'Red Rocket' Star Had to Surrender Intimate Movie Prop: His Prosthetic Penis

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday March 23, 2022

"Red Rocket" star Simon Rex revealed that not only was his full-frontal appearance in the film enhanced with a prosthesis, but he had to surrender the penile prop once shooting was done.

Talking with People Magazine about the lifelike faux appendage, Rex declared it to be a work of art suitable for display — though not, he said, a memento he was allowed to keep.

"I don't think that was an option, but it will be in a museum one day," Rex said.

Rex plays the film's main character, a porn star whose prospects have wilted, but who's looking to break back into the business. The offers fleeting glimpses of his anatomy in porn film-style shots, including one full-frontal moment late in the movie that may have left audiences wondering whether what they were seeing was live, or a prosthesis.

That was a mystery Rex cleared up recently when, at the Film Independent Spirit Awards, he claimed the prize for Best Male Lead and came clean about using a fake phallus.

"Thank you, Film Independent, for recognizing my fake penis," Rex said in his acceptance speech. "Sean Baker... you took a shot on me when I could not get a callback for a Geico commercial."

Rex also spoke to the raucous indie nature of the project, saying, "We were hiding from police. We were hiding from neighbors. I was running down the street butt naked. Like, if this doesn't embody the spirit of independent film, I don't know what does."

It was a theme Rex revisited in his comments to People. "I just had fun with it," he said.

Rex went on to say that he and writer-director Sean Baker didn't want to give away the game too quickly, saying that the two "agreed that we were going to keep it mysterious, and not say whether or not that was really me naked."

However, Rex added, "after we won the Spirit Award, I said, 'It's time to tell people.' We did this for eight months. We somehow got away with it for eight months. It was just time to let people know."

As male full frontal nudity has become more commonplace in films and television — especially in HBO Max fare like "Euphoria" and "Minx" — the use of prosthetic penises has correspondingly risen, in part for the comfort of female co-stars but also, some critics say, in a way that reinforces unrealistic expectations connecting size to masculinity and virility, and servicing fantasies about male endowment.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.