You don't interview Brenda Monte. When the hilariously outspoken star of Unmade Beds wants to talk (which is most of the time), your job is to merely fasten your seat belt and enjoy the ride. From the first few seconds, it's clear that her "Beds" role as a strangely lovable, shoot-from-the-hip gold-digger is far from fiction.
"I'm very against faking anything," she agrees. "I'm not mean, but I don't strive to be subtle, because it gives me a headache. That's why I say I'm a terrible actress. I just want money, and to not do anything for it."
It's that ideology that led her to answer an ad in the Village Voice that was headlined "If You Want a Man for His Money ..." Little did the eager Monte realize that these were not the words of an easy mark, but a film crew in search of frustrated singles willing to tell their tales on camera. Working at a real-estate office where she was bogged down doing "word processing and all that shit," she jumped at the offer.
"It didn't take away from anything else in my life," she chuckles, throatily.
Even though she's a veteran extra who's been seen in such films as "A Bronx Tale," Monte says she was chosen not because of her acting background, but because she so wowed the producers with her off-the-wall monologues about her unique philosophy of dating.
"They said, ‘Tell us about the personals.' I talked for two hours, but I could have filled two weeks."
Instead, she filled six to nine months, she recalls, as director Nicholas Barker and his assistants followed her around her native New Jersey to capture her insights on film.
"Not one thing was acting," she swears. "We had no scripts, just suggestions for topics on little pieces of paper."
Still, there were certain aspects to her story that even the brazen Brenda had to be coaxed into sharing. One was her habit of shoplifting dog food ... although she's more concerned that her sticky-fingered exploits were rendered unrealistically than that they were shown at all.
"I steal Mighty Dog, I don't steal Alpo," she corrects. "It's smaller and easier to hide. Any shoplifter is going to know it's not accurate."
Another sore point was the nude scene which Barker insisted on.
"I said, ‘Are you makin' that fuckin' fat girl do it?'" she relates, referring to corpulent costar Aimee Copp. "Imagine that sight!"
"I'm a very sexy girl," she explains. "I used to cause traffic accidents. But I was always perceived as being much more sexual than I really was. I had a real fear of winding up in pornos."
Even though she eventually caved in to Barker's wishes, she says her advice to young girls is still "Don't do what makes you feel uncomfortable."
On the other hand, she claims to be extremely comfortable with the attention she's been getting as a spokeswoman for the release of "Unmade Beds" (she even called us a half-hour early for our interview, burbling, "I have a captive audience right now!"). She isn't in the least worried that she's being identified as the movie's breakout star ... What's wrong with me monopolizing the film? That's a good thing" ... although her appearances at Telluride and other promotional stops have apparently caused some friction with the less-visible members of the cast. Copp, Monte reports, was even quoted as distinguishing the two with the comment, "I'm the good star, she's the bad star."
Bad? Not by a long shot. She's merely the proud owner of a sharp, Jersey-girl tongue that can leave deep gashes of shock in the minds of the unprepared (in the course of a 60-minute conversation, she makes more references to oral gratification than Kenneth Starr could squeeze into an entire working year).
"I'm so honest, what is there not to like?" she all but demands. "Only people who are hiding something would have a problem with me."
That would be a fine place to end our conversation, but Monte has an additional request. She wants our readers to know that's she's still single and available.
"I want an arrangement," she carefully intones, leaving no doubt that the quest for the pot of gold continues even as the rainbow plays itself out on screens nationwide.
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