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Going into “Hot Girls Wanted” I had a pretty good feeling what I was getting myself into—more than likely a bad, bad feeling. While the movie ends on a barely positive note, the main horror scenes of the documentary will undoubtedly leave a mark on anyone’s psyche, whether they be  virgin porn watching eyes or not.

The movie’s point is neatly summarized in the very beginning. In the old days of pornography, women would play the girl next door role. Now, they’re being replaced by the real thing—young and younger girls. The audience is introduced to Tressa, an 18 year old girl living in TX who gets flown out to Miami to do porn from a mere Craigslist posting. As a viewer, I couldn’t help but immediately wonder if the entire documentary was really some ingenious long con by the porn actress herself. Something akin to the Farrah Abraham effect, that maybe she was trying to multiply her publicity by having a movie made of her movies. But after ten more minutes, it’s easily apparent that Tressa is no con-artist. Maybe she isn’t naïve to the game, but she certainly isn’t taking a long-term look at things.

Riley, the ex-Outback Steakhouse busboy who recruits the girls on the internet, could hardly be classified as the villain of the movie. Though at 23 years young, he has already mastered the fatherly vibe necessary to operate such a business (with the receding hairline to prove it). This, in combination with offering the girls a free flight on Craigslist, seems to be the only magic required for Riley to arrange his harem of digitally aged actresses. But for the first chunk of the movie, things still seem harmless enough for a documentary on amateur pornography.

Until they don’t—first, it’s the Puerto Rican photographer/camera guy. While shooting one of the girls (Michelle) for some basic photo shots with her clothes still on, he starts peppering the girl with insults and verbal abuse. You can literally watch as the girl begins to crack, her face faltering, confused. Afterwards, she admits to having made “ugly faces” or “looking weird.”  Next, the porno scene with Rachel (Rachel and Michelle somehow both make Tressa look smart) with the older, father figure is quite possibly the most uncomfortable thing I’ve ever seen on film. What makes things additionally surreal is the out of picture camera guy giving instructions for Rachel to look awkward and uncomfortable in the scene, which she already does tremendously.  By the end of the movie, Rachel more or less confesses to have been raped early on in her porn career.  With money on the line and people crowded around (usually older men), “no” or “stop” is never even allowed to enter these girls’ vocabularies.

Things only grow worse from there.

After watching the movie, I had to see if any critics took up the opposing side or at least a neutral one. Sure enough, Jordan Hoffman from The Guardian writes, “the one gal in the low-rent Miami home that seems to have her head on straight doesn’t get much of the director’s focus.” Hmm, possibly because she was the ONE girl.  He continues, “as cinema for anyone who has read a newspaper, it’s considerable flub.” Maybe Mr. Hoffman meant for anyone who’s watched pornography—perhaps that’s the catch.

The sad truth is that for anyone who’s watched “amateur” pornography—we have seen these sad, hideous stories before—except it’s been as a consumer. The most daunting task the documentary faces (if any) is not the hidden perpetrators behind the camera, it’s not the helplessness or cluelessness of the girls, it’s the quantity with which our culture consumes such material. Said urges will probably always remain in humanity, but if “Hot Girls Wanted” lessens them even a bit, then it’s a success. 

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