Rose McGowan's Shocking Childhood Explains Her Weird Movie Roles

Rose McGowan, who plays a bizarre-looking villain with a giant forehead in the upcoming Conan the Barbarian reboot, has become known for her dark and edgy roles. Which shouldn't be much of a surprise, considering her highly unusual personal background—which apparently includes being raised by drag queens.

In a recent interview with The Advocate, McGowan describes how she ran away from home at 13, and was taken in by "the most amazing drag queens" in Portland, Oregon. It sounds kind of idyllic for a young girl, really: sitting around playing with makeup, talking about boys, comparing tucking techniques. (Okay, maybe not the last one.) Plus, it definitely beats being raised by wolves.

However, the drag queen thing is actually when her childhood started getting normal, if you can believe that.


McGowan was born into the Italian communes of the Children of God/The Family cult, which are notorious for, among other things, their practices of free sex, prostitution, homosexuality, adult-child sex, and incest. Yeahhh. I guess their founder came up with some Biblical justification for incest and started making sweet scriptural love to his own granddaughter.

*Full-body shudder*

Gowan's parents were known as Barkos and Saffron Doodler (?) within the cult, and her father was a leader of their Italian chapter. According to McGowan, her father's position kept her fairly insulated from some of the more, ah, unsavory aspects of the cult, although she's also said:

Like many things, I'm sure they started out with good intentions. Meanwhile they're all having sex with each other and going out and getting men drunk and luring them into the cult. They call it Flirty Fishing. Gross. A lot of kids disappeared. I could be sweeping Ghadaffi's doorstep right now.

(Trivia: Joaquin and River Phoenix were also raised in this cult.)

Eventually her dad left with another of the group's members, Rose's mom took her and her five siblings to Oregon, and when she was a teenager, Rose left to live on her own. She made her way to L.A., met an independent film director, appeared in Scream in 1996, and the rest is movie history.

McGowan says that while she's a strong advocate for gay rights and her sister is a lesbian, she's bummed she never made out with a chick when she was younger:

I disappoint myself. I've never even kissed a girl. Isn't that funny? The girls I think are cute look like guys, but then I think, "But if they open their shirt, they'll have breasts."

Well, DUH. Sounds like someone was too busy hanging out with drag queens when they were a teen!

In addition to the odd characters she plays, McGowan continues to have a fairly weird personal life. You may remember she was once engaged to Marilyn Manson? And she also had a romance with Robert Rodriguez, who clearly had a fetish for her prosthetic leg in Planet Terror?

Honestly, I'm kind of surprised Rose McGowan appears as well-adjusted as she does, given where she came from. She definitely seems a little ... unique, but when you're raised by an incest-happy cult and then coddled by friendly drag queens, I'm sure your perspective gets a bit skewed.

Did you know about Rose McGowan's weird background?

Image via Flickr/thejointstaff

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