The Real L Word's Nikki Weiss Responds to Velvetpark

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The Real L Word's Nikki Weiss Responds to Velvetpark

Last week Julia Watson and Grace Moon gave a long, hard critique of The Real L Word: Los Angeles. Earlier this week, TRLW cast member Nikki Weiss wrote to us on Facebook to let us know what she thought about our blog. Nikki graciously accepted our offer to answer some on-the-record questions about the show and her experiences being on it. We truly appreciate her honesty and forthrightness in reaching out to us, and for taking the time to chat with us here. — Vp Editors

When you signed on as a cast member for TRLW, what were you hoping to get out of the experience of being on the show?
We wanted to show a loving, healthy lesbian relationship... where our sexuality wouldn’t be personified for someone who is homophobic or afraid to accept being gay, but rather seen as secondary to the love we share as two human beings. In turn, because of this exposure and through this experience, Jill and I were hoping to make a difference for those struggling with the acceptance of themselves or their friends and family. I’m happy to say that we have succeeded. We have received so much positive feedback and letters from young women thanking us for sharing a little bit of our life and helping them reconcile and accept their feelings/sexuality, becoming brave enough to come out to their loved ones.

What has the response been like from viewers of TRLW to your and Jill’s storyline?

Honestly, our storyline is all wedding related. TRLW has six cast members and one hour to fit us all in, so we became very one dimensional. Unfortunately you don’t get to see our friends, our careers, our day to day... It’s very focused on planning and spending money and you don’t get to see the hard work that went into being able to afford a beautiful celebration. So for some, the response has been that we’re boring and pretentious. However, most people have been so receptive to our relationship, our love and adoration and respect of one another that they feel like they could possibly meet their someone and have a long term monogamous relationship as well.

Did you watch the original The L Word series? Who was your favorite character? Was there anyone in particular you identified with on the TLW?

Yes of course! We both loved The L Word. This will sound so cliche but I loved the Bette and Tina storyline. Let’s just discuss Jennifer Beals. She is totally my get out of jail free card! Wink I really related to that story on so many levels.

In the first episode of TRLW you introduced yourself as “one of the straightest gay people” we’d ever meet. What does that mean?
It means that I do not define myself by my sexuality. It’s a non issue for me. I am so many things; a partner, a mommy to my two hairy children, a daughter, a business woman, a friend and I am also a very proud gay woman. I don’t subscribe to a lifestyle and most of our friends are married (man & woman) with children.

We’re just the girls to everyone who know us. We never lead with our sexuality. We never think about it. We love one another, we have created a beautiful life together and we’re just like a heterosexual couple, only gayer!

There has been criticism in both the mainstream and queer press (including here on Velvetpark) of the editing/story choices on TRLW. In terms of your and Jill’s storyline there is a lot of focus on the material details of your wedding and almost nothing on the inherent politics of marriage equality in the wake of Prop 8. Can you respond to that?
Obviously we are outraged that we do not have the fundamental, equal civil right to marry. The film crew documented our life, careers, planning over the course of four months and what is on screen is the story that they wanted to tell, having five other stories needing exposure as well. There have been so many times where we have discussed our frustration on camera about the ignorance of society, allowing this so called "sacred union" that we are not allowed to partake in, to be utilized as a game show on television with series like The Bachelor, Rock of Love, competing to find the woman of your dreams to... get this... MARRY! Really?



Comments [26]

MacLass_19's picture

Okay, I finally watched an episode tonight....

Loved it.

 

Julia Watson's picture

Confession: I have still been

Confession: I have still been watching, partially because the show is starting to get a little better, but in large part because interviewing Nikki and learning more about the show from her perspective made the show more interesting to me. I have to say too that I've gained more respect for Nikki personally--it took some real courage and grace to do an interview here after we were so critical of the show, and of Nikki, herself, in particular. (And c'mon, you have to love her parting shot up there at the end.)

Now that we're getting more into who the other folks are, it's more of a shame than ever to me that we're still only seeing wedding stuff for the most part with Jill and Nikki. They're pretty adorbs together, though.

karrr's picture

dude! yeah! nikki's got guts!

dude! yeah! nikki's got guts! i'd watch the show if i were in your position as an editor of VP and i interviewed her.

Robin Rigby's picture

Julia, put down the Kool-Aid!

Julia, put down the Kool-Aid!  

I've said all along that these women may well be nice, personable women in real life but on the show they're edited one-dimensionably.  I'm not surprised that NIkki comes across in this interview as intelligent, thoughtful, and disappointed with how her story is being portrayed.  But that's an assessment of her, not an assessment of the show.  Step away from the remote.  But first change the channel. 

Julia Watson's picture

But the Flying Spaghetti

But the Flying Spaghetti Monster promised me eternal salvation if I keep watching!

MacLass_19's picture

All of the negativity towards the show turned me off...

But, tonight I felt like experiencing, for myself, what all of the controversy was about. And, I was surprised at how comfortable the show felt to me. 

I can't relate to all of the women, but then I couldn't relate to all of the women in TLW, either. I'll admit, I so get Nikki and Jill. And even though tonight's episode wasn't 'deep', it felt good to see the dynamics between them.

I was also very intrigued by Rose's gf's family. Her gf's mother is so embracing of her lesbian daughters, and so supportive of Rose's relationship with her daughter....well, I know it sounds corny, but it was really heartwarming to watch. I hope that those familial relationships are explored on a deeper level.

So, I'm a little in love with what I saw tonight. 

Julia Watson's picture

You can relate to posh,

You can relate to posh, femme-y Hollywood type lezzies? No way. For reals?  Wink

MacLass_19's picture

Hey!

Who you callin' femme-y?

Laughing out loud

crashboom's picture

Well done

You two and the other couple on the show (the new relat. with the kids in tow) portray/live a fairly average, drama free life (on camera) - looks comfortable and inviting. Too bad they didn't show the aspects outside of the wedding planning as I have no interest in marriage at all, but I am kind of fascinated at the dynamic and wonder how it plays out when the cameras aren't rolling - IE the costs and how money affects your relationship.

And what an APPLE moment when you two have the laptops open and are both pounding away on the keyboards... hilarious. I hope you're getting some compensation from Steve Jobs for the promo. Maybe he can drop some cash on the wedding for the support.

 

 

patricia's picture

The issue with equating

Equating 'straight' with 'good and right' is a dead end:  not all straights are all that particularly good; or all that righteous. Regular tv news assures us all of that. 

On the other hand; when I think of Camile Paglia's statements that gay couples shouldn't be parents because children need a typical role of a mother and a father—well, I don't particularly agree with that at all, but I'd rather hear her opinion and disagree than not know that these opinions exist.  

When Nikki said "we're the straightest couple you'll ever meet" or something like that—was that a reaction to the stereotypical drama that lesbians are associated with? Like, the same drama the show totally focuses on?!  I thought Nikki  meant "We're as normal as the people next door to you, America..." 

I've worked with lesbians in the fashion biz here in NY who (aside from significant others) don't hang out with other lesbians on a constant basis — too much 'drama'.  I always found this funny, because one person in particular, surrounded herself with gay men fashionistas—and hey: some of those boys can put fireworks on the crown of Drama! So, I didn't really get that...but I digress.  

In the end though, that might just be what studios think today's 'good tv' is at — heightened, faux-voyeuristic MEDIAted drama. 

A significant portion of criticism of TLW was that people didn't see themselves represented on the show. And sure, not all women are that glamourous. Not all lesbians are like Alice, Helena or Shane, not all trans folks are like Max. But instead of trying to represent either a social scene; or appeal to everybody, I believe it's more important to see relevant ideas represented. Even if I don't agree with them, I think that's what it should be about. Chaiken certainly couldn't appeal to every girl out there: is that even possible? I'm more concerned with seeing the representation of positive and progressive ideas instead of seeing where a WeHo lesbian might go hangout, or who she flirts with.  

(Or see her close the door on a tv crew...that was just...uncomfortable. Remember TLW season 2, when Jenny and Shane's roomate Mark planted hidden cameras everywhere? Remember Mark's sidekick? Ok, so is that character editing the show? Crikey!)

In all fairness, I've only seen 3 episodes...when there's a revelatory concept episode—do let me know! 

 

Grace Moon's picture

I

really like the points you brought up.

* lesbians who say they "don't" hang out with other lesbians yet hang out with dramaqueen gay boys
- this statement always smacks of self-homophobia to me. And if these broads don't hang out with other lesbians how do they ever hook up when they are single... just a simple question.

* Most important is to see relevant ideas portrayed on a show, moreso than mere appearnce: "positive and progressive ideas instead of seeing where a WeHo lesbian might go hangout, or who she flirts with. "

tweet tweet @gracemoon

MacLass_19's picture

Hook Up

"And if these broads don't hang out with other lesbians how do they ever hook up when they are single... just a simple question."

My partner and I have been together for 13 years. When we met, I didn't have a clue if she was gay, straight, or whatever. As it turned out, she was engaged to be married - to a man!

We met by chance, became close friends, and fell in love because it was supposed to be. Not everyone finds their life partner in a 'gay', or 'lesbian', environment. Perhaps when our guard is down, that's when love walks in. It did in my case.

Erika Davis's picture

I'm with you there.

I think those are excellent points, Moon!

Erika has spoken.
Now, go read my blog Smile
www.blackgayjewish.com

Erika Davis's picture

I've only seen one episode

...but it isn't suprising that IC would use friends and acquaintences to get the series up and running.  I didn't feel "represented" by TLW but, then again its rare that we're (lesbians, people of color, every day janes, working, insert descriptor here) are. 

There are rumors that TRLW is looking at filming the next season in NYC and it'd be interesting to see who they'd select for that.

 

Erika has spoken.
Now, go read my blog Smile
www.blackgayjewish.com

Tex's picture

Clarification for my concern of characters.....

I could care less who IC got to be on the show....what bothers me is the scenes of hundreds of lesbians standing in casting call lines being led to believe any one of them had a real chance of being on the show. 

Twitter Time @kdhales

Erika Davis's picture

Good Point, Tex!

It's clearly biased, I'm with you on that.

Erika has spoken.
Now, go read my blog Smile
www.blackgayjewish.com

Tex's picture

And yet another.....

"As well, my company, Nikki Weiss & Co, has been involved in the launching and developing of many “A list” directors careers over the past 17 years and that I am very proud of."

The entire premise for this program was staged and bogus....these are acquaintances of Ilene Chaiken or at least friends of hers. I know I keep harping on that, but every time one of these chicks has something to say about the program - and talks about herself - I find out she's "connected" in Hollywood. So, I guess I have a question. Were any of these ladies actually chosen from the casting call?

Twitter Time @kdhales

Meffle's picture

Lesbians are NEVER satistfied

Tex, all the bitchin', moanin', whinin', and complainin' about how TLW did not show "real" lesbians and how the TLW lesbians were not "real" and how there are not "real" lesbians like the ones on TLW.

I always contended that the ladies of TLW were representative of IC & Co's peer group. So now here they are, the "real" lesbians of upper crust Hollywood.  Of course they know IC. <i>They are her peers!</i>  I ask now just as I asked when TLW was on: Would you rather see a show about your own boring existance?  That's not why I watch TV.  Then again, YOU could always bring my idea to the little screen: "Real Lesbian Housewives of the South Bronx!" 

I think that would meet all your criteria.

There's a thin line...still...

minniesota's picture

But it is boring

But, Meffle, the point I have made about TRLW is that it is boring. The Magic Elves production team somehow lost their magic wand on this one.

Still searching for the right brainy quote.

Tex's picture

Yo, Mef!

Who you calling boring?   Let's see....if we had had a camera yesterday in Austin and surrounding environs:

1. stop at WalMart to purchase UT stuff  (much cheaper than the Co-Op) for souvenirs 2. Apple Store at The Domain  (so dang friendly and efficient and peeps) to get the little MacBook repaired - walked The Domain window shopping at Tiffany's, Lucky Brand Jeans, Neiman Marcus, Burberry while waiting for 'puter  3. Lunch of some of the best fried catfish and grilled chicken salad in the world at a dive called the Boat House Grill on 620 (owned by a peep) 4. Drive down Hamilton Pool Rd and over/through the Pedernales River (yes over/through it, Texans don't waste money on bridges) 4. A dip in Hamilton Pool (one of the top five swimming holes in Texas - HRC stickered autos in the parking lot - lesbian couple snuggled up in the water - some of the most magnificent bikinied boobs I've seen in years)   5. Drive home on Farm to Market roads through the cacti and longhrons 6. Staying up till midnight looking over job offers on the internet  7. Waking at 5 am worrying about the economy, how to make ends meet, wondering if you really can make a living selling crap on eBay..... Bonnie fizzled in the Gulf. Oh yeah, last week had coffee at Jo's with Tae and Lake, introduced them to Amy Cook (peep singer-songwriter), people watched on SoCo, walked Lady Bird Trail, ate fabulous Tex-Mex at Chuy's (made famous by one of the first twins arrest for underage drinking, but don't hold that against them).......

Smile Bring those cameras to Texas, sweetheart! We'll hang out a bit here and then take a road trip to the South Bronx....

Twitter Time @kdhales

karrr's picture

i want real lesbian housewives of south bronx!

 maybe Nikki Weiss & co will read this article and use her a-list director position to get you connected with somebody who can make this happen!

SMBrown's picture

Nope

Ok, this does add some balance to what apparently (I'm not watching) people are getting from the edited show...

HOWEVER, the whole "we're just like a heterosexual couple" makes me ill.  It's one thing not to "lead" with your sexuality, it's another to say straight is normal and we're normal because we're straight.  They want the privileges associated with being a part of the dominant majority, which, I'm sorry, is trying to pass, and a big 'f*ck you' to the GLBT minority. 

Be who YOU are rather than worrying who/what people think you are (which is implicit in saying you're just like straights).

 

karrr's picture

maybe she just said it wrong.

 "we're just like a heterosexual couple" sounds stupid. it sounds ignorant to people like us, but for most of middle america i think that's how big gay organizations and allies and whatnot try to portray gay people to mainstream us and make our political agenda seem not like something crazy and incomprehensible. 

but i think her idea behind it is, what she meant to convey with that heterosexual blip is that THEY don't consider sexuality a big difference: "we never lead with our sexuality." 

i agree with you on some levels, because seriously, they're NOT a heterosexual couple and to claim that they're just like one is O B V I O U S L Y preposterous: they can't marry and share health, monetary, other legal benefits; people stare at them in public if they hold hands; their church doesn't recognize them; etc, etc. but i think that because she didn't consider how a majority of lesbians would read this statement probably means that they DON'T hangout with many gay people (as l i t e r a l l y implied in that quote), because anybody who hangs out with gays knows how self-righteous and minority hoorah-hoorah we can get. she should've known that statement would blow-up in our community. hanging out with straight people all the time probably makes them forget this, as they are used to trying to appeal to joe schmo straight-laced people. 

i'm not trying to defend her, i just hear the privileges and majority, minority bit a lot, and think it's an easy bone to pick because it's a well-established rhetoric. in our federal system our fellow constituents vote for our against our right to marry, and i would g u e s s that people like her and her girlfriend probably help our case in the straightlaced community. actually, i'm curious if there are any marketing-type studies done on what turns the swing voters from not wanting us to marry to supporting us.

anyways. the show still sucks. nothing would get me to watch another episode. i don't know why i just spent ten minutes explaining her goof. oh. right. i'm at work.

SMBrown's picture

True, but...

Karrr, you make some excellent points here about  mainstreaming and such, and I'm sure you're right about what Nikki thinks she's saying.  But language really does matter--and I say that not as a radicalized queer but as a middle-of-the-road English major.  What heterosexuals are they like?  The ones who get married in all-night Vegas chapels only to divorce the next day?  Or the couples in which 90% of women who die violent deaths are killed by their husbands/boyfriends?

I think not.   What she means to say, and what she SHOULD say, is we are your friends, your daughters, your mothers, your neighbors who contribute to society, pay our taxes and therefore deserve to be treated with the same dignity as any other person who does the same.  That really shouldn't be such a tough concept to grasp should it?  And while it may seem unnecessarily nit-picky to make such distinctions I think it's dangerous not to.  When we equate 'straight' with all that is good and right (and conservative--I have plenty of quirky, progressive straight friends who would find this insulting as well!) in the world we inevitably reinforce our own 'wrongness' and marginalization.  Linguistic shorthand may indeed yield short-term gains with the mainstream but ultimately it will only harm long-term goals of equality.  

karrr's picture

well said

got nothing to add. haha

Meffle's picture

But I'm just like a white person!

I am. I swear! Well, except for the skin color, hair, music, cultural history, etc., etc., etc.

I'm going with she meant her sexuality doesn't make her any less human.

I totally understand because my life is pretty mainstream, if you make either me or my partner a man, if you change one of our races, if you change the racial make-up of our grandkids.  One of us works outside the home, the other works from home.  We raised our kids, not we're raising our grandkids.  I talk to my sister -- who is totally straight -- we our concerns mirror each other.

Many straight people think of the gay world as existing only in the club and the bedroom -- and maybe the hair salon.  There's a tendency to make us one dimensional.  I think what Nikki was trying to point out is that we are full blown human beings the same as anyone else, and in her case, their lives are actually very conventional.

There's a thin line...still...