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'Desperate' Sex Secret: S&M on Wisteria Lane

(c) NY Daily News

February 19, 2005

By Marisa Guthrie

Steven Culp of 'Desperate Housewives' They're getting their kink on over on Wisteria Lane.

In last week's "Desperate Housewives" the button-down Rex Van De Kamp (Steven Culp) finally revealed his deep, dark secret to his psychotically repressed wife, Bree (Marcia Cross).

He likes to be dominated.

The decision to indulge in a little S&M on network television was a collaborative effort by Culp, the show's writers and series creator Marc Cherry

"Marc asked me to come up with a secret," Culp told the Daily News. "We immediately nixed gay," he said, "because we just thought it was too done and too obvious."

That said, speculation that a character will "come out" persists.

"I don't know who that would be," Culp said cryptically.

By the conclusion of last week's episode, Bree was showing signs of acquiescing to Rex's unusual request. America has embraced the topsy-turvy world of ABC's "Desperate Housewives," making it the one of TV's top-rated shows and catapulting its female stars into the Hollywood stratosphere.

"I don't think anybody really expected it to be this big phenomenon," said Culp. "I've done a lot of work that I've been pleased with, but I've never been in [a show] that has been watched by so many people."

The attention has not been nearly as intense for the men on the show. Indeed, Culp can sit in a crowded upper West Side diner unnoticed.

"The attention is going to be on them, which is the way it should be," he said. "It's not called 'Desperate Husbands.'

"But now it's starting to filter down to the rest of us," he said, "and it's kind of fun."

Culp has played a series of strong, domineering men during his career. He has been Bobby Kennedy twice - in "Norma Jean and Marilyn" and "13 Days." And he has played the Speaker of the House of Representatives on "The West Wing."

Meanwhile, the plot twist with Culp's Rex is in keep with the nefarious messiness lurking beneath the impeccably manicured lawns of Wisteria Lane.

"A lot of what we do on the show is about the disconnect between what people say they believe and what people say they stand for and what they actually do," said Culp. "That's part of the comedy. I think Rex and Bree see themselves as really moral upstanding people over all."

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