“It’s beyond X-rated. Beyond anything you’ve ever seen.”
Tiffany Limos was sipping lemonade at a café in Tribeca, talking about the movie she stars in, which is called Ken Park and which will be released in the fall. Sitting next to her was the film’s director, Larry Clark, who shocked audiences with his brutal portrayal of sexually irresponsible New York teens in the 1995 film Kids . That movie helped make actress Chloë Sevigny a big name, and he thinks Ken Park will do the same for Ms. Limos, who is 22 but plays a 16-year-old named Peaches in the movie.
“Tiffany is incredible,” Mr. Clark said. “Nobody looks like her. I think people are going to take notice and think she’s going to be a movie star.” She’s not only starring in his movie-Ms. Limos is also the 59-year-old director’s girlfriend.
“The world better be ready for Ken Park !” she said. “It’s real-it’s like shit that happens in your fucking household that no one talks about.” She was wearing jeans, a T-shirt that read “Bitch” and “Hoe,” and seven beaded necklaces. Even when she curses she has a sweet Texas accent.
Earlier, Ms. Limos had told me about a scene in the movie in which she has sex with two young men. She said that one young actor accidentally ejaculated in his shorts while she was on top of him. “You know what?” she said. “Larry was pretty lucky to have me there. They were like 18 or 19, and so immature. One of them kept leaking. I wish we were having real sex, though. But I think if I did, I’d regret it, because those guys were so stupid, they don’t deserve me. Those kids Larry picked up off the street.”
In another scene, she said a man performs autoerotic asphyxiation while watching tennis, getting turned on by the groans made after serves and groundstrokes.
Mr. Clark wasn’t eager to discuss the plot “because it kind of spoils the movie,” he said. But he did hint at controversy to come.
“In my other films, I show full frontal female nudity, and you can still get an R rating,” he said. “But as soon as you have full frontal male nudity, forget it. You’re never going to get the film shown widely, and you’re not going get a rating. And women I know have said, ‘You know, that’s sexist-we want to see penises. You show women naked, why can’t you show men?’ And they have a point. So in this movie, I’m showing everything. For every vagina, there’s a penis.”
Ken Park is the story of four dysfunctional families in Visalia, Calif., an inland suburban town situated between Bakersfield and Fresno. Visalia is a hotbed of skateboarding, a lifestyle which Mr. Clark said he was fascinated with. Unlike his previous films, the parents get as much attention as the kids. He hired trained actors for the adult roles, among them Amanda Plummer; but he also hired real teens he came across and turned them into actors. The original draft of the screenplay was written by Harmony Korine, who also wrote Kids . Mr. Clark said he hasn’t seen Mr. Korine in several years. The movie cost $1.2 million, said Mr. Clark.
He said he had thought about hiring an established young actress, but couldn’t find one that he was satisfied with. Ms. Limos got the part. “She’s refreshing and totally charming and totally seductive and totally believable,” said the director. “She’s able to really let the inner life of a character shine through.”
“I look really innocent,” said Ms. Limos. “I’m 22 and people think I’m 14. When I don’t have makeup on at all, I really look young. I’m the same height, the same weight as when I was 12. I look exactly the same. And all my, like, little boyfriends, when they see me, they say, ‘You haven’t even grown a chest, and your voice is the same, too.’”
Ms. Limos met Mr. Clark when she was 19, at an exhibit of his photographs held at an art bookstore downtown called Printed Matter. Her eyes had fallen on a photo of two women having sex. She wasn’t impressed. “I was like, ‘Oh, fuck that shit,’” she said. “That girl looked like she was drugged up, and when I was 12 years old I had a girlfriend and a boyfriend and I used to have sex, and I used to take pictures like that. When I saw that someone else was doing it, I was like, ‘Who the fuck is that? Who’s, like, Larry Clark?’”
So she introduced herself. “I realized it’s the same guy who did Kids ,” she said. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, it’s the same guy!’”
They got to know each other. “It’s such a long story, I don’t know where to start,” she said. “He says I’m his muse.” On their first date, they attended the premiere of Mr. Korine’s 1999 film Julien Donkey Boy at Alice Tully Hall.
Mr. Clark persuaded her to write the screenplay of her life, and in 2001 he cast her in a remake of the 1958 B-movie horror film, Teenage Caveman , which aired on HBO. It takes place at the end of the world, and Ms. Limos’ character is one of the only people left.
“I’m like a bombshell in that movie,” she said. “My boobs are like gigantic; they’re like under my chin.”
“It was so amazing,” Ms. Limos said. “People saw it in my family, and my aunt was like, ‘You look fat.’ And they were so negative: ‘You’re doing porn!’ And I was like, ‘You motherfuckers don’t get it-you know how fucking hard I worked on it? You don’t fucking get it, so shut the fuck up!’”
Ms. Limos’ mother, on the phone from Dallas, told me she saw parts of Teenage Caveman . “I didn’t like it,” she said. She said she doesn’t know much about Ken Park . “Is it gonna be out in the movies?” she asked.
When Mr. Clark showed Ms. Limos the script for Ken Park , she was less than enthusiastic. “I thought it was a piece of shit,” she said. “I was like, ‘What the fuck is this shit? You always have guys that are sexist, and you have racist stupid shit here about Hispanic people and ethnic people, and the guys in films always get the upper hand.’”
“You need to understand the world’s fucking changed ,” she told him. “It’s different now. Women work and they run their own businesses and they’re more independent. You can fuck a guy and leave him!”
Ms. Limos thought she could bring to life the character of Peaches in Ken Park . She lost 20 pounds for the role. Mr. Clark said Ms. Limos did well with the “really dramatic, heavy-duty emotional scenes,” which involve Peaches’ fanatic father. He’s obsessed with his dead wife and begins to see her in his daughter, whom he beats, possibly molests and eventually marries.
“My God, she was amazing-her ability to go these ranges of emotions,” Mr. Clark said, adding that several times during the filming her performance brought him to tears.
Ms. Limos said she is part Filipino, Spanish, Hawaiian, French, African and Chinese. She was born in Mesquite, Tex., outside of Dallas. Her father grew up selling fruit on the street in the Philippines and her mother was from a wealthy Filipino family.
“She comes from the same place as Imelda Marcos,” Ms. Limos said.
In Texas, Tiffany lived in an “awesome” house, with a large-screen TV and a red carpet. In the backyard was a pool and a Jacuzzi; in the driveway, a Mercedes and a Lexus. “It’s weird, because we were like above middle class, I don’t know why,” Ms. Limos said. “I think something weird was going on when I was younger.”
She said she started watching pornography at age 5; she said her father left the tapes in the VCR. Which made going to a strict Catholic school a little confusing, she said, even though her knowledge of porn stars endeared her to her male teen buddies when she was older.
Ms. Limos’ mother didn’t like it when 6-year-old Tiffany wrote letters to modeling agencies in New York and her father mailed them. (Tiffany’s parents recently divorced.)
Tiffany was, her mother recalled, “quite a handful. She always did what she wanted to do. And I couldn’t stop her.”
She was a good student and performed in school plays. But on the night of her 13th birthday, she sort of lost her mind when she found out that her boyfriend, who forgot to call her that day, had also slow-danced with another girl.
He came over later that night to watch the Super Bowl. She was drinking beer and crying. He made the mistake of saying “Tickle, tickle” after he noticed she was crying.
“‘He doesn’t call me, and it’s a big deal when you’re 13,” she said. The “tickle, tickle” comment pushed her over the edge. At some point after the Cowboys won, Ms. Limos went berserk and kicked him with her steel-toed Doc Martens.
“I was kicking the motherfucker-I kicked him in the face and I beat him up and he was bleeding. I kicked him to pieces. He’s like missing a tooth, that motherfucker-I couldn’t believe it. ‘Tickle, tickle?’ Is that the best you can do, you motherfucker? He was such a dork, such an idiot,” she said. Her mother came in with a tray of cookies, tossed them in the air and started screaming.
She said she started modeling for real at 12, after being discovered in a mall. She did ads for fast-food joints and in department-store catalogs.
At 15, against her parents’ wishes, she moved to Queens to live with her godmother.
“All I did was pray,” her mother said.
At 16, Ms. Limos began modeling for the Ford agency and appeared in teen magazines like Sassy and YM . Then she quit and worked as a hostess at the Coffee Shop on Union Square. She went to New York University for two years, made good grades, but left school and got a job at Visionaire magazine as a “creative consultant.”
“They always asked me for phone numbers, ’cause I knew everyone’s cell phone,” she said. She helped put together an interview with Lou Reed, filmmaker Gus Van Sant, photographer Bruce Weber, Mr. Clark and literary agent Andrew Wylie.
Currently she lives with Mr. Clark and her dog, Snapple, in Tribeca. She said her friends in the city include model Devon Aoki, pop star Michael Stipe, actress Tara Subkoff and alums from Mr. Clark’s movies, such as Rosario Dawson, who was in Kids and is now in Men In Black II . “She’s such a big star now, it’s hard to get an appointment,” she said. “I’m really excited for Rosario to get all these big movies.”
Ms. Limos has dreams of movie stardom, too.
“You know what’s cool about me? If I become really famous, it’s like, for me, with my hair, my skin, my eyes, my lips-that says something about the world and the generation and how it’s changed. I look like a Gauguin painting. I don’t know if that’s unique. You can say I’m a modern Gauguin. People call me that all the time. I didn’t even know who Gauguin was. I was like, ‘Who the fuck is that? A guy-I look like a fucking guy ?’”
She said she’s also been doing some sculpting. “I’m gonna do Larry’s penis,” she said. “Everyone thinks because he’s, like, older that it’s like a prune. It’s exactly the same as when he was younger, and when I get to be a millionaire, if I ever do-or billionaire one day-I’m going to make it into, like, gold.
Follow George Gurley via RSS.