Cybill Shep­herd is de­lighted with her new sexy role and doesn’t care it’s as a gay, writes Erin McWhirter

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NEVER one to shy away from the truth, Hol­ly­wood vet­eran Cybill Shep­herd hap­pily ad­mits to flirt­ing with the idea of plas­tic surgery and tak­ing a les­bian lover.

Shep­herd, who has fa­mously ro­manced an as­sort­ment of high­pro­file men — in­clud­ing movie di­rec­tor Peter Bog­danovich, Moon­light­ing co-star Bruce Wil­lis and the King him­self, Elvis Pres­ley — and shared all the in­ti­mate de­tails of those en­coun­ters, has also ad­mit­ted to a crush on volup­tuous movie star Salma Hayek.

Shep­herd be­lieves most peo­ple are bi­sex­ual and though she is yet to ac­tively pur­sue a gay re­la­tion­ship, she cer­tainly hasn’t ruled it out.

‘‘To me, sexy is sexy,’’ Shep­herd said last year. ‘‘At var­i­ous times I wanted to be open to the pos­si­bil­ity of hav­ing a wo­man as a lover. I’m not ac­tively pur­su­ing it, but it’s not over yet.’’

It’s per­haps fit­ting she has re­turned to the small screen in The L Word, where she plays a di­vorced wo­man who comes out late in life.

Shep­herd says there is a short­age of sexy roles for women in their 50s, but The L Word had given her the chance to do some racy love scenes.

In fact, she’s found her re­cent gay love scenes in the pop­u­lar les­bian drama se­ries a bit of a turn-on.

‘‘I’ve been wait­ing and turn­ing down re­al­ity shows (for the past 10 years),’’ Shep­herd says.

‘‘Thanks to The L Word I have been re­dis­cov­ered.

‘‘There has been no other show like it and I get to have a love scene. At my age you don’t have love scenes. Women my age aren’t meant to be ac­tive. It’s the first love scene I’ve played in a long time.’’

At 58, Shep­herd says she’s so far man­aged to avoid the lure of Bo­tox and the sur­geon’s scalpel but says it’s only a mat­ter of time be­fore she gives in and gets her eyes done.

‘‘I haven’t done it yet, but I’ll do what I need to do (to keep look­ing good),’’ she says of plas­tic surgery.

‘‘I feel guilty be­cause I haven’t done it and my rea­sons for not do­ing it are ques­tion­able be­cause why wouldn’t I?

‘‘In this world there are young women com­ing through (Hol­ly­wood), but per­haps I have waited too long for Bo­tox.

‘‘I know I def­i­nitely need to have my eyes done, but then I go and talk to the doc­tor and I’m like, ‘Can’t I put this off a year?’ They just keep telling me if I go ahead I’ll have less to do later on.’’

Though it’s not un­com­mon for ac­tors to deny they’ve had a nip and The L Word, MA 15+ Movie Ex­tra (Fox­tel), Sun­day, 9.30pm Les­bian drama Du­ra­tion: 1 hour tuck, if Shep­herd’s 2004 UK break­fast show ap­pear­ance is any­thing to go by, she ap­pears to be telling the truth about her med­i­cally un­al­tered face.

The for­mer model stunned pro­duc­ers and view­ers when she walked on the set of the show, shrouded in a red cape, with­out any make-up on or even hav­ing brushed her hair.

‘‘Sorry about the cape — I didn’t have time to do my hair,’’ Shep­herd told the show’s host.

‘‘If you’d like a laugh, I’ll take it off in a lit­tle bit but it’s a lit­tle bit scary.’’

The Golden Globe-win­ning ac­tor says she’s al­ways had a healthy sense of hu­mour about her­self and the trap­pings of fame.

‘‘I’ve al­ways en­joyed a good laugh, mostly at my­self, and never more so than now when I look in the mir­ror,’’ she says.

‘‘An­cient arte­fact that I am, my pic­tures are still on the make-up counter at the drug­store, so I know the re­sponse to my lamen­ta­tions may be: ‘Shut up, Cybill Shep­herd’.

‘‘But I still have to con­front the bath­room mir­ror. No re­touch­ing, no flat­ter­ing lights.

‘‘As an age­ing beauty in Amer­ica, I have an in­ter­est­ing per­spec­tive. I’m ready for my Shelley Win­ters parts now and I have less van­ity than you can imag­ine.

‘‘A sense of hu­mour and laugh­ter gets me through the tough times.’’

Tough times came early in Shep­herd’s act­ing ca­reer when she made head­lines for her af­fair with Bog­danovich, the much older and mar­ried di­rec­tor of her first movie, The Last Pic­ture Show.

Shep­herd has ad­mit­ted af­fairs with Last Pic­ture Show co-star Jeff Bridges, screen­writer Larry McMurtry and lo­ca­tion man­ager Frank Mar­shall.

But she has al­ways been re­mark­ably can­did about her love af­fairs.

She claims to have taught Pres­ley a few bed­room lessons; de­scribes Wil­lis as both the best and worst kisser she has locked lips with; and claims re­ject­ing ad­vances from both Jack Ni­chol­son and Robert DeNiro led to them ig­nor­ing her for decades.

She has also hinted that a love scene with Don John­son in the tele­movie The Long Hot Sum­mer may be a lit­tle more re­al­is­tic than one would think.

Her act­ing work has also been the source of con­tro­versy, with Shep­herd re­ceiv­ing more than her fair share of neg­a­tive re­views over the years.

‘‘I got re­views that said I couldn’t act, I wasn’t funny, and I’ve had won­der­ful re­views,’’ Shep­herd says of her crit­ics.

‘‘Well, I read ev­ery sin­gle one. A lot of ac­tors say, ‘Don’t bother read­ing them’ but I can’t help it. I know I need to watch my per­for­mances more, I’m out of prac­tice do­ing that.’’


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