by Bambi Weavil
We recently sat down with the charming and beautiful Eden Riegel, most known for her legendary role as Bianca Montgomery, daughter of Erica Kane who happens to be a lesbian, on the popular daytime soap, All My Children. Riegel is currently filming Imaginary Bitches, but you won’t find it on the boob tube. You can only see the new popular webisodes through the Internet, including the Imaginary Bitches YouTube page. Riegel discusses her new series, the personal impact playing Bianca made on her fans and more:
Bambi Weavil: I know you’ve done Broadway, film, Daytime Television and now webisodes called Imaginary Bitches, which I think the webisodes are really fun, I like it! Do you have a preferred industry you like to work in, do you miss the schedule of Daytime TV or Broadway?
Eden Riegel: Because I grew up in theatre, I love to work. Theatre actors definitely don’t like cushy jobs where all you do is sit around all day. We really like to get out there and work on scenes, and so, Daytime really appealed to me in that way because there is so much to do everyday and so much stuff to learn, and you get to work with really great actors and there is a time crush and I got to play a amazing character who went through a whole lot.
So absolutely, I miss that, but it doesn’t afford you a lot of time for a life, so I am definitely taking advantage of the increased free time that I have. I met somebody and fell in love, and we got married and we’re very happy, we just adopted a dog. I could have done all these things while on All My Children, but it such a pace to keep up with it, it would have been very difficult for me. I didn’t even really date so much on the show, because it is very hard to have a life outside of work. So I am learning to appreciate slowing down a little a bit.
BW: How do you go about filming Imaginary Bitches, is it all in one take?
ER: Well, because we don’t have a huge budget, and limited time, and we don’t do one take, we do just a couple. Fortunately, a lot of the actors are from Daytime, so everybody is very on top of their dialogue and so we can move along at a quick pace. It’s actually really lovely because we get along so well, there isn’t a lot of preparation, or nerves, or anything like that. And we’re having a grand old time, and to get from scene to scene to scene, basically we do about 8 pages in a day which is a kind of a lot, we tend to shoot six episodes in five days or 8 episodes in 6 days or whatever that is, and we just have a really really good time.
BW: How did Imaginary Bitches come about? I thought it was a great idea and I can’t believe no one’s thought of it before (laughs).
ER: It was completely my husband’s idea. Actually it was on location, shooting a film, with Jack Black and Michael Cera, produced by Judd Apatow, and all those guys have a huge presence on the Internet and they love creating projects to put out on the Internet. Michael Cera was on a series called Michael and Clark, and Michael and Jack Black were both on a series called Drunk History that was released while we are on set. And I was looking at these guys who were big, big movie stars, and make tons of money and can do whatever they want, and if they wanted to do a film, they could get a film made. But there really is a difference between having a idea, and going to producers, trying to get money, going to the studio, giving away creative control, and everything taking time, and needing to get approval from all the rungs up and down the ladder, and then just, on the Internet what you can do there, you can have a idea, get your friends together and record it on amazing video cameras these days, tie it together, put it online and still millions of people have access to it.
Imaginary Bitches has been seen by over 1.5 million people and those are numbers that some TV shows would kill for. Those are numbers that some film comes out and they don’t get those kind of numbers, and it’s just amazing to me that Andrew had this idea actually while I was on that set and told me about it and I said ‘yes, absolutely, let’s do it’ because I realize what a amazing world the Internet was. Now I’m completely online, I have a MySpace page, I have a Facebook page, I have a YouTube page, I’m learning all about this stuff and it’s so exciting and people all over the world can access the show with a click of a button.
BW: Are you going to syndicate it throughout the Internet or are you going to keep it on YouTube?
ER: Well we already put it on up on FunnyorDie, but our home base is YouTube, that’s where we premiere the shows because they just get so much traffic. Because YouTube is such a huge place, and in terms of we just want people to find our shows and discover and watch it. And getting the word out, YouTube is the greatest place to start, and just because of the incredible traffic and everybody is so excited about what they see. And ideally, and it’s already started to happen, people see the show and like the show and they relate to it, and they forwarded it on to their girlfriends and say, ‘this is so us’, or ‘sometimes I feel this way’ or ‘watch this, it is really funny’, and then maybe they forward it onto their girlfriends and it spreads like that. That’s what we are hoping for, that people like it and to pass it along.
BW: How would you explain Imaginary Bitches to someone you met off the street that has never seen the show?
ER: I would say that it’s a fresher, edgier Sex & The City. It’s about a girl and her girlfriends, but all of them are in serious relationships and she’s single, and feels left out. And so she sort of deals with this situation by making up imaginary friends to talk to who unfortunately turn out to be serious bitches.
And I think, it’s interesting, I know when I was single, and a lot of my friends now are single, they sort of feel like they are left out of a couples’ only world. And it’s really hard and you can feel sort of alienated and your friends have a couple of dinner parties and you’re not invited, because it’s awkward to have a fifth wheel. At the same time, I think a lot of what makes the show relatable, the concept of talking to yourself, I think everyone’s been in this situation where you’re in the car and you’re trying to talk yourself up because you have a important meeting, or you have a date, or you have a conversation that you have to have with somebody, and you are rehearsing it in your head. Or if you’re staring at a piece of a cake and you are wrestling with yourself about whether you should eat it or not, and you have a voice in your head, telling you go ahead, ‘fuck it’, and the other voice telling you no. Then you have been in the situation where you are talking to yourself and sometimes when you get lonely, you talk to yourself.
And at the same time, there’s something really amazing about releasing the inner bitch. I think as women, a lot of us are taught to be quiet and demur … and not necessary say what you think, and there’s something really freeing and liberating about being in touch with your own instincts and your own thoughts. I know that for years, if I had a unpleasant thought or thought something mean about something or somebody, I would just stuff it down. But now that I am getting older, I realize that those instincts are correct, and you should listen to yourself and never do things that feel uncomfortable. Sometimes those bitchy voices can really help you out.
BW: You have written the characters as imaginary bitches, and I love it how you are portraying something we can’t see, but yet we can actually ‘see’ them and we can relate to them….
ER: Yeah it’s so unfair that you can’t see then you can imagine your own bitches (laughs).
BW: Do you have a favorite bitch that you have premiered so far?
ER: There are both very different there is actually, I’ll give you a little hint, there is a third bitch on the way. But so far, we have Catherine and Heather, and Catherine’s definitely the bitchier of the two, she’s just mean and bitter (laughs). But she has been hurt by men before, and there is a side of her that she doesn’t want Eden go through the same things she has gone through and she’s very realistic about it. I think the bitches’ philosophy, which is a very positive one, is you don’t need a man to complete you. All you need is yourself and your girlfriends. And in this case, my girlfriends are actually myself (laughs).
So on a deeper level, they are just telling me that I need to love myself first. Heather is this sort of ditsier of the two and she is definitely the sex fanatic. (laughs) Both of them think guys are only necessary to have sex with them and to use them like a box of tissues. They are not shrinking violets, they say what they think. (laughs)
BW: What kind of feedback have you gotten with Imaginary Bitches? Are you getting a high buzz on the show that you can trace?
ER: I’ve gotten MySpace feedback, and on message boards and chat boards..and people writing me, and I love scanning the boards and see what people are saying, because it is so gratifying to see people who get it. People who get it and like it and relate to it, people saying, ’oh my God that is so me!’, ‘that is totally my life!’ or ‘wait, talking to yourself is a bad thing?’ (laughs) They do a lot of it. There is a void…right now with the Sex & The City movie coming out, but some people sorta feel sometimes that their friends are more interested in dating guys. Andrew put a blog up called the Bitches Blog, Imaginary Bitches writing about dating and relationships – called BFFB: Best Friends Forever Who Bail. And it basically said, if you have a friend, who has a boyfriend or wants a boyfriend, drop her, because she is going to drop you like a hot rock as soon as someone comes along. And maybe she’ll hang on to you, but just so she can talk about how cute her boyfriend is. And the response has been ‘yeah that’s right, that happened to me’ or, ‘I did that and now I regret it.’ And I think that women need each other, and that girlfriend relationships are incredibly important and that sometimes that gets neglected and there is such a focus on other things……
BW: Coupling and courting and all of that (laughs). Do you keep it once a week, how long is the season?
ER: The first season is 13 weeks. We have a new episode up every Friday, at 11 Eastern, 8 Pacific. There are some really, really amazing actors guest starring tonight, Greg Rikaart from Young and the Restless, is a potential suitor for me (laughs). He’s phenomenal and incredibly funny on the show, and it’s great for all the soap actors and all actors to get to show a different side of ourselves. It’s not often we are able to do comedy, and we have such a great time. I mean, I know playing Bianca she definitely had a lot of drama to deal with, and it’s really nice to do something so light and fun. There are real issues but they are dealt with a comedic, light touch, so we never get too serious.
BW: I’d like to offer a guest suggestion if you don’t mind…Fiona Hughes…
BW: I would love to see her on there. I don’t care what you do with her, you can have her serving coffee, it’d be fun.
ER: (laughs) That’s amazing. She’s out here doing a soap right now, isn’t she?
BW: I have no idea, I know she’s doing fashion..
ER: She was on…getting a new role on a non-ABC soap…I’ll have to look her up. I’m dying to get Susan (Lucci) on the show…
BW: Oh my….of course!
ER: I haven’t spoken to her about it or anything (laughs) since she’s in New York…wouldn’t it be fun? I was doing a radio show and one of the fans suggested that, and Andrew said, ‘she’s the best Imaginary Bitch ever!’ (laughs) I’m sure if she had time in her schedule she would, but she’s also the busiest lady in show business.
Everybody on All My Children has been so supportive and they are watching, so that’s so great. We try to get Cameron (Mathison) and we’re still hoping to. We were best friends growing up, it’d be really fun to get him in there too. We just know so many good actors, there just aren’t enough roles for them, so we’ll have to keep doing episodes so we can get them all in there.
BW: I don’t think you’ll run out of material. (laughs)
ER: (laughs) It’s amazing. Andrew is a brilliant writer and it’s going to sound terrible, but it sort of writes itself..like I think he’s hit on something. Just like a imaginary friend, it takes a life of its own and so he comes up with these ideas, they are so organic that he almost feels like he’s not the one coming up with them, that he’s the vessel, you know? (laughs)
BW: It seems improved honestly…
ER: Really? That’s a very huge compliment.
BW: It looks like you came up with it on the spot.
ER: Oh that’s awesome! Of course that’s what everybody always strives for.
BW: So you are on to something good (laughs). What was the most rewarding experience for you doing All My Children?
ER: The most rewarding thing about it was getting to hear peoples’ stories and how they could relate to the character and how Bianca touched their lives. It was a amazing experience, I would go to fan events, like Super Soap, or the fan club event or any kind of signing…but people would come up to other people and take their picture and get their autograph, but people would come up to me and have a palpable need to tell me their story.
Because I was fortunate enough to play a character who were going through things that some people had never seen on television, let alone on their favorite soap opera, and that people could relate to Bianca’s coming out, and to the rape and to the loss of Miranda, and some things that happened to Bianca that some people felt the need to share with me. So that was my most memorable experience.
When I first started the show, I received a letter from a young man that said that he was gay and that he knew he’d come out of the closet and that his parents wouldn’t understand, but his mother was a long-time All My Children fan and they watched it religiously every single day. And that after his Mom saw Susan in her character Erica, going through her child coming out of the closet, he felt comfortable telling her that he was gay. And because of the show, she knew what gay was, and she saw how Erica dealt with it, that she saw Erica come to terms with Bianca’s sexuality, she was in a better position to comes to terms with it and now they have a much better relationship and they watch the show together. That was very early on in my run on the show and that was the first time I ever realized the potential impact.
The show had a unique point of view, it is so beloved by so many people and people who maybe aren’t necessarily as open to learning about people that are different than them. You know, housewives in Middle America..you wouldn’t think of them as the most open-minded people, but they loved the story, they embraced the story, they loved the character. And they proved to be amazingly open to Bianca’s story.
BW: Because you have done all of that work I know you were involved with GLAAD, are you still able to do gay-activism type events even though that storyline has passed?
ER: I would be completely open to it, I have family members and friends of course who are gay and I was very happy to hear the recent Supreme Court ruling here in California that will afford the privileges and responsibilities of marriage to everyone and all people, and I’m really hoping that is not overturned of course. I’d love to be involved. When I was on the show, I went to GLAAD events and things like that, we raised money for the Matthew Shepard Foundation and so on and of course I’m very interested in those kind of activism events.
BW: The obvious question, do you think they will ever bring back Bianca and Maggie?
ER: You know, you never ever say never, I would absolutely be willing to come back to the show at anytime at least for a visit. I know Liz (Hendrickson) is busy now involved with Young and the Restless, so, I don’t know if that concludes Bianca and Maggie reuniting on the show, but I hope so. I’d like to think that the fans now at least, as I’m dealing with all things imaginary right now and they can imagine (laughing)…Bianca and Maggie together and that is how the story should end up. Because Bianca hasn’t been on the canvas for a while, and nobody’s been talking about Maggie or what’s going on with Bianca’s ex, then there is a good chance they have gotten back together again. Only time will tell.
BW: I remember how much of a fight it was…
ER: There was Lena fans and Lianca fans….there was a bitter rivalry. I had to be careful what I said at that point because I didn’t want to alienate either one of the fan groups. Because of course, I’d like having both of them chasing after me (laughs)! Who wouldn’t! The sexiest Eastern European woman and the cutest little nymphet. I’d like having the little love triangle.
BW: Did you have a say in the writing?
ER: Oh God, not at all!
BW: I just remember the calls to action..the BAM fans, ‘write here! send this letter, it makes a difference!’ I remember them organizing all these cute items to get the point across.
ER: Absolutely! It was very, very serious, it was so incredible but people still take it very, very seriously. I was so amazed because not been on a show for a while, reaching out to BAM fans again, I thought, well ya know, ‘well I don’t know if they are still around..I’m sure they’ve lost interest…’ but no way! They are still very into it, and we made a real impact on them. They are still into it. They would definitely welcome a Bianca and Maggie return for sure.
BW: I’m really glad we are able to catch you on Imaginary Bitches! You can see Imaginary Bitches through their YouTube page at http://youtube.com/imaginarybitches and their official homepage at http://imaginarybitches.com/. Thank you Eden for your time!
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