LOS ANGELES — “Aroused,” the documentary by British photographer Deborah Anderson about herself shooting 16 porn actresses, got a starry sendoff Wednesday night at a well-attended screening at the Landmark Theatre in Westwood. (photo gallery)
Anderson is known for her high-concept, coffee-table photo books, including “Paperthin” and “Room 23.” With “Aroused,” her aim was “to provide some insight into the interior lives of the most sexualized women on the planet.”
At the Landmark, the red carpet, scheduled for 6:30, didn’t get going until well after 7. The crowd of photographers, squeezed into a small space in the multiplex’s second story, waited patiently. Breaking the ice was casually dressed mainstream actress Gina Gershon, who worked with Anderson on a previous project. About 15 minutes later, the floodgate burst and many of the movie’s stars, starting off with English MILF Tanya Tate, passed through it.
The women in the movie are, in no particular order, Tate, Kayden Kross, Lisa Ann, Katsuni, Teagan Presley, Belladonna, Misty Stone, Jesse Jane, Francesca Le, Brooklyn Lee, Alexis Texas, Ash Hollywood, Asphyxia Noir, April O’Neil, Allie Haze, Lexi Belle.
Almost all of them showed up Wednesday night (no-shows included Lisa Ann, Francesca Lé, Teagan Presley, Alexis Texas), along with producers Trina Venit and Mike Moz. Among attendees who are not in the movie were Chanel Preston, Skin Diamond and Kendall Karson, a slender brunette who entered the industry just as the movie was being shot.
Jesse Jane was every inch an eye-popping star in a shocking pink mini-dress. Belladonna looked fresh and rested, and Katsuni was her usual glamourous self (in the movie her interviews are in French, subtitled).
“Aroused” consists of Anderson, on-screen, talking to the girls during makeup and hair-styling sessions and winding up on a bed where the subjects are naked except for a pair of Jimmy Choo super-heels. The inter-cutting is excellent.
Kayden Kross gets the first close-up (“I had five weeks of Sex-Ed and I still didn’t know I had a vagina”), followed by Francesca Lé, whose account of her awkward attempts at sex as a teenager drew the biggest laugh of the evening. The film is beautifully shot in black and white, and when midway it switches to color, the tones are muted. Christopher Gallo was the cinematographer.
Anderson introduced the film, briefly. “I want to thank all of you who came to support me tonight. I have felt truly loved.” She said the movie reveals a world “we often ignore but must support. I hope you all will be a little aroused tonight.”
Most of the interviews stress female empowerment and positivity, but the industry’s “dark side”—STDs, drugs, testing procedures, bad producers—also gets face time. Fran Amidor, the veteran executive from L.A. Direct Models who handles accounting and works closely with the performers, provides occasional commentary.
Reaction at the after-party in the Landmark’s Winebar, was overwhelmingly positive.
Tate, who said she had a great time with her fellow Brit, “lying there on a bed all day,” said, “We had lots of makeup to make us look natural, like we had no makeup at all—heavy cream on our faces. I guess it’s just a different kind of makeup than we’re used to.”
Kross, on the arm of Manuel Ferrara, was blown away seeing herself for the first time on a big theater screen. “It makes it look like it was so much more than it actually was. We were only on set for three hours each, and what she was able to pull out of that is amazing.”
Anderson’s hefty “Aroused” book was available for purchase. The photographer and seven of her stars stationed themselves behind a long table on one side of the club and signed copies for fans—just as they would at a porn expo in Vegas.
The movie opens on Friday exclusively at the Chinese 6 Theaters in Hollywood, as well as in New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Washington D.C.
Photo by Gia Jordan. For a full photo gallery of the premiere, click here.