Actor Gina Gershon has played lesbian/bisexual characters not once, not twice, but in three major roles: half-naked, all-evil bisexual dancer Cristal Conners in Showgirls (1995); sexy butch ex-con Corky in Bound (1995); and tattooed rocker Jacki in Prey for Rock & Roll (2003). If that’s not enough to make her a bona fide lesbian icon, she also counts Ellen DeGeneres as a friend.
Last month, Gershon released a new CD, In Search of Cleo, a collection of songs telling the true story of the loss, search and recovery of her cat, Cleo.
Gina, are you sure you’re not a lesbian?
With the exception of "Watch Over Me," which was written by out producer and musician Linda Perry, the songs were all written or co-written by Gershon. They are not merely about her cat Cleo, however. Gershon means the collection to be a metaphor about losing and searching for love.
Beginning Oct. 7, she will be performing songs from In Search of Cleo live at New York’s The Box. She took time out from rehearsals to talk to AfterEllen.com about writing songs, cats, Corky and how Prince tried to change her name.
AfterEllen.com: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us.
Gina Gershon: Thank you. Now, why are you called AfterEllen? Like Ellen DeGeneres?
AE: Yeah. Although we love her, it’s not about Ellen, though. Our Editor in Chief, Sarah Warn, chose the name because when Ellen came out, it was a watershed moment in lesbian visibility.
GG: Like, before it was "B.E.," then it was "A.E."?
AE: [Laughs.] Exactly.
GG: [Ellen's] actually mentioned in In Search of Cleo. I haven’t told her yet.
AE: How does she fit into it?
GG: You know, I’m friends with Ellen. And when my cat was lost for two months, I was a little bit of a wreck. I was doing anything and everything [to find him]. And Ellen said to me, "You’ve got to talk to Sonya." And I said, "Who’s Sonya?" And she said, "Sonya, the animal psychic."
GG: Ellen hooked me up with Sonya, who, by the way, is super, super genius; the best psychic I’ve ever spoken to. Have you ever seen her show on TV?
AE: Can’t say I have, but I’ve heard of it.
GG: Yeah. She really is gifted. I’m telling you, the stuff she was telling me was unbelievable.
AE: Like what? About where Cleo might be?
GG: Not only where Cleo might be, but seeing the world through Cleo’s eyes — telling me everything that Cleo knew about me and what he had been through [with] me up until that point. And it was mind-blowing.
AE: And an inspiration to write songs?
GG: I have a tendency to write music when I’m sad, and I had gone through a really bad breakup, and close friends and family had died. It was just a really intense period, and then my cat went missing. You know I thought, "Oh my God."
I never originally was going to marry these two ideas. But [while] writing the music, I was in this very strange space and dealing with death and breakups and bad relationships, and Sonya explained all of those [things] but through my cat’s eyes, through his point of view. It was really trippy.