Tattoo You

Plus: Are You in or Out?; In the Army Now

I'm not sure exactly how many of the aforementioned Playmates were, indeed, up in this piece, but at least Miss March 2003, Penelope Jimenez, was on hand, dolled up in her emerald-green Playboy Bunny outfit. If you happen to be on my Christmas card list, you'll get to see what I just described, since the Polaroid I took with the 24-year-old Jimenez (favorite food: "anything vegetarian") will be gracing the cover. The cheerful snapshot of my cat and two dogs dressed as reindeer will have to wait its turn. --Zac Crain

In the Army Now
A dusty Army uniform wasn't what Dallas actress and singer Denise Lee dreamed of wearing in her film debut. The popular chanteuse affects a more glam image in her weekly cabaret appearances at Bill's Hideaway, a Dallas nightspot. Onstage at local theaters, Lee is a high-powered performer known for belting showstoppers in productions. But Lee happily shed false eyelashes and lip gloss to play 30-year-old Army cook Shoshanna Johnson in the fact-based NBC made-for-TV movie Saving Jessica Lynch, airing during prime time November 9. Johnson, Lynch and other members of the 507th Maintenance Company took a wrong turn and were ambushed in An Nasiriyah, Iraq, on March 23. Eleven American soldiers were killed; five others were captured. Johnson was shot in the ankles by the Iraqis and held as a POW for 22 days.

Did you ever watch war movies before being cast in one?

Denise Lee and Samuel L. Jackson share a stunt double.
Denise Lee and Samuel L. Jackson share a stunt double.

I'm a wuss. I could never even watch Saving Private Ryan. Movies affect me so much emotionally. After Cry Freedom and Schindler's List, I cried for weeks.

This was a fast shoot, 23 days. Did you have time to do boot camp-type training?

We had one day of weapons training to learn how to hold the M-16s. I got to shoot mine in the ambush scenes. That was fun. I shouldn't have enjoyed it so much.

Do any stunts?

Not really. I'm a tall woman, so my stunt double was a guy named Kiante Elam, who has doubled for Samuel Jackson. But the first day on the set, we had scenes where we were in the vehicles and they were shooting marbles at the windshield. That will get your attention. They were very safety-conscious on the set, but the actors playing Iraqis had to point guns right in our faces. Talk about finding motivation to be scared.

Which would you rather be--diva or action star?

Diva! I loved making the movie, but it was really hard. We had to wear all the same Army clothes, including the heavy vests, that the real soldiers wear every day in Iraq. We had medics on the set because actors were getting heat exhaustion, so I can't imagine what they're feeling over there. Jumping in and out of the Humvees day after day--I was glad I'd started aerobics training four months before. I might not have made it otherwise. My respect for the military increased 12-fold after this.

Final thoughts?

It was sad that in that area of South Dallas where we were shooting the ambush scenes, all these guns we were using were going off day after day, and nobody ever came outside to see what was going on. --Elaine Liner

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