Sex Work In Los Angeles Leads Four Lost Souls Into Disaster In This Indie Hit
While it may be one of the oldest professions, sex work has become more of a mainstream conversation as of late due to the rise of people vying to make a quick buck amid the current pandemic. Some people have chosen to get into digital sex work on websites like OnlyFans. While sex work is not the only purpose for the site, it’s certainly the most popular. Social media, and the gay community in particular, has almost glamourized this particular version of digital sex work not only with likes by contributing to someone’s new salary. Celebrities have dipped their feet in and random people are reaching new heights and tax brackets selling their scandalous photographs online. Stars like Tyler Posey have stated they no longer want to be on the website for mental health purposes, but at least he performed from the comfort of his own home compared to the dangerous life sex workers are rumored to live.
The trauma is everlasting and the sex work industry, for those who have stripped, escorted, or did professional pornography, is extremely hard to break out of once you have a mindset that you are unable to leave. While browsing through Amazon Prime, an independent film, Girl Lost: A Hollywood Story, told a raw, fictionalized version of the lives of four sex workers who are unable to control themselves after entering the business in a way that has not been showcased before.
Girl Lost: A Hollywood Story showcases how loneliness is a factor in anyone making a toxic and life altering decision. We first witness teenage Hope (Moxie Owens) trying to break free from her destructive family. She chooses to venture off with her former babysitter and lesbian, Paige (Cody Renee Cameron), and enters in Paige’s web of lies and chaos. Paige, who was sexually abused as a child, finds herself becoming the predator to cope with being a victim. Paige and her equally empty friend, Destiny (Serena Maffucci), use and abuse Hope for their own gain as they bounce like gypsies from various places to call home and a slew of suitors. Eventually destroyed and sent down into a rabbit hole, Hope musters the courage to stand up to Paige’s sociopathic tendencies yet is destroyed mentally. After breaking free of Paige’s grasp; the mental, physical, and emotional abuse she has suffered haunts her she continues a new journey deeper into sex work as Paige finds another teenage girl to manipulate and ultimately wreck. We are led to believe the cycle will be repeated.
What’s uncomfortable about Girl Lost: A Hollywood Story is the content seems all too close to home. The four leads, including the emotional Psalms Salazar, are stellar and carry the weight of the movie on their shoulders. Cameron’s Paige isn’t your average villain – she’s incredibly likeable and warm, the perfect type of a predator. Her performance in the role has you feeling not only sympathy, but empathy for her, as the scenes fly by. Yet, despite her desire to change: She can’t – and she won’t. The film takes your from watching on your couch to being in a fetal position on the floor by the end of its runtime. You subconsciously know these stories actually exist and there are broken lives walking around with no one to rescue them. The addition of an actual sex worker, former porn actress Maffucci, is the cherry on top of these special performances. She speaks with passion: You know she’s likely befriended these girls before and she’s perhaps talking to those she’s literally lost alone the way. Girl Lost: A Hollywood Story may not be the best Friday night with your gays movie to watch, because you’ll want to lean on every scene and moment of dialogue, but without a doubt you should have this on your watchlist when you’re in your feelings.
With pleasure, I was able to speak with the film’s lead, Cody Renee Cameron, and the incomparable writer, director, and producer, Robin Bain. Bain takes us through her inspiration of the film, not many people will highlight sex work, but she got to take us down a deep dive. To my surprise, this particular movie is the second in what may turn into a franchise for Bain. Her first film simply titled Girl Lost, acts as the predecessor to her most recent hit. Let’s chat!
Robin Bain: Hollywood is all “smoke and mirrors” in so many ways. Young girls and boys come here thinking that Hollywood is going to be glamorous, sexy and easy because that is what the media shows us… Mansions, fancy cars and wealthy people living an upscale lifestyle seemingly without ever actually working. All that is a fantasy reserved for only a small number of fortunate people. There is a dark side to Los Angeles. Very Dark. It’s tough if you don’t know anyone and have no money and no connections. The reality is that while there are certainly fun times to be had in Hollywood, it can also be very brutal, unforgiving and cruel. Girl Lost: A Hollywood Story gives the viewer a glimpse of what is behind the “facade”.
Mickey Keating: I love the addition of Maffucci in the film. It was almost strange to see an authentic sex worker in the film and to me, it made watching Girl Lost as more of a documentary rather than something scripted. Was it important to you to hire actual sex workers to join the film? Typically they are shunned from the entertainment industry, but your film embraces them.
RB: There are actually three adult film stars in Girl Lost: A Hollywood Story. Maffucci (AKA Brooke Haven), Michelle Maylene and Emily Cheree. Cheree was also in the original Girl Lost film and is an OnlyFans Super Star. I think it was very important to incorporate sex workers into the movie to not only lend authenticity to the project, but to give adult entertainers a chance to breakout and to work in mainstream movies. I know many adult entertainers who have come to Hollywood to work in mainstream film and television and have ended up working in the adult world, either by choice or by default, but either way I’m happy to hire professional, hard-working people who deliver in their respective roles regardless of their history in the adult industry.
MK: Cody, your character was really polarizing for me. Perhaps it’s because you’re incredibly likeable and that bled through the film, but your character is an actual sociopath and we only slowly learn that she’s ultimately the big bad, despite her being a beacon of hope for…Hope. Do you believe your character was trying to rescue this young girl from a broken home or was it her plan all along to ruin another life as hers has been destroyed?
Cody Renee Cameron: Paige’s story is really cool, because it’s a from a perspective we don’t often see in film. We most often hear about young female victims manipulated by older men, but this time the abuser is an older female! She definitely comes from a troubled background. She was a victim and now to claim her power she is the abuser, taking advantage of younger girls and their naiveté. Throughout my career I’ve always been casted as the victim, but now that I’m getting older [Laughs] the roles I’m playing are changing and evolving. Paige is so complex and layered. It was really hard to watch the other actress, Moxie, who plays Hope do the rape scene and know that my character facilitated it all! My heart breaks for all the women in the film, but with Paige especially you see that she’s caught in this cycle where you either eat or be eaten and she’s fed up of being eaten.
RB: Cody came into audition for the role of “and she was holding a silver, glitter motorcycle helmet. I asked her if she rode a motorcycle to the audition — she said “Yes. I have a Harley”. In my mind, I thought, this is the coolest woman ever. She’s hired. Cody definitely brought her own rocker, Harley- riding, cool girl vibe to the role. Love or hate the character of Paige, Cody brought it.
MK: I’m aware neither of you are sex workers, but in your opinion – do you believe sex workers can actually escape and find love and a life afterwards and transfer themselves to a normal world? Or are they forever doomed to be lonely.
RB: I believe that there is a light at the end of every tunnel if you choose to see it and follow it.
CRC: I think it’s getting easier in modern times. Sex workers used to be pariahs, but since COVID-19 and the explosion of OnlyFans, sex work is becoming a lot more mainstream and accepted. In the 80s if you did a porno you’d never have a chance at a mainstream job, but nowadays the lines are a lot more blurred. I started an OnlyFans last year and asked my manager if he thought it would negatively affect my tv & film career and he said nah, go for it, so long as you’re not posting sex tapes. So I think we’re definitely heading in the right direction of acceptance and non-judgement. That being said, the deeper you are into sex work, the harder it is to get out and the more stigma there is. Serena who plays Destiny actually works in helping rescue women who have been sex trafficked and she can attest that it can be very hard for these women to start a new life. When you work in the underground nightlife, those are the people that become your friends, you’re community. When you want to get out you sort of have to leave everything and everyone behind. We still have a long way to go in terms of normalizing sex work. I mean, I can’t even post a funny video of me with a ball gag in my mouth on Instagram without it getting flagged.
MK: Did you ever think about incorporating digital sex work into the film? Hell, I live in West Hollywood and I can throw a rock and hit someone who has an account. I’m thinking of doing one if someone would pay to watch me eat chicken wings!
RB: I’m planning on producing a series on this topic. OnlyFans [and digital sex work] is such a phenomenon, I am definitely considering incorporating that aspect of the sex industry into the series. And, Mickey — since you asked about the possibility of creating an OnlyFans page dedicated to eating… Yes, I believe there is a market for food porn. Send me your handle if you decide to do it. I’ll be your first subscriber!
MK: This being an independent film takes it above and beyond anything mainstream, or overly produced Hollywood, could do. Was that extremely important to you to have total control rather than getting a bunch of other people making raw decisions for you? I don’t think these marks or the story would’ve hit if Jennifer Lawrence was starring in it.
RB: It was absolutely critical to maintain creative control. This was personal to me. I didn’t want to glamorize the film or the subject matter — it would’ve lost the authenticity of it.
CRC: Robin created such a safe for us to play. The script is sort of like a skeleton and the actors add the meat. Robin allowed us to explore outside of the writing. We could bring our own experiences and personalities to bring life to the characters on the page. It was so cool to see the finished product, like seeing a Hollywood Phoenix rise from the ashes of the page!
Writer’s Note A: This is the opinion of one Instinct Magazine contributor and does not reflect the views of Instinct Magazine itself or fellow contributors.
Writer’s Note B: Quotes have been edited for clarity.