The Tragic Backstory To One Of Hollywood’s Hottest Lesbian Sex Scenes

Salma Hayek on “Frida” and Weinstein’s Miramax

In a chilling opinion piece in The New York Times, Actress Salma Hayek recounts the sexual harassment she endured from then Miramax chief Harvey Weinstein over the course of developing and producing one of the most acclaimed bisexual feature films of this century.

A longtime passion project for Hayek, Frida, the Oscar-winning bio-pic about bisexual Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, was produced by Weinstein whose relentless advances are catalogued in Hayek’s piece, “Harvey Weinstein Was My Monster Too.”

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It is a harrowing tale that reads like a terrifying, protracted, caricatured dramatization of the worst kind of behind-the-scenes melodrama about the movie industry.

One of the most tragic revelations (spoiler alert) is Hayek’s recounting of how the film ended up including one of the hottest lesbian sex scenes ever included in a mainstream Hollywood film.

If you haven’t seen Frida now would be a great time to queue it up. It’s a terrific period piece gorgeously illuminating one of the most important women artists in history (who no doubt coped with her own fair share of sexual harassment in her time).

Salma Hayek’s steamy portrayal of Kahlo earned her Best Actress nominations from both the Oscars and the Golden Globes and marked a first time mainstream lead portrayal of a Latina bi-woman on screen (though if you’ve never seen the San Francisco indie, Desi’s Looking for a New Girl it is well-worth seeking out to expand the category). Ashley Judd co-stars as Kahlo’s female love-interest Tina Modotti with Alfred Molina portraying her husband Diego Rivera.

Hayek’s devastating description of showing up on the set for the shoot of her legendarily hot lesbian love scene with actress Karine Plantadit casts a heartbreaking and enraging pall over that cinematic experience:

[Weinstein] offered me one option to continue. He would let me finish the film if I agreed to do a sex scene with another woman. And he demanded full-frontal nudity…

I arrived on the set the day we were to shoot the scene that I believed would save the movie. And for the first and last time in my career, I had a nervous breakdown: My body began to shake uncontrollably, my breath was short and I began to cry and cry, unable to stop, as if I were throwing up tears.

Since those around me had no knowledge of my history of Harvey, they were very surprised by my struggle that morning. It was not because I would be naked with another woman. It was because I would be naked with her for Harvey Weinstein. But I could not tell them then.

And looking back at the Miramax library the mind reels at how many other horror stories are yet to emerge—a thought confirmed by Uma Thurman’s exquisite initial public statement (simultaneously threat, promise and Buddhist mantra) and subsequent “you don’t deserve a bullet” Thanksgiving teaser warning to “Harvey and his wicked conspirators.”

Jenni Olson is a is one of the world's leading experts on LGBT cinema history and a co-founder of PlanetOut.com. Her latest film project is "The Royal Road."
@JenniOlsonSF