Traci Lords couldn't quite do it. Neither could Jenna Jameson. A few mainstream actors have gone all the way on film, but mostly in "art" films. Reading about Sasha Grey and the new Steven Soderbergh movie, The Girlfriend Experience, it's highly possible we might see someone have dual careers as an adult film star and a mainstream actress, and somehow be successful at both.
Grey comes off pretty wicked smart in most everything I've read, which makes her career path puzzling. What made this very pretty, smart, and sexy girl get into like...real hardcore porn? And thus far, the attention garnered for her performance in Experience hasn't stopped her from continuing on with her original work.
Could America be ready for this kind of celebrity? If Grey starts showing up in more mainstream stuff and starts skyrocketing as a legitimate actress, will studios allow her to be in a multi-million dollar blockbuster or Oscar-contender when there will be people who will flat out not watch the film just because of her presence? I get this thought of her acting in some Walden Media production where kids will be introduced to her in a completely different way (not that I feel like Walden would ever give her that chance). Plus, if she ever got to be a popular actress, would she leave porno behind? I would suppose so...but she's such an interesting figure I'd like to think she'd, every once in awhile, slip back into it.
It would be fun to see her in some Oscar-winning, stuffy British film playing a Jane Austen heroine and then three months later we find out she's done about ten adult films since the film's release to Awards night. Even if she doesn't, that body of work is still there...can you imagine being unaware of her adult work, discovering her as a mainstream actress, knowing her only as that, and then someone shows you a treasure stash of movies where she can be seen in all the various forms of intercourse known to man?
It's perhaps too soon to be speculating this, but Sasha Grey is already closer than anyone else to having this dual career than anyone else has ever been. It would be an interesting, weird chapter in celebrity history--but remember the path has been pretty much paved by Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, and Pamela Anderson to be perceived as pop whores and not have it really affect their success (it definitely helped Hilton). And Grey seems smarter than all of those chicks combined.
The culture has become primed for this for more than a decade. We don't bat an eye anymore when it comes to this kind of thing. Just a couple of years ago, we saw a former stripper named Diablo Cody take home an Oscar for her original screenplay, Juno. I honestly think this is going to happen. It's going to take awhile for Sasha Grey to be accepted for both, but as long as she comes off intelligent and charismatic, it shouldn't take her long.
PS: Also let's not forget Stormy Daniels and her bid to become a US Senator. Synergy!