Lesbians are popping up in the darndest places. Twenty years ago you would need a magnifying glass and the best gaydar detector money could buy to find an out lesbian actress on television, never mind a show that depicted one. Nowadays we have our very own series that is based solely on the lives of gay women loving, laughing, lying, lamenting and other L-related activities; we have cable stations like Logo that give us all gay programming all the time; and more and more networks television shows are incorporating bi/lesbian characters into their programs (hat tip, Grey’s). To further our quest to conquer the world, celesbians and actresses that play some of our favorite gay women are infiltrating another frontier — television ads.
The other night while watching some reality show I can’t get enough of I was treated to not one, not two, but three commercials featuring some of my most beloved ladies in entertainment today. Yes, the commercial break — that universal time when millions of people choose to get up, stretch, refill that satisfying beverage, or tend to nature’s call — is now featuring ads staring our favorite ladies trying selling us things that we may not even want. (But the point is they are there and visibility matters.)
I’m sure we have all seen Ellen’s American Express commercials by now. Her ads are as widely known as her sexuality. Ellen has built her career on knocking down barriers and starring in this ad campaign is another accomplishment to add to that list. What other out celebrity of this magnitude would be signed on by such a huge company to sell its product? Kudos to Ellen, a card carrying lesbian and our favorite American Express card member.
And this commercial is “I-wish-I-was-that-dollop-of –yogurt-on-the-end-of-that-spoon good.” No, no, this commercial is “I-don’t-want-anyone-else–to-ever-sell-me-yogurt-but-Leisha good.” We all heard about how yogurt is the definitive product for women, but now thanks to Leisha, Yoplait can be the definitive product for women who love women.
My reaction upon seeing this next ad for the first time was a definitely two-fold. The first was the “OMG that’s Dawn Denbo!” The second reaction was a bit more obtuse: “OMG that’s Dawn Denbo — and she’s selling deli meat. Hey, whose kid is that? And who is that hungry man? Where is her lover Cindy? Oh heaven let that be bologna she is slicing!”
I know Dawn Denbo is just a character, really I do. I’m right there next to you on the reality train staring out the window as all the reality whisks by us. That being said, Elizabeth Keener does such an amazing job playing Denbo that it is a tad bit deflating to see her in a nuclear family scenario serving up sandwiches for her hungry crew. I prefer my Keener stirring about at The Planet planning her tyrannical monopoly of LA’s lesbian hangouts.
Michelle Paradise looks all business in this ad for PNC Bank. Had I not seen Exes & Ohs, I would be like every other anybody that may not watch Logo and pay no further mind to the woman behind the vintage microphone. It is such a shame that a disclaimer isn’t written under her saying, “In case you didn’t know I have another job as a brilliant writer and I star in my own television show.” But I guess that would shatter the believability factor that this is a woman who wears suits and thinks about free checking a lot.
Paradise has moonlighted before in television ads. She had done spots for Comcast Cable, Flintstones Vitamins and even an ad for a women’s vitamin that makes you “stop sweating the small stuff” (which sounds a lot like Zoloft to me, but I won’t judge). So keep your eyes you never know when or where Paradise will pop up next.
It’s great to see that all these women that are endeared to us for so many reasons can pop up on television any time of day. I’m hoping that in the future we may see other famous lesbians/actresses that play lesbians during the television break. Maybe Jennifer Beals could sell power suits, or Portia de Rossi selling Porsches. A girl can dream.