The Girl Next Door - Internet Movie Database The Girl Next Door - Nitrate Online Review
Contents | Features | Reviews | Books | Archives | Store
The Girl Next Door - Nitrate Online Store
Movie Credits Buy It!

The Girl Next Door

Review by Elias Savada
Posted 11 February 2000

Directed by Christine Fugate.

Starring Stacy Valentine.

Despite the ruminations throughout this character-driven documentary -- and the twangy song that introduces her -- Stacy Valentine, a Tulsa housewife turned centerspread and porno movie star, is anything but an ordinary girl. Straightforward and open-hearted, but hard-pressed to find an audience in Bible Belt America, the film follows its reserved yet flirtatious star through a two-year soap opera cycle. The unabashed camera follows everywhere yet never protrudes (I spotted it once, in a reflection). It’s just there, hovering over film sets with Stacy’s scanty wardrobe extolling her abundant charms, or close up in the privacy of a hotel room where the blonde bombshell casually and confidently chats about what she does best, “I know I’m good at sex.” Her harried lifestyle and up-and-down love affair take their toll; in the end her motto becomes “Trust No One,” a phrase she will later have tattooed, in Japanese, just below her hair line.

Documentarian Christine Fugate’s work (The Southern Sex, Mother Love, and Tobacco Blues) has been a PBS staple for years. While that last title was screened aboard Air Force One for President Clinton and his aides, I doubt that The Girl Next Door will find an audience among the Chief Executive and his pages. Oddly, Stacy does appear to bear a cute frumpy resemblance to that infamous White House (s)ex-worker. Stacy could easily pass for a nineties version of Jayne Mansfield, at least from the neck down, even if she masquerades as Marilyn Monroe at one point in the film.

There is some lovely, grainy footage of the star as an infant, adopted by a caring mother and loutish father. Stacy talks of her fears, of her father and ex-husband, although the latter did convince her to enter (and win) an amateur photo contest for Gallery Magazine. She recalls being a very scared and nervous girl before blossoming into a glowing, confident woman, spreading happiness in Hustler and Hollywood.

Shot on film and video, the feature has a clean, linear look, although I suspect some of the footage is recreated, especially that showing Stacy signing with her manager, Jack Gallagher, in February 1997. But a later episode shows the star’s unwavering trouper status when filming a sex film in the San Fernando Valley. When ants invade the set, the naked Stacy leads the broom brigade to sweep the pests from the set, much to the amazed delight of her gum-chewing director Fred Lincoln. For all the full frontal nudity and action, missionary and otherwise, Fugute always positions the camera to obscure genital interaction or push it to the background of the frame, perhaps to put off some of the more prurient watchers and keep the film becoming a piece of porn itself. There may be talk of cum shots, but you won’t see any here.

Stacy’s frankness about the business and her feelings (“I’m lonely, but I don’t date.”) is refreshing. You get the honest sense that she’s talking to the filmmakers (and ultimately the viewer) not as an actress, but as a person who has survived, hoping to find redemption after leaving the porno industry. Her naive virtue is especially revealing when she’s talking about her series of breast enhancements (“They’re just too big.”). One four-minute sequence delves into the self-respecting porn star’s reduction of her “E” sized accoutrements, as she visits her surgeon for waist, thigh, and flank liposuction, her doctor monotonously talking about her expected temporary swellings and discomforts as he brands her body with marker. And, yes, the actual surgery is shown in gruesome detail. Fugute will later add shots from a second even more graphic surgery, suggesting that this is how Miss Valentine’s broken heart best gets fixed (although hypno-therapy will attempt to repair her self image).

Six weeks later she’s got a new body and (temporarily) a new boyfriend, Julian, a fellow “actor.” On the set of a new aquatic vehicle, Stacy and her producer, Jane Hamilton, bemoan the trials and tribulations of filmmaking as some young male actor has apparently abandoned the set (“This is what happens when you use new talent. Their dicks don’t always work. They’re not reliable.”) Hmmm.

And, just like Star Trek and Galaxy Quest, the porno business has its fan conventions. You get a glimpse of the fantasizing youngsters and adoring old farts that ogle their stars at Erotica LA, where one bearded admirer drops the reference that became the film’s title. Other devotees pop up at a computer keyboard, typing in chatty questions as Stacy “performs” over the Internet.

The ultimate rewards of her work brings her to the Adult Video Convention in early 1998. Not realizing the pun, a hardworking Stacy admits, “I’ve worked my ass off” to garner the five nominations she’s received. The glitz and glamour abound with see-throughs and sequins galore in the big business of adult entertainment, but Fugate’s camera also documents the wavering glances of ex-boyfriend Julian, his frustrations with the break-up verbalized with a tinge of regret. Even more unusual is that Stacy’s proud mom and stepfather are there, although their daughter’s dreams are soon snuffed out when others take home the trophies. A hasty exit and solitary walk down the long hallway to her hotel room are enough to express the vulnerable star’s depression.

The film rarely shows off the relationships that Stacy develops, mostly because she is portrayed as a solitary pillar, sometimes chipped but often resilient. One behind-the-scene, in-production segment that seems to be a rip-off of the mist-enshrouded masquerade sequence of Eyes Wide Shut has Stacy coughing from a smoke allergy. Recovering off-stage she appears to be holding hands with another actress, but it is actually just her hand against a mirror. It’s sad that she endures such pain without someone, other than an illusion, to help her through her loneliness.

The Girl Next Door merits a look-see (adults only, please) as a rags-to-riches story that can happen to any little girl from Tulsa. It will enter limited release in mid-April via Indican Pictures. As defined by producer-director Fugate, the high-risk hardcore movie business may not be as respectable a profession as you’d want your lonely child or good-looking next door neighbor to be a part of. It’s a cautionary tale of clean-cut, drug-free, sensitive types like Stacy Valentine – their many vulnerabilities aside -- that make this documentary worth watching.

Contents | Features | Reviews | Books | Archives | Store
Copyright © 2000 by Nitrate Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  Copyright © 1996-2005 by Nitrate Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.