Huffington Post May 4th 2012
Shannen Doherty's fame -- and infamy -- comes in many flavors. She's admired for starring in hit television series like "90210" and "Charmed." She's beloved for her roles in cult classic films like "Heathers" and "Mallrats." And she's worshipped by many a gay man for her bad girl reputation (and, as displayed in her Education Connection commercials, apparent love of camp).
In "Shannen Says," her new reality television series airing Sunday nights on WE tv, she neatly rolls all three into one addictive package. Each week viewers get what she calls a "really, really, really honest" look at her journey to the altar (her third time) as she and fiance (now husband) Kurt Iswarienko work with famed wedding planner David Tutera to create the wedding of her dreams.
Huff Post Gay Voices caught up with Doherty to chat about what makes her reality show different from all the rest, her feelings on gay marriage, her deep-seated fears of elderly penises and more.
HuffPost Gay Voices: Whose idea was the show?
Shannen Doherty: Kurt and I were in Mexico and we were talking about Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations" and "The Deadliest Catch" and how well done those shows are -- they're really high quality. Anthony Bourdain is this incredibly smart, witty, clever, sometimes snarky -- more than sometimes -- man. They use different cameras, they really do something totally different. "The Deadliest Catch" is also shot amazingly well and it's so incredibly poignant and raw and truthful and we thought Can you bring all of those qualities to reality TV? Can you be that brutally honest, that completely raw, but with the quality of those two shows where you do use different cameras and you do want it to look spectacular? So we thought we should really do something. And the more margaritas we drank on vacation, the more it sounded like a really, really good idea. We came home and I called a couple of producers I know -- I knew I wanted to use my production company but that I wanted to partner up with someone. It was incredibly easy at that point to get people on board. Then it took its time because we had a deal at one place and we shot a presentation but I became a little disillusioned with the direction they were going in -- it became a little too "train wrecky" for me. So we moved on and we ended up [on WE tv] because there was an executive there that really understood the concept of the show and we felt would nurture it and care for it and hold true to Kurt and my vision. And they did. The network did a great, great, great job with the show. We're very happy.
Exactly how real is it?
The show is really, really, really honest. There are moments when I don't look good and there are moments that Kurt doesn't look good -- there are those moments when you watch it back and you can't believe you said something, but you're incredibly happy you said it at the same time because it shows the real you. It shows you're not monitoring what you're saying in order to make an audience like you. Instead, you're going through the exercise of being incredibly truthful while there's a camera on you and you're living your life. And the show portrays all of that while staying a cut above the rest as far as our crew and how it looks. We used the RED camera -- reality shows never use the RED camera. It's too expensive, too hard to process. Kurt and I actually went out and bought the RED camera and said, "Oh, no, we own it. We're not going to charge you for it, so we're using it." It had to look better and had to be different on every level -- it had to be honest, it had to be truthful, and it had to look fantastic.
Did you set up any boundaries before you began shooting in terms of what would be off-limits?
The only thing that was off-limits for us was the bedroom. You have to have your sanctuary. You need your private time as a couple to reconnect at the end of the day after shooting. Everything else was game on. If you're going to do something like this than you have to do it. You can't half ass it. There's too many shows out there that do that. So why be one of the pack? Why not doing something different?
One of the reasons a lot of gay men love you is that you come off as -- or have been portrayed as -- a strong, independent woman, or, as some people might call it, a bitch. Does that bother you or is it more of a badge of honor?
A little bit of both. I wish the world thought more like a gay man [laughs]. I have a ton of gay friends in my life and two of my best friends are gay and they are constantly telling me, "Don't be bummed because people think this about you or that about you because it's what makes you you and it's what makes you so unique and different." Of course some of it bothers me -- I would be lying if I said it didn't. I don't want anyone to think that I'm a bitch. We can all be bitches -- Mother Theresa probably had a moment when she got a little bitchy [laughs]. Everybody has their moments. It's fricking life! And it's not that big of a deal.
We live in such an incredibly judgmental world. I was watching TV with someone the other day and this person was just sitting there and ragging on someone and I turned to them and I said, "What's wrong with you? This person is out there trying to make a living, they're trying to do something for themselves and you're sitting there judging them -- you don't even know them! Why is it so easy for you to judge?" It's a really disappointing thing that we still haven't learned at this point to not judge others. It's something my parents taught me: Don't judge others unless you want to be judged.
I'm full of mistakes -- I'm a flawed human being for sure. But I'm proud of my flaws! My flaws are what makes me me. They're what enables me to look back and say, "That's one mistake I'll never make again." But there are other things that I look back at and people thought I was doing the wrong thing and I'm like, "You know what? I didn't do the wrong thing. I still stood up for myself -- I still stood up for what I believed was right and there's something to be said for that and there's some credit to be given." What bugs me is when people don't realize that people grow up and people evolve and people change. It's such a single-minded, narrow-minded mentality. It's why we have so much hate in the world -- that kind of thinking.
Seeing as you have many gay friends and considering you just spent a big chunk of time thinking about your own wedding, what are your thoughts on gay marriage?
I believe that we live in a free country -- or at least we're supposed to be living in a free country. There are so many issues out there that contradict that statement. It's insane. Two men, two women should be able to get married. It's not about your sex, it's about love and commitment. No state has the right to tell someone, "No, this is not legal in the eyes of the state." That is the most ridiculous statement in the world when you then go and preach that this is a free country. That is mind boggling to me. And again, this takes me back to hate and judgement. I don't understand it. I am a Southern Baptist girl and I'm sure some people would cringe at my words but anyone can go and pick up the Bible where it says not to judge! It says that! And yet people are judging. And people saying gay marriage is not right and shouldn't be legal -- that's a judgement. It's so frustrating because it feels to me like we take one step forward and two steps backwards all the time. We're supposedly this progressive country and I'd like to see where the progression is, personally. [Laughs] Ugh!
"Ugh" pretty much sums it up.
It does, right? And it's not just frustrating for gay people in this country -- it's frustrating for me as well.
Tell me about your relationship with wedding planner David Tutera. Whenever I've seen him on television I couldn't help but think he's so... tender? And emotional. Was he like that with you?
[Laughs] Towards me, yes. One hundred percent. I think Kurt might have had a different experience with David. But David is about the bride -- that's what he does. It's about the bride having her dream wedding and making that come true for her. And he worked his butt off and I thought he did a fantastic job. He had his moments when he was very frustrated, like, "Where is the groom? The groom is leaving!" In the next few episodes you start to see him get frustrated saying, "How can he be leaving? This is stressing my bride out." Kurt may not have appreciated those comments. Kurt was like, "This is my job, this is my career, this is my livelihood," and they have incredibly different personalities that I'm not quite sure they understood each other. There was always this kind of interesting, awkward factor between them but it entertained the hell out of me [laughs].
So you just sat back and watched it unfold.
Yeah. Kurt would make David very, very, very uncomfortable. Kurt would say, "Let's have a guys' night!" And David would say, "No, I'm not having a guys' night with you." Kurt was like, "Yeah, bring it on!" [laughs]. David didn't quite know what to do at that point. So, they had a very interesting dynamic. But I had a great dynamic with David.
I saw a clip from the show where you said that you think penises are ugly. As a gay man I just can't get on board with that.
So what exactly is it about penises that you have a problem with?
Where was I when I said that? Was I slightly drunk? What I probably should have said was old penises are not that attractive.
[Laughs] How often do you see old penises?
[Laughs] I was slightly scarred -- my friend and I, when I was probably 24 years old, we would go to St. Barts every summer. The first summer she ever took me to St. Barts she said, "C'mon, I know this great beach," and we went down to this beach and the minute we get there it's nothing but 80-year-old men running out of the surf in slow motion totally naked! And I remember saying, "Oh my god! Penises are so ugly!" I think I'm scarred from that. That being said, my husband's penis is definitely not ugly. And if my grandmother ever reads this she is going to kill me! [Laughs]
Why is it that at nudist beaches it's never the hot people who are naked? It's always the 88 year olds.
It's so true! I think the hot people are secure enough where they don't need to show it all off. Oh my god -- do not show this interview to my grandmother.
"Shannen Says" airs Sunday nights on WE tv at 10pm ET.