Team Experience is sharing favorite LGBT scenes in cinema for Pride Month. Here's Deborah...
Kissing Jessica Stein is one of my all-time favorite movies, and I could make a whole list of “great moments in gayness” just from Jessica Stein scenes, but there’s one in particular that’s my favorite.
Here’s the quick plot summary: Jessica (Jennifer Westfeldt), cute, quirky, neurotic, single, is reading the personal ads (for you youngsters, that’s the paper equivalent of Tinder or OKCupid), and is struck by one ad in particular. Realizing she’s accidentally been reading in the “Women Seeking Women” section, she throws the paper away, but then decides to answer it anyway.
Helen (Heather Juergensen) and Jessica begin tentatively seeing each other; Helen, too, is exploring bisexuality for the first time. Helen wants to dive right in, but Jessica is nervous, skittish, and afraid.
Cut to Helen at Jessica’s place. Jessica presents Helen with a pile of brochures, dons her comically serious reading glasses, and says one of the greatest lines ever uttered in the movies:
I was surprised to learn that lesbians accessorized.
I love everything about this. First, because the word “accessorize” is inherently funny, like “pickle”. Second, because it’s even funnier when referring to a dildo. Which is another inherently funny word. Finally, because there’s an underlying truth: No one seems to have any idea what two women do in bed together. Both straights and gay men seem to kind of go all cross-eyed with, “But, but, but…What do you do?” And studying? Getting brochures for a date? That’s just hilarious, but also not horribly removed from anything that might really happen.
I love movies about sexual ambivalence. I love straights having gay sex and gays having straight sex and people trying to figure out the difference between love and love. Can I love you and not desire you? Can I desire you and not want to desire you? Why is “best” friend” so different from “romantic lover”? I love the exploration of the gray space where we try to figure all that out. (See also: The Object of My Affection.) Kissing Jessica Stein is a movie that gives us real gay people, and real straight people, and real people exploring the space in between. It’s funny about family, funny about desire, funny about being confused, and funny about coming out. Also, it has Tovah Feldshuh, and she makes everything better.