By now, she was working steadily, even shooting for the same company she shot the prison gangbang for. "I guess now I've gotten past the whole feeling-bad-about-it thing. I'm like, 'OK, I did it and that was pretty damn rough of me' ... Like wow, you know?," she said with a laugh. "I can say that I've done pretty much everything there is to do, and I can walk away feeling a little proud about it, you know?"
The Primetime producers who had been following her noticed changes. At 18, she had said she would never use drugs, but now Primetime learned that she was sometimes high on marijuana during her scenes. She was working without condoms, though she said the risk of AIDS was never far from her mind — or her prayers. "The fans don't like to see condoms ... If I would have said I want to use condoms every time, I really wouldn't get any work," she explained. She contracted chlamydia, which can make you sterile.
And anal sex — which she had be talked into during her first shoot — was now her specialty. "Funny, isn't it? Something I didn't want to do and now I'm known best for it," she told Primetime. No longer a fresh face in the business, she found she had to agree to even riskier sex acts to earn the same money.
Ona Zee, the producer who had interviewed Michelle the previous year, noticed a difference, too. "I said to my husband, Our baby is all grown up and left home. She's no longer the adorable fresh-faced girl that I met ... Now she's really in the life ... Even in the pictures that I see of her, she's much harder, much tougher."
Behind the Smile
During interviews with Primetime, Michelle kept the happy smile she had always had — even when describing things that many people would find disturbing. However, her composure cracked when Diane Sawyer asked why she always smiled. Tears came to her eyes as she said, "Because I like to hide — hide everything, you know?" Then she began to cry, explaining that she hides her real emotions because she wants to show everyone how happy she is. "And I'm not happy ... I don't like myself at all," she said.
Michelle confessed she often felt physical revulsion during her scenes: "My whole entire body feels it when I'm doing it and ... I feel so — so gross." While pretending to be enjoying the sex, she said, she was in fact counting the minutes, telling herself, "Hey, I only have this much time left. Don't worry about it. Get the check. Gonna go deposit it in your bank." She admitted: "You get addicted to the money."
Like other performers Primetime spoke to, Michelle said that during shooting she often imagines herself outside her body. "I call it the 'other half,'" she said.
Bringing Home a Trophy
In January 2002, Michelle's Prague movie won an award at the Adult Video News awards in Las Vegas, considered the Oscars of the adult industry. Things were not going smoothly with Vidal that day — he complained that Michelle "don't do the ironing my clothes... I still 28 and I need my mother," and at the ceremony he openly checked out other women — but there were crowds of admiring fans for Michelle and she soaked up the attention.
After going on stage to pick the trophy, she was beaming, telling Primetime she had worked hard for it. "I think this is the very beginning of my career, like I've just begun," she said.
And at the 2003 AVN awards two weeks ago, Michelle was an even bigger winner, taking home awards for best supporting actress and three other categories.