“Annie, of course, was just making me feel like a million dollars that day,” recalled actress Emmanuelle Chriqui on giving Adrianne Palicki a lap dance. Granted, they were on a set for the new indie movie Elektra Luxx but Chriqui smiled in reflecting about shooting the scene. “It was kind of a thing that came together,” she said, satisfied with the end result in the film. Chriqui also said it helped that the film’s director/writer, Sebastian Gutiérrez, knew what would help the sexy brunette cut loose while straddling Palicki’s tight midsection.
“Sebastian, for example, knows about me that I love to dance,” Chriqui said. “All you have to turn music on and I’m right there. He was like ‘Emm, do your thing’ and you could kind of celebrate that about me, which made it really safe.”
In the independent film, which opens this weekend in limited release, pregnant, retired porn star Elektra Luxx (played by Carla Gugino) is trying to reinvent herself but is blackmailed into seducing a woman’s fiancée. Elektra’s porn star buddy Holly Rocket (Palicki) and prostitute Bambi Lindberg (Chriqui) are on their own journey while vacationing in Mexico. In fact, Holly, who happens to be a bit dim and linguistically challenged, has a long-standing girl-crush on Bambi and tries to sabotage a double date with two men so perhaps the two ladies can truly be together.
But let’s get back to that lap dance, which even co-star Malin Ackerman (who does some lesbianish dabbling herself in Children’s Hospital) described as “Hot!” during the recent press junket in Los Angeles. Chriqui explained that because the shoot for the entire movie was only 15 days, there was not a lot of time for preparation for the sexy girl-on-girl dance.
“We worked it out on the day,” said Chriqui about grinding against a seated, welcoming Palicki in the sequence. “It was just basically [Sebastian] had this idea in his head [and] this is the part when it’s so nice to work with people who know you.”
In fact, Chriqui and Palicki had already worked together since Elektra Luxx is technically a sequel to Gutiérrez’s earlier (but little seen) film, Women In Trouble, which also starred Palicki, Chriqui, Gugino and Marley Shelton in the same roles. In that film, Holly was still crushing on Bambi but hadn’t quite realized it yet to act on her feelings. One good thing to come out of that experience was a shorthand that developed between Chriqui and Palicki, who will go from porn star to superhero when she takes on the role of Wonder Woman in the upcoming TV reboot. “We clicked right away,” said Chriqui. “It was one of those things that was incredibly meant to be.”
Chriqui admitted that the two actresses were, perhaps, too caught up in acting (and grinding) together and failed to figure out how good their chemistry was until they were off the set. “When we both saw Women In Trouble for the first time, we were both like ‘Oh my God! They are so cute!’ It was hilarious.”
Playing a dim bulb isn’t an easy task to pull off but Chriqui marveled at Palicki’s talents in playing the role of Holly. “She’s so brilliant in how she does it. When you’re acting with her, it just feels so real. It doesn’t feel over the top even though some of the things she says are so over the top. But she has this way of delivering it that you’re just absolutely in the moment.”
In the climactic scene in the Elektra Luxx, where Holly finally tells Bambi how she feels, Holly also delivers a speech about loving another person and staying away from labels of being gay, straight, bi, etc. Gutiérrez said his intention was to not make that speech a soap-boxy kind of thing.
“People should aspire to be non-judgmental,” he explained. “I think everything is actually OK if you’re not hurting somebody else so I didn’t want it to be about it [being] better to be gay than straight or lesbians are hip right now. It doesn’t matter. If I’m in love with you, I’m in love with you. It doesn’t matter what gender you are and I do believe that.”
Looking back, Gutiérrez almost seemed surprised that he gave such a smart speech to Holly, who, on first glance, is the most dim of all the film’s characters. “In retrospect, it’s interesting to give that to a character who’s not supposed to be so smart. In a way, she is an innocent child. She’s saying, ‘Hey, we’ll figure it out’ and I think that’s romantic. You think why not? It could be great. In [Holly’s] world, it’s like that.”
Chriqui is also featured in Gutiérrez’s next project, an internet film called Girl Walks Into A Bar, which was produced exclusively for internet distribution and will be available for viewing for free on YouTube (with a sponsorship with Lexus) beginning March 11. In that film, Chriqui plays a stripper and spent a lot of time researching the part.
“I would be working at a strip club for 10 hours with real strippers and porn stars and you just kind of get into conversations,” she said. “I think all that stuff, whether you like it or not, you get a taste of it but …it wasn’t active homework, so to speak.” The actress, who will also be featured on the upcoming final season of HBO’s hit series Entourage, said that the street world is a place that has always fascinated her. “I remember when I was living in Vancouver, it is so overt. The street life is in your face. Crackheads, heroin addicts, prostitutes — it’s right there.”
One shocking thing to her was the gorgeous women who were a part of this dark underbelly. “I remember always being fascinated seeing these beautiful young girls just hooking on the streets. I was like, ‘Why are they there? Why aren’t they modeling or why aren’t they working in a club somewhere? There is an alternative so why?’ I think that’s always fascinating and Sebastian uses this as a really interesting backdrop for these women but at the end of the day we’re just learning about these women who just happen to be porn stars and strippers and dancers and all the rest.”
In fact, while shooting Elektra Luxx, Palicki was the one who noticed a spark that shone from her dark-haired co-star and even commented on it, according to Chriqui. “Annie, in the scenes, looked at me and said ‘You like this. You’re getting used to this.’ Is that true? Those little moments and I think that’s what great about what Sebastian writes. It makes you think.”
Elektra Luxx opens in select theaters tomorrow.