The Inspiration Behind The Juliette Society
By Sasha Grey
The protagonist of my debut novel, The Juliette Society, is a young woman named Catherine. You can think of her as my alter-ego.
She is like me, and at the same time not. You could say that we both come from the same place. And maybe she’s the person I might have become, and pursues the path I would have taken, if I’d made different choices in life. If hadn’t decided, two months after my eighteenth birthday, to pack up all my belongings in a U-haul and drive down to Los Angeles and become a porn star.
Catherine is a film student because my first love was film. When I was a teenager, I had a drama teacher who fed me with music, books and films and opened my eyes to a whole new world. He turned me onto European art films: Jean Luc-Godard, Fellini, Antonioni and Bunuel. I loved the way that a really great movie could throw you into an altered space, almost like a state of shock, and open you up to the deepest parts of your sub-conscious. I wanted to pursue my passion for film further and I did enroll in college to study it, like Catherine, but something threw me off that path. Sex.
I had these thoughts, these desires, these passions inside of me, but didn’t have anyone I could talk to about them and never knew how to exorcize them until the first time I had sex. And that was such a revelation for me because it made me feel like, why should I be so hindered about this? Why should sex have to be dirty or scary? And if it is, why can’t you turn that into a positive thing and work through that sensually and find something good out of it, something pleasurable.
I wanted to explore the limits of my own sexuality. I figured that porn was the safest way to do that. Not watching it, making it. I figured that it would provide a controlled environment within which I could explore sex.
And that’s where Catherine and I diverge, because The Juliette Society is about a young woman who didn’t have the outlet to express her sexual fantasies like I did. It’s about how she deals with it, who she meets and where it takes her. The Juliette Society is about Catherine’s journey and the path she embarks in order to realize her sexual fantasies.
What I hope readers will take away from the book is that they can embrace their sexual fantasies too. Not be afraid of them, but to let their sexuality take them on a journey of self-discovery, just like Catherine, so that they discover their own kinks, perversions and persuasions, and not be embarrassed or ashamed, but to indulge them—and safely. And I think that message is especially important for women, because female sexuality even in this day and age is still directed into very restrictive modes and channels. And education about female sexuality is almost non-existent. The intensity and scope of women’s sexual fantasies is rarely acknowledged, particularly when those fantasies don’t involve them being the submissive partner or entirely monogamous.
The Juliette Society is my first attempt, as requested by many of my female fans, at fiction. I simply wish it’s everything they’ve desired and more!