1. Why did you write this book?
I hope to inspire people to lead a more active life, to pursue their dreams and to help victims. Perseverance is the key to success, and othercentrism (helping others) is the key to happiness. A person is more likely to achieve success and happiness if she lives in the bold zone. I also want to be sure people are aware of the devastating effect “revenge porn” can have on victims. I encourage legislation and other tools that can protect victims (such as the FTC clamping down on perpetrators).
2. What is living in the “bold zone”?
It means showing up in life, taking calculated chances in order to realize dreams, going at life with gusto and determination. The bold zone can be found just past the “comfort zone.”
3. How did you get involved in tackling revenge porn? Why do they call you the Erin Brockovich of revenge porn?
My daughter’s topless photo, which she had never shown anyone, was hacked from her email and posted on the most nefarious revenge porn website. The website operator, Hunter Moore, refused to remove the picture. I used to be a private eye and began an investigation of the website and Moore. I uncovered a hacking scheme that appeared to be connected to the site. I contacted the FBI, who eventually arrested Moore and the hacker. I turned my attention to helping victims get their compromising photos off the Internet; this is why I was given the “Erin Brockovich” title. I also help legislators with anti-revenge porn bills when they ask for assistance, and I’m a boardmember of the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative (CCRI).
4. Please give us an update on anti-revenge porn legislation and the Hunter Moore trial.
Hunter Moore has pleaded guilty to hacking and identity theft. His sentencing is scheduled for September 23, 2015. As for the hacker, Charlie Evens, he has also pleaded guilty, and his sentencing will occur in November 2015. There are currently 24 states with anti-revenge porn laws, and bills are pending in a number of other states. Representative Jackie Speier (CA) plans to introduce a federal law this year.
5. I understand you had a tragic childhood. What happened?
My adoptive mom committed suicide, but she did not immediately die; she ended up with brain damage. She was in a semi-vegetative state for ten years. My adoptive brother was killed at 16, and my adoptive father said that he wished I had died instead of my brother. I also fought the morals and mores of preppy, “old money” Atlanta in the 1960s and 1970s. I was regularly ridiculed (and even physically attacked) for supporting civil rights and for rejecting Christianity.
6. You make it a point to say you were adopted? Why? Have you ever met your birthparents?
By saying I’m adopted, I suppose it is a way to distance myself from the values that I did not share with my community and family during childhood. I believe nature is stronger than nurture. In fact, I agree with author Steven Pinker that it is probably a 70/30 split. Yes, I have met my natural parents and my natural brother and sister. Although adoption records in Georgia are closed, I shifted into private eye mode, finagled the information and tracked everyone down. It is complicated story with tons of drama. I also toured the home of the devil worshiper who murdered my natural grandfather in the 1940s.
7. I understand you were “in love” with singer Tom Jones, starting at the age of nine when you saw him on television. You even kissed the TV set back then. How did you meet him and come to date him for three years?
It is a heartwarming Cinderella story full of defeats and finally success. He was my first boyfriend. At first, I had no idea that I could meet him, let alone date him. I had low self-esteem in those days. I thought I was fat, unintelligent and ugly. But a man named JD instilled me with confidence when I was 16. I went through a number of shenanigans at age 17, hoping to land my first date with Tom. For example, I tried to sneak backstage through secret hallways and passageways at Caesars Palace, but I was kicked out. I knocked on Tom’s suite and spoke with his mother. I learned the Welsh language in an effort to impress him, but later found out he doesn’t know any Welsh. I dressed up in an outlandish showgirl costume and “coincidentally” ran into Tom in the hallway of a hotel. We chatted. After a number of failed attempts, I went back to Atlanta. But I was not dissuaded. I had plans to try again in the future. I was ridiculed by everyone—school mates and family—for being interested in Tom. It was embarrassing, but I knew perseverance was key, even back then. I began the shenanigans again a year and a half later when Tom was performing in Fort Lauderdale. I got ringside seats at his show, pretending to be the winner of a beauty pageant. Tom remembered me and immediately asked me out. I was 18 years old.
8. You were a chip chatter in Las Vegas. What is it and how did you come to invent this profession?
A 60-year-old stranger gifted me $7700—no strings attached—when I was 17. I was hurrying through the casino in running attire (I was on vacation and had been jogging down the strip). He piled me up with chips and gifts and then said goodbye. I was astonished and figured if I was ever poor I’d move to Vegas because people just give money away.
Chip chatting is a job I invented when I moved to Vegas three years later. The idea came from that stranger (who had gifted me the $7700). I essentially chatted for chips. It was safe. I never left the public areas of a resort. I made $300,000 per year (in today’s money) working only 10 hours per week while I was 20 and 21. I earned more than a prostitute I knew; this incensed her because her job required far greater investment. Tom and my father did not like that I was chip chatting, but I felt self-sufficient for the first time in my life.
9. I understand you were friends with Bill Cosby and knew about his “drugging of women” back in 1981. Tell us about this and why did you not come forward with what you knew until 2014?
I’ve known Bill for 35 years. I have hung out with him many times over the years… always in his dressing room. He dated my friend Sandy for years and drugged her in 1981. She confided this to me, but I figured it was a “one off.” In other words, I thought the drugging had not been intentional. And I had no idea there were multiple victims. I did not think there was anything to come forward about until 2005 when another woman sued Bill for drugging and raping her. I did not come forward then because a) other women came forward to support her statement, b) I was a hearsay witness. But I should have come forward. I finally did the right thing in 2014; I went public with the information. My Bill Cosby experiences are detailed in Rebel. It is possible he is a somnophiliac (excited by unconscious sexual partners). Otherwise, why drug Sandy, a willing sexual partner?
10. You almost asked Frank Sinatra for $2000 when you were having drinks with him. What happened?
I met Don Costa (a close friend of Frank) backstage, and he invited me to have drinks with Frank and others. While I was hemming and hawing about which seat to take, a young woman grabbed the seat next to Frank. I was angry at myself for being a slowpoke. I took the remaining seat. The young woman asked Frank for $500 to go gamble; he gave it to her. I was shocked, thinking he just handed out money to strangers. I contemplated asking him for $1000 or $2000, but thankfully didn’t. It turned out the woman was his daughter, Tina Sinatra. After drinks, Frank invited all of us to dinner.
11. You crashed an audition to land your first movie role at 16. What happened?
I got wind of an audition while working at an ice cream parlor. I ditched school and showed up at the audition, pretending my agent had sent me. In truth, I had no agent and knew nothing about the audition process. One cast member had not shown up, and the casting company mistook me for her. I was sent to the filming location. They did my hair and makeup, and fitted me into a yellow gown. I played the part and even got paid.
12. Why do some people call you “the most well-known unknown”?
The integrated picture of who I am eludes most people. Assume people are houses with many rooms. Well…. I tend to be viewed as a hallway closet or as a breakfast nook. Most people do not know that I’m multi-occupational and multi-recreational. I’ve had 28 different jobs in my life, but people tend to know me for one thing (i.e. anti-revenge porn activist or person who came out against Bill Cosby or politician or former NBC commentator or animal advocate or LGBTQ activist who drafted the “Intolerant Jackass Act” or woman whose chicken ran for vice-president). I hope this book will integrate the picture. I also want to encourage others to go after their dreams (i.e. change jobs, go on adventures, take up new hobbies) even if some of these dreams deviate from what is easy or from what they have done in the past. A little discomfort and difficulty can be a good thing.
13. You are America’s gate-crashing guru. You were voted the fourth most notorious party crasher in the world. Have you ever not made it into an event?
I had to crash a private party hosted by John Travolta and Sylvester Stallone three times… because I was kicked out the first two times. Plus, one time I had to crash out of an event at Liberace’s house. It is a funny story. I had been attending a party there, but upon leaving, I could not get out of the gate. It seemed to be locked. I was too embarrassed to go back to the front door and knock. So, I climbed Liberace’s fence, which set off an alarm. The police showed up, and I hid in the bushes. Liberace never found out it was me who triggered his alarm.
14. Have you ever crashed past Secret Service?
Yes, essentially four times. Twice to speak with President Reagan. On the second occasion, I was able to conduct an in-depth interview with him; it was at a time when members of the press were not permitted access. The third time was to hobnob in the green room at Walt Disney Hall in L.A. with Senator John Kerry (he was running for president) and others (Neil Diamond, Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Stiller, Ben Affleck, Robert De Niro, et al). It was a $25,000 per person fundraiser. The final time was in 2012 at an Obama fundraiser at George Clooney’s estate. The entrance fee was $40,000 per person. I pretended I was delivering prescription medicine to George. My paper delivery bag really contained bobby pins and pony tail holders. Thankfully, no one checked the contents. I would have been busted.
15. You have never had a glass of alcohol, a cigarette or an illegal drug. Why do you consider yourself a rebel? You are not exactly Hunter S. Thompson.
Studies show that a majority of people drink alcohol and have tried cigarettes or illegal drugs. Therefore, these activities represent conformist behavior. Some who abstains… well, she might be called a rebel.
16. How did you crash Frank Sinatra’s private party in Washington DC?
I pulled what I call a “Charlie Pride.” In other words, I jumped beside the country singer (he was an invited guest) and made the guards (located in the distance) think I was his friend. I pretended to speak because I could think of nothing to say to him. Charlie looked at me like I was crazy. The guards smiled at me, convinced I was his close friend. I glided into the party with Charlie where I was able to converse with Henry Kissinger, Johnny Carson and others. I was 20 years old.
17. You gave Bob Hope a ride to his performance in Florida when you were 19 years old. How did this come to pass?
I used to hang out at the Hilton as a hobby when I was a student at the University of Florida. It was better than attending college football games and fraternity parties. At the Hilton, I was able to meet heads of corporations and celebrities—better than being around a bunch of rowdy and intoxicated fraternity boys. I met Bob Hope there one day. His ride did not show, so I had to take him and his conductor to the performance venue in my tiny Mazda RX7.
18. Tell us about the two diets you invented: a) the Do Nothing Diet and b) the Diet of Distraction.
The “do nothing diet” requires doing nothing when eating. In other words, a person must not multi-task; she must concentrate only on food. It works for Type A personalities (like me)—people who want to accomplish rather than waste time eating. The “diet of distraction” is the other extreme. A person throws herself into activities that make her forget about food. Calorie-counting is a no-no when on the diet of distraction. I always thought I was fat as a teenager. Life was a perpetual diet. I fasted for 17 days before my first date with Tom Jones.
19. You have had three epiphanies in your life. What were they?
I was at the mall with my friends when I was perhaps 14 or 15 years old. We went to the mall regularly to judge whether clothing was sufficiently conservative and appropriate. It was an “old money” Atlanta hobby. If something was too wild, we would say, “Gaudy, gaudy, gaudy.” One day, they said “gaudy,” while I said, “God, that’s nice.” I was staring at a sequined gown. At that moment, I realized I was different from my friends. I was into flashy clothes. They weren’t. Like a guilty binge eater, I sneaked back to the mall on the following day and bought that gown. Years later, I wore it to the Inaugural Ball in Washington D.C.
A year after the “sequined gown” experience, I had a spiritual experience on a mountaintop with my dog. Perhaps it was my imagination, but I came to the realization that I should undertake a mission in life and that it should be centered around eradicating prejudice. Then when I was 21, I had a revelation at Circus Circus casino in which I realized I should stop eating meat. I become an animal rights advocate.
20. You mention omniocracy in your book. What is this?
It is a government with representation for all living beings. Democracy is a totalitarian regime in which the powerful (humans) use, abuse, murder and manipulate the powerless (nonhumans) for their own perceived gain. In my view, animals should be represented in government. I ran for (and assumed) political office from 2004 – 2012 under this platform, and surprisingly, I won.
21. You asked Burt Reynolds to your prom when you were 17. Tell us about this.
It involved a bet. My best friend and I felt we needed spectacular dates for the prom. I tracked Burt down In New York and spoke to him on the phone. He could not attend, but I took another actor. I stirred up controversy at the prom; this pleased me.
22. You write that you don’t like confrontation, yet you took on Hunter Moore. Explain.
There is confrontation and there is confrontation. In other words, I flee from personal attacks and bickering, but I enjoy fighting for causes and for victims.
22. You have some layering in this book. It is a manuscript within a manuscript within a life (kind of like the Albert Brooks movie, Real Life.) Why did you decide to write it this way?
My life experiences were too much for one book. I knew my life would need to be divided into two or three volumes. So I decided to cover my revenge porn activities and the first 22 years of my life in Rebel. I put the childhood stories in the center… in the womb. They are cradled in Part II and told in flashback to a woman named Sharon. I don’t want to spoil the surprise; readers will find out Sharon’s full identity at the end of Part II. Parts I and III tell about my scary revenge porn fight in detail. You are right… my book is a little like the movie, Real Life. It is a tad unconventional. It is a rebel in a book jacket or a rebel in a binder.