Every once in a while, it seems like a good idea to check in with wispy, ultra-happening, Oscar-nominated, New York-living actress Chloë Sevigny, 28, and see what’s up with her, because a lot often is. This time, she’s found smoking a Parliament at some oasis of a Greenwich Village cafe, dressed slinkily in a doily-thin pink dress, and right off the bat she begins offering clues as to her current state of mind. “The waitresses here are weird Eastern Europeans who are really bad at their jobs and don’t even try to be pleasant,” she says. “I like that.”
Sevigny has four movies in circulation at the moment, the newest being Shattered Glass, about the disgraced journalist Stephen Glass, in which she plays a reporter — but the Sevigny performance most on people’s minds is the one in The Brown Bunny, a movie that has no U.S. release date, and never may, but which was recently screened at the Cannes Film Festival and pronounced awful. In it, she gives actor Vincent Gallo a blow job (Gallo also wrote, directed, photographed, edited and produced the hooey), and this blow job is no shadowy simulacrum. Gallo has said that nothing but the real thing would do, given “the complex narrative”; and Sevigny once dated the guy in real life, so her basic feeling was, why not?
“I think it’s a beautiful film,” she says, “but it’s not for everyone. I mean, I think Vincent was dealing with a lot of issues regarding the act of sex. The act can be very animalistic and almost repulsive, even though it’s supposed to be beautiful. When you catch yourself in the mirror having sex with a girl, it can almost be disgusting. I think he was sort of grappling with that and what that’s about. Anyway, he’s a very complicated man, very smart, real eccentric, and his philosophies run every which way from Sunday.”
As it happens, Sevigny seems to have a number of every-which-way philosophies herself. One of them is, never go to sleep wearing underwear, and how she came by it is, her mom. “My mom would always tell me that you never wear panties at night,” she says. “You must air yourself out.” Another is, leisure-time pill popping is OK, in moderation. “I’ve always been a downer kind of girl,” she says, “but I’d never take a handful, only the occasional recreational painkiller or Valium, then have a few cocktails. My girlfriend calls them personality pills. But I am not abusing them in any way, and they are dangerous.” Another is, if you really love wearing the skimpiest of short-shorts on the streets of Manhattan, and she does (“I like short-shorts!”), I’m really into short-shorts!”), then you know what you’re going to hear: “Whistling, hooting and hollering!” Another is, if you’re a good Catholic, like she is, it’s a good thing to get yourself to Mass as often as you can, but feel free to skip confession. “Absolutely,” she says positively. “Myself, I have nothing to confess.”
A big wad of silence then looms, only filled when one of the surly waitresses (who is, perversely enough, not surly at all) steps up and takes Sevigny’s order, which includes fried calamari, a mixed-greens salad and a Bloody Mary. After that, Sevigny toys a little with her spilling blond curls, occasionally cups her right breast (apparently to make sure it’s still inside her thin pink dress) and launches into the tale of serendipity that has landed her where she is. It started in Darien, Connecticut, the most whitebread of Connecticut towns, which she prefers to call Aryan Darien. It was there, in high school, that she was definitely not into field hockey and academics and totally into shaving off her ass-length hair, selling it to some wig maker for $100, spending the money on forty-ouncers and taking the Metro-North commuter train into Manhattan, where she interned at Sassy magazine, hung out with the skate-punk crowd in Washington Square Park and became a club kid who was “just on the brink of being dangerous,” she says. “Also, being into the club scene, all the girls were kissing girls, the boys the boys, and it was a whole free-for-all. I thought it was innocent. If he or she was pretty, I didn’t care, even though I’ve never had a full relationship with a woman. Hey [snicker, snicker] — I’m not Angelina Jolie.”