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Sarah Secunda: Not The Nature Channel: Isabella Rossellini’s Green Porno

October 7, 2010

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**By Sarah Secunda**

These days, even porno’s gone green. In this instance, Green Porno doesn’t refer to the greenwashing of the adult film industry (“Made out of 99% post-consumer waste!”); nor are we talking about an “eco-friendly” form of filmed fornication. Green Porno is the name of a series of very short films starring silver screen icon Isabella Rossellini, who also conceived, wrote, and co-directed each episode. The title is apt: the focus is fucking. Every episode, Rossellini educates the viewer on the mating habits of a particular species.

Season One, which first aired on the Sundance Channel in 2008, takes for its subject matter such insects and animals as the firefly, the earthworm, and the snail. Rossellini approaches her material with a sense of playfulness and respect. As a performer, she is un-self-conscious and damn funny. In the episode “Praying Mantis,” the actress faces the camera dressed in a full-bodied praying mantis costume.

“Did you know,” she asks us, as her head begins to rotate impossibly far to the right, “a praying mantis can move its head almost three hundred and sixty degrees without moving any other part of its body?”

This explains how the female mantis is able to decapitate the male mantis with her jaw as he mates her from behind. Rossellini demonstrates this maneuver on a she-mantis puppet, while enacting the, er, undying ardor of the male mantis. Thrusting wildly, Rossellini continues to mate sans head, shouting at her indifferent partner, “Nothing stops me!”

In Season Two, Green Porno exchanges land for sea, and Rossellini introduces us to the sex lives of barnacles, starfish, and limpets (sequential hermaphrodites! Who knew?). While these films succeed at both educating and entertaining, it isn’t until Season Three that Green Porno becomes political. Of course we still get the sex, but now it’s complicated by, for example, the turn-off—if you’re a shrimp—of a shrimp net. What to do? Rossellini brings in Argentinian marine biologist Claudio Campagna to discuss the devastation wreaked on marine ecosystems by commercial fishing. (Claudio, by the way, advises to “be very careful when you choose what you eat.”)

All three seasons of Green Porno can been viewed on the Sundance Channel’s website. And if you enjoy watching these films, then you’ll enjoy Rossellini’s latest project. Another series of very short films, Seduce Me is “an entertaining yet informative look into the bizarre seduction rituals that often precede the mating process.” Check out the episode on bedbugs!

Copyright 2010 Sarah Secunda

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Sarah Secunda is an intern for Guernica.

To read blog entries from Sarah Secunda and others at GUERNICA click HERE .

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