Ricki Lake / Jeff Lipsky / 20th Television
Ricki Lake talks about talking
Eager to get back to TV, Ricki Lake, 43, launches a new weekday syndicated talk show, The Ricki Lake Show, Monday, Sept. 10. Also new since eloping in April: husband Christian Evans, a jewelry designer. We chat about her life, work and weight.
Any subjects off-limits on the show? Iím very protective of my children [sons Milo, 15, and Owen, 11]. I donít want to speak for them. I donít want to do what Kathie Lee Gifford did, discussing every detail about children. Also, I donít want to tell my weight.
Since Hairspray in 1988, youíve lost 140 pounds and completely transformed. Is weight still an issue? Unfortunately, I think about it a lot. Iím a woman in our society. Itís unavoidable. I think Iíve conquered a lot of my demons. Would I like to lose 10 pounds? I just got married four months ago. Iím not Dancing With the Stars any more. Yes, but Iím within a healthy range. I donít have an eating disorder. My husband said this morning that I have body dysmorphia. That may be true. Weíre always trying to attain the unattainable. Thatís something weíll talk about in the show. Itís this double-edged sword. Iím the first one to pick up a magazine when it says, ďHow I lost weight.Ē
How will this show differ from your old one? It will have a different tone. The old show was pretty outrageous, with people saying crazy things. A lot of the audience saw people that they didnít think were them. Weíd do the crazy baby mama drama. Weíd have the guy come on and weíd surprise him with the other girl heís cheating with. Weíre not going to do that. Weíre going to have a conversation.
Would you like to be the new Oprah? I was a huge fan, but I donít aspire to replace her. I look at the prototype of the old Oprah Winfrey Show, when she was in the audience, before she was a billionaire, before the book club and the magazine, when she was one of us ó an Everywoman. Thatís how I see myself. Iím a newlywed. I have a blended family. Iím not someone who has figured it all out. Any issue a woman aged 25-54 can relate to is what weíll be talking about on the show.
How tempting is it to want to be a billionaire? I donít aspire to be a billionaire or have an empire. I want to have balance in my life. I want to work hard, play hard, be with my sweetheart and raise my children to be upstanding, thoughtful, considerate, compassionate people. I donít need to have excessive wealth.
Youíve acted and danced, but the talk format seems to suit you best. Why? Iíve always been a person who wears everything on her sleeve and just puts it out there. Even though Iíve been burned, I trust people.
Why do people tell you their innermost secrets? Because Iím true to myself and own it all, the good and the bad. That must be comforting to people. I was always the girl in high school that the girls and the guys felt comfortable with. I was likeable. I didnít want any enemies. I wasnít the most popular, the smartest, the prettiest or the most talented. "Non-threateningí was the best word.
If youíre so honest, how can you be so successful at poker? I love competition. I love games. I love winning. Nobody can read me. Iím one big contradiction. My dad taught me to play poker when I was a kid. The World Series of Poker is going on right now. Itís on my bucket list. I will play the main event one day.
Any advice dealing with teenagers? Iím not making any mistakes as a parent right now because my children are away this summer. My nanny runs a school in Malawi for 400 kids orphaned by AIDS. My sons are there for six weeks, building housing and teaching them to play baseball. They may be growing up privileged living in Southern California, but this experience will change them forever.
Do you believe in therapy? Iím a big supporter. Itís been a huge part of my life for more than 20 years. When I started my first talk show, my boss sent me to therapy. The show paid for it because they felt that the more in touch with my own experiences and feelings, the better host I would be. It was incredibly helpful. Going to meetings and support groups for anything youíre struggling with can also be helpful. Itís great to be able to talk about it. For me growing up as a kid, in my household I was taught not to talk about feelings. It was all pushed under a rug. That can only lead to more pain.
Who made you believe in yourself? My grandmother. She made me feel like I was the most special, beautiful, talented girl ever, and I clearly wasnít. She believed in me. She took me to the theater, ballet and opera in New York City. My love of performing and wanting to be an actress, dancer and singer I got from her, along with the belief that I could do it because she told me that I could. She lived nearby, and Iíd see her every weekend. She died when I was 9.
When did you find your first gray hair? In my late 20s I started going gray. I was horrified. Now Iím really gray. Someone has to color my hair every 2 1/2 - 3 weeks. Iíve considered leaving it gray.
What would allow you to do that? Guts. I have good skin, so I donít look my age. But I fear I would look painfully my age if I did let it go.
How did you meet your second husband? I was living in Malibu two years ago, and I met him through a friend. I didnít look twice at him. He became my friend. Then I had a house fire, and the fire literally ignited this romance. Weíve been together ever since. Itís the healthiest relationship Iíve ever witnessed.
Whatís so special about Ibiza, the Mediterranean island off the coast of Spain where you honeymooned? The people, the music, the energy, the island itself. Itís a magical place. Itís where Atlantis was. Maybe Iíll retire there in 10 years. I have to learn Spanish, so Iíd better get obsessed with learning that language.
What do you remember about being a finalist on Dancing with the Stars? I loved it, and I miss it terribly. Derek Hough was amazing. I canít believe I went as far as I did and became a dancer. I donít miss the pain I suffered. I had a broken rib and a broken toe. I was a mess for 3 1/2 months. Every single day, 6-8 hours a day, we trained. It was brutal, but itís one of my greatest accomplishments. The all-star show is coming up, but thereís no way I could do it. Iíve got my day job to worry about.