Jenny Shimizu at Full Throttle

 
 

Jenny ShimizuBut Shimizu's most notable performance was in Foxfire (1996)—a female bonding and revenge-taking flick based on a Joyce Carol Oates novel—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 “Strap-On” 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 “action-packed, self-deprecating adventure show.” She says the series will reflect her “weird and super athletic” personality: “I'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.”

Each episode will follow the escapades of Shimizu and a celebrity guest—such as Grassolean and bio-diesel advocate Daryl Hannah, and Angela Robinson, director of D.E.B.S. and Herbie: Fully Loaded.

Shimizu plans to host Quentin Tarantino for a NASCAR episode and Jenna Jameson for a segment on the best cars to have sex in. “And maybe we would physically find the best positions for each of the cars,” says Shimizu. She also wants to have Patty Schemel on the show, riding a burro, “just for no reason.”

It seems that the network has given Shimizu free reign on her show. She envisions “a fantastical side” to it, and speaks of an episode that will feature Daniela Sea, whom Shimizu describes as “ethereal.” 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.

“She's open, honest and compassionate, without playing that I'm-open-honest-and-compassionate thing,” Shimizu says of Sea. “It just oozes from her.” 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: “It was nice to get back into that slowness and thoughtfulness. With TV it's more manic.” She says her own TV show will be high-energy, with “a lot of talking over each other, a lot of bragging.”

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 “You know, I couldn't even get a role to play an Asian dyke with tattoos.” She quickly adds “but maybe that‘s more about how bad of an actor I am, really.”

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 “are either all Asian or there's none.” She adds that the modeling world has always seemed “more open” in that respect. But viewing audiences will soon have a chance to embrace Shimizu again, when Full Throttle finally comes to the small screen.

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