An intimate and humanizing look into the rise to fame of adult film superstar Stacy Valentine. The wheels were set in motion when Stacy's then-husband, to satisfy his own sexual fantasy, urged his Oklahoma housewife, Stacy Baker, to submit her photograph to Gallery Magazine's amateur pictorial competition, voyeuristically named, "The Girl Next Door." Easily winning this contest, Stacy was soon gracing the cover of Hustler magazine and accepting offers to perform in X-rated films. The Girl Next Door is the conflicting story between Stacy Baker and the world of pornography, and Stacy Valentine and her desire for true love. Stacy allows us to experience the exotic world of pornography through the eyes of a former housewife from Oklahoma.
The Girl Next Door represents a sincere and enlightening portrait of a complex individual. Her stage name is "Stacy Valentine", and her list of credits list includes exactly 69 adult movies, including a number of popular titles. She has been working in the industry since the 90 s when she escaped from an abusive marriage in Oklahoma and surfaced in Hollywood. It was there that documentary filmmaker Fulgate made contact with her, and the result is a fascinating chronicle of two years in Stacy's life, including highs (such as her winning the "Hot D'Or" award for Best American Starlet at the Cannes Film Festival) and lows (her breakup with her boyfriend). Stacy gives Fugate surprisingly candid access, allowing the director to film her during some of the darkest moments of this period. Although The Girl Next Door's primary goal is to offer a well-rounded cinematic representation of Stacy The Person (not just Stacy The Porn Star), the cameras also reveal something about the world around her. Without being judgmental, Fugate gives us an unvarnished look into the heart of the porn industry. The Girl Next Door isn't an expose, nor is it intended to be - the movie doesn't dwell on drugs, violence, and sleaze. Instead, it depicts the hollowness of this lifestyle. All that glitters is not gold, and, in this case, the glamour is all artificial and the adoration is skin deep. Just as nothing about the industry is real, nothing about "Stacy Valentine" is either - not her name or her body. Fugate's job is to peel away the porn star personality warn like a gaudy garment by Stacy Baker and reveal the naked character of the girl underneath. Stacy Valentine is a product of her environment - her breasts have been augmented more than once, her thighs and legs have been liposuctioned, and her lips have been injected with fat removed from her hips. On one occasion, she mentions that she hardly recognizes herself when she looks in the mirror. Initially, Stacy seems like a well-adjusted young woman who enjoys and is fulfilled by her chosen career. She's sexually proficient, so that's what she does for a living. ("I know I'm good at sex...I'm very confident about my sexual capabilities.") She doesn't want a boyfriend, because her marriage has instilled in her a deep mistrust of men. So, in her words, "If I'm horny, I go to work. If I want affection, I've got my cats." Gradually, however, the cracks in her façade begin to show. Her sense of self-esteem is easily bruised (hence all of the plastic surgery). She wonders what the future holds - the shelf life of a porn star is short. Her hopes for a long-term relationship with a fellow X-rated film actor named Julian crumble. And, most of all, she craves something she cannot define. She senses the emptiness around her but can't quite break free. The Girl Next Door is peppered with scenes that are memorable for one reason or another. There's an unrehearsed heart-to-heart between Stacy and her mother that ends up with both of them in tears as they confront their mortality. (Stacy's mother is ambivalent about her daughter's career - she professes her support, but she's clearly not comfortable with it.) In Cannes, Stacy confesses her misgivings about prostituting herself for a wealthy fan because she needs the money. And, during a telling scene on a film set, Stacy services an actor while Julian looks on with an expression of unmistakable anguish. Through it all, Fugate's cameras are rolling, and it becomes increasingly obvious that filmmaker and subject have formed a strong bond. Fugate never appears on screen, her presence is felt throughout. Her perspective is ours. --James Berardinelli, Philadelphia
"The Girl Next Door" follows a subject getting a lot of attention in documentaries these days. The world of porn. For two years, director Christine Fugate followed Stacy Baker and documented her transformation from an Oklahoma housewife with an abusive husband to the heights of porn stardom as Stacy Valentine. The film does not sugarcoat Stacy's life in any way. We see her unsuccessfully try to maintain a relationship with her boyfriend while still "acting." By the end, I really felt sorry for this woman who is so desperate for recognition that she travels all the way to France to receive an award for her work in adult films. I was also shocked to learn that those moans of pleasure we hear in adult films are often fake, proving that thos thespians who appear in porn can act after all. We also observe Stacy's pursuit of the perfect body as she goes through numerous surgeries for breast enhancement and liposuction. These scenes are graphic and startling. Any thoughts I had about getting breast implants have completely disappeared after seeing this film. "The Girl Next Door" is a compelling documentary that tells its story without being exploitive. (Which is really difficult considering the amount of nudity in this film, but trust me, it's not erotic.) "Scared Straight" taught young boys about the dangers of a criminal life and the world inside prison. "The Girl Next Door" could be for girls what "Scared Straight" is for boys, showing the dangers of certain lifestyles. Any girl even considering entering adult films as a profession should see this film so that they are aware of the harsh realities. --Chris Gore, Film Threat
5 Stars. Intelligent, well-made film, fascinating. This film makes my top ten list and is a heartbreaking journey into a world seldom seen. --Mick LaSalle, SF Chronicle