“Lesbian Chic”: Bound and Anne Heche in Wild Side (Erotic 90’s, Part 15)
At the beginning of the 90s, lesbians were a punchline for a male-gaze-oriented media, an easy target for expressing the anxiety that women might not need men after all. By the middle of the decade, women-loving-women had become the heroes of a number of neo-noir crime films, but the culture at large still rejected lesbianism when not intended to arouse men. While The Matrix has widely been reappraised as a trans allegory after the transitions of its directors the Wachowski sisters, their previous feature Bound was transparently queer, but its reception was complicated by the media’s perception of its makers. Bound was released just a few months after the burial of an extremely similar film called Wild Side. Barely seen on its initial release amidst studio recutting and the suicide of its director, today Wild Side plays as a heartbreaking and troubling example of what could have been for its star Anne Heche, who would soon after become one-half of the most famous lesbian couple in Hollywood – and suffer the career consequences.
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