Thorny & Blithe

[Mature Content]


Indie film darling.  Pouty, sexy, funny, gorgeous.  Her style places her more firmly in the Golden Era of screen sirens than the modern world.  She’s a fiery Irish bad girl all right, but she’s “good bad, not evil”.  That’s why I am madly in love with Rose McGowan.

A rose is a rose is a rose, but I’d be willing to bet that a rose by any other name wouldn’t fire me up the way this Rose does.  Some women, just by their very existence, have a certain allure without their really doing anything more than simply “showing up”.  There are only a handful of Hollywood harlots Rose McGowan (glamour shot)who meet this criteria for me (Jean Harlow is Number One), but Rose McGowan ranks right up there with Jean in my book.  Rose even has a small dimple in her chin like Jean which is adorable (unlike the chin-chasm of John Travolta -- I know a homeless family of five lives in that thing).  I find Rose McGowan's mere presence on any screen, be it big or small, riveting; I’m almost agog to the point of stupefaction when I see her.

Rose Bud
This dervish, Rose Arianna McGowan, was born to American hippie (“ewwwww!”) parents in Italy on September 5, 1973.  The carnival ride that is Rose’s life started with her birth – her parents were part of the idiot cult, the Children of God

The Children of God (COG), a hippie-dippy, L. Ron Hubtard-style “religion” (minus the Thetans and the UFOs) started in the late 1960s in the Land-O-Flakes (better known as “California”).  In brief, they did the regular cultish things cults do: live in communes to the exclusion of the outside world, hand out literature, grub for money from its members and the public, mostly all in the service of their founder and leader, in COG's case a real piece of work named David Berg (interesting having a Jewish guy run a “Christian” cult).  One of their tenets was “reaching God through the power of sex”; reports of underage sexual activity plagued the group in addition to financial irregularities of Berg’s (he got very rich off this, as do all cult leaders).

The Children of the Corn operation was dissolved by Berg in 1978 and reorganized as first The Family of Love (then The Partridge Family, then The Brady Kids, then All in the Family, then The Hogan Family…), then simply The Family.  It is now known as The Family International (TFI).  No matter how you slice it, or what name it’s given, it’s still a buncha hippie flakes, with one guy milking a lot of naïve, impressionable, desperate people for cash. [As an aside, this is the same cult the “Phoenix” family (including future actors, River and Joaquin Phoenix) were formerly members of.  They changed their real surname to “Phoenix” in celebration of rising from the ashes of stupidity after escaping from the cult].

Rose, as a child, of course cannot be blamed for her parents’ lunacy.  She didn’t have a choice.  She spent her childhood living among the European communes.  Her dad lost his membership in the cult in 1978 during the re-structuring (cult leader David Berg had fired about 300 of his upper “management” people). Rose, however, was able to get jobs as a child model for some Italian magazines. Thus, like one of my other favorite women of all time, Brooke Shields, Ramblin’ Rose started out as a child model before becoming an actress. 

Her parents divorced when she was 10 and the whole clan returned to the US.  They settled in the Pacific Northwest – Rose did not know how to speak English upon arrival.  She led a fairly ordinary life, going to school, doing cute Rosie things, I’m sure, but then a dark pall settled over her.  It is uncertain the source of this issue but when she was 14 a family acquaintance leveled the accusation Rose was doing drugs (a claim she states flatly is false).  Regardless of the truth, she was forced into a drug rehab facility.  When she got out of the rehab joint she spent a year as a disadvantaged youth.  She brought charges that her stay in the rehab was unnecessary and had been harmful to her mental health.  Thus, at the ripe old age of 15, she was declared emancipated from the McGowan family.  Rose went to two different high schools, but managed to graduate.  She did some time at UCLA; another fun fact about the lovely and talented Ms. McGowan is she is also qualified as a licensed beautician.

Rose got her first film role in Encino Man with the flesh-crawlingly unfunny, smarmy, hippie waste-oid Pauly Shore (hey, she needed the job!).  This was 1992.  The next few years were very busy for the stunning Ms. McGowan.  In 1995 she played the part of Amy Blue in the dark comedy, The Doom Generation.  This movie brought her to the fore as a potential dynamo (sexy, with major screen presence).  This film also brought her a nod for “Best Debut Performance” at the 1996 Independent Spirit Awards.

As with anyone’s life, there was yet another turd in Rose’s punchbowl.  That would be Bio-Dome, again with that waste of protoplasm, Pauly Shore.  But she bounced back and hasn’t done anything'Shots In The Dark' album cover (1996) that bad since.  Her next part was a supporting one in the huge smash Scream (which featured yet another Classic Hollywood Hottie, Drew Barrymore).  Rose’s beauty got her a photo shoot for – get this – a tribute album of Henry Mancini called Shots in the Dark.  The disc was released in 1996.  She continued to model and was “The Face” of American clothing company Bebe from 1998 to 1999.

Marilyn Meets Rosie
Meanwhile on the American suburban landscape a little boy named Brian Warner grew up to become the infamous Marilyn Marilyn MansonCredit: Bill G. Chambers, 2011Manson™.  My personal feelings about Brian Warner are these: although he is a complete freak, his publicity machine runs full-bore both from media hype and his own antics.  He is probably not as awful a human being as the ordinary shmendrik on the street might believe (no more than, say, Alice Cooper was back in the 1970s).  Rather, he is a musician, and an artist whose music is steeped in the theatrics of darkness.  He entertains me.  But I know he’s a freak.

But my Rose Red is not a freak.  She’s a regular girl, right?  I mean she’s a bad girl, but “good bad, not evil”.  So, I was both shocked and amazed at the love relationship between these two people – the disturbing Manson™ with the angelic Rose McGowan.   

Marilyn Manson™ is probably not a bad man.  A strange man, a quirky man, but probably not bad.  But I know from his own writings and anecdotes from people close to him there is probably nothing he wouldn’t do in the way of kink or fetish-y behavior.  And that’s what worried me for my Rosie when she was in a relationship with him.  It’s not that I imagine Manson™ mistreated her (in theHellmann's Real MayonnaiseCredit: Best Foods form of domestic violence or other abuse) or physically harmed her.  My skin crawls thinking about what horrible naked things he might’ve come up with.  I picture Rose strapped to a torture rack face down, Manson™ flogging her alabaster, nude back with a dead marmoset as two professional circus midgets®, standing on red-velvet upholstered Edwardian© footstools, slather themselves and Manson™ with Hellmann’s® Real© Mayonnaise™ .  Or, he could just be a regular mish-posish guy, who knows?  Rose ain’t sayin’ and I ain’t askin’ – it gives me a shuddering huzz thinking about it; it hurts my brain trying to get my head around that relationship.  And, however petty it sounds for me to say this, I actually breathed a slight sigh of relief when she broke up with him in 2001. 

The Grind/Planet Rose
She did more movies (some of which were indie short films), and by 2001, Rose got a spot on (what I found out) was a hit TV show, Charmed (a show about three sisters who are witches, and get into stuff that Samantha Stevens would never have dreamed of).  She replaced the always-annoying Shannen Doherty on the show.  Once Rose McGowan got a part on it, I started watching it.  This program (which I did not watch until my Rose Red showed up on it) is about Gothy, girly stuff.  Or so I thought – it turned out to be a lot edgier.  It wasn’t bad; Rose’s clenched-teeth, ventriloquist’s delivery of her lines in the show cracked me up!

She made this program watchable and enjoyable for me (yeah, Alyssa Milano is a little hottie, too, but she’s kind of girly whereas Rose comes off more womanly, if you know what I mean).  Rose did 112 episodes of this show before it folded its tent in 2006.  She also won an award for her character's portrayal on the program (Family Television Award). 

Rose McGowan has been in demand for magazine cover work and other edgy modeling jobs for years (and still is).  Rose isn’t just a pretty face and rockin’ bod, though.  She can act. She had a dramatic part in The Rose McGowan, Arena mag cover, July 2007 (detail)Black Dahlia, a big budget movie about the mutilation-torture-murder of Elizabeth Short (the victim, also known infamously since the murder in 1947 as “the Black Dahlia”).  The next year’s Grindhouse, however, proved that my darling had some serious acting chops.  It also proved she could be over-the-top when called upon.

For those who don’t know, “grindhouse” is a term used in the film-screening industry for those movie theaters, usually of the “all-nite” variety, that run exploitation-style movies ceaselessly: the Blacula series, other blaxploitation movies, martial arts junk, and things like Charles Bronson's Mr. Majestyk.  These movies are usually almost plotless, non-stop action films, and they often have a campy element to them.  Directors/producers/writers Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino came up with an idea for the ultimate grindhouse movie called, appropriately enough, Grindhouse

This thing actually has a life of its own.  For starters, it’s two distinct, full-length films.  The first segment/movie is called Planet Terror, in which Rose plays a peg-legged exotic dancer caught in a world of slowly-zombifying people (more on that in a minute).  In Death Proof, the second segment/movie, Rose plays a barfly.  Either of these two films can stand on its own two legs (er, in the case of Planet Terror, uh…leg) as great pieces of filmmaking.  But together – seriously, I don’t use this phrase but maybe once every decade and I’m going to use it now – these two films are a tour de force (there, I said it).  Each has its own merits and although any one person may prefer, say, Planet Terror to Death Proof, the movies are on a par and neither segment is clearly better than the other.

Rose McGowan, Grindhouse (2007), action shot (detail)

Rose’s roles in this in-your-face, non-stop grind, are fascinating in their diversity.  In the first film (Planet Terror) she plays a dancer who loses her leg in a vehicular accident.  While in the hospital stuff goes wrong with humankind, quasi-zombies abound, and a guy she met before shows up to get her out of the hospital.  In what has to be one of the most creative moments in filmmaking, the hero breaks off a table leg and jams it into Rose’s bandaged stump, giving her an Ahab look for the rest of the movie.  Rose later replaces her removable coffee-table leg with a serious piece of heavy artillery which she stumps along on, and then, crouched on the ground, hikes up her leg to fire.  And Rose is good at the action stuff.  She’s in there bouncing and bopping around on that assault weapon, jumping and rolling, shooting up zombies and bad guys, and I just can’t seem to stop gushing about how great this movie and Rose’s part in it is . . .

[Whew!  I just had to sit back for a moment.  OK.  Composing myself to move on.] 

In the second feature Rose’s character is more underplayed.  She’s just a woman in a bar having a drink until she needs a ride home. Her character is played sweetly, I think (I’ve met women just like her in bars like that, achingly pretty, slightly care-worn, a little sad).  A former stunt driver, creepily acted by Kurt Russell (who is AWESOME in this movie, by the way) loads her up for a ride home.  His car, however, he describes as “death proof” – it’s been reinforced for movie stunt work.  For whatever reason he then proceeds to start gear-jamming, throwing Rose around inside the car, smashing her head against the windows and dash.  He then mentions the car is only “death proof” for him (the driver).  He proves this by purposefully wrecking the car, killing Rose.  He goes to the hospital with minor injuries. 

The second half of this movie, sadly, is Rose-less (excellent nonetheless), and is basically an homage to the movie Mr. Majestyk.  If you haven’t seen Grindhouse, you need to (don’t be put Rose McGowan as Clara Bow (detail)off by the intentionally choppy film work, the jolting start, the goofy “intermission” thrown in – it’s all supposed to look as crappy as it would if you were sitting in a crummy theatre at 2 AM watching Scream, Blacula, Scream for the 97th time).

Rose McGowan is pin-up quality goods.  She’s got the look.  Her physicality is a study in classicism, hearkening back to the glamour days of Hollywood.  Don’t believe me?  Here she is as Clara Bow (the original “It” girl of the late 1920s) – tell me you don’t see a Hollywood Classic writ large on Rose’s face.  I can’t prove it, but I think Rose’s pale, red-head look (à la Clara Bow) heavily influences other Goth chicks. 

Rose (briefly) had a new man in her life (she was actually involved with director Robert Rodriguez from the filming of Grindhouse till late 2009).  These days, though, she hangs with her Boston Terriers (she’sRose McGowan (pin-up) an animal-rights activist for the breed). 

Rose is an experienced entertainer: a movie career consisting of a body of pretty respectable work, a fair turn on a hit TV show, and she also lent vocals to some recordings for Marilyn Manson™.  She has recorded her own original material as well.  This talented womanly woman has a brilliant future.  And given the roles she’s proven she can play (she’s done over two dozen movies), she can fairly well be selective.  Her next project (in post-production as of this writing, due for release in 2012) is a horror/thriller called Rosewood Lane.  Rose McGowan in Rosewood Lane – I like the sound of that.  Her obvious hotness, diversity in character, smoldering classic Hollywood screen-presence, and talent is why I am madly in love with Rose McGowan. 



Rose's best (for me!)

Grindhouse (Two-Disc Collector's Edition) [Blu-ray]
Amazon Price: $29.95 $8.50 Buy Now
(price as of May 14, 2015)