The A-List Interview: Rose McGowan

Playing another witch in Conan the Barbarian, the Charmed alum opens up about her gay sister, her education by drag queens, and how she feels about her gay bestie criticizing her outfits on Fashion Police.

BY Brandon Voss

August 11 2011 3:00 AM ET

Even before you lived with drag queens, you had an unconventional upbringing, growing up in an Italian chapter of the Children of God cult. How did your family influence your views on gay people?
My whole family’s incredibly liberal. We were always for the underdog, and that’s the number one thing that has shaped my life. I’ve also been that underdog, and I’m still the underdog in a lot of ways, certainly in my business.

As a vocal supporter of marriage equality, you participated in the No H8 Campaign.
My sister is gay. Before I broke up with my fiancé, it seemed absurd to have my sister at a wedding that she couldn’t have if she wanted to. I would still have great hesitation about getting married. I’d feel like such a hypocrite, walking down the aisle past all of my best friends who can’t. I was furious with how horribly the whole Prop. 8 campaign was run in California. It broke my heart the night Prop. 8 passed. I’m out there on Santa Monica Blvd. with crowds of people, and the world is watching, but all the anti-Prop. 8 protestors did was put up the same non-telegenic people with the same speeches, not understanding how it works. Their money was totally mismanaged. I really want California to get it together like New York has.

Thanks for your support, Rose.
You’re welcome. I don’t know how much solidarity there is in the gay community within the political spectrum here. I actually told a bunch of my gay friends recently, “None of you guys have marched for any of your own causes. None of you have sat out at night, hollering, carrying placards.” I’ve decided I’m going to come up with some straight causes so they can return the favor.

How did your sister come out to you?
It was just a natural thing. It never occurred to me that she was gay or that she wasn’t. Although at one point, after dating women, she was scared to tell me that she was going out with a guy. It actually freaked me out, and I stopped speaking to her for three months. Now, thank God, she’s back to women, and life is good again.

That almost sounds heterophobic.
It’s not that I don’t have straight friends, but en masse they make me uncomfortable — especially a bunch of straight men. I was at a party recently, and I started getting really twitchy and weird. My friend was like, “What is wrong with you?” I realized that it was all the straight people. I was like, “These are not my people. I have to leave.”

In a 2009 VanityFair.com piece called “My Gays,” you listed stylist George Kotsiopoulos as one of your gay besties. Now that he’s on E!’s Fashion Police with Joan Rivers and Kelly Osbourne, has he criticized your outfits?
He did once. Other than him, I’d hope all those people, because of how they look, would rip apart my fashion. If they liked how I looked, it would mean I’d be palatable in Ohio, and Ohio can go fuck itself.

You also mentioned your lesbian assistant in the article.
I have a different one now. [Laughs] I had one for four years, and now I have a new one. She and her friends — they’re all exes of each other — are an unbelievable family. It’s a group effort: If my fridge breaks down, one of them is here with an ice chest in 15 minutes. It’s a great club I’ve been invited into without having to be a lesbian. I totally have my own little L Word. We go to lesbian nightclubs a lot.

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