“THE GIRL NEXT DOOR” (1999)

Starring: Stacy Valentine
Directed by Christine Fugate


Polly Staffle Rating: **

I’ve always had the belief that if a woman wants to be a slut she should at least get paid for it. Stacy Baker obviously sees things the same way. After many years of admittedly using sex as a way to get people to like her, she decided to try her hand at porn. An amateur photo entry sent to Hustler in 1995 ended up getting her a photo shoot with Larry Flynt Publications. She flew to Mexico for a girl-guy spread and was hooked. By February 14, 1997 she was back in Mexico for her first adult film and Stacy Valentine was born.

She went on to use what I will call the “Dave Chappelle Skeet-Skeet Approach.” This is a rather simple approach named after the man who recently fine tuned it. Slowly, but surely “clickety-clack” your way to being the best in your particular field, accumulate some fortune and fame, then abruptly stop, pull out, “skeet-skeet” and leave town faster than Ricky Williams. Valentine banged out 69 films over the course of four years before retiring on Valentines Day in 2000. Acclaimed PBS filmmaker Christine Fugate followed Baker off and on for two of those years capturing her for the documentary “The Girl Next Door.” This film was completed in 1999 and finally makes it way to DVD seven years later. It’s an interesting watch that gets you behind the scenes of the porn industry, but isn’t a real strong film.

Documentaries can be put in two different categories. You have your facts, figures and events that rely heavily on good organization or an interesting narrator to lead us through the film. The other type focuses on people. “Girl Next Door” is of course the latter of the two. These type of documentaries are really good when the director is able to get to the core of a person and have them open up. If the central focus of the film is interesting or odd ball enough on their own, a director can get great footage regardless. This documentary’s main focus is an actual girl next door. In the film, she comes off no more interesting than any other porn star or local town tramp for that matter. And evidently, Fugate wasn’t able to get Stacy to speak honestly about herself, her life or her career, as I felt we didn’t get to see too much of the real Stacy Baker. Trust me, we see plenty of her body exposed. Stacy is completely comfortable with being unclothed. What we see very little of is her soul. That’s the one part of Stacy that is never fully nude.

The film’s best moments are when we get a glimpse of who she really is. Most of these come when she goes home for a visit, including a scene where she cries with her mother. Though she was adopted, Baker’s parents seem to love her and stand behind her with every decision she makes. Her mother just expresses her concern that Stacy is single. “Who’s going to take care of you when I am gone?” she asks. The two shed tears and share a hug. But we don’t get much else like this scene. Overall, Stacy never really seems to be honest or sincere in her on-camera talks.

The relationship with her mother is something I felt should have been focused on more. Her mother has another good moment in the film discussing her daughter’s occupation with Stacy’s step father. They said they haven’t seen any of Stacy’s work, but it was still interesting to see how relaxed they were when talking about it. Stacy’s best friend Cindy Terry has one of the better scenes as well. She tells of a time Stacy called her excited and told her she was going to be doing her first “D.P. scene.” Cindy had no idea what she was talking about and didn’t know if she should be excited for Stacy or not after she learned the initials meant double penetration.

Before viewing this film, Stacy Valentine had always reminded me of Anna Nicole Smith. Now she does even more so. I know a lot of people talk trash about Anna Nicole and she does get harder and harder to claim like Mike Tyson has over the past decade, but I like Anna Nicole and was a fan of her “reality” show on E. Stacy actually could have made a better Anna Nicole then Anna Nicole did. There is just something likeable about Stacy Valentine. Even my girlfriend likes her as Valentine had become “the” porn star whose movies we mostly watch. My girlfriend went as far as to say, “Stacy Valentine is too pretty for porn.”

The similarities between Stacy and Anna are limitless. Both are from the south and a little bit country. Anna Nicole is from Houston, Texas and Stacy is from Tulsa, Oklahoma. Both are known by their aliases. Anna Nicole was born Vicky Lynn Hogan. They both are blonde bombshells that can be made up to be decent Marilyn Monroes. They’ve both gotten nude in national magazines. Both have gotten plastic surgery to enhance their A-cup breasts. Anna Nicole topped off at DD’s while Stacy once had E’s before shrinking them down to D’s. Neither is a great actress, but both are several notches above Pamela Anderson. Neither Anna Nicole nor Stacy seem to be very smart, but they’ve exploited themselves to become celebrities loved and lusted after by many. At the same time, they both appear to be extremely lonely individuals with absolutely no self esteem.

On her television show, Anna Nicole would talk a big game, but was surrounded by people that were paid staffers like her lawyer and her assistant. She also would throw herself at practically any man that would give her some attention like the buffoon Benjy from “The Howard Stern Radio Show.” Just like “The Anna Nicole Show,” you have to read between the lines to see the “Girl Next Door” for who she really is. In interviews, Stacy brags about her job and offers the advice that the only reason to get into porn is if you love sex. She says she is good at it and can’t get enough of it. She says this, but later complains that nobody ever shows her affection or touches her because they want to be around her. All they ever want is sex, she says.

Over the course of the movie, we only see one boyfriend of Stacy’s, a fellow porn star named Julian. The couple met on a film set and hit it off. Soon they are living together. Their relationship isn’t deep, as one can tell when Julian says, “I like fake boobs,” as words of encouragement before Stacy has surgery. As actors in the adult industry, they must have quite a bit in common, one would think. However, Stacy soon pushes Julian away. He says she is Stacy Valentine 24 hours a day and he doesn’t get to see enough of Stacy Baker. She says she doesn’t trust him. They break up. Stacy gets a tattoo on the back of her head during their divide. The tattoo is in Chinese and for all Stacy knows, it could say “I’m a vampire transsexual.” But she was told it means “Trust No One.” The happy couple later begins to date again with no intercourse. Julian calls the relationship quits the second time after being overcome with jealousy during the filming of a three-way sex scene. He was supposed to perform with his girlfriend and another man, but just sat there dumbfounded as Stacy chose to “do” the other actor first.

My point is two porn stars that “love sex,” are “good at sex” and allow their partners to have intercourse on film with other people for the world to see, were unable to make their relationship work because of sexual issues. She claims to have the greatest job, yet never appears happy on the set of a movie. She “loves sex,” but goes up to her room after the Adult Video News Awards and goes to sleep alone. Stacy doesn’t hit up the town and buy herself and all those around her lap dances like Anna Nicole did on her television show when she was in Las Vegas for a weekend. Maybe it’s because she was disappointed after the awards show and just wanted to be alone. That doesn’t seem to be it either. When she wins “Best American Starlet” at the Hot D’Or ceremony in Cannes, she goes up to her room and sleeps with her trophy next to her like she’s a little girl having won a ribbon for her artwork at the state fair.

Don’t get me wrong. The little real moments like her sleeping with her award are the good parts of this film. As far as the rest of the movie goes, we get what you would expect in the life of a porn star. Stacy undergoes numerous surgeries to correct imagined body imperfections to make herself as Barbie-doll-like as possible. The breast implant procedure should be watched by anyone that thinks they may want this done. If you have a jerk boyfriend or husband that’s pushing this, make him watch it too. The surgery appears to be more painful than I ever imagined. That’s coming from someone that always assumed it was bad and has been against anyone using plastic surgery to try and please other people. Stacy at least admits that she doesn’t recognize herself when she looks in the mirror and that her goal as a porn star is to play up the fantasies of males. We also see that Stacy doesn’t always dress in high heels, low cut tops and short skirts. In fact, usually she is hanging around in frumpy flannel shirts. Also as suspected, porn stars are covered face to ass in makeup. Other behind the scenes moments touch on the complications of impotence on the set, talent douching before performing and fog machines causing problems, but overall the documentary lacked in this department as well.

Stacy says it was a husband that first got her to send in the topless photo that jump started her career. The first time we hear the story, he encouraged her to do it because he thought it would be erotic to see her in a magazine. When she is talking to her mother about it, Stacy says her husband forced her to do it. Either way, she was using sex to try and please her husband. After the first nude photo shoot, her husband was angry. She left him and moved to Hollywood to do porn. She got involved with adult films herself and got out of the business on her own terms. That I can respect about her. She even admits “porn saved her life.”

We are told early in the film most female stars make $1,000-$2,000 a scene depending on what act they do. That’s the only money ever discussed, although I suspect Stacy’s money increased greatly over the course of her career. She made appearances at porn conventions where creepy guys pose with her and think they have the right to grope her. Granted she was probably paid a decent fee to be there and the guy probably paid a hefty admission to get in and may have purchased an autograph or whatever, but that’s still got to be mighty weird and degrading to her. Tickets for the actual AVN Awards Show held annually in Vegas are $250 apiece according to www.avnawards.com, but I have no idea what any conventions cost. Stacy’s own website and her later signing on with a major adult production company probably made her nice chunks of change too. Stacy currently works behind the scenes with Penthouse. So porn has bettered her life, but it hasn’t made it as wonderful as she wants you to believe and though she no longer takes her clothes off for a living, she works with others who do.

Maybe we never see the real Stacy Baker in this film because somewhere, she lost her true self. She went into the business giving herself two years and she worked twice that long. Along the way, she also went as far as literally prostituting herself. While in Canne she has sex for money with a man she says she wouldn’t give the time of day otherwise. Or maybe when Stacy Valentine was born, Stacy Baker went in hiding as a way of coping to get through things. Maybe Stacy Valentine was with her all along as a child. Perhaps that side of her was just apart of the whole person. Though she denies ever having been sexually molested, maybe she was as a child and that’s where Stacy Valentine came from. Maybe Stacy Valentine was the one who used sex to please people and make friends through her high school years. Maybe she was the one who married into an abusive relationship, which she tried to hold together with sex. The intercourse wasn’t enough, so this lead to getting breast implants for the first time and eventually taking the plunge into porn. Maybe now Baker is back, Valentine is dead. The demon finally gone, Baker can move on with her life. Perhaps a follow up to this film or an updated version would answer what is really going on in her mind. But maybe not.

With “Girl Next Door,” both Anna Nicole Smith and Stacy Valentine have now been the subject of documentaries. Anna Nicole co-directed her “Anna Nicole Smith: Exposed” with then boyfriend Ray Martino. I have never seen the movie, which supposedly shows a day in the life of the busty blonde pre-“The Anna Nicole Smith Show.” I saw it for sale on DVD once at Best Buy for $5.99, but I passed on it at the time and apparently it is out of print now. If the review posted by MovieAddict2006 on the Internet Movie Database is a fair judge, Anna Nicole’s documentary was even more full of it than Stacy’s. “Well, apparently all she does is sit around sleeping and taking bubble baths, sexually pleasing herself or having intercourse with young men with muscular bodies,” the creator of www.themovieaddict.com wrote. “Girl Next Door” isn’t quite that fake. It’s just not what I was hoping for. Perhaps had director Christine Fugate stuck around another two years she would have gained Stacy’s trust and opened her up in a way we haven’t seen before. Fugate’s film does scratch the surface and is a better watch than “Porn Star: The Legend of Ron Jeremy.” But then again, watching the actual video tape in “The Ring” and having that spooky dead girl come out of your TV to kill you beats watching Ron Jeremy in anything.

A “making of a porn star” documentary could make a brilliant film. Maybe an unemployed slut out there will read this, become inspired and make her own damn film about their rise to fame. Remember, on your way up, aim to be the best you can and if you want to go out on your own terms – “skeet-skeet.”

- CCF, February 2006


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