Oh, exploration of prostitution in narrative films… You can go from whimsical and a little silly á la Pretty Woman(1990) to downright uncomfortable in your ickiness – I’m talking to you, Requiem for a Dream (2000)…
In Whatever It Takes (2010), Wicked Pictures and director Stormy Daniels offer us an engaging and intense take on prostitution, with a little bit of contemporary timeliness thrown in for good measure.
(pictured: buy your copy and/or watch it now here)
Tori Black plays Zoë, a nice girl with a nice husband and a nice alluded-to baby (wait! – there is no actual baby in this movie, so don’t go freaking out). Zoë’s husband is out of work and, as unluck would have it, she is laid off due to the economic downturn… or the fact that she has been late to work six times in the last month, as her bitchy blunt gal pal Amber points out.
With bills mounting, Amber suggests that the increasingly desperate Zoë begin working as an escort (as she herself already does). She’s reticent at first, but ultimately the money and the piece of mind it promises suck her in. Not surprisingly though, what was originally intended as a one-time thing becomes a habit; and Zoë’s downward spiral happens pretty quickly as the coke and excessive shopping take hold.
The film eventually reaches a pretty dark climax, but I’m not going to spoil it for you… Just take my word – it’s intense, and you should watch it.
Zoë goes through a pretty significant psychological process over the course of the film. There is one sequence in particular where she’s reflecting on some of her former clients, and it’s pretty icky. Every “degrading” image of prostitution you can imagine is presented – Zoë blowing some guy in an alley, Zoë getting fucked from behind over a sink with her face to a mirror (so she can see herself)… that sort of thing. Now, wait again! – none of this imagery is violent or degrading or overtly problematic… at least, no more problematic than the reality of prostitution may be to some viewers. The image of a woman struggling for survival at the hands and cocks of many nameless faceless dudes is pretty powerful, and this sequence is difficult to watch in that respect.
This film is an excellent exploration of what is essentially an iteration of forced prostitution, and it engages many themes that real women are wrestling with today. Don’t believe me? Then read this recent LA Weekly piece written by Mike Albo. What exactly is one supposed to do when backed into a financial corner with a dependent child? Certainly there are other options… but maybe not really. And how does one handle the stigma associated with sex work? Like Zoë, many people have experienced some very real and, I would argue, unfair consequences as the result of the actions they took to survive.
But let me brighten the mood and tell you a little bit about the sex… Whatever It Takes has five solid scenes, the highlight of which is a girl-girl between Lisa Ann (playing a bossy business woman client of Zoë’s, complete with riding crop!) and Tori Black. There is also a pretty raunchy DP between MacKenzee Pierce, TJ Cummings, and Billy Glide. And Stormy Daniels is a bitch-on-fire as Amber. She and her no-bullshit attitude are rather entertaining (and edifying – Amber makes some good points) to watch.
If you’re interested in a pretty intense and timely film that just happens to be liberally sprinkled with plenty of hott sex, then Whatever It Takes is definitely for you.
Recommended for: the unemployed, fans of Snarky Stormy and a downward spiral (with a net!)
Performance from Tori Black, Lisa Ann, Stormy Daniels, Mackenzee Pierce, Barrett Blade, Brendon Miller, Anthony Rosano, Billy Glide, and TJ Cummings.
Whatever It Takes was directed by Stormy Daniels for Wicked Pictures and released in July, 2010.
Buy your copy of Whatever It Takes and/or watch it now here.
Standard BTS fare here and –hel-lo!!— four, count them: one, two, three, FOUR bonus sex scenes, one with Tori Black and another with Lisa Ann… I’ll leave the other two as surprises.
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