The Naked Truth of Bai Ling

The Naked Truth of Bai Ling (photo)

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Chinese-born actress Bai Ling gets around, and that’s not meant to sound as filthy as you gutter-minds might interpret. Sure, she’s a ubiquitous social butterfly as caught by paparazzi at various premieres and events in the States, but just look at her lengthy résumé, and you’ll find roles in countless indies (“Southland Tales,” “Edmond”), multiplex fare (“Anna and the King,” “Crank: High Voltage”), popular TV shows (“Lost,” “Entourage”) and foreign films (the woefully underseen “Dumplings”). If she’s as crazy as the media often depicts her, how come she’s been hired for at least nine upcoming features — including “Confidante,” in which she’s a male, black gangster? (Okay, maybe that’s actually crazy.)

This week, Bai can be seen in director Anna Chi’s new dramedy “Dim Sum Funeral,” about estranged Chinese-American siblings who reunite after the death of their overbearing but misunderstood mother. Bai plays Deedee, a martial arts coordinator and lesbian partner to Meimei (Steph Song), one of the aforementioned sisters and a Hong Kong B-movie star. I caught up with Bai Ling before she went into the studio — where she’s recording her first album (including a song called “Cluck Yourself,” about her unfair portrayal in the media) — to discuss her Naked Seduction blog, the big difference between her and Meryl Streep, why she’s a genius and what one of you lucky readers can possibly do for her.

Among other themes, “Dim Sum Funeral” explores the generation gap between Chinese traditionalists and their American-raised, progressive children. I’ve never heard you talk about your heritage, in terms of your ideals and how you identify yourself.

What I remember is that my parents suffered during the Cultural Revolution — it belonged to different groups of beliefs, and they were literally against each other. I think that caused a lot of problems in their relationship that I never knew. They never really told us, and they’re divorced now. I mostly grew up with my grandparents, because my parents were busy [being persecuted] or tortured by the government, [who] “re-educate,” especially their scholars. The blessing is, because I grew up with my grandparents, they protected me from those conditions and the twisted political situation in China — Communist China, at that time. My grandparents’ love of animals, nature, poetry and generosity to other people [came] from my grandmother’s soul, and my grandfather put me on his shoulders, carried me everywhere, and taught me poems from the beautiful Chinese poets. That’s how I grew up — it’s kind of twisted, and in between two worlds that I don’t really understand.

Thinking about the film and this somewhat estranged clan, is there anyone in your family with whom you don’t get along — or at least, you don’t understand one another?

After today, I’m actually not talking with my uncle and auntie. It has to do with my grandmother, and it’s something I don’t understand. I love my grandmother dearly, I do everything for her, but I see something in the family that I don’t want to see. So I still hesitate to cross that bridge, to talk with them. Family’s really complicated, and the beauty of this movie is it’s about relationships. There’s always a glass wall there in front of us. We cannot see it, we cannot talk about it. You wish the other person would apologize, but you cannot say [that]. You hold a grudge against them. You have to be selfless enough to cross that bridge, and have the generosity and forgiveness to [break] that glass wall — to reach out, to make peace with your relationship.

06092009_dimsumfuneral3.jpgYou made up some dialogue in “Dim Sum Funeral” about seeing ghosts. Do you believe in them?

I see ghosts around me all the time, around everybody in the world. But they’re not [malevolent] — they’re cute, mischievous beings. They’re innocent like children, but also sometimes haunted, a thing we want to avoid. I discovered I have eight little spirits. There are all these little beautiful ghosts that, to me, are visible. They’re two or three inches tall, wearing miniskirts, and running around. Here I am, talking to you, so one of the spirits is speaking. They have different colors, different personalities, and therefore I’m very good at what I do as an actress because it’s their life I’m leading, too. As Deedee, I’m playing this lesbian girl, she is just a sexy little being, and I enlarge her. I’m in her shoes, and a free spirit in the whole film because [the family is] traditional, but I’m the light and the color, the bright sun. It makes people love, and brings the young audience. They’ll eventually learn the wisdom of the film.


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…


IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 


IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.


The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”


Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).



Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.


Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.


Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!



Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.


Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.


If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.