Jenny’s View: An exclusive interview with Jenny McCarthy
Posted On Sep 16, 2014
So you think you know Jenny McCarthy? Here, the gorgeous and authentic cohost of The View (and fiancee to Donnie Wahlberg) shows her warmth and wit while sharing her aspirations for the future.
BY Ruchel Louis Coetzee • PHOTOGRAPHY BY Fadil Berisha
YES, Jenny McCarthy is sinfully gorgeous. Her warm smile and honey hair are heaven on earth; hers are the sort of curves over which wars are fought. She is truly a pin-up for the modern age. Yet, the extraordinary outsides of this cover girl are just a hint of the beauty that resides within. Anyone who has watched her on The View or purchased her books will attest: McCarthy is a smart, sassy, and lovable personality, ever ready to skewer sacred cows. Supplanting the conception of a Playboy “Playmate of the Year” for a seat on The View is no small feat. It required absolute drive and determination. These are two of her finest traits, however: Within three years of her Playboy appearance, and despite the raised eyebrows of her Catholic family, she had snagged the host position on Singled Out, signed her own MTV sketch comedy show, and penned the first two of her 10 books. There were always naysayers. The director of Singled Out thought a blonde Playboy bimbo could never perform what the show asked of her, while her uncle practically disowned her over supposed shame she brought upon the family. Feedback of this sort would have inspired a weaker person to throw in the towel. But not McCarthy. Brave, astute, and forthright, her positive energy opened door after door. ¶ It was this energy that greeted me for our interview. With the photo shoot complete, we settled in and chatted like we’ve known each other forever.
NEW YOU: You’ve reinvented yourself many times. Does this come naturally?
Jenny McCarthy: It’s completely accidental. That’s why it works—because it’s authentic. I made a promise to myself in the beginning that I was just going to be me. If you don’t like it then I shouldn’t be in the business. You’ve got the lovers and you’ve got the haters, no matter what. As long as you’re yourself, at the end of the day you can go home and say, “I did it my way.”
NY: Does The View present the real Jenny?
JM: The job I had just before this was a VH1 late night cable show. It was super fun and loud, and that was the wild side of me. I remember thinking, “There’s so much more to me. I can’t wait to have intellectual conversations.” Then The View called. I said, “This is covering that side of me.” But it doesn’t capture all of me. There’s a spiritual side, a self-help part found in my books where I have that spiritual twist. That’s the third side of me.
NY: Would you say these three sides sum up all there is to say about Catholic girls?
JM: Yes, it does. People ask, “Why did you go through all this? You were such a good girl in school.” When I got to college, all bets were off. It felt so good to break a rule. I think it stems from being caught up in a box in school. When I got to college and started smoking pot and did some mushrooms, I felt like a wild child. Fortunately, I partied my ass off enough in college that by the time I got to Hollywood, I was able to be one of those girls who keeps making it in my career and stays out of the bad crowd.
NY: Were you disappointed that you left college before you graduated?
JM: I’m still disappointed. I’ve finished books, so I know how to finish a project. College feels like homework that I left incomplete. I just want to go back and complete the remaining two years. I will probably switch from nursing to special education because that was the goal.
NY: You’ve mentioned that you were nervous about public speaking when you were younger, yet you are on The View today. How did you overcome that nervousness?
JM: I learned to run towards fear. No matter how scared I am, I keep going. I may throw up, and I may shake, but do I survive? Do I fail sometimes? Yes. Am I shaking on camera? Do I look embarrassed? Yes. But I keep on going. It’s just keeping one foot in front of the other until eventually I get a little more comfortable. I still get a little nervous, but I just won’t let fear get in the way of my goals.
NY: What do you think that fear is about?
JM: “Scared of success” and “scared of failure” are two different things. I’ve been scared of both. I was scared of failing and disappointing my parents, and I was also scared of being a success and not knowing why I was a success.
NY: Is there anything you have not yet proven to yourself?
JM: I would say standup comedy. I started a standup tour with other women [Dirty Sexy Funny], and I’m slowly but surely getting on stage and doing more jokes. I’d like to accomplish that before I die.
NY: To many people, the byline is still: Jenny McCarthy, Playmate. Isn’t that old by now?
JM: I was thinking about the last episode we did with Barbara Walters on The View. I was sitting next to Oprah, with Diane Sawyer and Maria Shriver behind me. I thought, “Oh wow, look where I am.” When I first moved out to L.A. and I was a Playmate, I’d be asked, “What do you want to do?” I’d reply, “Comedy.” They’d say, “Honey, that’s funny. A Playmate in a comedy? That’s never going to happen.” But then I was on Singled Out. Later, I said I wanted to write a book and they said, “That’s hilarious. No one would pick up your book.” Now, I have 10 books. I almost enjoy the challenge. You tell me I can’t do it? Guess what—I’m the rule-breaker.
NY: You’re newly engaged to Donnie Wahlberg. What is the magic of that relationship?
JM: He’s my mirror. Things were always unbalanced in my previous relationships— I’ve either been a teacher or a student. With Donnie, we’re just equal. I have my own identity and goals and he has his, yet we’re so similar we work on them together.
NY: How did you deal in previous relationships, when someone would try to bring you down?
JM: Let me go back to my files of boys that have tried to bring me down. My therapist once told me that I was good at bleaching red flags white. They would insult me and try to make me feel bad about myself, and I would bleach it by saying to myself, “Maybe he’s right.” At this point, I’ve gotten good at seeing red flags. I believe the reason I attracted Donnie is because I went one year without a man. After my last relationship, I said I’ve been having the same movie with different actors. I’m going to stop for one year and reset. In this year, I’m going to learn about me, know that I can live by myself, and know that I don’t need a lover to have love in my life. After a year, I said, “OK, I’m ready when he comes.” Donnie came through that. He is the perfect mirror. Until you learn to love yourself alone—and complete—you can’t have a fulfilling relationship.
NY: As public figures, how do you and Donnie keep each other grounded?
JM: We both became famous at a very young age. We’re both Irish Catholic. We each saved our families, moving them out of the bad neighborhoods and putting them in the good neighborhoods. We both let our parents retire young, gave everything until we went broke, then had to start over with no career for a little while. We both built ourselves back up. That’s why I say he’s a mirror. We’ve proven to ourselves that the only thing you can take with you is love, and everything else is just the journey.
NY: Donnie and you are both already parents. Would you say you are the wicked stepmommy or the happy stepmommy?
JM: I’m the happy stepmommy. I’ve always had fortune-tellers and palm readers and psychics tell me that I was going to have three kids. I always thought, Why didn’t I have three kids? After Donnie and I became serious, I said to myself, “My God, he’s got two kids and I have one! I’m going to have three kids if we get married.” I love his children and he loves Evan very much. We’re lucky because it is a packaged deal.
NY: How is your son, Evan?
JM: He’s the wisest, most loving, beautiful teacher I have ever had. He is my Buddha. NY: You’ve said that Hollywood has been like a school ground. Do you still feel that way? JM: It was, and it trained me. There are bullies like the ones in school. I’ve toughened up, and now it takes a lot to bring me down. I am terrified the day Evan gets Twitter. I see so many people being mean. When I meditate, I envision people waking up. It feels as if people have been asleep and everyone needs to wake up and have a big change.
NY: How can your girlfriends help you through a tough time, such as when your character comes under attack?
JM: You have to be strong enough as a woman to voice your opinion, and some- times you can get really beat up. I’ve watched Sherri and Whoopi since I started on The View. They know as soon as they say something. They’ll go, “Oh no…” which means: Just wait. Twitter hate is going to happen. They know that there is no gray area in anything. People are either with you or against you, and if you take a position and people don’t agree with it, they can hate you for life. When really, it’s just a position you hold, that has nothing to do with your personal self.
NY: You’ve said that you have the appetite of a truck driver—although to look at you, that’s hard to believe. How do you keep your figure?
JM: I have to watch it, believe it or not. I was 211 pounds when I was pregnant with Evan, and I love food—I’m constantly eating at least five meals a day. So, I get on that treadmill and jog for 45 minutes.
NY: You’ve recently become affiliated with this great, energy-boosting dietary supplement called Skinny Stix. How has that product helped you keep your enviable hourglass?
JM: Skinny Stix are really convenient—especially when unwanted cravings come around. I just mix it in a water bottle and take it with me. Not only does it taste great, it gives me the energy boost I need when I’m on the go.
NY: That said, what is your favorite diet-out-the- window snack?
JM: Deep-dish Chicago pizza and chocolate shakes. Oh yeah!
NY: You are very forthright about so many sensitive subjects, which is one of our favorite things about you. What advice would you have appreciated, back when you had your breast implants the first time as a young woman?
JM: Don’t do them. I had great boobs. I was with a bunch of girlfriends who found a doctor that was very inexpensive. They said, “You can’t go wrong with 1,500 bucks for boobs.” I wish I had listened to that doctor, who said I had perfectly fine boobs. It’s probably the only thing I regret.
NY: How do you feel about plastic surgery?
JM: I am completely for whatever makes anybody feel better about themselves. I definitely like movement in my face, as well as seeing myself get older in the mirror. But I do also know that there needs to be maintenance when you’re on television. It’s tough when you have to think of your job, and maintain a certain kind of shine.
NY: Another great thing about you is how open you are, and willing to discuss the strange, often-hilarious realities of sex. Do you think we should be more open about discussing the topic with our children?
JM: I have a funny story about Evan. I told him two years ago that sex was foot rubs, thinking he is too young. About three months ago, I was looking at his iPad. He said, “Don’t go into my photos—there are inappropriate photos in there!” I was like, “Thank you for telling me, I have to look at them.” He said, “Well, don’t get mad.” I started clicking through the photos and all I see are foot rubs—Selena Gomez getting her foot rubbed by Justin Bieber. I thought, Oh my God, he’s going to have a foot fetish. I sat him down and had a talk with him, and told him he has an open book to talk to me about sex, and anything else, and that if he doesn’t he is in trouble.
NY: Do you feel that sex is important for women at every stage of life?
JM: Well, I’m a Scorpio and for us, intimacy is everything. Our expression is through sex, so if I don’t share that I feel a little lost. I actually need it. I think people should be having sex until the day they die.
NY: Do you get mad or sad when somebody still thinks of you as a bimbo Playmate?
JM: I just feel sorry for them. They’re missing out on the best parts.
NY: Since you seem to be an absolute chameleon, where is Jenny McCarthy in 20 years?
JM: Believe it or not, I think I’m still on The View. I love the show. I’m doing so much work to improve myself—signing up for critical thinking courses and doing all my media training. I want to be at the top of my game, and when I’m 60 I want to still have a face that moves. I want to have beautiful, healthy grandkids and still have Donnie be the hunky love of my life.
NY: What don’t we know about you?
JM: Once you get to know me, you see that I’m a human being. People need to look beyond the headlines and know that there’s a real kind of human being here, who is soulful, loving, caring, and wants the best for people.