'Defiance's' Mia Kirshner: I'm No Brothel Madam

NBCU SyFy Defiance Still - H 2013

NBCU SyFy Defiance Still - H 2013

“The word is not being used in the correct way,” the co-star said while promoting the Syfy and Showcase TV series in Toronto.

TORONTO – Canadian actress Mia Kirshner isn’t happy with her co-starring role in Syfy's Defiance being described in promotional material as the “madam” of a frontier town brothel.

She prefers that Kenya Rosewater, her character in the TV drama and video game, be seen as the mysterious owner of a postapocalyptic “sex club."

“I don’t like to use the word madam. I actually think it’s extremely important to make the distinction because brothels are a horrifying place of indignity for women,” Kirshner told The Hollywood Reporter. The actress was in Toronto to help publicize the April 15 launch of Defiance on the local Showcase cable channel.

Talk of brothel madams usually evokes images of infamous brothel-keepers with little black books filled with high-powered names, or traffickers of sex slaves as on the Thai-Burmese border, where Kirshner said she traveled when working on the book project I Live Here, about global hot spots with humanitarian crises.

“I spent a lot of time with madams," she explained. "The word is not being used in the correct way."

Kenya, who runs the NeedWant brothel in Defiance, is far from that popular view of the ruthless madam.

“The character of Kenya is quite a selfish thing in a way. ... She decided to create this utopia for like-minded people to be able to explore their emotions through sexuality,” Kirshner said.

The L Word and The Vampire Diaries star had an earlier sex club role in Atom Egoyan’s 1994 movie Exotica, in which she lap-danced seductively in a Toronto club wearing a schoolgirl outfit to meet the sexual fantasy of a patron.

“I’m back in that world again, and like Exotica it’s not in an ordinary strip club. And I would say the same thing for the sex club in Defiance,” she explained.

NeedWant is instead a club where people can get anything they want, including sex with women or men, or both, without illicit or unsafe connotations.

“It’s a place of relief for many people because Defiance is a difficult place to live in many ways,” Kirshner offered.

And there’s a little bit of the Canadian actress in Kenya, it turns out.

“I’d like to think I’ve carved my own path, and I like to think that, like Kenya, I’ve approached my own convictions unapologetically and with strength. That’s where the similarities end," Kirshner insisted.