Sex: The Annabel Chong Story

Sex: The Annabel Chong Story

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Sex: The Annabel Chong Story

In 1995, 22-year-old USC student Grace Quek, working under the nom-de-porn Annabel Chong, pulled off the most notorious stunt in the industry's history, servicing 251 men over the course of 10 hours in a P.T. Barnum-style sideshow billed "The World's Biggest Gang Bang." The obvious question, "Why?," would normally point to the usual patterns of drug abuse, harrowing sexual trauma, and bottomed-out self-esteem that lead many women to the business. But while the checklist still applies, Quek is a more curious case, a self-styled feminist intellectual who sees her marathon session as an act of sexual empowerment. So if there's one useful piece of wisdom to be extracted from Gough Lewis' troubling, scattershot documentary, Sex: The Annabel Chong Story, it's to beware the halls of academia. With Quek's cooperation—it helps that she's a shameless exhibitionist—Lewis is given full access to her family, classmates, and colleagues in the industry. Born in Singapore and raised as an only child in a middle-class London home, Quek's decision to become a porn actress is made to seem like it came from nothing but strong ideas and a healthy sexual appetite. But in his rush to connect her willful degradation with post-feminist theory, Lewis deliberately withholds more relevant information about her past. For at least the first hour, he revels in Quek's provocative ideas about gender roles (she wants to be called a "stud") without mentioning that she was once gang-raped near a London subway at the age of 18. The correlation between that event and her subsequent career may be too direct—in an interview after the film was released, Quek asserted it was not the rape but the counseling that was dehumanizing—but how else to explain her masochistic streak? When she subjects herself to "triple penetration" or slashes her arms with a pen knife to "let the pain out," fuzzy-minded notions about empowerment fail to convince. In his thin psychological portrait, the dirty secret Lewis never confesses is that Annabel Chong, damaged and self-destructive, has more in common with other porn stars than either he or Quek is ready to admit.