BY Dennis Hensley
May 22 2006 12:00 AM ET
In the episode airing May 30, Pepper falls for a closeted
gay quarterback who later comes out. Have you ever
unwittingly fallen for a gay guy?
Yes. When I was 18 and I had just started modeling, I
went to this beach party in Miami. I was wearing white
cutoff jeans and a white shirt tied at my belly
button, and there was this hot, funny, blond male model
wearing exactly the same outfit. One of our agents was like,
“You should take her out tonight.” He
took me to three gay bars, and I still didn’t
put it together. He had to call me later and break it down
for me. I thought it was in the stars for us. I was
blinded by our twinsies outfits.
What was your first exposure to gay people?
That would be family, my gay aunt and gay uncle. Besides
my mother, my aunt was the woman I was closest to
growing up. She’s been with the same woman
since I was 11. They had two sons through artificial
insemination who are now like 17 and 19. So my first real
relationship with that world was two people who really
wanted a family.
How much lesbian action was going on around you during
your modeling days?
There was a lesbian era that started maybe five or six
years in—I kept hearing stories about girls
making out on airplanes and checking into hotels and
running into the ladies’ room. A couple of times I
was hit on, and I didn’t get it. It took 10
years for me to look back and go, “Wow, I think
I know what that was about.”
Your Brian De Palma thriller Femme Fatale has a
cult following with gay men as well as lesbians.
I didn’t realize that until I went to a
reading in New York that Lypsinka was hosting. She
gave me a shout-out and had everybody applaud me. People
came up and shook my hand. I was thrilled.
You were once quoted as saying, “In my early 20s,
I wondered whether I was interested in women, and
so I kind of, well…did my homework.” Our
gal readers would like to know: Are you interested
in coming back for extra credit?
[Laughs] I’m flattered, but I
don’t know—[fiancé] Jerry
[O’Connell] might have some issues with that.
Jerry grew up in Chelsea, right?
Yes. All of his neighbors were drag queens, so if I ask
him to go into my costume closet and play dress-up
with me, he’s not afraid.