The following output was transcribed from our audio recording.
Although the transcription is largely accurate, it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.
It is posted to aid in understanding the interview but should not be treated as an authoritative record.
Mindy Cohn 00:01
Hi everyone, Christian. I welcome you back to another episode of Mondays with Mindy.
Christian Brescia 00:07
Hi everybody! Welcome back to the show.
Mindy Cohn 00:10
Today our episode is sponsored by the cocktail party. Love Mary.
Christian Brescia 00:14
Mindy Cohn 00:15
We're so grateful for you Mary Giuliani –– shout out. Today's episode features a conversation with someone I first met only about 35 years ago.
Christian Brescia 00:24
Just a short window go.
Mindy Cohn 00:26
Yeah, exactly. Actress producer and talk show host Ricki Lake. Ricky made her film debut as Tracy turnblad and john waters 1988 cult classic hairspray. She also starred yes in waters other films cry, baby sets will be demented, and serial mom. She also co starred in the film's Mrs Winterbourne cabin boy and last exit to Brooklyn. Ricky joined the cast of the Vietnam war drama series China beach and had a recurring role on the King of Queens as her first forays into television. Not bad. Yeah. In 1993, Ricky debuted as the youngest person at the time to ever host a daily talk show and hers aired through 2004. After her talk show wrapped, Ricky started hosting and acting once again and also became an author. In 2009. She along with dear friend Abby Epstein and Shaq, Moritz wrote your best to birth about the world of natural childbirth and birthing options, which was something that Ricky was experiencing in her real life at the time. She and Epstein also launched an online social network to allow professionals and parents to dialogue with each other about these options. And while continuing to host a kind of updated version of her talk show and making various cameo appearances, having a stint on Dancing with the Stars. In 2018, Ricky and Abby premiered their documentary with the people at South by Southwest the film examines the use of cannabis as medicine. It was actually one of the first things to come out talking about this, and also its status as a schedule one prohibited drug. Last year, Ricky was revealed to be the raven in the Fox series, the mouse singer and later began competing in the X Factor celebrity in London. Ricky mother of two sons lives in Malibu with her amazing rescue dog, Mama, Buda lake.
Christian Brescia 02:20
All right, well, ladies and gentlemen, we are excited to welcome to the show the multitalented Ricki Lake.
Ricki Lake 02:28
Mindy Cohn 02:30
Hi, Ricky. Oh, my gosh, evil, so good to see your mates I can't even tell you. So we start off each episode. Christian, I have come up with just random questions. And my fabulous Johnny Adler canister. And I randomly pull five and we just go a deep dive.
Christian Brescia 02:46
All right, get a little get to know you a little fire round.
Ricki Lake 02:49
Some people know me already. I get the feeling people already know me. But yeah,
Mindy Cohn 02:53
I don't. I don't think you've been asked these questions. Maybe you have maybe. Okay. Okay. Ricky, who's your favorite relative? And why? Oh, well,
Ricki Lake 03:02
it can be deceased, right? My grandma Sylvia would be my favorite, favorite, favorite relative. And she's the reason I'm an actress. You know, she died when I was nine years old. Her name is Sylvia. And she was my father's mother. And she told me that I was the best at everything. She just instilled in me that I could do anything I wanted to do. And I saw Annie, she took me see Annie on Broadway. She took me to all the different theater and ballet and stuff in New York, and it made me want to be a performer. So yeah, I do feel her watching over me to this day.
Mindy Cohn 03:28
God, thank you grandma Syl. We love her! Yay! Is there another creative that you admire? right this minute and why? Well, it doesn't have to be right this minute who comes to mind? Yeah.
Ricki Lake 03:44
I mean, right. Okay. Well, you know, I was talking about Derek Hough, just the other day who's showing and he you know, did Dancing with the Stars with him like nine years ago. And he, I remember working with him, and saying he's one of the most talented people I've ever, ever come across ever. And you know, john waters is amazing. And all these amazing, you know, people, you work
Mindy Cohn 04:05
with some incredible people. So what made you say that?
Ricki Lake 04:08
He's a genius. He's a frickin genius. And obviously, the world now knows that back then this was 2011. And you have to see him work because when they do that show, I also have an appreciation for that show the work that goes into it, the production value. And so you know, they give you the music and they give you the style of dance and he came up with like, not only the choreography but like a theme and an art. Wow. I mean, it was it was really really impressive. And he taught me to ballroom dance. So I'm he's, he's who comes to mind. Okay,
Mindy Cohn 04:36
I like that. I like that. Oh, sorry to be judging. Like, I like it. I don't like it. I don't know. Yes, thank you, Ricky. What's your favorite place in the world? And why?
Ricki Lake 04:50
Okay, I have to. I have to, you're alone. Ibiza. Ibiza is my favorite place to go like Burning Man and Ibiza are two of my favorite Burning Man is like nothing you get exists in life for me like I've been. I discovered it in 2017 after my husband passed, and I've been ever since so I would have gone this year but of course it was cancelled because of right tuition but it is the most magical just the concepts the principles of Burning Man, the way people drop in no one's connected really to their phone or to you know, and they're really present. It's a magical place. And Ibiza also is an island off of Spain that I've been going to since my husband Christian. Yes. Took me there in 2011.
Mindy Cohn 05:35
For the first time with him
with him, he introduced me to that island and it's a very special place. Yes, there's the whole party aspect of it. But there's also a very like deep rooted cultural, just a mindset of being present and appreciating what's in front of you. It's a very, very special place that attracts a lot of really interesting people. So I love I love that island. I got engaged there I went on my honeymoon there. I brought so many friends to discover this magical place. And I can't wait to bring my my new boyfriend there once. Things get back to normal. Yeah.
Mindy Cohn 06:06
And your old dear friend Mindy. What scares you? Oh, my
gosh. What scares me? My dog big deal right now. She's unwell. And so that, yeah, I'm not gonna lie. I took an edible a little earlier. And so it tends to make me feel a little bit more paranoid, maybe or tend to go that way. And so I state of panic and anxiety about an hour ago about my dog, but that I don't have I don't have a fear of dying like I once did. I mean, obviously, I'm not looking forward to it. But I've done I asked them many, many, many times, and I think that has really helped in letting go of that fear. You know?
Mindy Cohn 06:47
Yeah, yeah. Um, how do you unwind or unplug? I think you might have just shared that with me.
Well, during COVID I tend to have a couple of gin and tonics at night. I you know, I mean, drinking has definitely been a way to unwind What else do I do? I mean, go on walks with my dog. I mean, I live at the beach. And so I like getting outside in nature. You know, but but this obviously, this time has been such a time of like solitude and isolation and quiet. But yeah, having a drink at the end of the day is definitely been helpful in turning it down a notch.
Mindy Cohn 07:24
Yeah. So what have you been bingeing on or have you been bingeing on anything bingeing? Isn't
food or binge eating isn't watching?
Mindy Cohn 07:31
Oh, my God. Honestly, when you're talking to me, it's usually both. So whatever you want to however you want to answer, kiddo.
I mean, I'm just watching the Queen's gambit. So I just watched it. So good, really good. Really hard. I mean, I'm addicted to Rachel Maddow. I'm so obsessed. Oh, my gosh, she's so amazing. She's so brilliant. Yeah, I'm really I've been watching her, you know, and I was I was I was caught up in the anxiety of the selection and theme xiety of COVID. And the state Yes, I mean, Black Lives Matter. I mean, the whole thing has really been a very challenging time for all of us. And you
Mindy Cohn 08:08
were finishing your house and moving during this time as well, which is
still not in my house. I'm still not at my boyfriend's house, which isn't too shabby. It's at the beach as well. But my house is not ready. And I'm at the mercy of the gas company in Malibu. I don't have the certificate of occupancy. So my stuff is all there. Right. I'm living I just show you like, yeah, my stuff. Like in a corner. Oh
Mindy Cohn 08:36
my gosh, it's Ricky. bring with you. Exactly. Oh, my God, I was a little Oh my god. Yes. Not bad kiddo. But it's not. It's no one you've been working towards for the last year.
So I was really ready. I was ready to move in and I am ready and it's gonna be amazing. And it's this new chapter. You know, so much of this house. I bought this house with my husband Christian who passed I didn't
Mindy Cohn 09:02
know that tell me things.
You didn't know Christian passed away?
Mindy Cohn 09:06
Oh, no, I didn't know that. You bought it with him? Oh,
I bought it. Yeah, we we had sold my other I sold my other house and wanted to have live like overlooking the water. We want to have the water so we bought this place. And it literally is taken seven years. I mean, it's just just past seven years that I bought it. So you know with the Coastal Commission with I was working on other. It's been really it's been an exercise in surrender, and trust the process and let go because I've just been wanting to pull my hair that's going back out. You know, it's just so I'm really awful. I would never do it again. It's the worst thing. The worst thing I've ever done cuz I don't regret it. But you know, I didn't expect I expect my husband to pass away and I really didn't envision living on the top of the mountain by myself. But I've since you know fallen in love with this amazing, amazing guy so I'm not going to be alone.
Mindy Cohn 09:56
I also know a little enough about you to know that. You have such Gorgeous, which you deserve what you put out as much as you get back superb group of friends around you and support system. That Yeah, that it's like, I get it I too right your friends or your family but really
it was in my family Yeah, I'm not just to my immediate family and I you know, like I'm estranged from members of my family, but I have incredible like, you know, Mandy, we share Mandy together. Yes, Wendy Mandy's one of my oldest friends. She's been like my best COVID buddy, I talked to her six times a day. And yes, she's amazing. And it's so it's so fun. Like to be where we are. I mean, Mindy, I think you're around my age. I'm 52. And Mandy's the same age for a
Mindy Cohn 10:41
But it's so interesting when you have people that have known you and been your witness through I mean, I've had transformation after transformation. Yes, you know, up and down and mostly up more often than down. But it's it's it's a beautiful thing to share this life experience with someone you know, along the way. It's really also
Mindy Cohn 11:02
thank you no point being what we talk about and who we talk about with your fellow creatives. That is the life of a creative it is it is a journey. And we know that from the very beginning that things aren't gonna be easy, and there's an abundance of riches. And then there's this like, feeling and you have to create some sense of something around you or you will be lost it will eat you up.
Mindy Cohn 11:28
I've been like a real I don't know, you're a card carrying member, man, if that just so willing to say yes. And jump into the next thing. Totally. about you,
thank you, I have been someone that like, I mean, it's not like premeditated, it's just how I am. You know, and I am like I jumped I jumped feet first and would love you know, I mean, it's like I am in this new beautiful relationship. And it's like, I never thought after losing Christian to mental illness and death by suicide, I never thought I would be on the other side of it and be open to loving because my grief that period of time that was so I didn't think I could climb out of it. Because the level of grief is equal to the amount of love and and I love big. And to see myself now like to look back except the time I never thought I'd walk this beach I'm looking at right now. And I just try looking at the sun trying to be grateful trying to like find the you know, the lesson or whatever. I never thought I'd be in this place where I am now. And so yeah, it is a journey. And I'm just so grateful to live to be able to live this life of mine not
Mindy Cohn 12:34
not to wish this upon you or anyone else. Truth be told, but you having the generous spirit that you have and have always had. It's so wonderful that you've been able able to share your in your grieving process so much we talk about this a lot, where we grieve all the time as human beings and as creatives we tend to wear it. And you've been so glorious and gorgeous about sharing that and I think allowing millions of people who love you and trust you. Yeah, um, to kind of come along, right? Because grief is grief. Again, it's,
it's the only way I know how to be. You know, like I said, I'm gonna teach you and I've always worn everything on my sleeve. I've been an open book, I used to have that show where I talked about myself, my family and I like, because I felt like it was only it had to be reciprocated. You know, here I am asking people to share their innermost secrets to me and to my audience. I feel like it's not a responsibility, but I just feel like this is the way I've always been. I've always been, you know, like it or not like, I'm an open book. And so I do believe you know, and it was cathartic for me to share my journey. I mean, I went on that show, the masked singer that that silly show, I was on the first season and I you know, I found it to be so cathartic and people were so Connect felt such a connection to me talking about my very courageous
Mindy Cohn 13:48
and you want to talk about vulnerability, and it's right. I mean, bravo sister,
didn't know what I was doing. It's usually I don't know what I'm getting myself into. I didn't know what that show was. And my friend Jenny Katz was the producer on it, and she's like, trust me, this is gonna be the biggest hit ever. And I was like, I don't get it. But okay. And I just trusted her. And it was, you know, it was like a silly thing. But it was really great for me to be able to share about what I was going through and to feel that love and appreciation and camaraderie from my audience as well. You know, mental illness is just everyone is impacted, particularly during COVID We are all either having it ourselves, whether it's depression or anxiety. I mean, like, you know, we're all suffering. And so yeah, we all need to, you know, break the stigma and talk about it, you know,
Christian Brescia 14:37
Mindy Cohn 14:38
What inspires you right now, what are you inspired by? Besides being in love, which I'm so thrilled?
I have to say I mean, I was not feeling very inspired even two or three months ago, like honestly, I was really struggling and I you know, I was drinking it and like I was just being hating in weight like numbing, self medicating Gambit. I shifted the election obviously helped me My mood in a big way. Um, and then and then on top of it my house like coming to fruition. And me like, you know, getting that excited about that. And then and then this man this amazing, man, he's, he's amazing you guys and I deserve him. You know, we, we put out we manifest what we are, you know what we want to attract what we think we can attract or whatever and it's like, I have just found someone without even trying during COVID. I mean, it's just one of those weird things but I'm, I'm really inspired about our future. You know, I'm really I have a new film that I've been working on for six years with my producing partner, Abby Epstein.
Mindy Cohn 15:37
control. And so I'm inspired to get this work out into the world to educate young women about their options when it comes to their pain.
Mindy Cohn 15:47
I love that you and Abby have kind of started this journey together as filmmakers first talking about burping options, and then going into like medicinal weed. Yeah, then coming around to birth control you Bravo you to for Pete's sake.
Yeah, I'm really proud of this work. I love I love it. It's really, you know, doesn't pay you like a talk show at all. Like, you get karma points, you know, and it's really the business of being born will go down as the most important work for me personally, in my lifetime. It was, you know, my story it was it was good money. It was my idea, the whole thing. And it took four years to make it and to see it live on in this amazing like evergreen, I mean, everyone is impacted by that film to this day. My new one was about about birth control the truth about the same kind of, you know, it's about informed choice about education. it's mind blowing the information that we share it really it. Yeah. So I'm super excited about that.
Mindy Cohn 16:42
So what's the status of that? What are you going to? Are you going to release that on a platform or take it to the festival circuit? Like you did with the other?
That's Yes, we're definitely applying to festivals, I think the next one, Tribeca, we are hopeful to be in Tribeca, which was our first film the business being born premiered at Tribeca as well. So
Mindy Cohn 17:00
I thought it was Southwest Ricky No, we'd
the people without South By God, that was that was the film in between and that was out of our wheelhouse. And that wasn't my medicine of cannabis wasn't really my issue is my issue. So that we kind of stumbled upon and we again, I'm super proud of that film. It is my husband's legacy. And so yes, so we're going to do the festival circuit, but we also are going to put it out this next year 21. We just don't know with with the way things work. Now with distribution. It's like, I don't know where it's gonna end up. But it'll end up somewhere.
Mindy Cohn 17:32
Yeah. And I guess what I want to talk to you about also is that I really kind of, again, look to you sometimes the way that you so seemingly effortlessly, I know you just say yes, but step back into acting, because that is kind of like you came to LA to do that. No,
I mean, I did. I did. And I don't love it. Like and I
Mindy Cohn 17:55
just don't love it anymore, or did you never really love it?
Oh, I loved it. Oh, I loved it. Yeah, that's what I thought, okay, on a set. Oh, my God and having a crush on the crew members that Oh, yeah. I mean, I love that lifestyle. Before I had children, you know, when and then I did the top chef for so long. And that lifestyle was even nicer. Having a real like, set schedule. I'm
Christian Brescia 18:15
like, gosh, I'm
30 I'd be done by five and it was just like, a dream job. And I'm also glad I don't do that anymore, you know, is asking me to fix like a situation where I'm it's a role that I'm super passionate about our director that really want to work with and yes, I would totally be open to it. I am not currently like out there exploring acting opportunities. No, I prefer producing I prefer being myself. Like, I think I'm better at being me. And I am pretending to be someone I'm not. But I've also been to reinventing myself. So like, I haven't acted in a really long time. I'm open you know, now that I'm like embracing my, like gray hair. And, you know, like it's like it works. I've had Yeah, I've had a real transformation this year. I've shaved my head. It's almost exactly a year ago, New Year's Eve day will be a year that I frickin took the buzzer and it was you know, one of those experiences I yeah, it was very personal. I put it out there. You know, and I don't know if I feel like I've I've changed a lot since that experience and I don't know how it's gonna manifest until I get another the next job. But I get off on reinventing myself improving myself in different ways. I love
Mindy Cohn 19:23
Yeah, Woody. So again, outside of your boyfriend What are you obsessed about right now? Is it this film? Have you are you like all in or what do you spend time thinking about God?
I mean, my house has been kind of like, annoyingly the obsession show annoying. I am the worst when it comes like Christian my partner was supposed to be the one doing all the design. That was his thing. I was gonna pay for it and I was going to like you know, and he was going to do all the picking and stuff. I it makes me cringe at choosing the nickel or the polished chrome or this or that or where do you want the toilet paper holder where what side how I literally can't, I can't. That is taking up a lot of my time on this relationship. I've been doing some political stuff very little not you know, I tried to do my part and getting the word out. What else? I don't know. See? I mean, it really has been like a survival mode for like many months, many months, I would describe it as like me being in a funk in my sweatpants watching msnbc. Yeah, constantly waiting for the break, you know. And so I, I don't know, I feel like I wasn't very inspired for a really long time. And I'm just starting to get my mojo back. You know, I think next year is going to be amazing. I really do. I'm very, very hopeful that I that no economy is going to turn around that that suffering will be less that, you know, whatever, I'm hopeful, and I wasn't feeling hopeful a few months ago, and I'm like, an eternal optimist. You know, well,
Mindy Cohn 20:53
good. Same ditto. But But at some point, also, like reality hits, you know, and I think at some point, even us terminal, you know, optimists have to, like, look around and see what's going on in the world.
And I was just hard. I mean, I hated that. I hated seeing that me, you know, it was because it's not me. You know, I never dealt with depression. I live to someone who is depressed, but I never really knew it was like to, to not be able to get out of bed, you know? Yeah. Yeah. And now
Mindy Cohn 21:19
we'll do just where you grew up, or how you grew up, filter through your aesthetic on like, how you make these films, or how you tell stories? does that have anything to do with it? Or is it just a whole nother, life feels like
a different life, it does feel like a different life, because I was never someone that would consider myself to be questioning the status quo. Like, I was not someone that was really political when I was young, even my show, which is so funny, like, you know, obviously, I'm pro choice, but I wasn't, I was kind of wishy washy with my opinion about things like I could be easily swayed, I was gullible, and I was easily swayed by someone's argument, you know, and I think I'd become more I think I'd become, you know, the older you get the more of a sense of self that you have, like, I definitely know myself and like myself more than I ever have. And I think that comes with age and life experience. Not trying to answer the question, did I answer your question? Yeah, it's
Mindy Cohn 22:12
not about that. It's really, you know, I try and just like, you know, just get people's opinions and thoughts up and out. And, and, you know,
yeah, that's I mean, to interrupt, you know, but like, when are you making these movies, you know, it's like, that making the business of being born stemmed from my, my witnessing 911 I was, you know, living downtown, in the West Village and saw the plane literally fly into the building. And that shifted my entire, like, intention of what I want to do in this business. Like, I really looked at my show after that on that day, and thought, you know, like, Okay, this is my legacy, like, mostly people screaming at each other. You know, mostly it was about nonsense, you know. And I thought to myself, if I lived through this day, I'm going to do something. I mean, I want my my name or my mark to be something that's really that matters. To me. That was important to me. And so yeah, that's my soul searched about what I cared about. And I was so impacted by my birth experience with midwives that I wanted to share that some way. So yeah, that really it really feeds my soul to do work now, that anonymously, educates. Yes. But like, it's thought provoking is meaningful, you know, as
Mindy Cohn 23:18
well. I remember when that film came out, nobody even talked about midwifery in so long or doulas. I mean, you were the first and save, I have to say, people forget when we the people came out. I mean, it was so in front of the conversations we just take for granted. Now. You know
what I'm saying? Yeah, I'm really proud of that, because we were talking about my, even my husband, back then he was looking into ketamine therapy for himself and his issues, but she doesn't 13 you know, which one it was so taboo, and now it's like, mainstream, it's socially accepted. It's it's scientifically proven, you know, it's like all these Yeah. So it's like, he was ahead of his time, and you have cannabis, we started that film in 2012. And it was crazy. And like, no one even knew what CBD was, then, you know, right. And, um, yeah, it's like, that's something Abby, my partner and I say, it's like, we were able to put our finger on the Zeitgeist of what people are going to be not just once. Yeah,
Mindy Cohn 24:11
I mean, you too, are quite dynamic duo.
I'm really excited for you to see the new one. The new one is just I can't wait. It's just important. You know, it's like we women, and why
Mindy Cohn 24:21
Where did this where did this one stem from?
Why did you choose say this that Holly grifball is a writer and she wrote this book called sweetening the pill. And so it really takes a look at the hard look at birth control and hormonal birth control and what it does to women. And so the film is loosely based on this book, okay. And it's the same kind of, you know, wheelhouse is like, this is being born, where it's like questioning the system. It's really not telling women what to do. It's really giving them that information in a mainstream way. And so, you know, yeah, you know, it's been an amazing tool for women from the 60s on to have autonomy when it comes to their bodies and freedom of health and choice. And, like it's been takeaway, there's been cons that we don't consider, because we don't have that time in our care provider to understand the pros and cons that it changes your personality.
Mindy Cohn 25:11
Well, and they didn't know when it start. I mean, they didn't know there were no test studies decades out.
Right? It would do, right. Really, it's just important. Like, it's just, you know, I don't have daughters, and I'm about to go through Paramount menopause, I haven't started it yet. Or at least I still get my period every. Maybe that's too much information for you, Christian. But, um, he's been
Mindy Cohn 25:31
my friend for 35 years. You think that's too much information? Yeah, but I was just 25
you can do damage by sharing information, you know, like, it can only help. And, you know, we need to be able to make informed choices when it comes to our bodies. Yeah. And particularly now, you know, and so we're not, we're not scaring women off the pill. The goal is not to do that. It's, it's we want more options. We want more options for people, and we want men to maybe have an option. Yes.
Mindy Cohn 26:00
Yeah. But also internationally. I think this, it'll be so interesting to see how other countries respond to a film like this. And a topic like this 100%
I'm excited. I can't wait for it. Yeah, it'll be controversial. And I think it'll get a lot of, you know, backlash good and bad, just like the business of being born. Did I mean, yeah, quite frankly, that was actually, you know, it was really shocking to like, scream that at my hospital where I delivered my first son in New York. And they screamed at us. I mean, they were deeply, deeply offended by what we were showing, but we were really showing what was going on. So
Mindy Cohn 26:34
yes. It's so fascinating to me that yeah, I mean, you mean to start a conversation, but that you really see people's true colors. It's
fascinating when you see when you see the reaction of like, you know, a cop, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, they came after me, you know, we knew we were onto something. And I feel like it's the same way with this birth control issue. But again, I'm coming from a place of informed choice, right? I want women to have access to all the options and then some and and to really know what they're taking and what it does what it can do to them, you know, yeah, so um, yeah, I think I feel like my side of the street is clean, even though I know it's stir and poking a tiger in some way.
Mindy Cohn 27:14
You're a storyteller. I mean, I really am a
truth seeker. I really am. And I'm not someone that's like highly educated or you know, like, I don't have any degrees but I'm curious and I'm like the every woman I still am, you know, it's like people grew up with me they feel comfortable with me, they relate to me, and I'm asking the questions that I think are worthy of asking you know,
Mindy Cohn 27:36
yeah, bravo. Face Thank you see you my play here so much for saying yes, it just Monday's with Mindy would not be complete. If we didn't get your tush in that seat. of us. You are alive. I look so forward to seeing you and hugging somebody new into yes and welcoming you into your new home. That is so well deserved. Yeah. Guys,
Christian Brescia 28:04
thank you so much for joining us. Ladies and gentlemen. The Fabulous Ricki Lake.
Christian Brescia 28:15
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