Sex: The Annabel Chong Story

2000, NR, 86 min. Directed by Gough Lewis.

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., June 2, 2000

Some say, “Ouch”; some say, “Wow.” Your response to the following proposition will most probably color the reaction you have to the documentary Sex: The Annabel Chong Story. In 1995, porn star Annabel Chong (who, in another part of her life, was known by her birth name, Grace Quek, and was a 22-year-old undergraduate in gender studies) had sex with 251 men over the course of 10 hours and filmed it in a successful effort to break the record for the world's largest gangbang. Well, mission accomplished (until, inevitably, another porn star later toppled Chong's record). Undeniably, there's a certain daredevilish quality to the feat that fascinates us the same way Evel Knievel compels us with the pointless daring of his stunts. However, there's more than mere hucksterism at issue in this documentary. Annabel Chong is also a shameless self-promoter, exhibitionist, shock artist, and self-styled feminist, although she positions herself as a girl who just like to have sex -- a lot. Sex: The Annabel Chong Story provides us with a fleshed-out view of that porn character, but also offers us glimpses of the Grace Quek who is a provocative student who pushes the envelope in regard to gender studies and sexual stereotyping, a proud but dutiful daughter who hides from her Singaporean parents the nature of her true occupation, and a troubled adult haunted by a traumatic incident in the past. Annabel/Grace is many things, although she, like this documentary, focuses on the most outrageous (i.e., most commercial) aspects. And it's what she, and it, do best. Introspective analysis is not what Annabel/Grace or this movie are about. Sensation-seeking is the name of the game here (although if you're hot to see the gangbang, go find the video; only selective snippets are shown in the documentary -- which is not to say that the movie is devoid of pornographically raw material). This documentary, however, reeks of a filmmaker who latched on to sure-fire subject matter, but then became lost once his character morphed into a person. There's a lot of material in the film to provide endless hours of debate and conversation, but there is little sense of Chong or director Lewis shaping that material or intentionally bringing it into any sharper focus. By the end of the film we may appreciate that Annabel Chong/Grace Quek is a more complicated person than we might have at first imagined, but in the end the only thing we have really learned is this: Sex sells.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Films
What hath science wrought? A dull cloning thriller, that's what.

Richard Whittaker, Jan. 18, 2019

M. Night Shyamalan's meta-comic trilogy crashes into Earth with a dull splat

Marc Savlov, Jan. 18, 2019

More by Marjorie Baumgarten
The Upside
Remake of a true story of an unlikely friendship is the flattest version yet

Jan. 18, 2019

Marjorie Baumgarten’s Top 10 Films of 2018
Marjorie Baumgarten’s Top 10 Films of 2018

Dec. 28, 2018


Sex: The Annabel Chong Story, Gough Lewis

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle