But Shimizu's most notable performance was in Foxfire (1996)â€”a female bonding and revenge-taking flick based on a Joyce Carol Oates novelâ€”which also stars Jolie and features a group bosom-tattooing scene.
Shimizu was an early adopter when tattoos were still on the fringe of queer hip, and her well-inked body features a woman straddling a â€œStrap-Onâ€ wrench (Snap-On being a leading tool manufacturer). From age 22 to 24 she went to a trade tech for auto mechanics, but her true passion is motorcycles.
These days she doesn't get to ride much because she's still healing from an accident that happened last summer when a clutch lever failed while she was taking off at high speed. She broke one of her legs in 16 places and was in bed for three months and on crutches for half a year. Now she has a titanium screw in her knee and a Harley chopper in her garage, and says she's always building something.
Shimizu's passion for engines will play out in Full Throttle, which she describes as an â€œaction-packed, self-deprecating adventure show.â€ She says the series will reflect her â€œweird and super athleticâ€ personality: â€œI'm always willing to try to drive anything and drive it as fast as it can go. I'm just open for any kind of new adventure.â€
Shimizu plans to host Quentin Tarantino for a NASCAR episode and Jenna Jameson for a segment on the best cars to have sex in. â€œAnd maybe we would physically find the best positions for each of the cars,â€ says Shimizu. She also wants to have Patty Schemel on the show, riding a burro, â€œjust for no reason.â€
It seems that the network has given Shimizu free reign on her show. She envisions â€œa fantastical sideâ€ to it, and speaks of an episode that will feature Daniela Sea, whom Shimizu describes as â€œethereal.â€ She says she wanted to base the episode on what the pair would have been doing if they'd met when they were nine years old, so they'll be traipsing through the woods in search of the elusive unicorn.
â€œShe's open, honest and compassionate, without playing that I'm-open-honest-and-compassionate thing,â€ Shimizu says of Sea. â€œIt just oozes from her.â€ Recently the two bunked together at the Sundance Film Festival, where Sea treated her roommate to steamed veggies and brown rice each morning.
Shimizu met another future guest for her show, a skater sponsored by Element Skateboards, while taking part in an upcoming film called The Itty Bitty Titty Committee, a comedy about a woman who hooks up with an underground radical feminist group. Directed by Jamie Babbit (But I'm a Cheerleader), it's the first feature from queer filmmaking nonprofit POWER UP. The film stars Melonie Diaz, and the cast includes Clea DuVall, Daniela Sea, and Guinevere Turner.
Itty Bitty will be the first film Shimizu has done in a while; in recent years her work has largely consisted of TV appearances. She says she enjoyed readjusting to the pace of film: â€œIt was nice to get back into that slowness and thoughtfulness. With TV it's more manic.â€ She says her own TV show will be high-energy, with â€œa lot of talking over each other, a lot of bragging.â€
Boasting is part of Shimizu's shtick, but in real life she's actually fairly humble, with a strong sense of humor about herself. Recalling a recent conversation she had with Turner about how things have changed at this point in their careers, she says â€œYou know, I couldn't even get a role to play an Asian dyke with tattoos.â€ She quickly adds â€œbut maybe thatâ€˜s more about how bad of an actor I am, really.â€
She acknowledges that the field is more competitive these days, now that Asian Americans are more frequently featured in film and TV. Still, she says, casts â€œare either all Asian or there's none.â€ She adds that the modeling world has always seemed â€œmore openâ€ in that respect. But viewing audiences will soon have a chance to embrace Shimizu again, when Full Throttle finally comes to the small screen.