FORGIVING ARSENIO HALL
I have carried a grudge against Arsenio Hall since 1992 when I appeared on his TV show to promote a book and he publicly humiliated me. I was there to promote my autobiography, which I now wish I hadn’t written — in fact, I’ve expressed my regrets so often over the years about that, they’ve probably gotten boring. So, back to 1992: There was a hot new fashion item at the time — a Donna Karan bodysuit called a “cold shoulder.” It was a black long-sleeved stretch body suit, with a mock turtleneck and the shoulders cut out, hence the name cold shoulder. It was expensive — a few hundred dollars, and I bought it through the Bloomingdale’s catalogue because the store had run out. I’d never paid that much for an item of clothing, so this was a big deal for me. I decided to wear it for the first time on the Arsenio Hall Show. There was no way to wear a bra with it, but it looked fine at home. When I got the studio and they put me in the dressing room, I looked in the mirror with bright lights all around it and was horrified to discover you could see through the fabric.
I was alone, no one was with me, and I didn’t know what to do. So I draped my long hair over my chest, strategically placing it, hoping it would stay like that. When I sat down with Arsenio, he spoke to me for maybe 2 minutes before saying, “I gotta tell you something. You need a bra.” The entire audience hooted with laughter — at me. I was so mortified, I have no memory of the rest of the interview. That public humiliation has stayed with me all these years, and made me hold a serious grudge against Arsenio Hall. It was one of the meanest things that had ever been done to me.
Recently, I was channel-surfing and stumbled upon an interview with Arsenio promoting his new show. He was talking about how he had changed and grown over the years, how he lived his life differently, more kindly, how becoming a father has changed his priorities. I thought, I want people to forgive me for my past mistakes. I want them to acknowledge that I’ve moved on, learned from the things I now regret. It’s completely hypocritical of me to not be that generous to someone else. It was a revelatory moment for me. We can’t really expect others to do for us what we aren’t willing to do for them. So…grudge over, I wish Arsenio Hall the best of luck with his new show, his new way of living his life, and I’m grateful that I happened to see his interview.