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by Clifton Spires

The television debut of Laura Schlessinger, the physiologist-who-pretends-to-be-a-radio-shrink --- Oops! She doesn't give advice; she just dishes out "ethics, morals and values" --- took place this week in some media markets, despite many protests and sponsor cancellations.

Schlessinger, as most people know, is a born-again conservative Jew who has forsaken her past which includes divorce, adultery and posing for some mediocre nude pictures which a former lover kindly posted on the internet. She has remade herself as a sort of cross between Rush Limbaugh, H.L. Mencken, Nancy Reagan and the female offspring of the mating of a yappy Chihuahua with a pit bull.

Calls to her talk show apparently are carefully screened --- no one who disagrees with her ever gets through. Those who do usually have softball questions about how they should live their lives and get Schlessinger's misanthropic wise guy responses for their efforts. Even a person who says, "Gee thanks, Dr. Laura, that's the best advice anyone ever gave me. You are truly a saint among women!" will get a surly, "Of course. So what are you taking up my time for? Get off the line."

In the times I have listened to her radio show, Schlessinger, to her credit, has not taken this attitude with young people --- especially when the young caller is caught up in a custody situation, parents' fivorce or child abuse. My sampling revealed Schlessinger puts more compassion in her tone and comments when the situation deals with a child.

Too bad that's not the case with her treatment of adults or her critics. Infamous for her remark that homosexual people are "biological mistakes" --- a statement with which the parents of any gay person should take umbrage --- she also has compared herself to the pope, saying that no one has ever built a website called "www.stopthepope.com."

Letter-writing campaigns, led by gay civil rights organizations, but supported by many other groups who dislike Schlessinger's snarky style or who just think she's a quack, have caused many major advertisers --- Proctor & Gamble and Geico, just to name a couple --- to drop the show. The Canadian government --- which has less tolerant freedom of speech laws than the U.S. --- has looked into the Schlessinger show as possibly being in violation of that nation's laws against speech which encourages hate against groups of people.

I don't know if I'll be able to watch Schlessinger's new show --- I might have to do something that has more social significance or entertainment value, like clipping my toenails or worming the dog or undergoing root canal without anesthesia. But for my own pleasure and hopefully that of the folks who read this column, I'm offering my own fantasy version of what the new "Dr. Laura TV Show" might be like:

ANNOUNCER: Live! From an armored underground bunker deep in the heart of somewhere! It's the Dr. Laura Show!

(Curtain opens. Several dancers are swirling about singing the theme from the 1940s movie, "Laura.")

ANNOUNCER: And now here's the star of our show, the Queen of Ethics, Morals and Values! Dr. Laura Schlessinger!

(The audience, made up of a large number of Boy Scouts and people wearing "Buchanan for President" buttons, stands and cheers. Security guards frisk latecomers for weapons or gay pornography.)

(Laura Schlessinger, wearing a flowing chiffon gown borrowed from the old Loretta Young Show, enters through an ornate double door. Her skirt's train gets caught in the door. She keeps moving, dragging part of the set with her.

SCHLESSINGER: Hello, everyone! Have you heard this one? What do you call 200 gay people at the bottom of an ocean?

AUDIENCE: A good start! (Applause, while Schlessinger poses for cameras and smirks)

SCHLESSINGER: I see you've heard that one. Well, that's typical of those liberal homosexual pervert child molesters --- we've heard it all before!

(Audience cheers. A group of Mormon Boy Scouts, eyes glazed over, starts chanting, "Lau-ra! Lau-ra! Lau-ra!)

SCHLESSINGER: Down, boys. Come back when you look more like Russell Crowe! (She sighs deeply and fans herself.)

(Audience cheers. A Boy Scout yells, "I downloaded your pictures, Dr. Laura! I love you!" The security guards take him out and put him in a dumpster.)

SCHLESSINGER: And now our first guest. I'm so excited! This man is the essence of the kind of ethics, morals and values that I believe in. He's a nationwide activist who makes sure the grieving families and friends of dead homosexual deviants around the country know that their loved ones' lifestyles are an abomination against the Lord and they are definitely burning in hell. Ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm Dr. Laura welcome to the Rev. Fred Phelps!

(Phelps enters. Schlessinger walks over to greet him with a hug. He pushes her to the floor, points at her and shouts.)

PHELPS: Divorced Jew harlot adulteress whore of Babylon!

(The audience gasps. Schlessinger stares at Phelps a minute, then raises herself up, dusts herself off and turns to the camera.)

SCHLESSINGER: Why, Rev. Phelps, you old sweet-talker, you! It's always a pleasure having you on our show to share your important insights. Why don't you go over to the couch set and eat some jellybeans while I introduce our next guest.

PHELPS (going for the jellybeans): 'Kay.

SCHLESSINGER: And now, my next guest and I are going to have a little bit of chat about ethics, morals and values. She's someone who certainly knows all about family values. She has her own daytime talk show with her brother, Donny. Ladies and gentlemen, let's give a big Dr. Laura welcome to Marie Osmond!

(Audience cheers. Marie Osmond walks out, waves, does kiss-kiss with Schlessinger and sits down beside Phelps on the couch.)

SCHLESSINGER: Hello, Marie. Don't your teeth look lovely! Do you know Rev. Phelps?

OSMOND: No, I ---

PHELPS (jellybeans spilling out of his mouth): Divorced Mormon harlot adulteress whore of Babylon!

OSMOND: Uh ...

SCHLESSINGER: Have a black one, Reverend!

PHELPS: Can't. Ethnic purity.

SCHLESSINGER: So --- Marie, Marie, Marie. How's the divorce and nervous breakdown going?

OSMOND: Um ... I thought we were going to talk about my tour with the road company of "The Sound of Music."

SCHLESSINGER: That was before you axed our duet version of "Do, Re, Mi," honey. It's not nice to screw with Dr. Laura.

PHELPS (on a sugar high): Screw ... harlot, Babylon, gabba, googa, babba, burn in hell, gagga ...

OSMOND: Um, is he talking in tongues?

SCHLESSINGER: Let's focus on you, dear. So how does it feel to be knocked off your perfect little Mormon princess pedestal and be a symbol of dysfunctional marital relationships and emotional instability? Do you think your unusually close and possibly perverted relationship with your older brother Donny, with whom you seem to be joined at the hip, has made it impossible for you to sustain a lasting relationship with a husband, despite popping out a new child every nine months?

OSMOND: Uh, I know, let me show you my new Dr. Laura doll from my new collection, availoable for sale through the internet ---

SCHLESSINGER: Don't skirt the issue, Marie. Admit it. Being the only girl among all those brothers has left you with a sexual identity crisis for which you overcompensate by being ultra-feminine. You're constantly trying to prove you're a woman and denying your desire to pursue same-sex relationships by being overly attached to your brother and breeding babies like a rabbit. There's no shame in admitting your deviant desires, Marie. The shame is in not dealing with it.

OSMOND: But I thought we were going to talk about nice things. My therapist says that I'm very fragile now and shouldn't become involved in controversial or emotionally stressful situations. (Starts to cry) I want to go home! I want Donny!

SCHLESSINGER: Yeah, right, your therapist. Probably a member of that crackpot bunch of elitist liberals, the American Psychiatric Association, which has rejected all my lobbying for a discussion of gay reparative therapy. It's a shame about that, Marie. You would have made a great ex-gay if you'd only come clean about your perversity.

PHELPS (in fetal position, his face smeared with jellybean juice): Wabagoobabuggerbuggerwhoredyke ...

(Osmond runs off in tears. Laura turns to the camera.)

SCHLESSINGER: And now, it's time for a word from one of our courageous sponsors, Firestone Tires.

(A muffled voice is heard off-camera. Schlessinger turns in the voice's direction.

SCHLESSINGER: They what? When did they pull out?

(She turns back to the camera.)

SCHLESSINGER: Excuse me, I mean, our sponsor, David Duke's Klanburgers --- all-beef burgers with a special white sauce. But stay tuned, folks. I'm so excited about our next guest, one of the great ladies of show business, Barbra Streisand. She and I are going to have a nice little chat about being the mothers of boys. She has a handsome son named Jason, you know. She also is going to share some manicure secrets, ladies. She sent me a note that said she's ready to show me her nails, up close and personal. So stick around. It should be fun ...

(Clifton Spires is a journalist and freelance writer living in Norwalk, Ohio. He and his wife are the parents of two sons.)


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