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North Dakota School`s Abstinence-Only Policy; Human Side of Charlie Sheen Debacle
Aired April 5, 2011 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST: It`s Tuesday, April 5, 2011.
Here is what`s up.
Believe it or not, teens are begging for sex education. Some even watching porn to learn about the birds and the bees.
Whose jobs is it to tell the kids the facts of life? We`re going to try to answer that question.
Then, we will talk to Capri Anderson, the woman who was with Charlie Sheen at the Plaza Hotel that infamous night. I dare you to judge her after you hear her story.
Then, we`ll be talking to stage moms and their kids. Need I say more? Melissa Gilbert is here with words of warning.
We`re going to get it right, so let`s get started.
Just days ago, a North Dakota school passed an abstinence-only policy with regards to sex education. Now, some teens are so starved for sex information, that they`re turning to pornography. Is that OK? I mean, it`s the 21st century here.
So, here to help us what`s going on are Steve Perry, CNN educational correspondent and principal at Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Connecticut, and Erica Hayden, also known as "Erica America." She`s a radio personality at Z100 in New York. She`s also a psychotherapist. And finally, James Wagoner, president of Advocates for Youth.
Let`s take a look at this. Here`s what kids are saying about sex education or the lack thereof.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here we are at an actual Boston public school.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have asked students where they get their information about sex.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Porn, magazines.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: TV. I`m flipping through the channels, driving by.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Porno.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Porno on TV.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Porno.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have had sex, but it was, like, sixth grade though.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do not think my gym teacher was qualified to teach the sex ed class.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At your age you`re going to be having a lot of urges. You`re going to want to take off your clothes and touch each other. But if you do touch each other, you will get chlamydia and die.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot of friends of mine got pregnant. Some of my friends -- one of my friends had an STD.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you want to do?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, whatever.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who is it?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chlamydia.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would fight for sex education.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s part of a fight for health equity (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we want to start fighting for that now.
PINSKY: You know, the landscape is really shifting under our feet. Kids have access to the Internet, there`s pornography raining down on them. God only knows what kind of information, let`s call it, that is given to them, or ideas they`re given about their sexuality.
Here`s some data for you guys.
A CDC study says that 40 percent of students are not receiving sex education. Thirty-eight percent of parents have not spoken to their kids about birth control.
Here`s some data from SECUS (ph). Ninety-three percent of adults support sex education in high school. Eighty-four percent support it in junior high school.
So, James, this has been a long-running conversation. It seems like people are supportive of sex education. Why aren`t we getting around to this?
JAMES WAGONER, PRESIDENT, ADVOCATES FOR YOUTH: Well, we are just fundamentally disabled when it comes to having honest, open conversations, factual conversations about sex and our culture. Drew, whether that`s the classroom, the home environment, or in faith communities. And that`s despite the fact that every day in this country, 10,000 teens contract an STD, over 2,000 become pregnant, and 55 young people under the age of 29 get HIV.
So we have a sexual health crisis.
PINSKY: Right. It`s a huge problem. We`re clearly not getting it right yet.
Steve, you`re out there in the field with kids. You`ve done a documentary about this. What are you seeing?
STEVE PERRY, CNN EDUCATION CONTRIBUTOR: Well, the kids want to know. Kids don`t want to catch STDs. They don`t want to get pregnant. They don`t want to be in the situation. But their bodies are telling them and their friends are telling them that they should be doing something with these parts that are developing.
The problem with this is that they don`t know. And we depend upon parents to do something that they simply are not capable of doing, which is inform children about medical conditions, because sexually transmitted diseases really bear the responsibility -- I mean, informing children there are people who understand what it actually means to get one, and being a parent in many cases means that you didn`t know.
PINSKY: That`s right. That`s an interesting notion.
But let me ask you, Erica. You`re out there talking to young people, as do I. What are you hearing from them? And do you agree with what Steve said?
ERICA "AMERICA" HAYDEN, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: Well, what I have to say that I see most with the teenage patients that I see is that kids are a lot smarter than we think. You know?
They have the ability to make really good decisions if they`re given the proper information and treated like the adults that they really are becoming. So, when I have a relationship with a teenage patient, and I`m the therapist, it`s really awesome because they see me as someone as not who`s super older.
I was there, you know, somewhat 10 years ago. I was there, I`ve been in their shoes. And by being real with them and giving them information that they`re not getting in high school, they are actually very genuine and they do make a good decision.
PINSKY: Did you -- Erica, did you get sex education in high school? And if you did, did you use it?
HAYDEN: It was very sparse. I remember -- all I remember is being in fifth grade, in gym class, being taught what getting your period was, and how to put a tampon in a little envelope so that nobody would see it because it was an embarrassment. And from there, it jumps to about senior year health class, where you learned about the birds and the bees and please don`t get pregnant.
PINSKY: Was it useful?
HAYDEN: I mean, there`s something that`s really missing here. And it`s so sad. I`m sorry?
PINSKY: I said was it useful?
HAYDEN: Is it useful? No, it --
PINSKY: Because I think there`s an idea, there`s a notion of comprehensive sexual education, which is the idea that it`s not so much about the plumbing and it`s not so much about the STDs. It`s about being able to negotiate relationships and how to say no, and how to know what the circumstance is you`re in.
Here are students from Jamaica Palin, Massachusetts. They put together a documentary about the problems they`re seeing in the hallways of their school.
Take a look at this and then we`ll talk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you know that urban teens are getting STIs at the fastest rates in the country? One in four female teens in Boston has an STI, and nearly half of African-American girls have a sexually transmitted infection.
Teen pregnancy is on the rise for the first time in 12 years. Nearly half of 15-to-19-year-olds in the United States has had sex at least once.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: So this is again just emphasizing that somehow, we`re not getting it right.
And James, I`ve always been bewildered by the idea that talking to kids about this is somehow going to cause them to do this. To men, that`s like saying if we talk to them about speeding awareness and wearing a seat belt, it`s going to make them speed, or if we talk to them about drugs when they`re in preschool, it`s going to make them do drugs.
Why do we reserve sexual behavior as somehow different than all these other behaviors that we want to contain in young people?
WAGONER: There`s still so much taboo about sex, about an honest, open conversation about sex. We can use it to sell everything from laptops to lipstick, but we can`t have honest conversations about it. I mean, saying that sex education causes promiscuity, which we hear all the time, or condom availability in high schools to address the STD crisis that these young people are talking about causes promiscuity, is the same thing as saying umbrellas cause rain.
Steve was right. Bad sex education is hereditary. It`s come generation after generation. We`ve got to get real, do really good sex education in the schools, and parents have to step up. They have to do their job.
But young people are part of the solution. I mean, we have had a significant decline in teen pregnancy because fewer young people are having sex, fewer young people are having unprotected sex, more young people are using condoms and birth control together. So when you educate young people, they can take charge. They can exercise agency. They can make responsible decisions.
It`s we adults who are failing.
PINSKY: I know, Steve, from the data from the National Campaign to End Teen Pregnancy that things have been looking better in recent years. And, Steve, I want to ask you, from my experience with the "Teen Mom" and "16 and Pregnant" series, it`s very clear that where we really don`t do that a great job is, A, kids that come from teen moms -- it`s incredible how the past gets reproduced in the present -- and kids who are at special risk, trauma-surviving kids, broken family kids.
Are we doing anything to pay attention to those kids and their risks?
PERRY: No, we are not. In fact, you talked about comprehensive sex education, and that`s where we really need to focus.
Many of our girls and boys are making sexual decisions simply because they want to belong. It`s a social decision that somehow becomes sexual. It`s not just the social media, it becomes the sexual media. It`s all about how children want to express themselves from one to the other to be accepted, especially those children who suffer trauma. They don`t understand good touch and bad touch in the way in which we need them to.
So we need to talk to them comprehensively about how you value yourself and how you want others to value you. One of the biggest challenges that I see is that children have different impressions of what is sex and what is not sex. Oral sex is not sex, but the other kinds are. And children begin to think this way and they don`t think that they can catch it.
Some of the same by bizarre myths that were there when I was a child are still there today. It always surprises me.
I think, really, kids, you don`t know this, but the fact is, if I as a parent didn`t know it, and then I don`t have the time or take the time to sit down and talk to my child about what I don`t know, and we don`t spend 15 minutes on the Internet to figure it out --
PERRY: -- then we find out that the child learns nothing and then they end up in the same situation as their parents.
PINSKY: Steve, I couldn`t agree more. And there`s really a ton packed into what you were saying.
In fact, the fact that trauma-surviving kids are at special risk, that they don`t understand body boundaries, that this is a very deep comprehensive and, in fact, an ongoing discussion.
I want to thank my panel for being here.
When we come back, the woman who was with Charlie Sheen that night. You know that night in the Plaza Hotel. I know what you`re expecting, but I promise you, you`re going to be surprised.
PINSKY: Well, I`m sure you guys remember that late last year, Charlie Sheen was involved in an incident at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. There with him that night was an adult film star -- surprise, surprise -- and she witnessed his unusual behavior. Her name was Capri Anderson.
We reached out to Charlie`s attorney for a response to us having Capri on our show. He did not get back to us. So I talked to Capri earlier and I asked her, when I spoke to her, how she feels about the fact that people tend to blame her for what happened.
CAPRI ANDERSON, ADULT FILM STAR: You know, I think a lot of people don`t understand that, you know, people can easily snap in a moment and --
PINSKY: When they are doing truckloads of cocaine and alcohol, it`s very common, right?
ANDERSON: When they`re doing -- when they`re using --
PINSKY: I mean, just think about it out there -- dude, can I have your car keys? People flip. Right?
ANDERSON: Yes. You just set somebody off.
PINSKY: So is he one of these Jekyll/Hyde kind of users?
ANDERSON: From my personal experience, you know, I grew up very closely with somebody in my family --
PINSKY: With addiction?
ANDERSON: -- who suffered from a very severe addiction problem. And it was somebody that I saw throughout my life and who I referred to as a Jekyll and Hyde kind of addict in the sense that on a sober note, they were one person. And then when they would use, just a completely different person and somebody that I wasn`t safe around and I couldn`t trust.
PINSKY: And is that how you felt around Charlie?
PINSKY: Unsafe, aggressive, dangerous? And isn`t it crazy how -- this is a point for people at home -- is that we have traumatic experiences in childhood. We naturally are attracted to people and places that recreate the traumas of the past.
So, here you were attracted to being around this guy that ends up being out of control and flipping when he starts using. Did you get out of there?
ANDERSON: I did end up getting out at the end of the evening. It was a long time before I got out because the way the circumstances had played out, I had been invited to a dinner. I went to the dinner. It was my choice and my bad decision to go back to his hotel room with him. Basically, it took a bad turn.
PINSKY: Here`s a TMZ photo of that night, I guess, right there.
ANDERSON: Yes, that was at the restaurant Daniel. And it was a good dinner. I spent a lot of the time speaking with Denise Richards. She was very nice.
PINSKY: And then it just turned bad?
ANDERSON: You know, it didn`t seem out of the ordinary for the reason that I haven`t spent an enormous amount of time around him initially at the restaurant. I felt fine at first.
PINSKY: But you didn`t know what to expect. You didn`t know what to expect.
But here`s the point I think is worth making, which is that, poor Charlie, I mean, he`s suffering with a lot of stuff. But the behavior he`s manifesting is affecting other people`s lives, is it not? People that come around him end up suicidal, losing their jobs, their family members losing jobs.
Is that not what`s going on here?
ANDERSON: Absolutely. I`m just trying to be a regular young girl again.
PINSKY: All right. Well, let me address that, because I think people want to hang all kinds of things on you.
What I know is that people that do adult films often have a pretty traumatic past. You and I were talking a little bit off the air. You had a brother that drowned?
ANDERSON: I had some tragedy throughout my life growing up.
PINSKY: You mentioned an alcoholic addict in the family.
PINSKY: And then a brother dying when he was --
ANDERSON: My brother passed away when he was 13.
PINSKY: But he had a drowning incident when he was 1, right?
ANDERSON: Yes. And he lived in a vegetative state through the majority of his life before he passed away.
PINSKY: I mean, you seem sort of shut down when you talk about it now.
ANDERSON: You know, because it was so traumatic, I think, when I was younger, and when the drowning initially happened, that in a lot of ways, it was a relief to have him pass.
PINSKY: Of course. Of course. But you lived for those 13 years -- 12 years with a brother who was dying and a family member who I want to drink when I hear that story. Right?
PINSKY: I mean, it`s deeply, deeply painful.
ANDERSON: It can be, yes, definitely. But you`ve just got to live with certain things.
PINSKY: No, that`s denial. That`s really pretending you don`t have painful feelings.
ANDERSON: Well, no, there`s definitely painful feelings there, but you do your best to just press on.
PINSKY: I know, but that`s how people make terrible choices.
ANDERSON: Definitely. You could say that.
PINSKY: Have you made some bad choices?
ANDERSON: Absolutely. Absolutely. I`ve made some bad choices.
PINSKY: It`s very, very painful to hear about that kind of stuff. And you`re just trying to survive.
ANDERSON: Yes. Aren`t we all?
PINSKY: Well, but you`ve had some very special challenges having been with the addict family member and then the brother. I mean, it`s just so painful. I can feel the pain kind of coming from your body just hearing the story.
ANDERSON: You know, it`s just something you have to live with.
PINSKY: And then you -- this history causes you to be attracted to a guy that flips on you, and then another trauma.
ANDERSON: You know, the attraction wasn`t so much personally towards Charlie initially as much as it was kind of the thought of going on this awesome dinner party date with a celebrity. And there was a lot of an appeal in that aspect to me because I wasn`t a big personal fan of Charlie Sheen. I didn`t follow a lot of his work. Most of his big movies, his big hits were when I was just a baby, so --
PINSKY: But the traumas affected the choice in the present. And then here you were attracted to be around this bigger-than-life person, to feel good, to go out and have a good time.
ANDERSON: Yes, I was really excited.
PINSKY: And it got turned on you.
PINSKY: What has the impact been?
ANDERSON: The impact has been tremendous for the reasons that, you know, I already dealt with scrutiny and such things being in the adult pornography industry since I was 18. And that was something that I was not prepared to take on, but learned to live with and deal with.
PINSKY: And then this sort of blew that all into the public.
ANDERSON: And that blew it further into the public.
PINSKY: And then it affected your family?
ANDERSON: And it affected my family.
PINSKY: OK. Hold on.
At his show in Detroit, Charlie referenced that night, the Plaza Hotel incident with Capri.
When you were there. Let`s take a look at what he says.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLIE SHEEN, ACTOR: I can`t tell you about The Plaza, that thing. Oh, got my watch back. Sorry, bought a new one.
I can`t tell you about The Plaza, because that story involves Ambien. (EXPLETIVE DELETED) the crack stories. Forget the crack stories. We`ll just move this show along.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Well, here`s what I know. I treat a lot of addicts. And so when an addict talks to me about an Ambien night, that means they were taking Ambien and that means they don`t remember anything, because Ambien causes amnesia.
Have you talked to him since that night? Does he pretend not to -- or not pretend. Does he actually not have much memory of what happened?
ANDERSON: The only contact I had with Charlie after that night was just a couple days following the incident, and it was a series of text messages, a very short conversation. And it was very apologetic.
And he was extremely apologetic throughout the conversation, saying things along the lines of, "I couldn`t have asked for a nicer, sweeter girl to accompany me to dinner. And I`m so sorry. And if there`s any way to take care of this" -- he offered me a figure of $25,000 in cash. And it was just a very awkward situation. I didn`t accept the money, and the conversation did get cut off.
PINSKY: Did he say he didn`t remember anything?
ANDERSON: He absolutely did not say that he didn`t remember.
PINSKY: But he --
ANDERSON: He very much acknowledged the fact that --
PINSKY: The violence and it was harmful?
ANDERSON: That he had -- yes --
PINSKY: I mean, doesn`t that sound like a cycle of domestic violence? Which is, you know, you`re very aggressive, you`re out of control, and you come back and you go, honey, I love you so much, I`m so sorry. It`s because I care about you so much that I got so out of control.
ANDERSON: And it was really especially hurtful when I later realized that even while those messages were going on, he knew that I guess my name had been released to the media, and it hadn`t yet come out. So I was thinking at that time that I had gone under the radar and I could just kind of like, you know, go back home and be fine.
PINSKY: Oh my gosh.
ANDERSON: And so that would have -- had I possibly accepted that money, or just walked away and said, fine, I`ll let this go, that would have just fueled the way the public has been looking at me and just how I`ve kind of been treated by people.
PINSKY: Hang on one second. I want to talk to you some more about this.
So we`re going to go to a quick break, and when we come back, more with Capri.
PINSKY: We are back with Capri Anderson. She was in the Plaza Hotel with Charlie Sheen in that very infamous night. And we`re talking about the ripple effect of being with an addict, a famous one at that, has had upon her life and that of her family.
It is a big deal, right? It affects not just you, but being around somebody like that affects many people.
ANDERSON: Well, family, in small detail, they have been affected. They`ve been publicly embarrassed by the paparazzi and the amount of media attention following.
PINSKY: And what would you say though to people at home who are saying, well, it`s her fault, she was in the porn industry, people should be judging her? What do you say to people that think that way?
ANDERSON: Well, to each their own. I`m not going to dictate how people --
PINSKY: But you were flying under the radar, nonetheless, before this very public event brought you to light.
ANDERSON: I was always able to keep my work aside from myself as a person, and keep my family and my work separate . And that was very easy for me because I would fall into the category -- and the adult industry would say -- the girl next door. So it`s very easy for me to just throw on a pair of jeans and a T-shirt and walk out and nobody realizes.
PINSKY: But now?
ANDERSON: And now it`s just constantly -- whether it`s a comment about my choice of work, or whether it`s a comment about being a thief or - -
PINSKY: A thief? Oh, the watch? Oh, please.
Let`s talk about that for a second, because it`s shame that your family is experiencing, right?
PINSKY: And you did have something to do with that, right?
ANDERSON: I mean, Charlie -- again, the point I want to make is that he has had a tremendous effect to the people that are around him. This is all fun and games to be winning and to have tiger`s blood, but the fact is, this is dangerous. This affects people`s lives.
It`s having a dramatic effect on some people. And really, I worry about all of us that are preoccupied with it, but what does that say about us.
But for you, given that shame is the issue, have you thought about maybe leaving the industry?
ANDERSON: You know, I had left the industry, and I had been thrown out into the public light. And people were going to know that about me regardless. So rather than being called a prostitute or a hooker, I said, well, let me at least go back to work so that I can --
PINSKY: It sounds like you`re saying you`re stuck back in it again because of this experience.
ANDERSON: I guess I got back in on a point really to show people that, no, this is what I do and that is incorrect.
PINSKY: I think there are people at home that are saying that you`re splitting hairs. They would still --
ANDERSON: Say that you`re selling your body?
PINSKY: Yes, they would still say that. Don`t you think?
PINSKY: You`ve had a lot of pain in your life, my dear.
PINSKY: You really have. I mean, you don`t want to keep more on.
You told me during a break that you`re fearful that you`ll never find love, that that`s a really painful thought to you. It`s pretty hard to find love when you`re in the porn industry.
ANDERSON: Definitely, and this whole situation.
PINSKY: Yes, this whole situation.
ANDERSON: But just being 22, like every young girl thinks about falling in love.
PINSKY: But you can have that too. It`s just hard to do it with the choices that you`re making. OK? It really is.
Well, listen, what I want to say is that you can get through this. But there are people that are still exposed to other addicts and people with mental health issues out there whose lives are being affected. You have to know these things.
You have to be aware of them. You have to create boundaries. You have to help people get help, both the co-dependents and the people with the primary addiction.
These things -- we affect one another. These diseases are very much like the plant in "The Little Shop of Horrors." They suck us in. If you go near the plant alone, you`re going into the plant.
And I think you`re suffering some of the feelings of being inside that plant.
PINSKY: Very powerful.
All right. Up next, stage moms who think they are doing their kids a favor by pushing them into show business.
PINSKY: Right now, some people call them stage moms. Others might call them pushy parents, but there`s no doubt that they want the best for their kids. But are they leaving their own dreams through their children? We`ll see about that.
Rocky Demarco is a reality TV star. She manages her 13-year-old daughter, Haley, singing and acting career. There`s Haley. Traci Eschberger is a pageant mom. Her 7-year-old daughter, Taralynn, is a beauty queen and a star of "Toddlers and Tiaras" and "Little Miss Perfect." Let`s take a look at our guests in action.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (voice-over): Tonight, pulling back the curtain on parenting. Everyone is talking about hit TV shows like "Toddlers and Tiaras" and "I Know My Kid is a Star" programs that show over the top parents grooming their kids for stardom.
UNIDENTIFIED KID: can`t go, ladies.
PINSKY: Where is the line between supporting your child`s talent and pushing them to become the next Hannah Montana at any cost? Look at this as a physician and a father.
UNIDENTIFIED KID: Everyone let me --
PINSKY: I`m hitting the pause button. What is the right way to raise your child?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (on-camera): I want to ask the moms. What made you want to put your kids in such a risky business? God only knows there are cautionary tails out there in the press everyday about kid that started as child stars, and now, we`re reading about -- some aren`t reading them. , for that matter. Traci, what is it?
TRACI ESCHBERGER, MOTHER OF SEVEN-YEAR-OLD BEAUTY QUEEN: Well, Taralynn came to me one day and asked how she could win a trophy, and I`m like, how does a 4-year-old win a trophy? And we just kind of stumbled upon pageants. Pop up (ph) came out from my computer. We tried it out, and she loved it.
PINSKY: So, it wasn`t something that you had done as a child or somebody had done with you?
TRACI ESCHBERGER: No, I just did competitive dance as a child.
PINSKY: You did competitive dance which is a dance and ice skating and gymnastics, those are similar kind of worlds, aren`t they?
TRACI ESCHBERGER: Yes.
PINSKY: Did you find that to be a satisfying to do as a child?
TRACI ESCHBERGER: Yes. It was very rewarding and kept me out of trouble, according to my parents.
PINSKY: Taralynn, what made you want to get a trophy?
TARALYNN ESCHBERGER, 7-YEAR-OLD BEAUTY QUEEN: Well, I just -- it just came up in my mind.
PINSKY: It just be nice to get a trophy?
TARALYNN ESCHBERGER: Yes.
PINSKY: Do you like going in the pageants?
TARALYNN ESCHBERGER: Yes, I love it.
PINSKY: You love it? What is it you love about it?
TARALYNN ESCHBERGER: I like performing because it`s fun, and I get to swim with my friends sometimes, and I get to play with my friends.
PINSKY: So the thing you like best about it is hanging out with your friends who are also in the pageant?
TARALYNN ESCHBERGER: Yes.
PINSKY: OK. Rocky, what`s motivating you?
ROCKY DEMARCO, MOTHER OF 13-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER: I come from a show business background. My mother and sisters were famous child stars. They started out when they were like, five, seven, nine, 11, 12. They were on Ed Sullivan every week.
PINSKY: Did they feel it or did you feel it adversely impacted them thinking -- in that young?
ROCKY DEMARCO: You know what? I think God gives you gifts, and you know, none of us, and my child included, were not out to be famous. We enjoy singing, you know? Like Christmas time around our family to hear my mother and sisters in five-part harmony is just a blessing.
PINSKY: But if you were famous it`d be OK?
ROCKY DEMARCO: If I was famous, yes, yes, but the thing is it`s not right to put that on a child and say --
PINSKY: The fame seeking?
ROCKY DEMARCO: The fame seeking.
PINSKY: Are you seeking fame, Hayley?
HAYLEY DEMARCO, 13-YEAR-OLD HOPES TO BE A STAR: No, honestly, I love what I do.
PINSKY: Which is singing?
HAYLEY DEMARCO: Yes, singing, acting, all of that stuff. The thing, the point of it, you`ve got to love what you`re doing, and you got to worship it. You can`t just do it for paparazzi and fame. You got to feel that you can do certain things, and that, if you feel that you do have a talent, you should do something with it.
PINSKY: All right. Well, let`s take a look at Traci practicing with her daughter. This is on TLC`s "Toddlers and Tiaras," and then, we`ll discuss what we might see here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRACI ESCHBERGER: Elbows up. See. Toe up.
TARALYNN ESCHBERGER: My mom is a very good dance teacher.
TRACI ESCHBERGER: Come on, add some personality.
TARALYNN ESCHBERGER: Because she used to teach dance.
TRACI ESCHBERGER: Are we having fun yet?
Do I expect Taralynn to be perfect? Absolutely not. I just expect her to do her best, and I know what her best is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Was that fun, Haley? Oh, I`m sorry. This is -- was that fun, Taralynn?
TARALYNN ESCHBERGER: Yes.
PINSKY: It was fun? It looks kind of intense and hard.
TARALYNN ESCHBERGER: It isn`t.
PINSKY: It isn`t? What do you like best about that working with your mom?
TARALYNN ESCHBERGER: Because I like spending time with my mom. It`s fun.
PINSKY: Even when it`s hard work like that?
TARALYNN ESCHBERGER: Uh-huh.
PINSKY: Haley, do you, guys, get spend a lot of time together, you and your?
HAYLEY DEMARCO: Oh, yes. We have the best relationship ever.
HAYLEY DEMARCO: Oh, yes.
ROCKY DEMARCO: Really.
PINSKY: Like friend relationship?
HAYLEY DEMARCO: Yes. We also have a mother-daughter.
PINSKY: You`re able to differentiate those two roles.
ROCKY DEMARCO: Right.
PINSKY: I noticed when you, guys, walked in, I asked you where you`re from, and you both said, we were born and raised in Jersey.
ROCKY DEMARCO: Right.
PINSKY: Haley, were you born and raised in Jersey? You said that.
ROCKY DEMARCO: Well, you know it is --
PINSKY: And you said right now just when I said that.
ROCKY DEMARCO: Well, because the thing is is that the animation factor and the loudness that we have.
PINSKY: It`s hard to explain. Try me.
HAYLEY DEMARCO: Well, my personality and my blood and everything where I`m from is -- my craziness is from like Jersey.
PINSKY: How much time do you spend in Jersey?
HAYLEY DEMARCO: Summers, winters, family.
PINSKY: OK. She spends a much time --
ROCKY DEMARCO: A lot of time. Six months a year there.
PINSKY: All right. We`ll take a look -- OK. We`ll take a look at the clip from VH1`s "I Know My Kid is a Star." This is Rocky`s daughter is being eliminated from competition, I guess, right? She was eliminated? We`ll weigh in after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROCKY DEMARCO: I can freaking dance, OK, I am --
HAYLEY DEMARCO: You should have been up there.
ROCKY DEMARCO: Me. Me.
I wanted to make a transformation and gave myself a different look and will be dressing differently for the elimination, so that I don`t outshine my daughter.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rocky, we`ve tried everything in our power to keep you on the right track, but it boils down to me. And I believe this is all about you and not Haley.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROCKY DEMARCO: OK. First of all, Danny Bonaduce trying to keep me on the right track is a joke in itself.
PINSKY: I understand. I know Danny quite well, but what about what he was saying about this seeming to be more about you than about Haley?
ROCKY DEMARCO: I don`t believe that at all. You know, there were things that happened on that show that, you know, didn`t happen the way that they were originally filmed.
PINSKY: Haley, you seem upset. You want to protect your mom in some way? What?
HAYLEY DEMARCO: No, I`m not upset, but, you know, it was like, like, as she said, some things were not fair.
ROCKY DEMARCO: We thought it was a legitimate child star competition which she wanted to be in, which she was perfect for. It turned out to be the whacked mom show and a circus.
PINSKY: Nobody is accusing you of being a whacked mom, but were you? Were you a whacked mom?
ROCKY DEMARCO: You know what, I`m whacked in life.
ROCKY DEMARCO: And either love me or you hate me for it, but I`m a great mother.
ROCKY DEMARCO: I`m a great mother.
PINSKY: We`re going to talk more about it, young ladies. Thank you for joining us. We`re going to stay with the moms. And when we come back, former child star, Melissa Gilbert. She`s got her owns words of warning for stage parents. Stay tuned.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED KID: It`s not me I`m worried about. Just don`t know what I do with anything ever happen to you and mom.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s (ph) going to have with us, not today, anyway. So, we live this life, each day, one at a time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Boy, we all miss Michael Landon so much. He was so great, and Melissa told me how she has responded to him and what an important person he was in your life. That`s her playing the beloved Laura Ingalls on "Little House on the Prairie." She started the role when she was just 9, and we welcome her to the show about stage moms.
Now, Melissa, in your book, you say that your mom played a big role in your life and that you resented her for getting you into some of the show business role, is that correct?
MELISSA GILBERT, FORMER CHILD STAR: Not so much into show business. I mean, you know, I started doing commercials when I was two. So, clearly, it wasn`t my idea. I didn`t wake up and say that day you know --
PINSKY: And let`s be clear, even if you had said mommy, I would like to be in commercials, that`s not -- kids don`t make career choices. You know what I`m saying?
GILBERT: I don`t think so. I mean, honestly, I am of the school and I don` have daughters. I have four sons, but all of them --
PINSKY: God bless you.
GILBERT: It`s extraordinary. But they`re very artistic and they`ve talked about being actors and they`ve performed, but I haven`t really -- I haven`t allowed hem to do that until they were old enough to really understand the implications of that and balancing school and all of that. So, really, not until 16 were they able to even start doing school plays.
PINSKY: So, your mom put you into commercials?
PINSKY: And then she kept going into theatrical roles.
GILBERT: And "Little House on the Prairie" started, and then, after than, my mother hired a manager, and then they created a production company for me when I was 14. I became a producer, and we did the "Miracle Worker" and the "Diary of Anne Frank," and then, they just sort of grew from there.
PINSKY: So, at the time, it seemed like a good thing?
GILBERT: At the time, the work part of it was the great part. It was the other part, the not having any privacy, the being -- everything was just heightened. Everything I did was heightened. People watched me eat in restaurants. People were -- and when I started dating, sort of trying to have an adolescent existence, it got even crazier, and that was really hard. And my relationship with my mother got very complex around money. Money was a real problem, still is.
PINSKY: It sounds like you guys were already enmeshed as you already sort of responsible for each other`s feelings, there wasn`t a lot of autonomy in the relationship, is that true?
GILBERT: That`s very true. And my father passed away when I was young. My parents split when I was six, then, my father passed away when I was 11.
PINSKY: So, it was just you and your mom against the world?
GILBERT: More or less. And my mother had been an actress.
GILBERT: And then -- yes.
PINSKY: Do you think she was living out some of her dreams through you?
GILBERT: Yes, I think that`s a fair assumption, and my sister, Sarah Gilbert, who was on "Roseanne," same thing, you know? It`s no surprise that this happened in our home.
PINSKY: What would you tell your mom if you could talk to her today about the effect this had upon you?
GILBERT: I would try to explain some of the negative stuff and how difficult that --
PINSKY: Why do we think of this? Why don`t you tell these young ladies what some of the cautionary issues might be?
GILBERT: Well, I think the most important things to do is to make sure, obviously, that there is time for the kid to be a kid. It`s really important. And especially, you know, when you reach a certain level of notoriety and recognize ability as I did, there wasn`t a lot of time for me to just be a kid. I was everybody`s kid.
ROCKY DEMARCO: I would like to say something about that.
PINSKY: Yes, go ahead.
ROCKY DEMARCO: You know, on the show that we were on, there was candy everywhere and slides and air hockey machines. None of the kids were allowed to play. Now, you`ll get something on your shirt. No, don`t do that. You`ll get dirty. Like, these moms were just brutal. And the thing is, the kid has to want to do what she`s doing. She`s got to have a love for it. She should never be pushed by the mother.
When the show was over, and I know my kid`s a star, I took Hayley to a commercial interview, which I don`t need to tell you how many thousands of kids are there. Even if you`re, like, one of the top kids, you`re waiting for hours.
ROCKY DEMARCO: So, Hayley got so bored that she wrapped herself in the oriental rug in the waiting room. I`m still having flashbacks. And was so impatient, I went, sweetheart, just tell me, is it enough -- do you really want this or do you want to be a kid? And she said, mom, I want to be a kid.
PINSKY: OK. So --
ROCKY DEMARCO: I took her out of it, and I took her out of it for like five years.
PINSKY: How did you get back into it?
ROCKY DEMARCO: Because nowadays, they`ve got the rock band going. They got all these things where kids are --
PINSKY: Does she want to get back into it?
ROCKY DEMARCO: Absolutely.
PINSKY: She wanted to get back into it.
ROCKY DEMARCO: She came to me.
GILBERT: I still don`t know that it`s necessary to do it on camera, though. That`s where it becomes a problem for me because I don`t know that the entertainment industry is the right environment for children. It`s hard enough. I mean, you know, I grew up blessedly with Michael Landon watching out for me as much as he possibly could. I was playing poker and I learned how to cuss when I was nine years old.
PINSKY: that`s what I`ve heard from a lot of child stars that living in an adult world made it difficult to be a kid. And there were always -- again, the encumberment, this is the issue and I like us to get if we can possibly is that issue -- I brought it up here once, the idea of immeasurement. The idea that -- mother and daughter relationships are already complicated, right? We all agree about this.
GILBERT: The most ever.
PINSKY: And by the way, as a male, all we could do is sit back and go, yagadi, yagadi. I mean like, what the heck? Sometimes --
GILBERT: That`s the smart thing to do.
PINSKY: I learned that the hard way, but sometimes, my wife and daughter will get into it and I literally will have no-no idea how it happened. I mean, all of a sudden, there`s like a little nuclear explosion. First of all, who`s the adult in this situation and what just happened and why is it so disturbing to you and why can`t you let go? Right? So, I`ve seen this firsthand and all I can do is fall behind. They go, oh, my God, this is a magical, crazy, intense relationship. Agreed?
ROCKY DEMARCO: If the mom is living vicariously --
PINSKY: It is by very nature it is that way no matter what.
ROCKY DEMARCO: Trying to make herself validated through this kid.
PINSKY: Of course it is. Of course it is. But even without that kind -- even without the intensity, as Melissa said, of being in a media world on a stage mom sort of culture, which is really we`re talking about here, even without that it`s a very difficult and intense relationship to manage. My fear is -- and Melissa, you ring in on this if you think this is right, is that there is so much and you`ve described it already yourself as me and my daughter out there in the world craving this career and it`s us against the world. And that already is an enmeshed relationship, right?
PINSKY: And so, that it`s hardened to be autonomous. It`s hard to be not responsible for each other`s feelings because you`re in this little capsule together.
GILBERT: Well, not only that, as a child, you start to -- or at least, I did definitely start to become so -- I guess co-dependent in my feelings that I didn`t express the things that I didn`t want to do, the clothes I didn`t want to wear. I would wear wool clothes and break out in a rash because my mom designed it so, therefore, I wore it and didn`t want to hurt her.
PINSKY: And now, you don`t want to hurt here, but how about those intense moments of joy, those amplified intense moments of joy where you shared the spotlight together, shared success together, it` almost a high, isn`t it?
GILBERT: It is. It is. We know it is absolutely a high.
PINSKY: Right. It is getting high. Traci, have you experienced that with your daughter in those moments of success? It`s like we see each other`s joy in one another`s eyes?
TRACI ESCHBERGER: Absolutely. I mean, when they have crowning at the pageants, I mean, you get very exhilarated and you`re excited for your daughter.
PINSKY: And she`s with you. You`re in this little moment together. That may not be good. That may not be good.
ROCKY DEMARCO: You`re talking about two different -- you`re talking about a pageant mom and --
GILBERT: I think it`s great to see your kid achieve, and I love watching my children achieve.
GILBERT: I think it`s wonderful. My 15-year-old son got a progress report. His grades went up, and he got invited to take honor A.P. Spanish.
PINSKY: But that`s you standing back. It`s him.
GILBERT: That`s him.
PINSKY: Right. That`s his thing. He owns it.
GILBERT: That`s not -- God knows that`s not me with A.P. Spanish, and I am so incredibly proud of him, but I have not said to one person, look what we did.
PINSKY: Or even having pride in it is a little bit of use your (ph) patient, isn`t it? It`s OK to have pride. I`m just saying --
GILBERT: I`m proud of him.
PINSKY: But be excited for him to be able to achieve this thing is different than --
GILBERT: Oh, I think it`s extraordinary, but my -- you know, it has been said to me that -- you know, my mother has said to me, you wouldn`t have any of this if it haven`t been for me.
PINSKY: Oh, that`s nice.
ROCKY DEMARCO: See, now, that`s just terrible, and that`s what all these moms on our show were like.
PINSKY: I`m with you. And think about what the backside of that message is. Without me, you`re worthless.
GILBERT: Yes, you can`t do anything.
PINSKY: Traci, you`re still lost in thought. Are you with us on this?
TRACI ESCHBERGER: No, absolutely. I mean, I agree. You can`t push your kids -- I agree with her. You can`t push your kids into doing something they don`t want to be doing. It has to come from the heart.
PINSKY: But understand that there`s a subtle and sort of addictive quality to this that is very -- you have to really be aware of it, which is you start sharing these moments together where you`re not differentiated. It just these joyous moments together which are intense and addictive and may not be what a kid needs which is the goal (ph) to be autonomous and go away from you and have the Spanish successes and have the Algebra successes that are not your at all.
GILBERT: It`s not what the kid needs, but it`s not like you need as a mother and as a woman. You need to have your tense of accomplishment your own, things in life, especially -- you know, I`ve reached that point now, almost 47 years old. I need my things, and I need to feel good about the things that I do on my own that don`t have anything to do with the kids.
PINSKY: Do you spend time as women, as mothers talking about these things? I mean, I saw you guys gathering together on this one issue like, yes, we need our time separate from kids. Do you support other moms in this issue?
GILBERT: I think it`s really -- I think it`s absolutely vital because how can you possibly take care of everybody else if you`re not actually doing something for yourself.
PINSKY: But support from other women is my question because God knows, as men, we`re useless. We don`t understand this thing at all, this mother-daughter --
ROCKY DEMARCO: The main thing that I teach my daughter, you have to love yourself, OK, before even thinking about getting into the business, because, you know, when you get older and you go through awkward stages, the business may not want you, but if you love yourself --
PINSKY: It`s a dangerous place. We have to go to break. Rocky, thank you for joining us. Traci, thank you. Melissa is going to tell it like it is. More of her insights and my final thoughts after the break.
PINSKY: We are back with actress, Melissa Gilbert, who knows and tells all about the reality of being a child star, and I might point out, mothering four boys, which I always find infinitely amusing. One women against four young males, parts, filth, you name it. It`s going to be in a mix for you everyday, isn`t it?
GILBERT: I`m either the queen of all I survey or I`m the most misunderstood creature on the planet. And they now have the thing, they go, mom, is it your time of the month?
GILBERT: That`s really helpful. That`s great. Don`t ever say that to your wife, boys.
PINSKY: I learned that a long time ago. You should teach your sons a thing or two about that.
GILBERT: I am, believe me.
PINSKY: So, let`s go back to the stage mom topic. You know, it`s a difficult topic. What are your final thoughts on this? Is it a bad thing for moms to push their kids into these things?
GILBERT: Well, I think push is the bad part.
PINSKY: Yes, but push can be very subtle. It could be, honey, we`re having such a great time together, let`s go do this.
GILBERT: I think there may be a way to nurture it when you have a child that has a certain ability, and when I say stage mom, I also talk about sports moms. There are skate mom, there are gymnastics and --
PINSKY: By the way, for the record, my daughter is an ice skater and I worried about that that she and my wife were getting into a little bit --
GILBERT: Some of those rink parents. I skated. I know.
PINSKY: Oh, really?
GILBERT: Oh, yes.
PINSKY: You had stage and ice skating. Oh, my God, Melissa.
GILBERT: I know. I`m a miracle, I`m a walking miracle. I think that when it gets beyond the nurturing stages, you have to maintain the nurturing and part of the nurturing and for me this is a big issue is, there`s money to be made and there`s money to be made in these -- there are rewards to be given.
PINSKY: So you think it`s like secondary gains that are driving some of these moms into this?
GILBERT: I think that`s part of it.
PINSKY: And I think fame seeking is a big thing. People seek fame because they think --
GILBERT: You can get fame from holding up your flip cam in your house and you become a household name, and you know --
PINSKY: it`s crazy.
GILBERT: It`s a different landscape that it ever was, but I think one of the most important things is when those things start to come into play, money especially, if you really want to kind of try and normalize it, the parents, the mothers, especially the parents, have got to involve the children in all financial decisions. Sitting your kids down and making them fill out a tax return makes a huge difference because the ball is not hidden. That`s a big issue. There`s more.
PINSKY: It`s some are reality testing, but then again, maybe we`re talking about a seven-year-old here. I don`t know how realistic that is. Isn`t it we`re talking about here the ability to create boundaries between mom and daughter and have some autonomy where the mom just sit back and let`s the child be a child and we just be present with them?
GILBERT: I just think a seven-year-old should be making mud pies.
GILBERT: I don`t -- I see, you know, these girls with the makeup and the lipstick and blue eye shadow.
PINSKY: So already we`re in trouble there, right?
GILBERT: Yes. That`s a problem. And in the pageant world, you know, they`re over sexualizing little children and that`s a real problem for me.
PINSKY: I don`t know if you want to talk about this much, but you had some issues later on in life as a result of not having that ability to regulate your emotions and be autonomous.
GILBERT: Yes. Not only did I not have a chance to regulate and be autonomous, but I also grew up in a household where we didn`t really express anything that was conceived to be bad and so that was anger or hurt.
PINSKY: So, what did you do with that feeling?
GILBERT: I stuffed them.
PINSKY: And then?
GILBERT: And then I would let them go on camera. And so, I got paid and rewarded for showing them there, but not at home. So, you know, I had to learn much later in life how to express them and I stuffed them and then I stuffed them later on with booze and here I am now, almost seven years sober.
PINSKY: Congratulations. And that is a topic I`d love to talk with you about some other time in the future. It`s different than stage moms, but I would love to explore that with you.
PINSKY: Such a pleasure.
PINSKY: Melissa, thank you for being here with us, and we will see all of you right here tomorrow.