On 1st Israel visit, ‘Orange is New Black’ star says country has ‘no ugly women’

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — On her first visit to Israel and its main gay pride parade, television star Lea DeLaria of “Orange is the New Black” said the Jewish state seems to have no unattractive women.

“There are apparently no ugly women in Israel,” DeLaria, a lesbian who plays the character of a masculine lesbian prison inmate on the hit comedy series, told Ynet in jest during an interview Tuesday upon her arrival in Israel for the first time as a guest of the Israeli tourism ministry.

“I’ve not seen one ugly woman yet,” DeLaria continued, “but I can’t figure it out because I’ve seen, I’ve definitely seen ugly men here.”

With 16 Emmy Award nominations and four wins, the 2013 debut of “Orange Is the New Black” topped all previous releases in terms of viewership, according to Netflix, the online streaming television giant that produced the series, said. Netflix does not publish the specifics of its viewership statistics. But DeLaria told Ynet the series had reached more than 80- million viewers worldwide.

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The series follows an upper-class woman’s trials in federal prison, including the strains this places on her Jewish life partner. Lesbian sex is a constant theme in the series,  including in the life of the protagonist.

DeLaria, who is also a gay rights activist, also she “never a million years” thought that a homosexuality would feature so prominently in a mainstream series like “Orange Is the New Black.” She also didn’t believe the United States would legalize same-sex marriage as it the Supreme Court last year did in a ruling striking down state bans.

“It’s something I’ve been fighting for,” DeLaria said, but she believed it was for future generations’ benefit. She added she had been assaulted and hospitalized for being gay.

She also told Ynet she never thought that she would “be in Israel, in the Old City, standing at the Western Wall and have an man in your army, with his gun, there to protect people, come up” and ask her to pose with him for a picture.

Israel’s tourism ministry invited DeLaria to attend the events in the framework of the country’s Gay Pride week, which will culminate on June 3 this year at Tel Aviv’s gay pride parade. The city’s first gay pride event took place in 1993. This week, tens of thousands of locals and tourists are expected to participate in the parade, which features floats with dancers and ends at a beach party that usually continues until well into the following morning.

Tel Aviv is widely considered one of the world’s leading tourist destinations for gays and lesbians, with several gay community publications crowning it the world’s best travel destination.

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