Sasha Grey

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Sasha Grey
Grey in 2010
Marina Ann Hantzis[1][2][3]

(1988-03-14) March 14, 1988 (age 36)[4]
Other namesAnna Karina, Sasha Gray
  • Pornographic actress
  • model
Years active2006–present
Known forAdult films
Notable work
Twitch information
Followers1.2 million
(October 10, 2023)

Marina Ann Hantzis (born March 14, 1988[4]), known professionally as Sasha Grey,[1][2][3] is an American actress, model, writer, musician, and former pornographic film actress.[6][7][8] She began her acting career in the pornographic film industry, winning 15 awards for her work between 2007 and 2010, including the AVN Award for Female Performer of the Year in 2008.[8] In 2023, she was inducted into the AVN Hall of Fame and the XRCO Hall of Fame.[9]

After her 2009 feature film debut as the lead in Steven Soderbergh's The Girlfriend Experience, Grey starred in independent films including Open Windows, the Canadian black comedy horror film Smash Cut and the horror film Would You Rather. In 2011, she played a fictionalized version of herself in the HBO comedy-drama series Entourage.

Grey was a co-founder, singer, and writer of aTelecine,[10] an industrial music band.[11] She is the author of The Juliette Society trilogy of novels and also writes, directs, and co-produces films and music videos.[12][13]

Early life[edit]

Grey was born in North Highlands, California and grew up in Sacramento, in a working-class family.[5] Grey's parents divorced before she started middle school and she was subsequently raised by her mother, who remarried in 2000.[5] She was raised as an adherent of Catholicism.[14]

Grey attended four high schools, including Highlands High in North Highlands.[5] She graduated a year early at the age of 17,[15] and in late 2005, she attended Sacramento City College and took classes in film, dance, and acting.[16] She bussed tables at a Black Angus steakhouse until March 2006 and saved $7,000 for a move to Los Angeles.[5]


Pornographic films[edit]

Grey made her hardcore pornography debut shortly after her 18th birthday in 2006.[2][17][18] She initially considered calling herself Anna Karina,[5] after the French New Wave actress of the same name, before choosing Sasha Grey. The name 'Sasha' was taken from Sascha Konietzko of the band KMFDM.[19] Her surname either came from Oscar Wilde's novel The Picture of Dorian Gray[20] or, alternatively, was inspired by how the Kinsey scale grades homosexual and heterosexual attraction as a continuum, a "scale of grey".[21][22]

Less than six months after entering the adult industry, Grey was featured in the November 2006 edition of Los Angeles magazine where she was flagged as a potential major star, perhaps the next Jenna Jameson.[5] In December 2006, Grey was interviewed on the syndicated entertainment industry news program The Insider.[23] In February 2007, Grey appeared on The Tyra Banks Show and discussed teenagers working in the sex industry. There was speculation the show was heavily edited and had not included her defense of adult film as a career choice. The show was also criticized for editing the interview to increase its dramatic value.[24][25]

In 2008, she became the youngest woman ever to win the AVN Female Performer of the Year Award[26] In 2008 Grey announced that she would represent herself in the adult industry through her agency L.A. Factory Girls.[27] Grey also appeared in Pirates II: Stagnetti's Revenge, which won in 15 categories at the 26th AVN Awards ceremony in 2009, making it the most awarded film ever at the ceremony.[28]

Grey filmed her last adult film at age 21 in 2009[29] and announced her retirement from the industry on Facebook in April 2011.[30][31][32]

A. O. Scott of The New York Times described Grey's pornography career as "distinguished both by the extremity of what she is willing to do and an unusual degree of intellectual seriousness about doing it".[33] Grey was the G4tv host in a two-hour documentary on Sexpo Australia for Attack of the Show! in 2009.[34] In 2011, CNBC named Grey as one of the 12 most popular stars in adult films and noted that her mainstream roles had kept interest in her earlier adult film work high and that several companies continued to release compilations from her films.[35] The Guardian counted her as starring in 270 adult films.[36]

Grey directed the films Birthday Party and The Seduction (2009).[37]


Sasha Grey posing for a photoshoot

Grey was named Penthouse's Pet of the Month for July 2007 and was photographed by fashion photographer Terry Richardson.[38][39] She was also profiled in the December 2008 Rolling Stone magazine and appeared twice in Playboy, in a December 2009 pictorial and as the cover feature in October 2010.[40][41][42] Grey has modeled for various clients,[6][43] including Max Azria's line Manoukian,[44] American Apparel,[45] and Flaunt.[46] Grey modeled for Richard Kern as a part of Vice magazine's anti-fashion layout[47] and appeared in his book and in the three-part program Shot by Kern.[48]

Grey appeared in Taschen's 25th anniversary reprint of Terry Richardson's book Terryworld and in his Wives, Wheels, Weapons,[49][50] a companion book to James Frey's Bright Shiny Morning.[51] She has modeled for artists James Jean,[52] Zak Smith,[53] Dave Naz,[54] David Choe,[55] and Frédéric Poincelet,[56] who also created the artwork for her industrial music band aTelecine's ...And Six Dark Hours Pass album. In May 2010 she interviewed artist Terence Koh for BlackBook.[57] In 2010, Grey was one of four actors who appeared in Julião Sarmento's video installation Leporello[58][59][60] and was featured in the Richardson magazine A4.[61][62] Richard Phillips made a short film called Sasha Grey in the Chemosphere for the Gagosian Gallery in 2011 and also portrayed her for the Frieze Art Fair in 2013.[63][64][65] Hypocrite Design described Sasha Grey in the film as a "perpetually evolving figure".[66] In an interview with Allure in 2018, Grey said her look was "definitely punk-inspired, definitely the anti-aesthetic, and I've definitely grown out of that because I'm older".[67]


The Girlfriend Experience[edit]

In director Steven Soderbergh's film The Girlfriend Experience, Grey played the lead role of Chelsea, an escort who is paid to act as her clients' girlfriend.[17][68] Soderbergh cast Grey after reading her profile in Los Angeles magazine.[5][69] As Grey prepared for her role in The Girlfriend Experience, Soderbergh asked her to watch Jean-Luc Godard's films Vivre sa vie and Pierrot le Fou, both of which star Anna Karina.[70] Grey and Soderbergh also interviewed two escorts whom they took character traits and behaviors from.[69]

Reviews of Grey's performance in The Girlfriend Experience were mixed.[71][72][73][74] Entertainment Weekly found Grey was "not so much a natural actress as a natural-born placid, affectless Barbie doll".[75] New York said the actors "appear to be improvising (badly)".[76] Violet Blue wrote that "Grey herself is as complex and layered and mesmerizing as a Soderbergh film itself—that's why Grey's fans cross all kinds of cultural and moral divides".[77] On Rotten Tomatoes, the film received a rating of 66% based on 138 reviews.[78] In 2016, Glenn Kenny who played the majordomo of an escort-review site, described The Girlfriend Experience as a "digital film from another era" with most scenes being two-handers.[79]


Grey appeared in a 2009 episode of James Gunn's PG Porn with James Gunn,[80] made a cameo appearance in Dick Rude's 2010 independent film Quit,[17] and starred in the 2009 Canadian low-budget black comedy/horror film Smash Cut with David Hess from Odessa/Zed Filmworks.[81] Grey played a fictionalized version of herself in the seventh season of the HBO series Entourage as Vincent Chase's new girlfriend in a multi-episode arc.[82] The season has a 57% rating (13 fresh, 10 rotten) on Rotten Tomatoes.[78] Grey played Raven in the thriller I Melt With You, directed by Mark Pellington, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 26, 2011.[83] She then starred in the Indonesian film Shrouded Corpse Bathing While Hip-Shaking, which premiered on April 28, 2011.[84] She co-starred in the 2012 horror-thriller Would You Rather, which was directed by David Guy Levy, and which has a critics' consensus rating of 59% based on 22 reviews at Rotten Tomatoes.[78] A critic noted the similarity of her role as "unflinching in the wildest of circumstances, when vying for a hefty sum of cash at the expense of [her] health" to Grey's own career as an adult actor.[85]

She voiced the character Viola DeWynter in the 2011 video game Saints Row: The Third and reprised the role again in 2015 for Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell.[citation needed] In 2013, in the documentary series Durch die Nacht mit ..., Mariya Ocher took Grey to nightlife venues in Hamburg where Grey ignored the "women prohibited" barrier of the Herbertstraße.[86] In 2014 she starred with Elijah Wood in Open Windows, which was directed by Nacho Vigalondo.[87] Nikola Grozdanovic wrote that "all of Open Windows is constructed in a way for all of the action to unfold through some kind of computer screen".[88] The Tomatometer critics' consensus for Open Windows was 40% based on 40 reviews.[78] In 2017, Sasha Grey and Danny Trejo starred in the arthouse thriller Black Licorice, which was directed by Frankie Latina[89] and in 2009 Grey was a co-producer of Latina's Modus Operandi, also starring Danny Trejo.[12][90]

Grey appeared in music videos for The Smashing Pumpkins' 2007 song "Superchrist",[91] and for The Roots' 2008 song "Birthday Girl".[92] In 2011, she appeared in the music video for Eminem's song "Space Bound", which premiered on Vevo,[93][94] playing a girlfriend whom Eminem strangles before realizing that she is only a figment of his imagination.[95]


In 2008, Grey began an industrial music collaboration called aTelecine with Pablo St. Francis[11] and the two later added Anthony D' Juan and Ian Cinnamon.[10] The project's first EP, aVigillant Carpark, was released in 2009.[10] The same year, Grey also contributed vocals to the Current 93 album Aleph at Hallucinatory Mountain.[96]

In 2010, aTelecine released its first album, ...And Six Dark Hours Pass, and followed it up with the first of three A Cassette Tape Culture compilations.[97] Paul Maher Jr. compared Sasha Grey with Cathy Ames in John Steinbeck's novel East of Eden, describing the ambient tracks of aTelecine as aural wrecking balls, stated that Grey's artistic temperament comes close to that of the Marquis de Sade as "a proponent of freedom tethered to its furthest extremities, yet untethered by laws, morality or religion" and admired her courage and audaciousness.[98] In July 2013 it was announced that Grey had left the band, leaving Ian Cinnamon and a new vocalist as the only remaining full-time members.[99]

In 2012, Grey covered Nico for the X-TG album Desertshore.[100] In 2014, Grey and Jayceeoh produced "Heat of the Night", featuring Bella.[101] In 2015, psytrance band Infected Mushroom featured Grey's vocals in their album Converting Vegetarians II in the track "Fields of Grey".[102] In 2016, Grey contributed to the Death in Vegas album Transmission.[103] The former Throbbing Gristle members Chris & Cosey remixed "Consequences of Love", a Transmission song performed and composed by Grey and Fearless. In 2017, Michael Mayer adapted the Chris & Cosey remix in his DJ-Kicks album.[104][105] Vice described Transmission as an "EBM-inspired romp through the darker edges of the sleazier clubs in the nightlife spectrum".[106] In a cameo appearance, DJ Harvey plays "Consequences of Love" in the rave party at the Grand Palais scene of Mission: Impossible – Fallout.[107] In 2018, Death in Vegas published the single "Honey", with Grey as writer, singer, and film director of Drone Records' video for the song.[13] In August 2018 PIG published "That's The Way (I Like It)", featuring Grey, and premiered it on the website Pornhub.[108]

Since 2010, Grey has regularly performed as a DJ and has published some of her mixes on SoundCloud.[109][110][111] Grey said she uses CDJs, USB-sticks, and SD cards when making her music.[112] Earmilk editor David Sikorski considered her mixes as "testament to her wide range, eclectic taste in music, and her ability to understand the mechanics of solid electronic music production".[113][114]


Sasha Grey attends the annual Guadalajara International Book Fair

Grey's photo book Neü Sex was released on March 29, 2011.[115] BlackBook described it as "another right step in transforming herself into the multimedia artist she sees herself as"[116] and the Portland Mercury compared Grey's "distinct style" with the photography of Cindy Sherman and Terry Richardson.[117]

Her second book, an erotic novel titled The Juliette Society, was released on May 9, 2013.[118][119] Karley Sciortino described the book as a "satirical, erotic novel that follows Catherine, a film student who enters a secret, elite sex society", and in an interview Grey stated she paid homage to novels like The 120 Days of Sodom, Thérèse the Philosopher, and Voltaire's Candide.[120] Alisande Fitzsimons wrote that The Juliette Society contains references to classic erotic literature and film,[121] and Cosmopolitan UK called it "erotica with a difference".[112] In 2016, the second book of The Juliette Society trilogy, The Janus Chamber, was published and the third installment, The Mismade Girl, followed in 2018.[122] Grey described The Juliette Society as somewhat autobiographical.[14] Allen Foster wrote that The Janus Chamber is "a brilliant work of literature", much more Satyricon than Fifty Shades of Grey, where Grey's "wry sense of humor reveals itself in the obscure pop culture references".[123]

The trilogy was translated into several languages, and in October 2019 the German translation of The Mismade Girl was published by Heyne Hardcore as X.[124]

Other ventures[edit]

In 2020, Grey began hosting a show on VENN called Grey Area.[125]

Grey began streaming video game playthroughs on Twitch in the first half of 2020.[126][127]

Personal life[edit]

Grey identifies herself as an existentialist[20][128] and as bisexual.[129] She is an atheist. [130] She was in a long-term relationship and engagement with Ian Cinnamon, who is 13 years her senior, but the couple split up in 2013.[99][22]

In May 2016 interview, rock and pop culture critic Art Tavana compared Grey with Madonna, describing her as "defiantly feminist" and as "novelist, EDM DJ, sex-positive feminist, Formula 1 racer or action star—no matter what it is, it's more than 'ex-porn star'".[131] In 2009, Meghan O'Rourke wrote that Grey "sees her extremity as helping to liberate female sexuality" but she called Grey's persona "a clever marketing tactic".[132] Vanessa Grigoriadis stated that "what's most important about her is her impact on feminism".[22][133] In a 2011 interview with Journal Frankfurt, Grey commented that she dislikes the term 'feminist', saying she would be a 'post-modern feminist' if she was one.[134]

Grey is a professed movie buff, leading to her 2006 alias Anna Karina after the French-Danish film actress, and likes the work of Italian film director Michelangelo Antonioni,[135] French New Wave filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard,[55] Danish Dogme 95 director Lars von Trier,[29] New German Cinema filmmaker Werner Herzog,[136] feminist filmmaker Catherine Breillat,[133] and American filmmaker David Lynch.[137] MovieLine recognized her as "Twitter's Art-House Eulogist".[138]

Sasha Grey described herself as a David Bowie fan and contributed to a French homage after he died in 2016.[139][140] Other musical influences of Grey's include KMFDM,[141] Throbbing Gristle, Coil,[142] and Nine Inch Nails.[133] Grey also collects vinyl records[112] and her motto is Lotta continua.[143]

In 2010, in an interview with Maxim, Grey said her parents were not happy with her involvement in the adult film industry but that they were on good terms with her nonetheless; Grey's father died in 2015.[144]


In February 2010, Sasha Grey and Joanna Angel were Sex Week at Yale panelists.[145][146]

In November 2011, Grey participated in a guest reading program at Emerson Elementary School in Compton, California. After some parents complained, Grey responded to the controversy by stating, "I committed to this program with the understanding that people would have their own opinions about what I have done, who I am, and what I represent".[147] Grey also appeared on the American talk show The View, where she said she thought the school­children's parents should have been given prior notice of the identity of guest readers and that she would not have accepted the job if parents had objected to her.[148]

In March 2012, she published a video supporting Equal Pay Day.[149][150] She supported Bernie Sanders during the 2016 Democratic Party presidential primaries[131] and supports Planned Parenthood.[131][67][141]


Year Event Award Film Co-winners
2007 AVN Award Best Three-Way Sex Scene Fuck Slaves Sandra Romain and Manuel Ferrara
Best Group Sex Scene - Video Fashionistas Safado Belladonna, Jenna Haze, Gianna, Melissa Lauren, Sandra Romain, Adrianna Nicole, Flower Tucci, Nicole Sheridan, Marie Luv, Caroline Pierce, Christian XXX, Erik Everhard, Jean Val Jean, Mr. Pete, Rocco Siffredi, Chris Charming, Jewell Marceau, Lea Baren, and Voodoo
AFWG Award Best Orgy Scene[151]
Teen Dream of the Year[152]
XRCO Award Best New Starlet
Adultcon Award Top 20 Adult Actresses[153]
2008 AVN Award Best Oral Sex Scene - Video[154] Babysitters
Female Performer of the Year
XRCO Award Female Performer of the Year
2009 Mainstream Adult Media Favorite
2010 AVN Award Best Anal Sex Scene Anal Cavity Search 6 Erik Everhard
Best Oral Sex Scene Throat: A Cautionary Tale
Crossover Star of the Year
XBIZ Award Crossover Star of the Year
FAME Award Favorite Oral Starlet
XRCO Award Mainstream Adult Media Favorite
2023 AVN Award Hall of Fame
XRCO Award Hall of Fame



Year Title Role Note
2007 Homo Erectus Cavegirl
Broken Herself [155]
2008 9 to 5: Days in Porn Documentary
Circa '82 [156]
2009 The Girlfriend Experience Chelsea / Christine Brown
Smash Cut April Carson [17]
This Ain't Star Trek XXX Chandra [157]
Seinfeld: A XXX Parody Herself
Sexpo Australia (2009) Documentary[158]
2010 Quit Mini-mart clerk [17]
The New Erotic: Art Sex Revolution Herself Documentary[159]
2011 I Melt With You Raven
Membunuh: Murder Bikini-clad ghost [160]
2012 The Girl from the Naked Eye Lena [161]
Would You Rather Amy
Inferno: A Linda Lovelace Story Paula Uncredited[162][163]
2014 Open Windows Jill Goddard
The Scribbler Bunny
2017 Black Licorice Herself [89]


Year Title Role Notes Publisher
2009 Porn: Business of Pleasure Documentary 1 episode[164] CNBC
James Gunn's PG Porn Tricia Scrotey Roadside Ass-istance Web series
2010 Entourage Herself 6 episodes HBO
2013 Sexy NSA Commercial Herself 1 episode[165] Funny or Die
Durch die Nacht mit ... Documentary ...Sasha Grey und Mary Ocher Arte
2018 Into the Dark Party DJ The Body Hulu
2020 Grey Area Host Talk show VENN

Music videos[edit]

Year Title Role Musicians
2006 "Daybreak" Sex Worker Daso
2007 "Superchrist" Dancer The Smashing Pumpkins
2008 "Birthday Girl" Birthday Girl The Roots
2011 "Space Bound" Girl Eminem
2014 "Toxic"[166] Villainess David J

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2011 Saints Row: The Third Viola DeWynter Voice[167]
2015 Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell Voice
2023 Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty Ash (DJ of 89.7 Growl FM) Voice


with aTelecine
2009: aVigillant Carpark (EP; Pendu Sound Recordings)
2010: A Cassette Tape Culture (Pendu Sound Recordings)
2010: ...And Six Dark Hours Pass (Dais Records)
with Current 93
2009: Aleph at Hallucinatory Mountain (Coptic Cat)
with X-TG
2012: Desertshore (covering Nico, Industrial Records)
with Infected Mushroom
2015: Fields Of Grey (EP; Dim Mak Records)
with Death in Vegas
2016: Transmission (LP, Drone Records)
2018: Honey (EP; Drone Records)
with Pig
2018: That's The Way (I Like It) (EP; Pig Industries, Armalyte Industries)
2019: You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' (cover duet, LP Candy, Armalyte Industries)


  • Neü Sex (VICE Books, 2011, ISBN 978-1-57687-556-8)
  • The Juliette Society (Grand Central Publishing, 2013, ISBN 978-0-7515-5158-7)
  • The Juliette Society, Book II: The Janus Chamber (Cleis Press, 2016, ISBN 978-1-62778-180-0)
  • The Juliette Society, Book III: The Mismade Girl (Cleis Press, 2018, ISBN 978-1-62778-182-4)

See also[edit]


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  30. ^ Grey, Sasha (April 2011). "Something for the fans". Archived from the original on May 1, 2011. It's become quite evident that my time as an adult film performer has expired.
  31. ^ McKay, Hollie (May 9, 2011). "Exclusive: Sasha Grey Done With Porn, Refuses to Play Any Sex-Related Roles". Fox News. Retrieved March 20, 2019.
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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]