Bisexual writer, musician, model and former adult-film star Sasha Grey is back on the bookshelves with “The Janus Chamber,” the second book in “The Juliette Society” erotic trilogy.
The story follows the character of Catherine, who has become dissatisfied with life as a married journalist and finds new inspiration while writing about the death of a beloved model, whose experiences reflect her own exploration of sexuality and independence.
Grey said she put some of her own life experiences into the character.
“When I first started this novel I knew I wanted to do a trilogy,” she said. “I wanted her arc to mirror my arc in terms of me before adult films, me during and me after. This journey of self-discovery and sexual education, and growing and changing and learning about myself, I wanted to mirror that onto her. And obviously her passion for films, that came from me. The rest of it, I tried to give her her own voice separate from mine.”
Grey said Catherine will become more adventurous and fluid in her sexuality as the series progresses.
“As we continue to follow Catherine’s journey, she becomes more curious and confident, more sure of herself and willing to experiment.”
In an age where information about every fetish and flavor of kink under the sun is just a mouse click away, we wondered out loud how erotic fiction remains immensely popular.
Grey said a lot of readers that are attracted to these kinds of novels are looking for some form of sexual exploration as an opportunity to live vicariously through the characters on the pages.
“In a way, porn fulfills that purpose for some people, and in the same way erotica does that,” Grey said. “So it’s a tool for people to be able to live through things they want to try but might not have the opportunity to try. On the other hand, I feel like new readers who don’t know me and pick up this book, hopefully they’ll find something in it and say, ‘This exists and now it’s affirmed for me.’ I think it’s kind of funny: I have some friends and fans that said it’s not as hardcore as they thought it would be. And there are other people who said it’s too hardcore. So, for me, I can’t worry about it too much. I just have to take the road and figure out what happens along the way.”
Grey added that, even though information is more accessible than ever, we continue to live in a sexually repressed society.
“We live in an interesting time in society where sexuality is very superficial,” she said. “It’s a lot about the way we exude our personality and how we dress. Everybody on Instagram or Snapchat is a Playboy model so we don’t have Playboy anymore. But I still don’t think people really understand themselves sexually. There are still a lot of people that are conflicted and confused about sexuality. I think slowly, especially because of social media, that is starting to change. But a lot gets lost in the middle. A lot of people don’t even read a full article when they read something. They scan it and look for words that jump out at them. So it’s a strange time, for sure.”
One thing most people don’t have easy access to are the means of the privileged and super-rich. Grey noted the sexual exploits of the 1 percent and the powerful add another layer of intrigue to the novel.
“It’s this idea of the unattainable,” she said. “What is this thing that we can’t have? And because we can’t have it, we all want a part of it. A lot of things we hear in the real world about secret societies, they always have to do with the elite and the wealthy. That’s why it’s important for Catherine to be a young woman who doesn’t come from that kind of background. She makes her way into it because of sheer will and intelligence. Her power is a social power.”
Besides being a novelist, Grey also works as a film and television actor and a musician, collaborating on a number of industrial-rock and dance projects as well as deejaying. Grey said at first it was difficult juggling the different creative aspects of her career but now she is better able to balance her time and energy.
“With the first book, I had such a tight deadline that it was all I could do,” she said. “With this book, I could take more time and I did a few DJ tours and other personal projects around it. It was nice to not have the pressure to pump something out and have more time to focus on it and take breaks when I needed to.”
There was a time when appearing in adult films would be a roadblock to future mainstream television or film work.
While the industry is less stigmatized than it once was, it still is somewhat of a career obstacle, Grey said.
“For the time being, it is not necessarily a plus value,” she said. “In literature, it’s a bit different because you are judged on a final product. So there’s a different level of respect. In music, it is strange. Sometimes it helps and sometimes it doesn’t. A lot of time I think it’s less about who I am and more my gender. It’s not always a plus value but in some areas it has definitely helped me.”
With novels like “50 Shades of Grey” selling out and making the jump to success on the big screen, we asked Grey if she sees “The Juliette Society” series following the same path.
“I had optioned the first book to Fox three years ago and they didn’t do anything with it,” she said. “So now it is back in my hands. I’ve been writing screenplays for a long time and I’d rather continue to focus on working on those.”
“The Juliette Society, Book II: The Janus Chamber” is available now. For more information, visit www.sashagrey.com.