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Lifetime TV Biopic About Teen Coed Porn Queen…is Actually Pretty Good

Haley Pullos as Miriam Weeks, aka Belle Knox/Lifetime

Haley Pullos as Miriam Weeks, aka Belle Knox/Lifetime

Lifetime TV, which launched some three decades ago as the “network for women”, (as in real life desperate housewives) has grown into a platform which is unafraid to tell real life stories that the major networks no longer have the guts to address. Lifetime has, on occasion, presented in-house productions which are surprisingly ground breaking and progressive.

Ten years ago Lifetime offered A Girl Like Me: The Gwen Araujo Storya frank and sensitive film about the East Bay trans teen who was murdered when her gender identity was discovered–A Girl Like Me was made years before the transgender community had become part of the pop culture landscape and before the murders of trans women of color had become an issue taken seriously by the news media.

A few years later Lifetime produced the heartbreaking Prayers for Bobbyin which Sigourney Weaver starred as an evangelical Christian who turns her back on her church after her gay son commits suicide.

On Saturday night Lifetime will present their latest docudrama. From Straight As to XXX might startle fans of the long running soap General Hospital. Hospital ingenue Haley Pullos almost (but not quite) shows her all as Miriam Weeks, a Duke University student who turns to porn in order to pay for her tuition. As Belle Knox, the 18 year old becomes a popular adult performer, living in an “ignorance is bliss” netherworld where no one she knows could possibly find out. Of course everyone does.

Haley Pullos and Judd Nelson/Lifetime

Haley Pullos and Judd Nelson/Lifetime

Screenwriter Anne Marie-Hess takes a subject matter which could easily have been turned into a cheesy T & A flick and gives it a great deal of depth. As portrayed by Pullos, Weeks discovers that its much easier to go on TV chat shows where she can make grand statements about empowering herself than it is to tell mom and dad what she’s been doing.

The film both condemns and defends the porn industry. During her very first shoot, Weeks finds herself on a BDSM set where she’s slapped around and where her personal boundaries are not respected. But she soon becomes a contract girl for a producer (Judd Nelson) who treats her with a modicum of respect and pays her a reasonable about of money.

The film also delves into the puritanical hypocrisy of the good old USA–it’s “OK” for guys to whack off to porn but it’s “not OK” to appear in the videos. Weeks becomes the target of school bullies. In spite of the anguish they cause her, she holds her own and stands up to them.

Pullos gives a strong performance as Weeks while Nelson, late of The Brat Pack, is the nicest and most laid back sleazeball you’ll see this year. Though it can’t escape it’s made for TV origins, From Straight As to XXX is worth a look. It might even start a few discussions on the rights of sex workers.

From Straight As to XXX premieres on Lifetime on Saturday night, February 11, at 8pm. Watch the trailer here.

You can see and hear the real Weeks discuss her choices here.

 

 

 

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David Elijah Nahmod

David Elijah Nahmod

I, David-Elijah Nahmod am a Queer, American/Israeli half breed who has lived in New York City and Tel Aviv.
Currently in San Francisco, my eclectic writing career includes LGBT publications (news and entertainment) and monster magazines. In 2012 I was voted Film Reviewer of the Year at the Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Film Awards.
Look for me in Bay Area Reporter, Hoodline.com, South Florida Gay News, Echo Magazine, Outfront, Scary Monsters Magazine, Videoscope, and, of course, Broke Ass Stuart, (I'm so broke it's SCARY!)
Now, let's watch a horror movie!