Dr. Laura opens up

Radio talk show host reveals personal life in one-woman show

Fairfield Daily Republic ©

FAIRFIELD - What could Dr. Laura Schlessinger possibly say that the public doesn't already know? Just about everything.

In her new show, "Dr. Laura: In My Never to be Humble Opinion," the relationship-and-family values talk show host reveals a side of herself that the public seldom hears.

And it's true, Dr. Laura's conservative views are expressed freely to her listeners and are common knowledge worldwide.

But who is this lady behind the microphone, talking from a closet in her home to her "advice-seekers"?

"People know my opinion but not my life," she said from her home in Southern California. "They don't know what I've gone through, my transition, my bout with anorexia, that my husband went into sudden death and almost died or that we had to go through all our pockets for a meal."

Dr. Laura holds a Ph.D. in physiology from Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons and received her post-doctoral certification in marriage, family and child counseling from the University of Southern California. She was in private practice for 12 years, is the author of 12 books, four of which are for children and has been giving advice for 30 years. And she is a black belt in martial arts.

Her one-woman show, "Dr. Laura: In My Never to be Humble Opinion" is presented in two acts, with the first taking an autobiographical approach. The second act begins with Dr. Laura at home taking calls from her listeners. In this case, she will be taking questions from the audience.

"Dr. Laura" will be playing at the Hofmann Theatre on Sept. 19-20 at the Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek But be wary, tickets are almost sold out.

As she speaks from her home, Dr. Laura invites the public to an insight of her life. Here's the excerpted version:

How did the idea for the show come about?

People always want to know more about me. I'm 58 years old. When I was a little kid watching Johnny Carson, Ruth Gordon was on the show. She said "Hey, I'm 85 years old, I'll say whatever I want." And I'm not waiting until I'm 85 to say what I want.

Do you find you're misunderstood?

Yes. People hate me or think I'm mean, but they're being defensive regarding the things I talk about. In their hearts they know they're not doing right and it's easier to attack me than face it.

But your listeners know your views. Some of the things you touch on, such as homosexuality, angers people.

My dearest friends are gay and that's what I have to say on that subject. And we are joined at the hip. That was a propaganda and a way to shut down any form of gay audience.

The show is about you. Doesn't the public already know you?

People who have misconceptions about me will leave the show with their jaws dropped. It's exhausting - I'm talking about myself, my parents, my dad and his abusive ways, I came face-to-face with profound depression, it's all very draining.

So people don't really know what you went through to get to this point?

It's a misconception. I'm 58 and at this point I fear nothing. What will someone do? Send me a bad letter? My life is good instruction. People just don't believe you can go through some of the things I did and get to where I am. I'm trying to help people miss out on pain and regret.

People think I have this celebrity mentality and that I haven't gone through life's crap like everybody else. I don't think of myself as a celebrity. As a liberal once said, I'm America's mommy.

What makes you tick?

A ferocious desire. When I was younger, there were two drives in my life. My father was emotionally abusive, so I had to do things right to not be called stupid. The other drive was that I wanted to do something important. If you want to do that, and at the same time impress your father, those will conflict. But in order to fulfill my soul, I had to do something important, and that meant something for other people.

I take huge risks in order to help someone. Sometimes a mommy has to slap you or shut you, and that's why I've survived for 30 years on the radio.

What is it like being Dr. Laura?

It's wonderful and it's stressful. It's the best of all worlds and I've come to really like me. I spent a good deal of my life not liking me. I struggled to be happy and I have found my space. Right now, I love being me. I'm confident, comfortable, in good health, have a good family and I'm proud of my son. I've worked hard to get to this place and I'm enjoying it.

Do you see a pattern of problems evolving from the folks you talk to?

Yes. Taking less responsibility and caring less about what they do. And it's getting worse. I see a disintegration of our society here, but it's all over the world.

What's next for you?

I don't know. There are ventures in front of me, but they haven't revealed themselves yet. People think I have money, why do I work but that's a really stupid thing to say. I forget to cash my check! I've never been motivated that way. I live to have a purpose and what I do on my radio show is my purpose. I take it very seriously.