The Next Big Thing: Pom Klementieff in Spike Lee’s “Oldboy” Remake

Story by Ethel Navales 

Although American audiences may not recognize her yet, 27-year-old actress Pom Klementieff has already made quite a name for herself in France. Born in Canada to a Korean mother and French-Russian father, Klementieff lived in various locations, including Africa, before settling in France where her career took off. The actress has notable works under her name, but her supporting role in Spike Lee’s much-anticipated remake of the 2003 Korean cult film by Chan-wook Park, Oldboy, arguably takes the cake.

In Oldboy, Klementieff plays a woman named Haeng-Bok, and if you ask the actress if she’s anything like her, she will only respond, “My character and I have the same shoe size, 6.” Indeed, a quick Google search only confirms that the character remains an enigmatic figure. “The only thing I can tell you is that [Haeng-Bok] is never very far from the villain, and she is a mysterious character,” says Klementieff. One thing she does reveal is the martial arts training she endured to play the role. She trained for hours a day and proudly points out, “I loved it; I was kicking so much that I lost a toenail at the end of shooting.” In fact, she was given the nickname “The Pominator,” something that made her laugh so hard that she put it on her license plate.

But it wasn’t just martial arts that made this role a challenge; Klementieff had to delve into some personal demons during filming. “For the last scene I had to shoot, I had to do something strangely connected to my brother’s death in real life,” she says cryptically. “It was stressing me out during rehearsals, but I thought it would be fine. When we finally shot this scene, I burst into tears and yelled. Sometimes you can’t control your body — it just lets go, and it was very cathartic. The scene became an homage to him.”

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Despite the emotional and physical difficulties, or perhaps because of it, Klementieff says she’s decided to pursue her acting career in America. “The roles I’m auditioning for here in the U.S. are 20 times more interesting than those I had back in France! Asians are less represented in movies in France. It’s changing little by little, but here in L.A., there is a big Asian community.”

Get ready to see more of Klementieff. She just wrapped the independent film The Hackers with Cyril Morin, where she sported purple hair for “a love story between two computer hackers who get caught up in manipulation.” And once Oldboy hits theaters on November 27, we just may have a new starlet on our hands. As for the various actors and directors that she would like to work for in the future, Klementieff excitedly lists Martin Scorsese, Chan-wook Park, Christopher Nolan and many more. She jokes, “It makes me laugh each time I’m asked [who I would like to work with]. It paralyzes me, like when I’m asked ‘What do you want for Christmas?’”

This story was originally published in our Fall 2013 issue. Get your copy here

PREMIERING TONIGHT: Ming-Na Wen on “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”

Story by Teena Apeles. 

Actress Ming-Na Wen has been fortunate to have played many strong female characters during her career: Dr. Chen in ER, Camile Wray in SGU Stargate Universe and, of course, the beloved Mulan. So you can bet that it would take a pretty amazing character to get this pro as giddy as a teenager. Enter Melinda May.

“When this opportunity came up, my skin was just tingling with excitement,” says Wen of her role in the highly anticipated series Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., premiering on ABC this fall. “I wanted to have a show that I could enjoy doing, working with people who I love, and that my kids can watch. And so I think I hit the jackpot here.”

What’s not to like about Agent Melinda May? She has a reputation for being an expert pilot and skilled fighter as a member of the international organization S.H.I.E.L.D., which protects “the ordinary from the extraordinary.” And as May, Wen flexes her muscles often … on bad guys. “We were working on some fight sequences this past week, and I am so into it right now; it makes me feel really powerful,” she says. “I am going to be in the best shape of my life because of this show.” Extra plus, she’s taking direction from Joss Whedon, the show’s creator, which, in her own words, had her “screaming for joy” because she is a huge fan.

A self-described “geek girl,” Wen says she’s been drawn to the sci-fi world as an escape since she was a kid. Growing up as the only Asian girl in a very white suburban neighborhood, she says she liked anything that was “other-worldly.” She admits, “I used to pray that E.T. or some extraterrestrial being would take me away, to some other world, and get me out of some of the environments that I was in, always feeling like the outsider.”

As she got older, Wen became interested in Dungeons & Dragons through her science fiction class and, later, drama club, “where I found people who accepted me for who I was and understood me, and we had a lot in common. And that became my world.”

Star Wars, Star Trek and Aliens were among the movies she loved because in such worlds, says Wen, “there are outsiders and yet they have these amazing superpowers. And even though they don’t fit in, they become the heroes.”

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While Agent May doesn’t have superpowers, she is still part of an elite force that works within the government to facilitate and help out the superheroes. But as far as Wen’s daughter and son, ages 12 and 7, respectively, are concerned, she looks pretty super on screen. “After seeing the pilot, my son said, ‘Wow, I didn’t know you could fight like that!’ It is just so nice to be able to share with them why mommy disappears so much,” she says. “They get excited to think I can fly a plane and fight.”

Of course, they’re not the only fans thrilled with her role. After the summer release of the Melinda May trailer to promote the show, Wen was the talk of the Web — so much so that her Twitter following grew.

“I just love the fans so much, and when this was starting to trickle out, I started this fan group related to the show that I could talk to and party with,” she says of what she calls the M.O.B., short for “Most Optimum Badass.” As for how she came up with the name, Wen says, “Everyone kept calling me a badass. I think everyone wants to feel like a badass, so alright, I am going to form a group of badasses.”

So are her kids allowed to call her a “badass” at home? Wen laughs. “Well, it could be a donkey. …”

 

This story was originally published in our Fall 2013 issue. Get your copy here

 

Is Facebook Causing Depression?

Story by Anna M. Park.

You come home from work. It was a fair to middling day. Your boss didn’t yell at you, you didn’t totally cheat on your diet, and Andrew still hasn’t called. You sit down with a glass of wine, open your laptop, and start scrolling through Facebook. Brian finally tried a cronut. Jessica’s baby is growing some hair. Wow, Kris is looking really good. Tran got into that grad school? Sylvia took another vacation? Grace is engaged?!

You slam shut the laptop. Now you’re depressed.

Join the club. According to a 2013 study conducted by two German universities, one in three people felt worse and more dissatisfied with their lives after visiting Facebook. Users felt envy, loneliness and isolation, with the most common cause of Facebook frustration stemming from others’ vacation photos. The second most common cause of envy was social interaction — feeling a “lack of attention” from having fewer birthday greetings, comments and “likes” compared to friends.

And it wasn’t just college students. The study found people in their mid-30s were most likely to envy family happiness, while women were more likely to envy physical attractiveness. After all, what is Facebook but an online brag book for all to see? A 20-something colleague recently summed it up when asked why she posted so much food porn on Facebook: “To make people jealous.”

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These findings aren’t new. Scientists coined the term “Facebook depression” after a 2011 study found that teens could be negatively affected by using the social networking site too much. Another study published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, by sociologists Hui-Tzu Grace Chou and Nicholas Edge, concluded that “those spending more time on Facebook each week agreed more that others were happier and had better lives.” Students who used Facebook longer also agreed less with the statement “Life is fair.” Moreover, the more Facebook “friends” a person had whom they did not know personally, the more they believed that others had better lives. And in Chou’s most recent study, she found that those with more Facebook friends cared less about their work performance, and those who frequently updated their Facebook profile liked their current job less and were more likely to think about changing jobs.

Granted, feeling unhappy is not the same thing as depression, but it could be said that Facebook may not be the best thing for an already susceptible population. After all, Asians are arguably the most wired people in the world, and we also bear the ignoble distinction of having the highest rates of depression. According to a 2011 report by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Asian American teenage girls have the highest rate of depressive symptoms of any racial, ethnic or gender group. In fact, Asian American girls and women aged 15 to 24 die from suicide at a higher rate than any other racial or ethnic group, and suicide is the fifth leading cause of death among Asian Americans overall (only ninth for white Americans). It’s not just young women either; Asian American women over 65 have the highest suicide rate in that demographic. And while some studies find depressive symptoms in 35 percent of Chinese immigrants, among Southeast Asians, 71 percent meet the criteria for major affective disorders such as depression.

So should we get offline altogether? Many have, or at least minimize their usage; the researchers behind the German study concluded that “users frequently perceive Facebook as a stressful environment, which may, in the long run, endanger platform sustainability.” But you don’t have to be entirely anti-social; just do it face-to-face. In her study, Chou also found that those who spent less time on Facebook and more time socializing with friends in real life were less likely to report that they were unhappy. So get out there and really like something.

This story was originally published in our Fall 2013 issue. Get your copy here

Exclusive Video Premiere: Sonia Rao’s “Little Blue Room”

In our Fall 2013 issue, we featured former The Voice contestant, singer-songwriter Sonia Rao, whose sophomore album, Los Angeles Part 1, dropped last week. Now we’ve got the exclusive video premiere of the emotionally charged single “Little Blue Room.”

“I wrote ‘Little Blue Room’ about time and love,” says Rao. “It was in writing this song that I figured out that it was time to end a relationship, a tough process, but I love songwriting for that reason. If I’m ever unclear about which step to take, I’ll start writing a song and by the end of it, I’m usually pretty certain about what I truly want. The video is a bit surprising, but I’m hoping that people will see the metaphor in it.”

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Watch as the soulful L.A.-based Rao tells the story of a woman coping with the end of a relationship — with an unexpected twist! Without further ado, the exclusive premiere of “Little Blue Room,” shot, directed and produced by Ron Utin Lalkin and Maddie Staszak.

Like what you hear? Pick up “Little Blue Room” and other tracks by Sonia Rao on iTunes — and while you’re at it, get our Fall 2013 issue here!

The Truth About Mammograms: To X-Ray or Not To X-Ray?

Story by Anna M. Park. 

When the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force announced that women should not be getting mammograms until they reach 50, it ignited controversy within the medical community. For years, doctors have insisted on mammograms starting at 40, and the American Cancer Society and Susan G. Komen Foundation still recommend an annual mammogram starting at the age of 40, citing early detection key to saving lives. Just do a quick search and you’ll find stories of all sorts of young women in their 40s whose lives were saved from early detection. Nonetheless, most major health organizations have concluded that the modest survival benefits of mammography in women ages 40 to 49 outweigh the risks of false positives and further unnecessary procedures. So what’s a woman to do? Dr. Maggie DiNome, chief of General Surgery at Saint John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, Calif., who specializes in breast cancer surgery, answers our questions.

Q. My OB/gyn insists I get annual mammograms starting at 40, even though I have no family history. But the new U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends mammograms starting at 50, and then every two years. What do I do?

Dr. Maggie DiNome: You would need to weigh the data to know what is right for you. The U.S. Task Force came out with their consensus statement based on their recommendations of what is most efficient for screening, meaning what has the biggest bang for the buck for the population as a whole. According to their review of the existing data, starting mammograms at age 40 only results in one life out of 1,000 being saved. That might not seem like much, but if you were that one patient, it means the world.

So what is the trade-off for starting mammograms at age 40? Well, the argument is that it leads to more false positives, which leads to more unnecessary biopsies and imaging. It may also be finding stages of “cancer” (i.e. DCIS, or ductal carcinoma in situ) that truly do not need treatment, although currently we treat everyone diagnosed with DCIS because we don’t yet know who can safely avoid treatment. As a breast surgeon, I see more than one might expect of breast cancers diagnosed by routine mammograms in women in their 40s, so it’s hard for me to say “stop.” I wouldn’t necessarily argue that biennial mammograms is a bad thing though, and maybe a compromise would be biennial mammograms beginning at age 40. In Europe, it is this way.

My recommendation to you would be to start mammograms at age 40, and plan to get them every year or every other year.

 

Q. Even if a woman holds off on regular mammograms until she’s 50, should she get a baseline mammogram in her 40s?

Dr. DiNome: That’s a difficult question to answer because, if you are starting your screening at age 50, that means you agree with the U.S. Task Force data that it is not efficient to begin screening at age 40. So a baseline at that age would not make sense. There is no doubt that starting annual screening at age 40 reduces death from breast cancer, but the argument is that it is too low of a number to be considered significant. The probability of dying from breast cancer after age 40 is 3 percent. If you screen biennially between ages 50-74, you can reduce that to 2.5 percent. If you start screening annually at age 40, then you reduce it to 2.4 percent, which hardly seems significant when you talk about numbers. It’s just difficult when you equate it with a life because in my mind any life is worth saving.

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Q. I got a mammogram and was told I have dense breasts, which I believe most Asian women have. Should we insist on an ultrasound?

Dr. DiNome: Almost every premenopausal female will have dense breasts because it’s a reflection of the hormonal stimulation on our breast tissue. After menopause, there is significantly less (unless they’re on hormone replacement therapy) and the breast tissue becomes more replaced by fat. The downsides of mammograms are that they are notoriously less sensitive in a woman with dense breasts, and that’s why we don’t recommend beginning screening in a woman under age 40. The ability of the mammogram to show anything helpful in that scenario is so low it’s not worth doing. For women over 40 who have dense breasts, a mammogram should still be performed because it is the only imaging modality that will pick up calcifications reliably, and this can be one of the earliest signs of breast cancer. A screening ultrasound does have some value as an adjunctive screening test to a mammogram, but not in place of. I do think it is worthwhile for women with dense breasts to advocate for a screening ultrasound, but it is not yet a test that is covered by insurance for routine screening.

Q. The risk of breast cancer for Asian American women seems to be rising (compared to women in Asia) — is there anything in particular we should be doing to protect ourselves?

Dr. DiNome: I think this has a lot to do with adopting a western diet. Population studies have demonstrated that if you followed immigrants from Asia to America, that over two generations the risk of cancer increases significantly. Right now, the risk of breast cancer in Asia is five times less than the risk in America. My recommendation would be to adopt a more whole food, plant-based diet and to minimize the amount of animal protein, which we eat way too much of in the U.S. My husband and I went vegan a few years ago for the health effects. I have a strong family history of cancer (not the least of which is my father who died from colon cancer at age 39) and I now have 3 1⁄2-year-old twin girls. Because my husband and I had kids later in life, we feel it’s our responsibility to do whatever we can to ensure that we will be around for them as long as possible. So we did a lot of research and we both independently concluded (my husband before me, mind you) that a vegan diet has the most evidence-based data for a cancer protective diet.


Dr. Maggie DiNome is the current chief of General Surgery at Saint John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, Calif. She is a board certified general surgeon, who focuses her clinical expertise on cancer surgery and advanced laparoscopic techniques. As a fellow of the Society for Surgical Oncology and a member of the American Society of Breast Surgeons, Dr. DiNome is particularly dedicated to caring for patients with breast and colorectal cancer. 

 

This story was originally published in our Fall 2013 issue. Get your copy here

Hello Kitty Jet Makes First Flight to the U.S.

Story by Taylor Weik.

 

They may have launched a Cartoon Network-themed line of trains back in July, but now Taiwan isn’t the only country who gets to experience cartoon travel firsthand. Taiwan’s EVA Air, known for its popular line of Hello Kitty jets, flew its Boeing 777-300ER Hello Kitty Hand-in-Hand Jet from Taipei to Los Angeles on September 18.

This will be EVA Air’s first long-range flight route and an expansion of the five shorter-range jets that, from its conception in 2005 up until now, had only flown from Taiwan to Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, China and Guam.

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Piloted by EVA Chairman and airline Captain K.W. Chang, who conceived the idea for a Hello Kitty-themed flight line “to make flying fun,” the Hello Kitty Hand-in-Hand jet flew from the Taoyuan International Airport to LAX to celebrate the new jet service with fans and guests. Among those present for the celebration were Sanrio Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Kunihiko Tsuji, Japanese pop star Yoshiki and Head Hello Kitty Designer Yuko Yamaguchi, not to mention the nine cartoon members of the Sanrio Family.

Guests checked in at the Flight Path Museum at LAX, which was decorated with blown-up, pink boarding passes and various pictures of Hello Kitty flying in an airplane, before being escorted outside to a spacious tent where they could glimpse the jet landing on the strip. While waiting for the jet’s arrival, guests were invited to sip on champagne and munch on Hello Kitty-themed treats like red velvet iced cupcakes and browse the displays of all the in-flight items available. Hello Kitty playing cards, pillows and hand creams are just a few of the many items passengers can purchase in the jet’s sky shop. Hello Kitty artists from Tokyo were on hand to draw pictures of Sanrio characters and adorn fingernails with special Hello Kitty nail art, and Sanrio characters Cinnamoroll and Bad Badtz-Maru mingled and took pictures with fans.

 

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The arrival of the Hand-in-Hand jet revealed a colorful paint job, with 19 Sanrio characters splashed across the length of the aircraft holding hands. EVA explained that the union of the critters was designed to “bridge cultural barriers and invite new friendships from around the world.” The airline also pointed out that “this is the first time Sanrio has featured characters with the familiar Hello Kitty that are not typically depicted among her family and friends.”

 

A performance by a troupe of Hello Kitty dancers, the introduction of nine Sanrio characters and the recognition of Chang, Tsuji and the jet’s other pilots were given before the jet’s doors opened to reveal its first passengers –– Hello Kitty and Dear Daniel themselves –– and to invite guests on board to take a full tour of the cabin.

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The 312-seat is split into three cabins: Royal Laurel, Elite and Economy Classes, all of which offer passengers the opportunity to use more than 100 in-flight service items and select meals from its seasonal menus. EVA confirmed the Hand-in-Hand jet will be used on three of 17 weekly flights from LAX to TPE, with flight schedules listed on its website.

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Struggles of Modern-Day Cambodia According to Filmmaker Kalyanee Mam

Story by Kanara Ty

The Cambodian American experience has often been defined by one event — the Cambodian genocide that took place from the mid- to late-’70s, led by the Khmer Rouge. However, in recent years, there has been a cultural movement amongst 1.5- and second-generation Cambodian Americans to reconcile the past and move forward — namely, through the medium of filmmaking.

Human rights lawyer-turned-filmmaker Kalyanee Mam is one of them.

“We have been so stuck on this  narrative about the Khmer Rouge,” says Mam. “It’s because it’s so exotic to people. It’s easy to sell violence, it’s easy to sell bloodshed. I think we need to take our- selves away from our past and look for- ward to the future. Our future will not be anything unless we do something about our present.”

Mam is taking up that task in her feature directorial debut, A River Changes Course, due for theatrical release in October. The award-winning documentary (it won the Grand Jury Prize for World Cinema Documentary at this year’s Sundance Film Festival) follows three individuals — Sari Math, Khieu Mok, and Sav Samourn — whose lives are impacted by some modern-day problems in Cambodia, including deforestation and overfishing due to large land and fishing concessions. While the film takes on a heavy topic, the images of Cambodia presented in the film portray a beautiful country that leave you with a heartfelt and lasting impression. The film may be activist, but the last thing on Mam’s mind is violence.

“I don’t believe in violent ways of changing things,” says Mam. “I believe in slow movements in helping raise people’s consciousness. After [audiences] watched the film, it was on their minds for weeks. The images stayed with them. The images that dig into the subconscious — those are the images that last and continue to inspire people.”

Human rights is something Mam became passionate about after her first trip to Cambodia during the summer of 1998, where she worked as a research intern at the Documentation Center of Cambodia. “The first time I went back, I completely fell in love with the country. It was like a summer romance. It was such a beautiful experience. I grew to understand the country and people more,” says the 36-year-old. “Now it’s no longer a romance. Or a young love. It’s a more mature love. I understand its weaknesses. I understand the corruption. I understand the complexities. I accept Cambodia for everything that it is.”

Initially, Mam chose law school as the vehicle to fight for human rights, but she found it frustrating. “I thought the law would aid me with the mechanisms and tools to assist people who had undergone human rights violations,” she says. “But I felt the law was not broad enough. It was so defined and so specific. There were all these boundaries, rules and regulations. People’s lives are not so restricted. People’s lives are much more complicated.”

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After graduating from UCLA School of Law, Mam worked as a legal consultant for the Mozambique Ministry of Labor, as well as the Iraq Ministry of Justice. But she soon realized that she wanted to do more than just provide legal counsel for human rights victims.

“After I left Iraq, I felt like I left a part of me behind,” she says. “I was still concerned with my friends who were still there. Everyone was trying to escape the country. I was helping them legally, such as seeking asylum. I knew that wasn’t enough.” So Mam decided to make a documentary. She had been interview- ing her friend and her colleague on the down low while she was in Iraq so she had all these transcripts. She eventually turned those interviews into an award-winning documentary short, Between Earth and Sky, which focused on three Iraqi artists.

That led to work on the Academy Award-winning documentary Inside Job, which examined the global financial crisis of 2008, where Mam worked as cinematographer, associate producer, and researcher. And now with A River Changes Course, Mam is embarking on a campaign to screen the film in every single village in Cambodia, with the help from the Documentation Center of Cambodia.

“If every single person in Cambodia sees this film and sees what’s happening to [the subjects], then [they’ll realize] it’s happening to every person in Cambodia. That knowledge [would be] overwhelming,” says Mam. “It’s the first step towards raising consciousness of Cambodians living in Cambodia, and also it empowers them to do something about their situation. If everyone feels empowered to do something, you can imagine the ripple effect from that.”

This story was originally published in our Fall 2013 issue. Get your copy here.  

HappyPlayTime: A Masturbation App for Women

Story by Kanara Ty

Masturbation is not an easy topic to talk about because of its taboo-ness. But when designer/web developer Tina Gong introduced her mobile app, HappyPlayTime, to the world, the art of self-pleasure just got a little easier to discuss — and in the cutest way possible.

The Chinese American uses an animated cartoon character named Happy (yes, she’s a vagina) to help female users get in touch with their genitalia (and yes, including the G-spot). All in all, her purpose is to help remove the social stigma of masturbation and help females become more comfortable with and adept at it.

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The app launches this fall, and it’s already picked up a lot of buzz. Sign up on the website and be one of the first users to test it.

Details Happyplaytime.com

This story was originally published in our Fall 2013 issue. Get your copy here.

World’s 15 Most Followed Asian Female Celebrities on Twitter

by Ada Tseng 

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1. Indonesian entertainer Agnes Monica (@agnezmo) — 8,326,171 followers

2. Japanese-Swiss-Polish Brazilian TV personality Sabrina Sato Rahal (@sabrinasatoreal)

3. Indonesian singer Sherina Munaf (@sherinamunaf)

4. Indonesian actress Luna Maya (@LunaMaya26)

5. Japanese American artist Yoko Ono (@yokoono)

6. Bollywood entertainer Priyanka Chopra(@priyankachopra)

7. Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone (@deepikapadukone)

8. Filipina American entertainer Nicole Scherzinger (@NicoleScherzy)

9. Indonesian entertainer Aluna Sagita Gutawa (@gitagut)

10. Filipina actress Angel Locsin (@143redangel)

11. Filipina actress Angelica Panganiban (@iamangelicap)

12. Bollywood actress Sonam Kapoor (@sonamakapoor)

13. Bollywood actress Preity Zinta (@realpreityzinta)

14. Filipina actress Cristine Reyes (@mscristinereyes)

15. Indian American actress Mindy Kaling (@mindykaling) — 2,458,926 followers

*As of August 15, 2013 

This story was originally published in our Fall 2013 issue. Get your copy here

Video of the Day: Olivia Munn on How She Lost Her Virginity

We’ve been loving Olivia Munn on HBO’s Newsroom. The feisty, whip-smart Sloan Sabbith, senior financial reporter for “News Night,” who has a tendency to choose all the wrong boys (one posted her naked photos on the Web), is fast becoming one of our favorite characters on the show.

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Here’s another reason to love her. She gets real with John Stamos on his Web series, “Losing it with John Stamos,” about how she lost her virginity and faking orgasms. Watch it here, complete with adorable graphics and sound effects.