I knew ahead of time that my encounter with Kelly Ripa for a popular women’s magazine would be fun, because the star of “Live With Regis and Kelly” was good with a wisecrack. Most readers of women’s magazines love celebrities who are ‘relatable’ – regular gals just trying to balance career and home life, who just happen to make a lot of coin. Plus, she was from Jersey. What was not to like?
I was scheduled to meet her in her dressing room after the show. As I was having my morning coffee beforehand in my apartment, I turned on the show and there was Regis, kidding Kelly about the interview. He was mock-outraged, lamenting that he had never made it onto the magazine’s cover, and why was that? They were still talking about it as I left to catch the subway to the ABC studio.
I was led into her dressing room to wait for her. Right away, I spied a big ol’ box of tampons sitting on her desk, alongside a dog-eared copy of the National Enquirer. My kind of woman! I knew for certain that she was genuine when I heard her talking with staffers before she was aware that I had arrived. If you are able to linger incognito, it is an effective way to root out the phonies, because you will see how your star really treats a secretary or a production assistant. The staffers, two young women, were teasing her unmercifully about some remark that she had made on the air, and they were all laughing merrily.
The interview went smoothly, but my dread grew as we finished up, because I had a lollapalooza of a question. The magazine’s editors wanted to know: Do you and your husband use sex toys? If so, which ones? I had never asked that of anyone. Hives, prepare for takeoff.
I had printed out the questions that they wanted me to ask (most were tamer) so I simply handed the paper to her. I do this to convey that I’m just following orders.
She read the question out loud and blanched. She stammered out an answer – no, they didn’t – but it was clear that she was a little rattled.
I fled, and the next day, I turned on “Live” once again to check something that I was writing in the introduction. This time it was I who blanched, because Kelly was talking about the question and telling the audience that she couldn’t believe it. Somehow, it hadn’t occurred to me that during the first twenty minutes of the show, the two hosts chat about what they did the day before, so naturally, my inquiry would come up.
Well. Reege was aghast. Fortunately, so were my editors, and the question was, mercifully, dropped.