Lenora is a casting director, TV producer, art curator, and victim’s rights advocate. Vice called her the “Erin Brockovich of stalking.” I met her when she was working on a documentary about flatulence, which partially explains why she is here. She has produced a show called GOLDEN GIRLS GONE WILD which featured erotic depictions of the Golden Girls. And Heeb magazine once called her the top 10 up and coming Jews in comedy.
Listen to Episode #33 here:
Lenora Claire The “Erin Brockovich Of Stalking”
Our guest is Lenora Claire. Lenora is a casting director, TV producer, art curator and Victims’ Rights Advocate. Vice called her the Erin Brockovich of Stalking. I met her when she’s working on a documentary about flatulence, which partially explains why she’s here. She’s produced a show called Golden Girls Gone Wild, which features erotic depictions of the Golden Girls. Heed Magazine once called her the top ten and up and coming Jews in comedy. Welcome, Lenora.
It sounds so impressive when you put it all together. I wish I could hire you to be my hype man. When I enter the room, you give all my stuff.
I don’t have a lot going for me, but I think I have a good voice. If you weren’t working as a casting director, a TV producer, an art curator or a Victims’ Rights advocate among some of the other things that you do, what would you be doing with your life?
I’m probably a primate trainer. I have a friendship with the Capuchin monkey of fifteen years. I taught her how to talk. She can go back and forth with me. I had a special connection with animals and specifically little monkeys.
You have a full schedule. How do you make friends with a monkey and teach the monkey how to talk, and then have this as a backup?
With everything, there’s a story after the story. Fifteen years ago, a friend of mine was getting married. Most of my friends were male and so they wanted to have a bachelor party. I was the only woman that was invited. The guys were like, “We feel like a creep if we got a stripper. We don’t want to do that anyway. We are not into that stuff. What’s better than a stripper?” Someone’s like, “Let’s get a monkey.” I was like, “That’s awesome.” I was at the party and I was the only woman. I’ve always loved monkeys. The monkey, we super connected. She was getting the female thing. We super bonded and I told her owner, “You’re stuck with me. We’ve made friends.”
Over the years we developed a nice friendship. I call it Mo’ Monkey, Mo’ Problems. She’ll come over to my place and she likes to eat Cheetos. Sometimes there will be a little tiny monkey hand and Cheeto dust left on the black bedding thing. It’s been a beautifully evolving relationship. I actually was so inspired by her that I want to do a web series called America’s Next Top Monkey. I’ve taught her so many things. She lives in a monkey house like the Top Model house where six monkeys were all together in bunk beds. I’m not making that up. Some monkeys shine a little brighter. She’s the superstar of all these monkeys. I have little Farrah Fawcett wigs for her. I taught her how to wear lipstick. Most of the stories I tell you, I’m going to sound insane, but I always have evidence about it that I’m not actually insane.
Where is the monkey house?Everybody has a story. Nobody is as they appear. Click To Tweet
The monkey house is actually out of LA proper because there’s no zoning. This is how deep in monkey roll I am. The only private house that had monkey zoning is the Playboy Mansion. My friend, Grace, who is stunning is the monkey handler at the Playboy mansion. After Hef died, I think it’s the closest family or somebody. She still trains and helps the monkeys that live on that house. Otherwise, you can’t have it in your private home, which you wouldn’t want to. Honestly, I’ve never had that happen. Zuni is a civilized lovely little lady, but I’ve never witnessed her flinging poo.
I’ve never been to the Playboy Mansion. You’ve been to the Playboy Mansion.
I grew up here and I work with Olivia who’s the legendary pin-up artist who does art for Playboy for 30 years. I’ve modeled for her. When Bettie Page died, I carried an exhibit with her estate in her honor. I worked with Olivia. I got to actually have dinner with Hef. It was cool and everything when he was still around and it’s hard to see all that.
Is it going to be a museum do you think?
I think a private family got it or his heirs or whatever. I think they’re probably going to enjoy it.
Let’s talk about casting because that came up early. I never met a casting director aside from you. What is that like? I definitely have seen you post stuff. Tell me what that world is like.
I specify that I do reality casting. I don’t do scripted. That’s what I do. In some ways, it actually made me a better person in life. Over the eight years that I’ve been doing it, I’ve done literally thousands of interviews, where a stranger comes in and I sit down. My father was a psychiatrist. It’s almost like a psych intake. I get somebody for an hour and a half to break them down and figure them out, what makes them tick and push the buttons and everything. Prior to doing this whenever I see people in the world, there were dots in the landscape. Since I’ve done over a thousand of interviews, I realize everybody has a story. Nobody is as they appear. It has made me kinder in some ways because I see the humanity in the connective tissue of it all.
My niche if you will is that extreme subculture and offbeat people. I’m good at getting them to open up to me and trust me. I’ve done shows like Taboo on Nat Geo. I put some very extreme people on television. If you’re familiar with Biohackers, they’re fascinating. They’re people who read a lot of sci-fi. They want the future. They want it now. They’re self-made cyborgs. They’re not doctors and they’re not scientists. They’re people who create this technology. They put it on open source stuff that people can go back and forth. For example, they created this device where you implant it in your own skin. It reads your blood pressure and temperature then sends texts to your phone. They had this media blackout. I was able to get them on the show. I was proud of that because they were fascinating, plus all kinds of alternative lifestyles. I’ve done Dr. Drew Rehab. If anybody’s curious, they can look it up on IMDb. There are lots of weird stuff and great stories.
You’re clearly big into this because when I Googled you to get information, your IMDb page is your first page that shows up. What would you cast me? What reality show would you need me for or am I too boring?
Oftentimes the people that make the most compelling television may not necessarily be the people we want to have at the dinner party. I’ve actually turned people away, “Kid, you’re too young. Your mom will hate me. Go home.” I’ve done that. It’s somebody who is the most dynamic, gregarious, whatever version of the archetype. For me personally, what I enjoy in doing this is I like to give legitimacy. Ideally, by finding the best and brightest example of whatever this thing is, they can be a marginalized and misunderstood person. A voice which is the best feeling and you go, “People can understand what it is like to live in a polyamorous relationship.” I have shown a lovely person who you would totally invite to a dinner party. The worst thing if we can be honest about it is sometimes you make a stupid person famous. I try not to take those shows.
This is why you’re saying no to me.
I also have to go to bed at night so I want to work on projects that contribute something to society and don’t cost more garbage out there. I probably would take a show that you would be appropriate for. Something cool, something that would make sense. I have done everything.
Let’s talk about these interviews. You’re probing and breaking people down. Are you purposely difficult at times?
If I have to be, I don’t choose to be. My boss and my mentor, he’s amazing. He casts such things as Jersey Shore. He’s a legend. That’s my mentor. I’m so lucky to have started with him and he’s an incredible person. I was talented at making people cry in under three minutes, which you shouldn’t be as proud of as I am, but really what it comes down to is finding humanity. It’s looking at someone and being able to read them. I’m trying to be careful. Sometimes we sign indecent stuff. I’d be a little careful about the shows. It’s going to sound so manipulative. I don’t mean it to be. I do sometimes become what I need someone to be. I have bright red hair. I don’t look the most conservative. It’s nice because you get on Skype more often than not because we’re casting people all over the country. They will look at me and then they can project whatever they want. There’s something about me. I’m super square. I’ve never even smoked a cigarette in my life. People don’t know that.
When I was casting up Dr. Drew Rehab because of my hair, people thought like, “I could tell you used to be a party girl.” I’m like, “Sure.” The reason is I’m not judgmental. Even though I read and wasn’t this wild crack-smoking party girl that they thought that I maybe had been, they certainly felt comfortable telling me their story. That was valuable in that circumstance. I do a lot of shows. I’m talking about humor. There’s no way I could have grown up funny. You’ll never hear about this dual specialty. My father was a urologist and then later a psychiatrist. He specialized in sex therapy here in LA because there’s a lot of need for that. There are lots and lots of weird stories about that and growing up and having this quirky viewpoint of the world. I definitely feel that I still have my father. We’re up to a DSM-5 now, but I still have my dad’s DSM-4 under my bed. I’m very good at understanding personality disorders and sometimes how to interact with certain people and to know what’s going on. Sometimes it’s between the lines of people actually say.
You’re doing an interview. You’re selecting people based on criteria. Having someone who can be a personality, you need this from reality television. Was there a time where you think that person’s problems are too profound that they wouldn’t be a good professional?We have to evaluate how we treat crimes where usually property values seem more valuable than human life. Click To Tweet
We’re very responsible. I worked in a lot of shows where if there’s something that’s questionable, we even have them do a psych evaluation. There are terrible stories even before I started a reality. There was the Jenny Jones murder that whole thing that went on. When somebody came on and said that it was a gay man who had a crush on a straight man who was unable to handle this and he murdered him, that happened. Of course, there’s no way of predicting that particular thing. There was also Megan Wants a Millionaire. There was a spin-off of one of the VH1 reality shows. Megan got a show and one of the guys who were vying for her, he had actually murdered his girlfriend. They found her and identified her by her breast implant ID while the show is airing and they had to cut it. I definitely work on shows that people are responsible. If there is a question about somebody’s well-being that they’re not put in that position. We do our best to be as responsible as we can be.
If you were to coach someone who’s going through casting, what can I do to prepare for an interview with you?
The first thing is never say anything that is not true. Sometimes we’ll say things that they think the casting director wants to hear, but ultimately if you’re put on a show and you’re portraying something that you’re not, it’s a bad idea for everybody so just be honest. Either you’re right and you’re not, because I cast for so many damn things, you’ll be right for something else later on and I’ll remember you. That also goes to people who are worried about editing. Don’t do the dumb thing, don’t say the damn thing to begin with then no one is going to use it. Be self-aware of your actions. Definitely people who are charismatic, it’s always a good thing. It’s funny the notes I’ve had, even if it’s something where you wouldn’t think a person had to be charismatic. On TV, if you are low in energy, it reads that and no one wants to watch that. Whatever it is you’re talking about, be excited. It’s you on Red Bull.
How do you record keep? Do you have an Excel file?
Google Docs for days and my mind. What’s weird is I have this almost encyclopedic mind when it comes to personality. If somebody is incredible, I bank it in my mind. If someone did a show about circus performers, I know so many that over the years that I was like, “These are wonderful people.” I have a Rolodex in my mind. I’m good still at remembering that. On the flip side, when I was single, I see people out on the street. I wouldn’t know guys if I audition them or if I saw them on Tinder. I didn’t know. I’ll awkwardly smile and walk away. If someone’s an extraordinary person, even if you’re not right when you come in, I do remember you. There are people that have that star thing, that quality. That je ne sais quoi, that thing. You remember those people and call them back later.
Speaking of dark, we should definitely talk about this. I met you several years ago.
Before I was public. It was happening, but I wasn’t public.
You were being stalked.
It’s still ongoing. I’ll tell the story. Back in 2011, I opened up an art gallery. I was named one of the LA Weekly People of the Year, which is a lovely honor. It’s the town I’m from. I had no idea that there was a schizophrenic man. I want to say, first of all, I do not stigmatize anybody with mental illness. My father’s a psychiatrist. I bring this up because it’s relevant to my story. I also don’t think that all schizophrenic people are a danger. It’s that my stalker is a danger. I have to preface everything by saying that. There was a schizophrenic man named Justin Massler who legally had his name changed to Cloud Starchaser. When I say that, that is his name. He has been stalking Ivanka Trump out in New York. I’m living my life in LA. This is also the 2011 Trump. It’s a very different world. He’s been stalking her out there. He was arrested multiple times. He tried to kill himself in her store. He jumped bail and come to Los Angeles. He opened up a magazine and saw me. He was like, “I like this one.” He shows up to my art gallery in a space suit. I thought he was funny because I have a high tolerance for art shenanigans. I engaged with him. I talked to him. Things are fine and then he looks at me and he goes, “You remind me of Jessica Rabbit.” I was like, “I hear that sometimes. Thank you.” He’s like, “You remind me of Leeloo from the Fifth Element and you’re a supreme being. I’m going to stalk you.” I was like, “What?” It happened so quick. He told me that to my face. I thought it was bizarre and I kicked him out of the gallery. I didn’t think anything of it.
A couple days later, my friends are telling me that it’s been on blogs and news and stuff that he had been extradited I think by bounty hunters. I’m not sure because that’s what happened with the Trumps. He stood trial and went to Rikers where he started sending me handwritten notes to my gallery. The first year, they were bizarre. They weren’t threatening at that point. It was sad, more than anything. Then it started escalating to rape and death threats. I started to get concerned. I called the police and they said, “You don’t even know where he is.” I started to learn that while I would have been granted a restraining order, it’s the serving that’s difficult. People don’t understand that they haven’t gone through this that all you could do is evade the process. Maybe don’t answer your door or in this case, if you’re someone who jumps addresses and you don’t have an address, how do you even serve a person?
He can claim, “I didn’t know.”
Yes, because he hadn’t been served. I wasn’t able to serve him. He had sent my boss a very explicit death threat. All my co-workers had Googled him and saw he tried to kill himself in Ivanka’s store. There is a history of workplace violence. This is not going well. Then I go to the police in LA. I come in with stack but at this point, it was so much evidence of death and rape threats. He had a website about killing and raping me. This is all out there plus a history of committing this offense. I thought, “This is going to be a slam dunk.” LAPD Northeast Division said to me, “Why don’t you dye your hair so you won’t be so noticeable and go off the internet?” I was like, “I work in TV and this is bullshit.” I called my friend, Bill Jensen, who he actually finished the Michelle McNamara book about the Golden State Killer. I’m so proud of him but this is my old friend. He got me on a show called Crime Watch Daily, a CW crime show. I went on telling my story. He teamed me up with this amazing woman, Rhonda Saunders, who she was the ADA who after Rebecca Schaeffer was murdered in ’89, she wrote not only the first laws in California but the entire country against stalking. She’s incredible. I teamed up with her. I was like, “Rhonda, I have some ideas.”
What year were these laws?
They were all put into effect I believe in 1991. They were barely updated since. Think about what a different world we live in. The first thing I presented to her was, “What if we had the ability to serve restraining order via email because you can work with people. There are different ways to verify that you, in fact, read an email. Plus, there’s legal precedent. There’s a foreclosure notice you can get a re-email. If we have precedent, why can’t we do this?” She’s like, “Very interesting.” I said, “What about a federal stalking registry?” The states don’t work together. You can have 40 restraining orders against you and nobody is red flagging you as problematic.
I just want to go on record there.
Of course, there are all the things with doxing and everything. My head is spinning. This is all terrible. No one’s helping me. I’m getting these death and rape threats. My life has just gone to hell.The secret to success is to just be authentic; a rare quality. Click To Tweet
At this point in time, I assumed you moved?
Who can afford to move? There’s a lot that they don’t realize. It’s causing me problems at my job. At that point, I didn’t date for years because I can’t sit down and go, “By the way, first dates are awkward. I have a stalker who wants to kill me every day of my life.” I literally wake up every morning and I have tens of thousands of emails from him. I know because I’m doing the discovery in the case. I would wake up and part of my routine was to check the IP. I knew vaguely where he was because he bounces around the country. His wealthy parents threw money at him. I would have to go, “He’s in a different state. I can breathe.” If he was in California, I’m in high alert. This is my life for years on top of all the other bad things going on in life, this madness that I had to live with. Then it got worse.
I’m friends with Pauley Perrette who left NCIS. She’s a wonderful lady. We’ve known for a long time. She also has a stalking situation. We started working together and she introduced me to Congressman Schiff who’s an amazing person. Oddly enough, this is my local congressman at this point. He’s not House Intelligence Committee Congressman Schiff. We sat down with him and I was so impressed. He’s such a brilliant mind and so quick. Even here in LA, there’s a rape testing kit facility in Glendale that only exists because he already grants it. He’s a wonderful person. I told him everything and all these ideas. He’s a former prosecutor. Even for someone who understands the law, he just didn’t understand the specifics of how poorly these crimes are handled.
I told him my ideas and he was into it and he took a bunch of them to the Department of Justice, which is great, except what ended up happening was that this may not be the administration that cares so much about crimes that largely happen to women. Even though the irony is that I share a stalker with his daughter. I started filming what was a two-hour special for 48 Hours where they did my story. While they were filming it, LAPD was telling me, “We can’t.” My stalker eventually got served the restraining order and he violated it immediately. That’s the other thing, restraining orders don’t necessarily work. It’s not like police go in like Die Hard with helicopters to go serve a person.
That type of person who stalks is not the person that goes, “I should stop. I have a restraining order.”
I want to differentiate the difference between maybe a bad breakup or someone that’s a creep and calls you too much for a couple of weeks and goes away to actual stalking. These are different things. You have to not be well if you’re truly stalking someone. Also, my stalker talks like the Joker. He says stuff like, “No jail can hold me.” We start filming in 48 Hours. LAPD is saying, “We can’t find him.” I’m like, “Really? Because he’s sending me videos that I sent to you at the Santa Monica Youth Hostel. You’re not picking him up.” I’m getting annoyed. 48 Hours has a young intern who sees that he has his phone number on the website where he talks about killing me and calls it. It gets them on FaceTime. Anyone who doubted my story because some people did, they’re like, “You’re making it up.” You can watch 48 hours. You can see my stalker being interviewed in FaceTime, losing his mind making threats to me. This shifts where America is like, “We believe you.”
It’s amazing how much video changes everything.
Then 48 Hours realized this is real. Kris Mohandie who’s a leading forensic psychologist, they had him on the show. He’s like, “She’s right. He’s a danger.” He validated what I’m saying. They got him kicked up in Utah. He was put in a mental facility. I was like, “Finally, I’m not getting rape and death threats every day. What a wonderful world.” It wasn’t until about a week later which was a week after the election. I’m walking my dog. I got a call from LAPD and Secret Service. Why are they calling me? It turns out my stalker had escaped the mental institution. It was a different state, nobody thought to notify me until a week later. I could have been murdered and no one told me.
I don’t know what your audience feel, but I will say what I said out loud was, “I may be the one person to benefit from this Trump presidency. I won the stalking lottery. I share my stalker with his daughter. They’re going to go get him.” I went on my Facebook and I was like, “As much as he is after me, Trump is now president.” Sure enough, he was caught a block away from Trump Tower. He might as well be in New York during the probation terms. When he goes to jail and I’m thinking, “He’s going to be there.” I got six weeks and he was out and sending me death threats. By this point, I have a boyfriend. He’s a lawyer. He’s sending stuff to his office. I’m under high stress because he’s now in LA. He’s telling he’s looking for me. He went to my friend’s salon and left notes. He’s going to places where my friends work looking for me. This is terrifying. He sends me an email and said, “I’m going to come and kidnap you.” We have a Comicon here in LA, Comikaze, and my friends own it. He didn’t know that. I hit up my friends who owned it and I was like, “He’s going to be there.” They set up a sting. Sure enough, he shows up. They have security hold him down, along with what I’ve heard a bunch of cosplay dudes. A lot of Batmans and Supermans holding him down.
They’re letting them experience a true fantasy.
He’s taken by LAPD and put into holding where he was then served with restraining orders. You can look this up by the Kardashians who I actually had some involvement with their security team. They were nice because I knew he was stalking them. Out of nowhere, Gwyneth Paltrow slaps him with a restraining order because he tried to get her kids from school and I do not know that. She’s in the mix. On January 8th is supposed to be the original trial and they said he was mentally unfit. I’m just waiting until we can go ahead and do this thing. I can do my own discovery. There are so many pieces of information that are very intense. What people don’t realize is that there’s not a lot of time given for these crimes. It took me six years for me to even get what happened to me elevated to a felony. It was considered a misdemeanor for the longest time.
I made a lot of friends like as you mentioned Vice calls me the Erin Brockovich of Stalking. I’ve helped a lot of people get restraining orders. I give advice. I’m not a lawyer, my boyfriend is, but I do my best of my experience and listen to people and I’m helping them as much as I can. I have a friend who her stalker didn’t get jail time for threatening to shoot her and her kid in the head. He was caught because he threw red paint on her car. That was felony vandalism. That tells us that property values are more valuable than human life. We have to evaluate how we treat these crimes. Also in California, there’s a proposition and I forget the number that passed years ago, but that was very misleading. It said to people like, “Let’s get people who are nonviolent offenders to reduce sentencing,” which sounds great. I get the potheads. I don’t care. What they don’t explain to you is there are a lot of crimes which are considered nonviolent offenses, which are in fact violent.
There hasn’t been violence or threat of violence.
Most stalking isn’t considered violent. There was a lot of sexual assault ones that don’t fall under violent. They plea bargain down, they don’t get enough anyway and now they’re getting reduce sentencing. I was told that for everything that I’ve been through, I’m lucky if he actually serves two years.
As an up and coming Jew in comedy according to Heed Magazine, do you find that you’ve used your sense of humor to cope with this?
I’m here making jokes about the whole thing. That’s the only way that I can do it. It’s a bizarre feeling when you’re called up because every time you get a restraining order, you get called up and they’re like, “Claire versus Starchaser.” Everyone in the courtroom looks to me like I’m batshit. I have to stand up and go, “It started when he was wearing a space suit while he stalks Ivanka.” Everyone looks at me like I’m crazy. There’s no way to not have a sense of humor even though I’m legitimately afraid for my life. Worse yet he threatens to kill me with creating this mass incident. I’m worried about other people. That’s a terrifying feeling. While I have this humor about it, don’t think I’m not terrified. Culturally, my father would always say that it was a Jew thing. He goes through enough genocide. There’s a reason there are so many Jewish comedians, you get through it with humor.If you speak about your passions with conviction, others will come with you. Click To Tweet
I don’t think that these things have to be mutually exclusive. The fact is that it’s a sign of health to be able to transform fear into comedy or anger into comedy. I had a previous podcast interview with a former Army pilot. He talked at length about the war in Afghanistan and these places. A lot of people who are seeing it from the outside don’t understand how you can both be laughing and terrified at the same time. To me as someone who has mixed emotions that makes a perfect sense.
I’ll tell you it’s hopeful too because I’ve done so much media about this. If I went in and hammer people with facts and with sadness, it would be different but I come in I’m like, “Let me put on a show while I tell you this thing.” I think it’s easier for people to alleviate some of the heaviness.
As I think about it, you’re doing PR, you’re doing publicity. You’re trying to move and you want journalists to cover it and you want people to be moved by it. You want politicians to put in laws and so on. Being attention-getting, being provocative is a good strategy. You have that in space. You’re a media personality.
Which I was, before all this. That’s the other thing I want to talk about too. I feel like I’d be a jerk if I didn’t do this. I’m being typical with this crime. I’m a non-celebrity that has this celebrity-type stalker. I want to be clear about it. It’s usually relationships gone wrong with a lot of domestic violence overlap. Those people can’t come forward the way that I can. When you have a child with a person who is abusing you and doing all the stuff, it’s a luxury that I have but that they don’t have. I’m media-trained. The fact that I was able to call Bill Jensen and be like, “Put me on TV. I’m mad.” Most people don’t have that. I want to use the fact that I have a platform and I know how to work this. One of the New York papers made the headlines something like, “She wants to have her nails done with Ivanka.” I was like, “That’s fine.” I’d do an interview with Cat Fancy. I don’t care. If I can’t get somebody to listen and like, “We need to talk about this,” yes, for sure.
I don’t know anything about this world. There’s an interaction between the victim and the stalker in some way. There is some connection there at least even if the stalker picked you out of a magazine and made contact in some way. Is there anything that’s constant or typical across stalking incidents? It’s mostly men doing the stalking.
It’s 7.5 million Americans is the current stat that we know. It’s much more common than people realize. It’s a very subtle epidemic. It happens to everybody. I’m not comfortable giving you a number because I don’t know the number. What I witnessed is it’s overwhelmingly men. It doesn’t mean women don’t do it. It’s overwhelming. There are different reasons. There are some who have what’s called erotomania, where they have a false relationship with their victim, which is what my situation is. Sometimes he thinks I’m his wife or his girlfriend. That’s not true at all. Other times, it’s very intense narcissistic personality disorder. I can’t get over it. They’ve got to obtain it, own it or control. My stalker, for example, is also schizophrenic. Something as simple as me posting a photo on my Instagram out of a party, he’ll send me a message that says, “You have magic powers and you’re not using your magic powers. You’re just dicking around at a party. I need to kidnap you to harness your powers to go fight ISIS.” It’s a very complex thing. The majority is relationships that have gone wrong.
Let’s talk about art. You grew up in LA. When did you get involved in art?
Art is supposed to make you think and feel. I was always that weird art kid at school.
Were you in the theater?
I was. It was so embarrassing. I was in the show choir with the bow tie and the whole thing. I was also super Goth. I took a wedding dress dyed black. I buried it for six months and wore it to school. Then I started curating art shows at about 21 years old. It was so much fun for me. I had my first big hit with Golden Girls Gone Wild. 2,000 people came. I was on TMZ and NPR. Even my boyfriend who’s not impressed by anything, he was like, “Don’t tell me.” All of the things that I’ve done in my life, that was very impressive to him. Literally, nothing impresses him. He’s an entertainment lawyer. He’s seen it all, nothing but for whatever reason, he thought it was very cool.
The humor stuff gets a lot of media play. The only three things that get me emails from friends or acquaintances was Joe Rogan, Marc Maron and NPR. Those are the three that people go, “I heard you’re on NPR.” You curated the first time at 21. I want to ask about curating because it’s related to some research that I’ve been working on. What’s the fundamental lesson, tip, trick, idea behind curation? What’s your secret in curating?
First, you’ve got to understand artists because they’re a complex bunch. The reason why I enjoyed curating to start with is I met some of the artists who were so talented, but I call them brilliant in their bedroom because they were so gifted but they have no salesmanship. They had no idea how to do any of that. I was like, “Why are you doing genius work that nobody sees?” I’ve got a big mouth. For me, it’s promoting people who I find talented who don’t have a voice. Whatever thing I’m doing, it all makes sense when you step back and look at it. I’m good at coming up with funny names or quirky titles because I’m also an entertainment journalist. I was doing that. That was my day job like Golden Girls Gone Wild. The reason why that started was I interviewed Julie Newmar. We’ve become friends since. She’s turning 75 and she’s still very beautiful. She’s stunning. She looks amazing.
I read this article about seeing sexuality and how there was this huge incidence of seniors in nursing homes getting STDs. They come from a generation that didn’t use condoms or not getting pregnant and they’ve lost their partner or spouse and they are just like, “Why not?” I was like, “They really are doing it.” Then I started thinking, “This is amazing. Senior sexuality. I want to do something with this, but I don’t know what.” As luck would have it, I went on eBay to buy Golden Girls DVDs. I saw this nude oil portrait of Bea Arthur, “I had to buy this.” I put it over my bed.
What does that cost?
I bought it for $100. It’s the best $100 in my life. I put it over my bed. When people would come over, they would look at it and freak out. I was like, “If you can’t get down with B, you can’t get down with me. Get out.” I was like, “Why is this so freaky?” People were genuinely disturbed by it. Senior sexuality is a very interesting topic. Then I thought Golden Girls Gone Wild. I have 40 artists to do things on the theme. One of the pieces was the Golden Shower Girls. You could do that if you want, or a beautiful classic piece. It was everywhere. I realized if I create the nonsense and I get these talented artists to contribute, it works out for everybody. I sold every piece opening night. It benefits everyone. It’s creating a community. People came dressed up as the Golden Girls. A week into the show this woman, it’s her 80th birthday. She bought the box wine with all of her friends. It was her birthday party. Then I had a story when I did it in Miami, which was amazing. It was at the World Erotic Art Museum in Miami.
I’ve been to this sex museum in Amsterdam.Embrace the different and you’re going to have a more enjoyable life. Click To Tweet
I did the show there and there were a bunch of senior swingers who left the colony to come and meet me. I was like, “This was the closest of me being a Beatle. They come off the plane, they meet me. This is amazing. It validates somebody’s lifestyle and it makes people understand and appreciate. This is all fun for me.”
Is there something online I can put in the exhibits for the Golden Girls?
My friend does the dirty show out in Detroit. My friend, Jerry Vile, asked me to do it and I was like, “All right.” Ten years later, I might end up doing it again. If anyone has a weird idea of who wants to get it on, find me on my website. Probably, we’ll bring it back at some point. I’m throwing parties again. I’m doing a party called Sad and Boujee, which is like goth meets hip-hop brunch. I want to get communities that maybe don’t hang out together, everyone hanging out. It seems fun for me.
I always ask people what they’re watching, reading and listening to that stands out as impressive and as great. It gets a wow from you, not the normal, “That was good.”
I watch lots of True Crime stuff because I’m breaking down the genre. I have my own deal for a show with the people.
You’re doing research?
Yes, that’s why I’m obsessively watching True Crime.
I have never seen it. What’s special about True Crime? What would be an example of something of True Crime that’s being done well?
I like the new Marcia Clark that she does because obviously, you have her expertise. I was a guest on Dr. Oz. They flew me up to New York. As I was a walking on the set, sure enough, they just interviewed Marcia Clark. She’s exiting as I’m entering. I didn’t get to talk to her. I passed her in the hallway. I’m like, “I want to meet her so bad.” I had to literally walk and sit into my chair. I missed my moment with her. We all know her. Whether you watched it originally or you saw the 30 by 30 documentaries, which were incredible. It shows you all this new stuff. I thought the OJ special that they just had where he completely admitted it, it’s the most shocking thing I’ve ever seen on American television. We’re aware of this.
People don’t realize that certain things are not admissible in court, which is outrageous. They weren’t able to use these things and so it makes you understand the failures of the justice system. The way that people play them, the politics of it all, it’s fascinating. In her show, you know this history and then she comes in and she basically talks about other cases and the boo-boos they made and her unique perspective. I was like, “Yes, girl.” It’s like watching sports. She’ll say something. She’s confrontational, but in a way you like her. She’s an authority. You’re like, “Tell them.” That’s what you want to say. You want to say, “No, that’s not true.” It’s like watching sports for me.
She does cases where it was not guilty, but they probably should have been guilty. That’s her thing.
The cases for the most part had been adjudicated. There was one that hasn’t. Remember, this is legal as I was involved with every single network. They’re very responsible. I had to deal with VICELAND for my own show. Politics, crime, the intersection and media are endlessly fascinating. There’s something about her specifically because she’s a woman. I don’t know if anyone’s also going to enjoy this as much as I do. Maybe they do. Also because I’ve been on so many of these crime shows and no disrespect for the people that have me on. A lot of them were shot and it’s dated in the ’90s and shadowy. There’s nothing worse when you’ve been victimized and you have to see a recreation of yourself and someone with a bad Halloween wig version of you. Why do we do this to people? I like that hers is brightly lit. It feels modern and crisp. It’s enjoyable. As far as brilliant, I love Errol Morris. I love his documentaries. Everyone should watch Tabloid. I enjoy that one. I watch a lot of documentary series.
What about music?
I love so much music.
What is it that you are obsessively listening to?
My boyfriend’s an interesting guy. He’s an entertainment lawyer in the daytime and a DJ at night. He’s very into Italo Disco, a genre I didn’t even know much about. It’s a great dance music, but it’s cool. I prefer stuff that’s a bit darker myself. I’m an adult goth. I can’t pretend it’s any different.
Last question, what’s a secret to success everybody knows but can’t seem to do?
The secret to success is being authentic. It’s such a rare quality. That’s why people go, “How do you talk people into being in your art show or doing this thing or getting a congressman to listen to you?” I’m like, “Because I’m so authentic. I throw myself completely into it.” People respond to that because I think there are people who think they have to project this air of confidence or bravado or something. It’s gross. I don’t think you need to do that. You have to think about the thing that you so passionately believe in and if you speak about it with conviction, others will come with you.
That’s certainly fitting for you. People will see your picture associated with this. You have an intimidating look. If people hear this, they’d get a different picture so that authenticity is especially important in a world where you’re different.
If you think about the most dynamic people or leadership, in general, it’s the people.
It’s interesting you say authenticity because your advice to wannabe reality stars is to tell the truth. Be yourself. That’s the dominant strategy because you’re not going to be able to maintain this other person that you’re claiming to be.
The thing that I’ve also learned from all those interviews is people are infinitely interesting and weird, funny and cool in a way that they don’t even know. Everybody’s aspiring to be this other thing. I’ll use my boyfriend as an example. He’s the most unintentionally funny person I ever knew in my life. What I mean by that is he’s super smart and everything. He’s Midwestern and he’s wholesome. For a 40-year-old entertainment lawyer who’s been in the business forever, he’s seen it all. He’s not touched by any of that. He does roller derby. He’s super into his roller derby, he has the outfit everything. He’s so enthusiastic about telling anyone who will listen about his roller derby. It’s so funny and charming.
If you look you look at him, you might see a lawyer man. He’s weird over his roller derby and he collects GI Joe. He’s sweet and funny. He never thinks to tell anybody about these things about him. I always have him go, “Tell them this thing.” They start cracking up. He is way more interesting than people who are like, “I’m a lawyer.” I’m like, “No. You tell them why you’re bruised all over. It’s from your roller derby.” It’s very difficult for people to step outside themselves and look at what’s going on and what finds them charming, interesting and cool. Instead, they’re in pursuit of something else they think is charming, interesting and cool.
I do believe that if you can talk to someone long enough, you can eventually find something about them that’s may be a little buried, but is interesting about them. The other thing about it is I tell this to my guy friends who are struggling to date. I’m like, “Be interesting.” That’s one of the better things that you can do in life. Find the thing that you like to do that’s a little bit different and embrace it and you’re going to have a more enjoyable life than just sitting and watching sports.
I actually wrote a book called Leg Closers. I’m doing a lot of Victim’s Rights that’s why Fart Joke Documentary is on hold because people will not take me seriously if I’m doing the fart joke thing. Leg Closers is women’s stories about dating. They want to get it with the guy, but he looks so stupid that they are like, “It’s done. The lights are closed. I’m out.” It was going to happen for you, but you did this stupid thing that you’re not supposed to do.
What was the example of one of those?
“How dirty can we get?” The way that the book is done is there’s a chapter. Chapter one is called Condom. It’s about misadventures with condoms. My story was I was dating this guy. He was cool. We were going to get together for the first time. We’re making it out. He took his pants off and he had a condom already on. I said, “Tada, a nice magic trick.” He’s staring and I go, “Is that a family heirloom you don’t part with? I don’t understand. What’s happening?”
When did he put it on?
I don’t know. This was awkward. He’s like, “I should go.” I was like, “Okay.” I never saw anything like that. I called up my girlfriends and I’m like, “Have you had this happen?” “No.” Then finally one friend who paid her way through college as a stripper said that sometimes men with premature ejaculation issues would wear them under their pants. She’s like, “Maybe that was his problem. Maybe he took his pants off too soon.” I’m like, “I don’t know.”
We should end on that story. That’s incredible. Thanks so much for doing this.
Thank you for having me.
It’s fun. I wish you the best.
If anybody has any issues with stalking or wants advice or is curious, find my website.
- Lenora Claire
- Army pilot – previous episode of I’m Not Joking
- Sad and Boujee
About Lenora Claire
Lenora is a casting director, TV producer, art curator, and victim’s rights advocate. Vice called her the “Erin Brockovich of stalking”. I met her when she was working on a documentary about flatulence, which partially explains why she is here. She has produced a show called GOLDEN GIRLS GONE WILD which featured erotic depictions of the golden girls. And Heeb magazine once called her the top 10 up and coming Jews in comedy.