11. Kate Moennig
(No. 9 in 2008)
In her role as Shane McCutcheon on The L Word, Kate Moennig brought to life the type of woman that we all know exists, but has rarely been portrayed in film or television: the lesbian player. Smooth, charming, stylish, and elusive, Shane was the woman that everyone wanted but couldn’t keep. And it seems that Moennig was meant for the role.
Whether she was slouching in the corner smoking a cigarette or making an expensive t-shirt look punk and edgy, Moennig brought an effortless sexiness to the role, which was essential for a character who could pick up women without even trying. (On top of all that, she’s also proven that she’s a good sport with her low-key appearances on This Just Out with Liz Feldman).
Though she’s a skilled actress who will surely continue to build her career (look for her later this year with Robert DeNiro in Everybody’s Fine), it will be hard not to think of Moennig every time you hear someone accused of "acting like a Shane."
12. Rachel Shelley
(No. 42 in 2008)
When Rachel Shelley joined the cast of The L Word as Helena Peabody, we were treated to a delicious new villain we could love to hate. Petulant, entitled, and sometimes just plain nasty, Helena lived in her rich and randy mother’s shadow and took pure delight in pilfering Bette’s partner, Tina. So what happened? Helena turned out to be human after all, and actress Rachel Shelley got to show us what she was made of. Shelley’s Helena bet it all on love and lost everything time and again. Her riches gave her the confidence to take romantic risks and provided her lovers with the means to destroy her.
Along the way, Shelley became a fan favorite with her own racy love scenes — in prison, at the track, with a knife — and brought a welcome urgency and fire to the role. Shelley’s vivacity and stunning good looks brought to colorful life a character that, if played by anyone else, could have simply been defined by her cold, hard cash.
13. Kate Winslet
(same rank in 2008)
Kate Winslet has been on our radar ever since her 1994 film debut in Heavenly Creatures, in which the unknown young actress stole the show with her passion, intensity and depth. With each subsequent film, her work has only grown stronger and her beauty more undeniable. Whether she’s draped in period frocks for art house films like Sense and Sensibility or helming big budget popcorn flicks like Titanic, she brings the same warmth and earthiness to each role and has become symbolic of "real woman" appeal. In 2008, Winslet finally won her Oscar for Best Actress (for her role in The Reader), after holding the dual titles of youngest actress to receive two Oscar nominations (age 22) and was the youngest actor to ever receive six nominations
All of the impressive accomplishments aside, Winslet is simply a knockout. If you didn’t already know that, you’ll get it when you see her recent barely-clad Vanity Fair photo shoot. Take a long look however, as Winslet has told Time magazine that she doesn’t plan to take her clothes off in a movie again. Let’s all hope that this is something akin to a campaign promise, and we’ll simply forget she ever mentioned it if she has a change of heart.
14. Eliza Dushku
(No. 28 in 2008)
Sometimes out of sight, but never out of mind, Eliza Dushku thrilled her queer fans this year by going back to her TV action star roots with Dollhouse. Brought to us by, Joss Whedon (the Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator that originally put Dushku on our radar as Faith, the slayer with a bad attitude), Dollhouse has received mixed reviews from critics and viewers alike. But what we can all agree on is our pleasure in seeing Dushku in full-throttle mode again as Echo, an "active" whose personality and memories have been wiped out and reprogrammed.
This is the third year Dushku appears on the Hot 100 list, and she recently told us that she’s pleased to have a strong lesbian and bisexual fan base. That certainly explains some of her enduring popularity with AfterEllen.com readers, but what else keeps us coming back for more Dushku? Maybe its because she’s in touch with her inner tomboy, or maybe its the sardonic arch we always hear in her husky voice. Or perhaps its her other assets, most of which can be seen in a recent issue of Allure magazine. Whatever "it" is, Dushku’s got it.
15. Ellen DeGeneres*
(No. 17 in 2008)
Though her wife, Portia De Rossi, took the top spot on the Hot 100 list, out comic and host Ellen DeGeneres has made an impressive showing of her own this year. As any woman in the know can tell you, funny is sexy. And Ellen DeGeneres is a very funny woman.
With her unmistakable style (who doesn’t want her wardrobe?), natural beauty and Southern charm, DeGeneres makes being the go-to celesbian look easy. DeGeneres revolutionized television over a decade ago by coming out both in real life and on her sitcom, Ellen. She survived the aftermath of the show’s subsequent cancellation to go on to star in an Emmy Award-winning talk show and be showered with the sort of unanimous public love and approval typically reserved exclusively for Oprah.
In 2008 she married De Rossi in a ridiculously stylish and glamorous wedding, and used her talk show as a platform to advocate for gay marriage. She also became the new spokesmodel for CoverGirl cosmetics, bringing her signature humor to the commercial spots and, by her very presence in them, stating the obvious: lesbians are beautiful.