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Green Porno is a stage show made up of spoken-word vignettes that often feature Isabella Rossellini decked out in hilarious – and anatomically illustrative – costumes.

People may talk about their animal desires, but how well do they really understand what goes on in the sex lives of animals?

That question became far more than a passing fancy for famed Italian model, actress, author and director Isabella Rossellini, whose love of pets grew into a fascination with animal biology, zoology and conservation – to the point where she returned to university to study animal behaviour.

What she discovered about their often bizarre, sometimes violent, sometimes adorable and always colourful reproductive habits became Green Porno, a hugely popular series of online short films for Sundance, and later a live stage show, which touches down in Vancouver on Saturday.

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Made up of spoken-word vignettes that often feature Ms. Rossellini decked out in hilarious – and anatomically illustrative – costumes, Green Porno covers everything from the rough seduction habits of ducks (and the females' remarkable ability to shut out unwanted suitors) to the playful "anything goes" sexual style of dolphins to the impressive penis length of male barnacles, which have to reach their mates while stuck to a rock. (Ms. Rossellini talks about how, in human terms, it would be like a guy lying in bed and reaching a woman in the next apartment building over.)

In the scientifically accurate snippets, Ms. Rossellini also delves into biology's more brutal realities, including how hamster moms eat some of their young to eliminate the weaker offspring and boost nutrition, and how spider mothers actually digest themselves so their young can eat them.

She also serves up conservation-minded food for thought. For example, for every shrimp caught, 10 more marine creatures are lost to bycatch.

Of course, in addition to her starring roles in films from Blue Velvet to Big Night, Ms. Rossellini, who is the daughter of Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman and Italian director Roberto Rossellini, has always been a sex symbol. So how has creating Green Porno affected her personal life?

"I'm always interested in science and I see myself as an entertainer," she said in an interview.

"I don't really want to be moralistic. I don't want to give anybody a lesson on how their behaviour should be. I don't see a parallel between my personal sexual life and the earthworm's sexual life," she added with a laugh. "I don't really know how to give stronger orgasms by learning from a fish."

Green Porno is being presented by the PuSh Festival and the Italian Cultural Centre at the Playhouse Saturday.

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