The Real L Word’s Nikki Weiss Responds to Velvetpark

Last week Julia Watson and Grace Moon gave a long, hard critique of The Real L Word: Los Angeles<

Last week Julia Watson and Grace Moon gave a long, hard critique of The Real L Word: Los Angeles. Earlier this week, TRLW cast member Nikki Weiss wrote to us on Facebook to let us know what she thought about our blog. Nikki graciously accepted our offer to answer some on-the-record questions about the show and her experiences being on it. We truly appreciate her honesty and forthrightness in reaching out to us, and for taking the time to chat with us here. — Vp Editors

When you signed on as a cast member for TRLW, what were you hoping to get out of the experience of being on the show?
We wanted to show a loving, healthy lesbian relationship… where our sexuality wouldn’t be personified for someone who is homophobic or afraid to accept being gay, but rather seen as secondary to the love we share as two human beings. In turn, because of this exposure and through this experience, Jill and I were hoping to make a difference for those struggling with the acceptance of themselves or their friends and family. I’m happy to say that we have succeeded. We have received so much positive feedback and letters from young women thanking us for sharing a little bit of our life and helping them reconcile and accept their feelings/sexuality, becoming brave enough to come out to their loved ones.

What has the response been like from viewers of TRLW to your and Jill’s storyline?

Honestly, our storyline is all wedding related. TRLW has six cast members and one hour to fit us all in, so we became very one dimensional. Unfortunately you don’t get to see our friends, our careers, our day to day… It’s very focused on planning and spending money and you don’t get to see the hard work that went into being able to afford a beautiful celebration. So for some, the response has been that we’re boring and pretentious. However, most people have been so receptive to our relationship, our love and adoration and respect of one another that they feel like they could possibly meet their someone and have a long term monogamous relationship as well.

Did you watch the original The L Word series? Who was your favorite character? Was there anyone in particular you identified with on the TLW?

Yes of course! We both loved The L Word. This will sound so cliche but I loved the Bette and Tina storyline. Let’s just discuss Jennifer Beals. She is totally my get out of jail free card! 😉 I really related to that story on so many levels.

In the first episode of TRLW you introduced yourself as “one of the straightest gay people” we’d ever meet. What does that mean?
It means that I do not define myself by my sexuality. It’s a non issue for me. I am so many things; a partner, a mommy to my two hairy children, a daughter, a business woman, a friend and I am also a very proud gay woman. I don’t subscribe to a lifestyle and most of our friends are married (man & woman) with children.

We’re just the girls to everyone who know us. We never lead with our sexuality. We never think about it. We love one another, we have created a beautiful life together and we’re just like a heterosexual couple, only gayer!

There has been criticism in both the mainstream and queer press (including here on Velvetpark) of the editing/story choices on TRLW. In terms of your and Jill’s storyline there is a lot of focus on the material details of your wedding and almost nothing on the inherent politics of marriage equality in the wake of Prop 8. Can you respond to that?
Obviously we are outraged that we do not have the fundamental, equal civil right to marry. The film crew documented our life, careers, planning over the course of four months and what is on screen is the story that they wanted to tell, having five other stories needing exposure as well. There have been so many times where we have discussed our frustration on camera about the ignorance of society, allowing this so called “sacred union” that we are not allowed to partake in, to be utilized as a game show on television with series like The Bachelor, Rock of Love, competing to find the woman of your dreams to… get this… MARRY! Really?

I am truly in love with my partner and I am unable to do so, yet we have these virtual strangers, allowed to get married within weeks of knowing one another? Trust me, Jill and I take our union very seriously. We will be married in our hearts in front of our family and friends, but MOST IMPORTANTLY for us, we will be recognized by the Jewish religion, as married, signing a Ketubah and being honored by Jewish law. We are not one dimensional, bridezillas. We hope to continue to have a platform, beyond this show, to educate society and make some small difference for gay marriage rights.

Besides your wedding plans are there other aspects of your life during this time you especially wish viewers were seeing more of?
We wish that you could have seen more of our projects and individual careers. They shot so much, but again, there are many stories to tell in an hour.

In your career in the film and television industry are there any projects you have worked on or are currently working on that you’re especially proud of?
Well as you know, Jill and I have a documentary in development based on Dr. Lisa Diamond’s book, Sexual Fluidity. We’re both so proud to extend this conversation beyond the written work. As well, my company, Nikki Weiss & Co, has been involved in the launching and developing of many “A list” directors careers over the past 17 years and that I am very proud of.

We understand that none of the cast members knew each other before the show and you also had very little to no interaction with each other during the course of the Season. Do you think that affected how these storylines have unfolded?
I actually think it was an honest way to portray a docu series. Nothing was scripted. If members of the cast did meet, it was organic. I think it could have been more interesting if we all knew one another, but I respect the filmmaking process and the producers decision to remain authentic.

Have you and Jill formed friendships with any of the other women on TRLW?
We adore the ladies and see each other weekly and talk to each other at least once a day. Cameras should be following us now! It would be a lot more fun!

How do you feel about the current state of lesbian entertainment at the movies and on TV? What kinds of stories (LGBT or otherwise) would you like to see more of or be a part of getting made?
We are so underrepresented in the media. Ilene Chaiken really has done so much for our visibility, but clearly she can’t do it alone. Lisa Cholodenko’s new film, The Kids Are All Right, is a wonderful story, portraying a contemporary family with two mothers. This film isn’t just about a lesbian relationship, but a film about marriage in general. It’s a beautiful story.

I’d love to see a scripted series on a major network with a main storyline about a lesbian couple. I’d like it to be the norm, instead of being discussed as a rarity.

If TRLW gets another season what advice would you give to any new participants in the show?
Don’t read the blogs!