...claudine ko

"No, You Pull Up My Pants"
Jane, December 2001

Rose McGowan shows Stephanie Trong and Claudine Ko a good time.

Pity the actors who work on gimmicky projects, because journalists will exploit those to the fullest. If you play an astronaut, pack up, we're going to NASA training camp for the story. Or perhaps an alcoholic -- hey, welcome to AA. And if you're interviewing Rose McGowan, who replaced Shannen Doherty to become a third of the magical sisters on the WB's Charmed this season, it's all about the power of three. So we, Stephanie and Claudine, brave the land of fake boobs to join the Goth pinup hellion who loved Marilyn Manson for a lovely afternoon threesome in L.A. Of course, she wasn't expecting the both of us.

"Do you normally do it this way?" asks Rose, after arriving at the trendy cafe she picked out. She looks kind of goofy in neon D&G wraparound sunglasses, a faded t-shirt, platform flip flips and, like, techno-y orange sport pants. Okay, she did mention something about coming straight from her boyfriend's and looking a little off because of that. "I'm not easily intimidated," she says. "I adjust to any situation." She's not lying. After we realize the tape recorder can't pick up our conversation over the Sunday-brunch din, she offers, "I can go to Taco Bell, 'cause that's what I'm craving." She then slaps down a 20 on the table for our drinks, including her weird frothy-green concoction, and we're off.

"Two bean burritos, no onions, add sour cream, small Diet Pepsi...and can you throw in two things of hot sauce?" We're sitting at the drive-thru in a phat, leather-upholstered black Range Rover owned by Rose's new man. "So who's your boyfriend...er, I mean, how did you meet him?" Claudine asks, feeling like a sleazy journalist for initially assuming he's famous. "His cousin is a friend of mine," she says over the AC. "His name's Omet, like comet without the c. He's super great." From the backseat, Claudine hears: "His name's No Comment, capital C." Stephanie, riding shotgun, knows Rose's breakup with ex-fiance Marilyn Manson last January must be a touchy subject and assumes Claudine's abrupt silence is a sign to shut up. You can still see the ball we dropped bouncing somewhere along Sunset Boulevard. So much for the power of three.

We're heading to Chinatown to pick up decorations so Rose can turn her Charmed trailer into a "Chinese bordello." We mention it's Steph's first time visiting. "Here's the thing," Rose quickly says, while squeezing hot sauce on her burrito at a red light. "L.A. can look like a big cement pile of ugh, but what I love is that you can see the sky. I get really depressed in gray weather. I lived most of my life in places with gray weather." [She pauses] "I spent most of my life depressed." Rose was born 26 years ago into the Children of God group in Italy. And then it gets spotty: At about 10, her dad ran off with the nanny, so her mom moved her and her six brothers and sisters to Oregon. Next come Rose's crazy teen years, which she spent partly in Seattle: forced into rehab (she's said she hadn't taken drugs), vagrancy (she'd spend nights in gay dance clubs to be safe), rejection (in school, guys would call her ugly), random jobs (one as an extra in Encino Man). Later, while visiting a friend in L.A., a film producer spotted her waiting in front of a gym and cast her as The Doom Generation's sex and speed fiend Amy Blue. After that, she dies dangling from a garage door in 1996's Scream and gets to play popular bitch Courtney Shayne in 1999's Jawbreaker.

"How much is this?" Rose is holding up a gold piggy bank in a chintzy Chinatown gift shop. The lady at the register says, "Eight dollars." Rose, a self-described fast shopper, bargains her down to six bucks within five seconds and swiftly moves on to an Oriental sword at the back of the store. "What would I need a giant sword for? Take that, carjacker!" she sarcastically jokes, unsheathing it and spearing the air. By the end of her spree, the total damage is $152.82. It was like watching a contestant on the old-school Wheel of Fortune pick out her prizes. Walking back to the car in the 80-degree weather, Rose awkwardly tilts her head so her new $1.50 sun hat can shade her pale-ass arm, which matches the rest of her impeccable skin. Meanwhile, her pants have fallen past her hips, exposing a black thong. "Let me get your bags so you can fix that," Claudine says. Instead, Rose just tells her to pull them up. Stephanie, wielding the sword, laughs hysterically.

"I prefer women," she says. We know what you're thinking. We'd actually asked, Do you prefer working with women or men? "But you know," Rose continues, "that's such a mixed bag. Every set has such a different energy. "

That's why I'm so incredibly happy right now." We bet Rose's costars, Alyssa Milano and Holly Marie Combs, are happy these days, too. After Shannen Doherty pulled a 90210 and jumped ship, producers hired Rose to fill the "funky, feisty, sexy edge" they lost. Is Shannen's bailout a touchy subject among the cast and crew? "Nobody really talks about it, and I don't ask," Rose says. "I think everyone has a clear sense of the past and the future. The girls are amazing, and I just kind of show up and try to have the most amount of fun I can. "Alyssa's really funny and sweet, and I think it's cute that she's going out with that guy Brian [Krause], who's on the show. Every time he has to kiss Holly, I make fun of Alyssa. And Holly cracks me up because she is the funniest little sourpuss. She does not buy into anything Hollywood-y. Her getting in high heels is akin to a national tragedy. And they don't understand how I can be happily wearing my Callaghan boots for 15 hours a day. I'm like, 'They look good. Yes, my feet feel like they're gonna fall off, but that's not the point.'

Rose entered the show as Alyssa and Holly's long-lost half-sister Paige, whom Rose describes as "a free spirit," even though she hates that term. "I don't have a boyfriend on the show. They're turning me into the hussy. There are, like, 10 different guys now [that her character has hooked up with]. It's kind of funny because it always happens at, like, six in the morning; 'Hi, nice to meet you -- snog.' " Suddenly, we pull up right behind a number-3 city bus. Oooooh.

"Blame it on me, dude," Rose says after Claudine tells her she's trying to avoid the ever-present Starbucks while she's in town. "I'll take you somewhere else if you want, but I have to tell you, for the ease in knowing what you're gonna get, there's nothing better." Rose pulls into the coffee-widget factory's parking lot. "I applied at a Starbuck's when I was 15, and the bastards didn't hire me," she says as we walk in. "I can pretty much dot all of Seattle by places that either didn't hire or fired me." The list includes a movie theater, a dry cleaner and a flower shop. She orders a tall, nonfat, sugar-free vanilla latte and pays for all of our drinks again. That's like 80 bucks or something. After getting 10 grand (pretax) for her role in The Doom Generation, she went back to Seattle, finished her last two months of beauty school and then went solo to Paris for 10 days. "I like going to movies by myself," she says. "I like going to eat by myself. "I try to be single, but I have a knack for meeting great people," she tells us. Do you usually break it off with your boyfriends? "Yes," Rose says. "Always. It's like I needed this person at that time for this period of growth, and now I'm onto the next cycle of growth." Rose issued a public statement after the breakup of her two-year-long engagement to Marilyn Manson, saying: "There is great love, but our lifestyle difference is, unfortunately, even greater."

She never mentions her rock-star ex by name, but clearly she's speaking of him when she says, "You really absolutely cannot change anybody. If they're going to do stuff that's self-destructive, you can say, 'I'll be here to help you when you're ready to change, but until then I have to go off and do my own thing.' " How does she feel about marriage now? Rose stops and looks down for a long time. When she finally raises her gaze again, her eyes are glassy. She tilts her head back slightly and wipes away the tears before they fall. "I don't know. I don't know." She pauses again. "I think I definitely always will be open to it. It was weird to me that I was open to it before," she says, laughing, trying to put us all at ease again. "It kind of fascinates me. I've seen so many divorces in my family...I still think marriage is the ultimate compliment."

"I'm super happy. Possibly more than I think I've ever been,." Rose says this just before she has to go memorize her lines in time for her 4:45 a.m. wake-up tomorrow. "I've certainly done a lot of crying to get to that place. But I think life rewards you when you take chances. That sounds really lams." We ask her to list five reasons she's happy. "I am healthy, I have a quick mind, love my brothers and sisters, amazing friends, rad boyfriend that makes me laugh hysterically, funniest person I've ever met [we later learn it's Ahmet Zappa. Of course she's dating a Zappa]. I'm really pretty damn comfortable in my own skin, 90 percent of the time. The other times, hopefully, it's PMS and that day will pass." Before Rose chauffeurs us back to our car, still parked where we met three hours ago, we ask her how things are going to change now that she's hit prime time. "I'm building walls around my house," she says. How high? "As high as they'll go, honey."