Chastity Bono grew up before our eyes. In the 1970’s, she was a regular guest on her parents’ The Sonny and Cher Show. In the early 1990’s, at the tender age of 21, she was outed by tabloid Star Magazine just as she was getting ready to launch a career in the music industry. She made one album (Hang Out Your Poetry) with her band Ceremony and during this time even appeared in a tiny role in the lesbian independent film Bar Girls.
She left the music biz for her next career move as writer at large for The Advocate, the national gay and lesbian magazine, and officially came out in 1995 on its cover. She later interviewed her mother for another cover story.
During this time, Chastity also began working as a high profile gay rights activist on behalf of the HRC, appeared as a spokesperson to promote “National Coming Out Day,” and campaigned for the re-election of President Bill Clinton and against the “Defense of Marriage Act.” Bono later made another career switch, becoming Entertainment Media Director for media watchdog group GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation).
While at GLAAD she wrote (with Billie Fitzpatrick) the book Family Outing: A Guide to the Coming Out Process for Gays, Lesbians, and Their Families, her personal coming-out memoir mixed with others’ stories of coming out. After her stint at GLAAD, Bono wrote (with Michelle Kort) a second book, The End of Innocence about her outing, her experiences in the music industry, and the illness and death of her partner Joan Stephens from non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
But after a lifetime of high profile visibility, Bono dropped off the media radar for several years, reappearing this past January on season 3 of VH1’s Celebrity Fit Club.
I first met and interviewed Bono on the Fit Club set where the low and high ropes challenges took place at rustic Cali-Camp in Topanga, California. The second interview happened soon after the season ended with Bono phoning in from the West Hollywood house she shares with girlfriend Jennifer Elia plus four Sphinx cats and a dog.
During our two interviews, Bono, 37, spoke openly of how a past addiction to prescription painkillers led her to retreat from the media spotlight and contributed to the weight gain that drove her to compete on Fit Club.
Interview Part 1: 12/10/2005
AfterEllen.com: What made you decide to go on Celebrity Fit Club?
AE: Because on your own, you wouldn’t try to lose weight?
AE: I would think that having people helping you and training you would be less pressure. What’s the pressure, doing it in front of cameras?
AE: Are you pretty competitive, or is it just more self-competitive?
AE: So had you gained weight recently?
AE: Did you do any kind of exercise or eat healthy before the show?
AE: What was your moment when you decided it was time to start losing weight?
AE: How did you get on the show, did they contact you?
AE: Were you insulted?
AE: What contributed to you getting overweight, a slow metabolism?
AE: So this is recent that you’re sober?
AE: So that’s also something you had to decide to change.
AE: Have you changed your diet?
AE: How were you eating before?
AE: Do you have an actual weight-loss goal?
AE: You’re the captain of the Blue Team, how did that come about?
AE: What does it entail?
AE: Is that your personality?
AE: Is that a nurturing…
AE: While you’ve been in the public eye forever, people haven’t had this kind of access to you before. Is that something you wanted to do as an identity thing, for people to get to know you?
(Bono’s lunch break is up and she leaves to participate in a high ropes course.)
Next page: the post-show interview