Saturday, April 3, 2010

Jennifer Stevenson's "Trash Sex Magic"

Jennifer Stevenson is the author of four books that only look like they’re way too much about sex. She is a founding member of Book View Cafe, speed roller skater, swimmer, horsewoman, crow fancier, and messy gardener.

Here she shares some thoughts on casting a big screen adaptation of her acclaimed novel Trash Sex Magic:
Trash Sex Magic, my book--the movie, ooo, I love this question.

I started writing Trash Sex Magic (Small Beer Press) in 1986 while I was on jury duty. The book took eighteen years to become fit to publish, so my ideal cast progressed a lot over that time.

Hero Alexander Caebeau was modeled after a guy I saw in 1986 on the Chicago El, but I didn’t even get his name, let alone a photo. The rapper Obie Trice has the look, as does Lupe Fiasco, but they’d need to put on about a hundred and fifty pounds each. Ditto male model Tyson Beckford. Also, Alexander is just plain blacker than these guys. Sadly, the darker the skin, the less likely you will see a great black male actor in the movies. If I could use a time machine, I’d vote for a young Forest Whitaker, who can carry off the sexy+big thing with the right amount of gentleness.

Originally I had Tommy Lee Jones in mind for King Gowdy, after I saw him in Coal Miner’s Daughter, for his cowlick, his blue-collar air of being nicer than he is smart, and for the way he wears a pair of work boots as if he could waltz in them.

Sissy Spacek was going to be Raedawn Somershoe, the main star and King’s white-trash sex-magician childhood sweetheart. She won this role in my book for her work in 3 Women. The way her personality flipped over in the middle—crazywow. Plus her country girl look and voice. That made me want to cast her in both roles—as Raedawn and as her equally trashy, sexy, magical mother, Gelia Somershoe.

James Earl Jones is my all-time favorite for Ernest Brown, Gelia’s main squeeze. The voice, oy! I could see the tramp Gelia coming back to that voice no matter how far she strayed—to the voice and to his air of quiet authority.

Time passed. Luckily, Raedawn is a younger-looking version of her mother, so now I could bump Sissy up to Gelia's role, much meatier and nastier but equally sexy.

Tommy Lee Jones got muuuch sexier over the next 18 years so I had no problem recasting him as Cracker Coombs, the older man who initiates Raedawn into the softer side of her job as sex priestess to the local yakshi (a tree-shaped god of sexual energy). Patrick Swayze took on King's role, ‘cuz of that broken nose and his afterthought haircut.

I wavered terribly over recasting Rae. I wanted an actress who looks like somebody punched her in the face once upon a time. Courtney Love? Joan Jett? Or if you could imagine Scarlett Johansson with a slightly broken nose. Yeah, Iris has that slut look I need for Rae—sort of “I’m not coming on to you, this is how my face grew—no, just kidding, I really am coming on to you.”
Visit Jennifer Stevenson's website, blog, and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue