Michaela Jae Rodriguez
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Big Gay Following: Rosario Dawson

Big Gay Following: Rosario Dawson

Since her legendary discovery on her East Village apartment stoop at the age of 15 by Kids director Larry Clark, Rosario Dawson’s edgy career — save for being a Pussycat here and with a Pluto Nash there — has remained deathproof. And 2005’s Rent, in which she rocked out as HIV-positive heroin addict Mimi, could’ve been based on her own queer-soaked vie bohème. The 28-year-old — whose latest endeavor was the NC-17-rated rape thriller Descent — tells us why she gets so much attention.

The Advocate: Descent marks your first effort as a producer. What drew you to the project?
Rosario Dawson: I’ve done work with V-Day [an antiviolence group created by The Vagina Monologues’ Eve Ensler] and fought for women’s rights, and I got really disturbed because I had people telling me, “I saw Irreversible, and I’ll never think about rape the same way again.” I’m like, “How did you think about rape before?” Descent isn’t a court story or a societal discussion; it’s about a woman who doesn’t tell anybody she was raped and decides to deal with it herself. I thought it was going to be difficult to do, and in my opinion, that’s a good reason to do something.

Why was it necessary to have the rapist, Jared, not only sodomized by your character, Maya, but also raped by another man?
You have her strapping him down and telling him how everything had affected her, and he’s laying there thinking, Oh, my God, I hope she doesn’t cut my dick off, but he’s not feeling any remorse. When she rapes Jared it doesn’t overpower him. It’s when she brings Adrian into it that it becomes his worst nightmare, because it’s taboo and something he’s trying to push away from himself. It’s fucked-up for a woman of color to be raped while a white man is calling her a “baboon nigger,” and for a white male to then be raped by a man of color and told he’s basically a bitch.

How do you think gays will react to that final scene, which feeds into heterosexual fears by portraying homosexuality as something predatory?
It’s not that Adrian’s character is gay or that it even matters, but it’s definitely open for discussion. One of the people who wrote it and put it together is gay, and that was something in particular he wanted to put into it, because he does feel that some people look at him as something scary—just like people may look at a jock boy or someone like me as something scary. We had all the producers, everybody, saying, “Can we cut that stuff out at the end? Does he have to be nude? Does he have to like it? Does it have to be so much?” But we just pushed it and made it more confronting for people, especially for men.

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