Film and TV

Ricki Lake May Be Back; But Don't Ask Her To Dance the Bug

Ricki Lake announced last week that she would once again start waking up before noon and return to daytime television. Her new talk show is slated to begin the fall of 2012. This is not really much of a surprise as the ladies of daytime are just starting to pour in, each one vying for a seat in Oprah's over-sized thrown.

I, for one, was a huge fan of Lake's first incarnation of TV talk; it was geared towards young woman, with loads of "Oh No He Di'ints" from the audience, but without the disrespect of other daytime shows. I actually liked the show enough to appear as a guest on it! Yes, you just read that correctly; I was a guest on the Ricki Lake Show.

The story goes like this: As a college student living in New York City, the idea of free anything was always an appeal. Free snacks, free sodas and a free seat in the audience of the Ricki Lake Show? Oh, hell yeah! A few friends and I attended a taping of the show and while the producers warmed the audience up, one of them asked, "So does anyone have a secret crush on someone? We could use you for an episode." Asking someone if they "have a secret crush" is probably the most ridiculous thing a grown man can ask, but when that same man follows with "winners get free dinner and a limo ride," the answer is naturally an affirmative.

A friend and I concocted a plan to say that we both had secret crushes on the same guy, thinking we might actually get two dinners out of the deal, and gave the name of the first guy we could think of. A friend of ours, who lived down the hall, would be our crush. He was cute and also enjoyed free dinners; the only drawback we saw with this plan was that he was openly gay. Minor detail!

While I was certainly excited for my big break in television, I was honestly more excited to meet Ricki Lake. I am a big John Waters' fan, and Ricki has some notable roles. What was she like in person? Would she be friendly? And furthermore, would she dance the Bug from "Hairspray" if asked nicely?

The limo picked all three of us up (yes, big secret) and took us to the studios where we were then separated and put in the Green Room for several hours, surrounded by nervous women who actually did have secret crushes. The producers told my friend and I to "really ham it up," to make sure everyone knew that we really liked this guy despite his obvious attraction to men.

"Will we get to meet Ricki after the show?" I asked multiple times and multiple times I was told yes. "Do you think she'll dance the Bug from Hairspray?" I also asked multiple times, and multiple times I was laughed at and told that it can't hurt to ask.

The actual show part flew by in seconds. I came out, professed love and was told that I had no shot because, and I am quoting Ricki now, "He doesn't like girls."

As the humiliation washed over me, we waited in the Green Room for Ricki to come out and meet us. And we waited and then waited some more. After every 15-minute interval, I anxiously asked the producer when she would make her appearance and was told soon. "But do you think she'll dance the Bug?"

Finally, Ricki breezed into our room, shaking hands and quickly moving down the line. When she got to me, I was completely star struck, despite having just hung out with her on TV, expelling intimate details of my love life. She moved away just as I started saying, "I was hoping you would do the Bug." On the word "Bug" she turned, threw me a dirty look and said her goodbyes to the group.

I was heartbroken. In addition to this disappointment, we didn't get two free dinners, nor did we even get one. The limo that was supposed to drive us back downtown to school had magically disappeared. So, the entire experience was a bust, except for the fact that I will surely never reach the level of embarrassment again as when I said on national television, "I can turn him around." (Oh no she di'int!)

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Abby Koenig
Contact: Abby Koenig