Welcome to the Pillow Talk with Joanne blog, published every Tuesday!
When I first started filming Pillow Talk in November 2013, I had only one goal: To get the best and brightest in Charlotte into bed with me. To talk about the issues of the day while wearing caftans and pretending to receive calls on a kitschy rotary phone. To post episodes, co-produced by the fabulous Donald Devet. I was looking to do out-of-the ordinary interviews with guests that were usually seen behind a podium or in a chair — all while wearing a fake captain’s hat.
While I was interviewing other people about their lives, something big was going on in my own: I was struggling with publicly coming out as a queer woman. My family and close friends had known for years, but I otherwise kept my personal life a state secret.
The first episodes of Pillow Talk aired in January 2014. That was the same month I came out on the cover of QNotes magazine. I knew it was the right time for me to come out. I was mentally ready to be out and proud. The only doubt that lingered was how my day job would respond. I was a paralegal at a conservative law firm, one where the only out lesbian partner wore a lot of beige turtlenecks and had the protection of a few high-level partners in the firm. I had no such bodyguard-age. Or surplus of beige turtlenecks.
I was out there for the taking. As one of my former supervisors would later say, being out at the firm would have been “career suicide.” Yes, career suicide.
Pillow Talk was the beginning of a new era for me. I no longer wanted to live a double life of the cardigan-wearing, pearls and let’s-pretend-we-don’t-eat work lunches when I was a fuchsia pants wearing, screaming-through-a-mouthful-of-lunch-cheeseburger kind of person. Plus, the insidious white male privilege of my law firm made me deeply angry. The firm could have all the diversity programs in the world and there would still be a frat boy attorney making a crass comment to another frat boy attorney about what Sally Legal Assistant wore for the firm Halloween party. I wanted to set fire to their bookcases and roll out of there for good.
Luckily, I didn’t have to resort to arson. A new day job came in March 2014, thanks to my knight-in-shining armor, Mr. Gold. We did coffee at Amelie’s in uptown while it was snowing outside in February. As he walked outside after our meeting, he did a Lana Turner headsnap, looked at me, and said, “Don’t worry, Joanne. I’m going to get you out of there.”
And he did. His promise to me was as solid as his last name. If I was out of the closet because of the QNotes cover story, Mr. Gold carried me on his shoulders out of that room where the closet was and into the daylight. I was free. I could write about what I wanted as an openly queer woman. I didn’t have to play it straight anymore.
Every Tuesday, you and I are going to (pillow) talk. While full episodes of the show are on hiatus – Donald and I will bring it back better than ever, so no peeking yet – I’m bringing Pillow Talk to you in the form I’ve loved my whole life and pursued professionally since age 13: the written word.
Until next week, I’ll leave you with a mini episode of Pillow Talk: drag queen Roxy C. Moorecox talking about her taffetta gown and being electric in bed. Follow me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook!