Like her character Abby Sciuto on NCIS (Tuesdays at 8 pm/ET on CBS), Pauley Perrette is much more than her many tattoos and dyed-black hair. Perrette revealed to TV Guide her less-than-stereotypical sensibilities, including a Southern background and an education very handy for portraying a forensic scientist.
TV Guide: Would you agree that your character, Abby, has the exuberance of a cheerleader but looks like the opposite of one?
Pauley Perrette: Totally. [NCIS creator] Don Bellisariotold me that when he created Magnum, P.I. hewanted to introduce a Vietnam vet who defied thenegative stereotype. So with Abby, he wanted to takean alternative-style person with tattoos and makeher someone who is happy, totally put together andsuccessful. All the script said about her was: blackhair, caffeinated and smart.
TV Guide: And how many tattoos do you really have?
Perrette: [Counts silently for many seconds] I think I’m on 13 or 14. On NCIS, not only do they love my tattoos but they give me more. The neck one is a vinyl transfer. It only takes a few minutes to do, but it feels like old chewing gum — I hate it.
TV Guide: You were born in New Orleans. In what ways are you Southern?
Perrette: I love grits. I hugeverybody. I’m very obedient. I have goodmanners. I was this naive country chickwho moved to Manhattan. When I wasfirst walking down the street and they’dhand out flyers, I’d say thank you.
TV Guide: You’re a natural blonde but you’ve dyed your hair for years. Why?
Perrette: I like having blackhair. When I was really young I wanted tobe Asian — Asian hair is beautiful. I alsowanted to look like the girl in GeorgeMichael’s "Father Figure" video.
TV Guide: Would you call Abby’s look Goth?
Perrette: Never, nor would Abby. She’s completely unaware that anybody thinks she looks weird. She thinks she looks pretty and never calls herself anything other than happy. And I fight for that.
TV Guide: Like Abby, you actually studied forensic science in college.
Perrette: I went to Valdosta University in Georgia and studied criminal science, sociology and psychology. I hated high school and got to college and realized they didn’t care if I showed up because I’d already paid. So I decided I’m going to turn this around. And I did: I got straight A's and was named outstanding senior.
TV Guide: You quit grad school and moved to New York City. What came next?
Perrette: I taught myself to bartend, and over the next seven years, I worked at every bar in Manhattan, including [famed rock club] the Bitter End.
TV Guide: So how did acting happen?
Perrette: This kid in coat check said, "I know this director who would really like your look — he does commercials." I went to his office with my white Mohawk, shorts and knee-high Dr. Martens. This director put me in music videos, commercials and short films. I did the "Secret" video with Madonna and "Killer" with George Michael.
TV Guide: You weathered a nasty divorce. After that, how do you learn to trust again?
Perrette: You say to yourself, "That’s it, neveragain, I will never speak to a member of the oppositesex unless they’re gay. I will never hold anybody’shand, never kiss anybody, never live with anybody," andthen you are completely resolved about it.
TV Guide: Yet you have a boyfriend, Michael Bosman. How did that happen?
Perrette: We met three and a half years ago. He was a camera operator on a short film I did. It’s incredible. I am astounded every single day that I ended up with the other human being on this planet who is perfect for me. I want for nothing.
TV Guide: Any plans for marriage?
Perrette: Nooo. We consider ourselves married, and so do our families.
TV Guide: You were once lead singer for an all-girl band called Lo-Ball, and now you’re cutting a CD in a band called Stop Making Friends. Where did that name come from?
Perrette: It’s an homage to Talking Heads’ "Stop MakingSense." And then, statistically, in crimes, you’remost likely to be hurt by someone you know. Soknowing less people increases your longevity. It wasalso a complete rebellion against those ridiculoussocial-networking Internet sites.
TV Guide: You mean you’re not on MySpace?
Perrette: No! But at one point someone created a site pretending to be me. That’s not OK. So as everybody is competing to make more and more friends, Stop Making Friends has no friends. There was a time when I hung out with two million people. Now I like to hang out with, like, two.
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