Isabella Rossellini: Green Becomes Her
BY Brandon Voss
April 01 2009 12:00 AM ET
I couldn't help but notice the prominent phalli on many of the male sea creatures, particularly the whale's six-foot penis. Does size matter universally?
Well, size matters a lot if you're a barnacle, because you can't move. Proportionally, the barnacle has the longest penis. When you read about the variety in the world of sex, you get this feeling that anything is possible. The idea may generally be male-female with us, but there are lots of animals that are hermaphrodites, like the limpet, and penguins are often gay. Nature is infinitely scandalous, so it's some consolation to see that it's not always so black-and-white.
You often play the male member of a species in the shorts. Is it empowering to strap on a paper phallus?
Often it's the male that moves, not the female, so I play the male because it's easier. Because all of my partners are big paper cutouts, it's mostly just a technical thing. I never even thought about the fact that I was playing males until people mentioned it. But as the whale, who has this huge six-foot erection, was it empowering? To tell you the truth, I'm not convinced about Freud and his penis envy, but it certainly was fun.
Did you get any embarrassing paper cuts?
[Laughs] Generally, I destroy my partners because they're very fragile.
Words like "erection," "penis," and "vagina" seem to roll off your tongue as if you were a sailor. Are you always so sexually candid?
I take advantage of a puritanical streak in America. I know I can make people gasp and giggle just by saying "vagina." But I don't really do it to scandalize people. I want my films to make people laugh and then say, "Oh, I didn't know that about nature."
You portrayed one of Truman Capote's "swans," Marella Agnelli, in 2006's Infamous. Do you have a similarly special gay friend?
I had a very close friend who died about 10 years ago, unfortunately, of AIDS. I was married twice, so I called him my "third husband." And I do have a "fourth husband" now in Paris named Jean-Paul Scarpitta. He's sort of my gay confidant. There's nothing for companionship like a gay guy is to a woman.