I thought someone was playing a prank when I received a phone message, “This is Harpo Studios, please give us a call.”
Oprah? The producer wanted to find a woman to interview for an episode called “Wives Admit They’re Gay.” Because of my Internet message board AskJoanne.net, I was in contact with women from all over the country who were coming out after marrying a man. Most of these women wouldn’t normally want to publicize their situation, but this was Oprah.
Over the course of a week, I referred one married woman after another who fit their criteria. I gave them what they wanted, but I had other ideas.
“Is there any chance of getting me onto the show as an expert?” They told me they would discuss it at their next meeting to finalize the show.
Monday night I found out I would be flown to Chicago Tuesday for the Wednesday morning taping in Chicago. I was picked up by limo at the airport, my hotel and dinner paid, and was taken the next morning to Harpo Productions. I was flying high. Upon entering the building, I was frisked and then directed to an empty room. Each person for the show was isolated in a separate room to assure authentic spontaneity. Producers prepped me, a makeup expert fixed me, my spikey hair was brushed smooth to project a straight-looking TV lesbian, and finally I was escorted into the studio where the full audience was waiting. The producers prepping me had no idea what Oprah would ask me.
I watched Oprah address an attractive woman with long blonde wavy hair and a charismatic playful smile, “It must have been heart-wrenching to face the break-up of your marriage. You must have had some earlier hint that you were lesbian?” She deferentially agreed, but later talked privately with other guests about how blindsided she actually was when she fell in love. This young woman, whom the producers scoured the country to find, was the perfect lesbian, looking as if derived from the best of erotic fantasies. She was married to a man and had come out as a lesbian when she fell in love with a female colleague who was sitting in the audience.
I was so caught up in the excitement of watching Oprah perform her interviewing magic that I was taken off guard when she said, “Today we have someone in our audience who has written a book on this subject…” It was my turn. No time to get nervous. Oprah turned to me with questions a few times during the show, all of which added up to about five minutes air time. People often ask me what was Oprah really like? In truth, I never had alone time with the diva except to have my photo taken with her after the show. The photo hangs in my office. Oprah’s voluminous bushy hair and body mass, dark skin and tall stature dwarfs the pale diminutive delighted woman smiling happily, Oprah’s arm resting on her shoulder. My book, Living Two Lives,was number five on Amazon books the next day.