headdesk*

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