The Girl Next Door

(Christine Fugate, 1999)

SYNPOSIS: From the girl next door to a porn star; during a two year period we watch the transformation of Stacy Baker, the blonde plain housewife from Oklahoma, to Stacy Valentine, the queen of porn who won her crown and became the industry’s Best American Starlet at the Hot D’Or Awards at the Cannes Film Festival.

Stacy Baker was a plain housewife with no skills or aspirations of her own, married to an oppressive husband whose fantasy was to see pictures of her naked in magazines in order to impress his mates. Encouraged by his fantasy, Stacy posed for some amateur adult magazines, winning awards and becoming the pin-up girl for Hustler and others. Soon she accepted offers to perform in X-rated films, which changed her life forever.

Racy Stacy, left her husband in a hurry as soon as her financial situation improved and took off to LA to follow her dream and newly found profession “to fuck good, give good blowjobs, and come down great on both men and women.” In between the fake orgasms and double penetrations she performs for a living, we see Stacy become every man’s fantasy by shedding a great deal of her “natural assets” through plastic surgery to become a blow-up sex doll, though one with real ambitions to win awards in the adult film industry.

In this daring and racy documentary, the porn industry has come out of its “sordid closet” to produce starlets, hot babes, and films endowed with glamour. The sex fairs are big events where touching and posing with the girls’ assets are as normal as picking watermelons and coconuts off the supermarket shelves.

Through the eyes and ambitions of Stacy, working in the porn industry isn’t a dirty job anymore and giving blowjobs, fake orgasms and double penetration seem as natural as working behind a desk fully clothed and selling Time shares to any sucker who puts their pennies down. The Girl Next Door elevates the porn industry from the curtains of the dirty cinemas to a glamorous occupation with plenty of awards to be enjoyed. Stacy loves every minute of it and because she gives herself a time limit of two years in the industry, she sets her goals and races through those years without running out of gas.

Sex liberates rather than subjugates, as Stacy appears in control during every minute on the screen. It appears in this manner at the beginning when she leaves her husband and sleepy Oklahoma to follow her dream and succeed in LA. Along the way there are some heavy costs to be paid which are so blatantly on view for the audience.

Behind all the cameras, we are drawn into the candid, fresh and intimate moments of both Stacys: Stacy Baker the blonde next door, stripped off, without make up and glamour, who doesn’t trust anyone except her cat: “I don’t get lonely at all. When I want sex, I go to work and when I want affection, I have my cat.” It doesn’t seem like she needs much to make her happy. However wise, cold and down to earth Ms Baker appears, her insecurities push her to become Stacy Valentine, the glamorous, ambitious, porn queen constantly on the trail to improve her body and stay in shape by not eating and plastic surgery. What men want her to be and how they perceive her on the screen is her main preoccupation. She is desperate to be their fantasy and look real during her steamy sex acts, while murmuring out loud fake orgasms and cleaning the ants off the set.

Fugate’s camera does not hold back at any moment and it even follows Stacy inside the plastic surgery clinic where we see her have her breasts augmented, her thighs and flanks liposuctioned and her lips injected with fat taken from her hips. We watch her heal and become the blown-up sex doll she dreams of becoming.

Stacy wants us to see her tribulations as they come and go and the documentary achieves this through the tight and daring relationship between her and the documentary director, Fugate. This girl is not hiding anything from the world, no feelings, no flesh; she even performs live sex shows on the Internet for the world to enjoy her on every medium. We are drawn into her life with such ease that every emotion she experiences affects us. We want her to complete her dream and when she doesn’t, we feel her pain and disappointment as if it was our own.

Despite her attempts at perfecting herself, Stacy fails to succeed in holding down a relationship with Julian, her boyfriend, also a star in the porn industry. Julian loves Stacy the girl next door and not the glamour puss. For them, holding hands and trusting each other is harder to achieve than a double penetration act. Tender moments between the lovers don’t exist between their sheets but at the supermarket while shopping; that’s when we get a sense of their bliss and her longing for an unconditional love story.

The Girl Next Door follows Stacy’s quick transformation and rise to fame with all its magic and hurdles along the way. We see her hard at work taking her films very seriously and promoting their value at sex fairs where she teases guys with her enormous breasts but won’t let them touch the merchandise. Her boobs, personality and saucy films attract even housewives, joining their husbands to pose for photos while panting and dreaming of having her “assets”. Fugate’s camera shows us everything about Stacy, her insecurities, failures, delusions and the horrific surgery scenes. They are tragic enough to make anyone keep their natural assets and not let some doctor strip them down in such a barbaric manner. Without many words and sorrows, but rather candid and organic, The Girl Next Door draws us into this woman’s life and elicits from us the unconditional love she deserves. Fugate doesn’t want to shock but rather to open our eyes to the courage and determination Stacy carries in becoming every man’s fantasy, as well as her own. Although unskilled in many other areas, Stacy is a realist and doesn’t want to remain Stacy Valentine for the rest of her life. Giving herself in this industry two years, by working hard and making as many films as it is physically possible for her, she earns respect and financial security, adoring fans, while looking for love amidst it all. Julian gives her his heart but cannot cope with her porn persona and her ambitions. We witness their break up, and feel their pain and tense moments. The audience wants them to get back together and for Stacy to find her real love.

Fugate does a great job in engaging the audience’s emotions in this reality soap opera. Stacy’s experience as a porn star empowers her sense of reality as she is aware that money buys her independence but not happiness. When she finally achieves her goal and receives recognition as “Best American Starlet” in Cannes, she is quickly snapped up by VCA, a powerhouse adult films studio, to an exclusive deal. This prestigious title of “contract girl” is given to no more than five women out of hundreds of aspiring actresses. Her new crown makes it all worth it and leaves us with a sense of pride despite the slim reputation her industry injects in us.

I couldn’t help but perceive Stacy as an empowered female on one side, yet insecure and fragile on the other. It is refreshing to see women exploit the porn industry for their own means and financial security. Women who find their experiences as porn stars liberating are the real winners in this industry and they can only make it through with the help of unconditional love and support from their families. Stacy’s mother is a great help to her despite their different views on marriage and stability. Through naivety perhaps, her mother is non-judgmental which empowers Stacy when she is down and vulnerable. This love and support pushes Stacy’s courage along and helps her reach the top of this industry and then move on to something more lucrative.

The frankness and intimacy displayed by the camera made this documentary about Stacy’s story so compelling and worth watching. Seeing this character with large boobs, plastic lips and bimbo looks split into two people each with their own substance gave this film its charm. I laughed at absurd situations and felt emotions when needed. For eighty minutes, I became involved in some bimbo’s life yet did not get bored with the trivial moments of her existence. My limited prejudices about blondes with no layers beyond looks and make-up were broken and my respect for Stacy raced through me from the bottom of my belly to the top of my heart. Like all intense, daring and hide nothing behind the camera or taboos documentaries, The Girl Next Door affected me in this manner.

About The Author

Gaby Bila-Gunther is a writer based in Melbourne, a performer of spoken-word and programmer on 3CR's show Accent of Women. She recently self-published Validate & Travel, a book of inner city tram adventures. (Available at all small independent book-stores in Melbourne).