"Is me feeling female the same as J.Lo feeling black? I don't know." So said Alexis Arquette as she pondered her gender during the press conference for Alexis Arquette: She's My Brother in Chelsea Thursday afternoon. The movie premieres at the Tribeca Film Festival Monday night.
"Are you ready for me?" Alexis Arquette had demurred to the cluster of male photographers who started snapping her picture when she arrived. Alexis, once a brother named Robert and now sister to actors Patricia, David and Rosanna Arquette was born male and documented aspects of her transition over the course of a year and half, resulting in this film. Also an actor, she may be best remembered best as Adam Sandler's sidekick in The Wedding Singers who kept singing Culture Club's "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me", and she has a new crowd of fans from a recent season of VH1's "The Surreal Life".
Dressed in a low cut, sleeveless, animal print wrap and a long black skirt, she clutched a black patent purse and bottle of water as she preened for the photographers, tossing her long blonde hair and chatting like a valley girl, frequently interrupting sentences with the word "like".
Once seated for the Q&A, she reapplied her lip gloss and demurely crossed her legs at the knee. And for those wondering exactly what's happening underneath, you'll never know. Alexis isn't answering now and she never confessed to the camera. "It got to the point when I wasn't willing to answer the questions about hormones, surgeries, or genitalia because it felt like backstepping," she told the handful of reporters, adding, "It wasn't a subject that needs any more exploitation; it needs clarification."
Alexis spoke about growing up in a liberal, bohemian family and how it gave her a different, more open outlook on sexuality. When asked about her sibling's reaction to the film, in which they all reportedly make appearances, Alexis tread lightly. "They don't want to offend; they don't want to mess up and call me 'he'. My family saw the piece [meaning the film,] and if anything they're more concerned about my safety and having my feelings hurt." And she candidly admitted of the film, "The interest lies because of my brothers and sisters and I know that."
As mentioned, she admits she still doesn't understand why she is transgendered and if it was learned, was something she was born with, or something else. "I don't know why I feel this way. Is me feeling female the same as J.Lo feeling black? I don't know. I don't know why she feels that way."
And she was self-deprecating about her now defunct friendship with Us Weekly reporter Ian Drew, who at one point wanted to produce a reality show about her transformation. "Eventually I started to realize his work as a tabloid reporter might have SOMETHING to do with our friendship."
She claimed she has not seen Felicity Huffman's portrayal of a male-to-female transgendered woman in Transamerica, but joked she wanted the part. As she put it, if she had played Felicity's part, no one would see it as acting. But she continues to be offered roles, claiming mysteriously, "I've turned down three really big movies" in the past year. But sorry if you're wondering just which three, because she wouldn't answer that question, either.
Director Matthew Barbato with Alexis before the press conference
For more HuffPost coverage of the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival, go here.
- Katherine Thomson