Naked Ambition spotlighted the work of renowned celebrity photographer and former photo journalist Michael Grecco as he revealed the whirlwind spectacle of the AVN Awards in Las Vegas, often referred to as the “Oscars of Porn”. Featuring over 50 prints of Grecco’s work, also included in the photography book Naked Ambition: an R-Rated Look at an X-Rated Industry, the exhibition drew upon Grecco’s still-life photography and portraiture to expose the raw realism, mainstream appeal, and inherent glamour of the adult industry.
Grecco’s photography goes beyond the over-the-top sexuality that the industry is known for, and instead gets to its essence by revealing humor, personality, charm, and affability. In dealing with the subject of sex, particularly the porn industry, it would have been easy to rely on sensationalism and titillation. Instead, Grecco captured the grit, glitter, and spirit of the adult industry’s performers, icons, fans and spectators allowing the viewer to personally connect with them as everyday people, with extraordinary jobs.
This exhibition infused Grecco’s photographs with the words and character of those being photographed as well as capturing a behind-the-scenes look at their voices, thoughts, and insecurities with his companion documentary film, also entitled Naked Ambition. By displaying another aspect of the adult industry, often stereotyped as heavy on titillation and light on depth, Naked Ambition allowed people outside of the community immediate access to the inner lives and individual personalities of popular porn culture.