Hartley shows her sensual side

Mariette Hartley doesn't shy away from controversy. She has appeared in TV movies about drunken drivers, teen-age suicide, child sexual manipulation and now bisexuality.

"It's very nice to finally explore a sensual part of me," Hartley says. "Usually I'm the victim's mom, and I fight like crazy for her. But there are other parts of me."

TV tackles the potentially sensational issue of female bisexuality in My Two Loves, a two-hour ABC movie casting Hartley as a recent widow who has an affair with another woman (Lynn Redgrave).

"You know me," Hartley says. "I'm a big lover of getting problems out of the closet."

Hartley says she took the role without hesitation and is proud of the work. The film is honest, she says, without being graphic. It is for mature viewers. The subject of bisexuality is fully discussed, "the words are mentioned."

Although love scenes were filmed, ABC insisted there be no kiss on the lips. Action stops with the embrace that leads to the lips. Hartley thinks the network is "gutsy" for airing it.

"I asked the cameraman if it didn't seem weird to look through the camera and see a woman and a woman kissing. He said, "No, actually it's a turn-on." My hunch is that a lot of man have those fantasies. I don't know how many would choose Lynn and I, but they're going to get us, like it or not."

The scenes were easy to do, Hartley says, because both she and Redgrave feel very secure about their femininity and heterosexuality. Both wanted to explore these feelings as actresses, she said. There was no tittering or giggling during filming.

"She was so cute," Hartley says of her co-star. "Like me, she has kids, so she was carrying around in her purse Princess of Power dolls and The Joy of Lesbian Love-making.'

Hartley says her 81-year-old mom was horrific when told about the role, but Redgrave's mother told her daughter, "Oh, God. I hope you're not going to have to cut your hair, dear."

Hartley admits she is worried how audiences are going to react to My Two Loves.

"I hope I'm acceptable enough as a middle America-type person, as an authentic human being, that people will be less quick to judge these people as pariahs."

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