Bird of Paradise
september playmate rosanne katon said farewell to jamaica and hello to hollywood
We have a lot to thank Jamaica for: reggae rhythms to keep our toes tapping, 151-proof rum for kamikaze Friday nights, bauxite for aluminum to warm our TV dinners in, high-test ganja for our religious ceremonies, and, oh, yes, a fellow named Ian Fleming penned a few mildly successful thrillers there about a terminally horny secret agent.
Now we can add to the list actress-writer Rosanne Katon, one of the six daughters of a Kingston private detective, who has traded the Jamaican sun for the klieg lights of Hollywood. A questionable barter, to be sure, but in Rosanne's case, it was inevitable. For her, acting is damn near orgasmic: "When I'm really cooking as an actress, after the scene, I don't even remember what I've done. I've been in some situations where the temperature on the set goes up ten degrees just because of the electricity."
If the voltage is high on her sets, it's because Rosanne has spent a long time generating it. Born on one of the family's frequent shuttle trips to New York, she is a graduate of the High School of the Performing Arts there and has been acting since she was 12. Her credits include eight feature films, three TV movies of the week, a dozen guest shots in episodic television, at least that many parts in theatrical products in the Big Apple and Boston and 15 TV commercials for clients ranging from Pepsi-Cola to the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A.
The fact is, Rosanne is active even when standing still. Before your eyes, beauty turns into an intellectual beast and back into beauty. The gap between sexual energy and creative energy narrows until there's no gap at all. At this fountain, you can fill your eyes while you fill your mind.
When she's not working in front of the camera, Rosanne writes screenplays and thinks about directing. "I'm really interested in film directing. But for a woman, it's rough, and for a black woman, well, the opportunities are nonexistent."
Until that situation changes, Rosanne is committed to her present craft -- though opportunities there aren't much better. Various stints in blaxploitation films have afforded her little more than a working knowledge of machine guns and a passing acquaintance with the fundamentals of karate. Indeed, the past three years in Hollywood have left her less than starry-eyed, but not quite militant. "Most of the actual work done in this town is not done by glamorous people. Being glamorous is almost a full-time job in itself. I like to ride the buses, especially on Hollywood Boulevard, just to watch real people. Those are the people I portray. There's a bus called the 91W that goes to Beverly Hills. It runs every two minutes in the morning when the maids are going to work. Ride that bus and you become a liberal fast."
Social concerns notwithstanding, Rosanne exudes about a pound and a half of glamor per square inch. Not the glitzy, limo-set variety -- but showstopping, nonetheless. Her taste in men holds a clue. "I like men who are very quiet about their sexuality -- who don't have to knock you down with it." That's a very tall order when confronted with the beautiful likes of Miss Katon, but we'll try, Rosanne, we'll try.
Photography by Mario Casilli