Hot Girls Wanted is a compelling look at how young women are recruited to perform amateur porn. Lured by a simple Craig’s list ad, the documentary follows the experiences and struggles of several young women who embark on an unknown and misguided journey to break into the adult entertainment industry.
As the girls converge in Miami, we follow them throughout a typical day shooting porn scenes and living together in a sorority house for sex workers. Hussie Models founder Riley Reynolds doubles as booking agent/dorm mom and gleefully proclaims that there is an unlimited supply of talent because every day, some girl somewhere turns 18 and can legally shoot porn. While his statements are reminiscent of what a pimp might say, in the film he comes off as, well, nice. In fact, all of the young women in Hot Girls Wanted seem very nice, far from the stereotypical, drugged out runaway who will do anything on camera for money. They appear to enjoy the fellowship of living together in the house more than doing porn.
However, I found myself looking for some deeper motive to explain why these girls would leave their families, friends, and possible college futures and run to the arms of porn. Perhaps a hint of some sexual or physical abuse? Overly domineering parents? An abusive boyfriend? There was nothing. It’s all about the Benjamins.
The do-it-for-the-money theme is a continuous thread in Hot Girls Wanted. These fresh-faced high school grads give their bodies away for the chance to make $800 per scene, 3-5 times per week, yet they fail to count the true financial cost of their decisions until it’s too late (after all, they’re still teenagers). Expenses for travel, personal grooming, cosmetic surgeries and the like, all eat into their profits. Tressa, one of the film’s leads, ultimately leaves the business to return to her family and boyfriend sharing that she made $25,000 during the four months she filmed porn but ended up with $2,000 in her account when she left the industry.
Despite the appearance of lucrative financial gains, the turnover rate in amateur porn is high. One of the most compelling statements in the film comes when a male sex worker describes the trajectory of a typical 18 year old entering the adult entertainment industry. The shelf life for a new girl, worst case scenario is 1-3 months, an “all right” scenario is 3-6 months, and “the best case scenario, if she doesn’t catch on to the game, a year tops.”
Here’s where the film gets dark. As the girls acquiesce to perform more risqué sex scenes, doubts begin to surface. Gigs that seemed fairly straight forward have now become uncomfortable and degrading. Some girls are shooting extreme scenes. At one point I actually turned away from my computer screen as one young woman is chocked, spat on, and abused for entertainment while tears welled in her eyes.
The directors and producers of Hot Girls Wanted have successfully presented a gritty, non-judgmental documentary that still has heart. I grew to care about the girls of Hussie Models and found myself rooting for them to quit the business and move on with their lives in a more fulfilling way. Some did, some did not. Over all, Hot Girls Wanted serves as a sobering warning to young women who mistakenly equate sex work as sexual independence and who underestimate the painful toll that pornography production takes on a woman’s body, mind, and soul.
Dana Brown Smith is the author of Girls Watch Too! Female Fascination with Porn: Why You Should Care and What You Can Do About It.
Hot Girls Wanted can be viewed on Netflix.