This summer, Bravo’s new reality series Work Out featured one of the most realistic — and dysfunctional — lesbian relationships ever seen on television. The star of the six-episode docudrama was 37-year-old Jackie Warner, the owner of upscale Beverly Hills gym Sky Sport and Spa who has a hot-tempered, jealousy-prone 26-year-old girlfriend, Mimi.
Nearly 1 million viewers tuned in for Work Out‘s finale on Aug. 22 to watch Warner end her topsy-turvy relationship with Mimi, making the season finale the most-watched episode of the series. AfterEllen.com recently caught up with Warner by phone to ask her about her impact as a gay role model, the surprising popularity of the show among straight women, her difficult relationship with her mom, her girlfriend’s infamous biting, and — oh, yes — getting back together with Mimi.
AfterEllen.com: Work Out has been my favorite show of the summer.
Jackie Warner: Thank you, honey, I really appreciate that. I love hearing that still. I went to Mexico over the weekend — I could not believe how many people approached me in Baja.
AE: American tourists?
JW: Yes. My biggest fans, it seems, are middle-aged housewives from the South.
AE: Oh my God!
JW: I’m not joking. I get approached so much by middle-aged housewives from the South. Their husband’s sitting there, and two teenage daughters, and it just cracks me up and they’re so excited to talk to me. It’s really quite interesting.
AE: Why do you think that is?
JW:You know, I said to Sarah, the girl I was training in the fourth episode —
AE: The socialite in Palm Springs?
JW:Exactly. I said, “If you’re straight, you’re in trouble around me,” and it does seem to be the case that I get a lot of middle-aged housewives who are attracted to me. And I can tell you I get like 500 emails a day — it’s overwhelming.
AE: Oh my God.
JW: A lot of them send me pictures, and they’re with their husbands or kids, but they desperately want to talk to me, and a lot of them are babes or pretty women. It’s fascinating. I always knew that in my heart, though, didn’t we all know that a lot of women get married and they’re totally repressed and they just need a lesbian they feel they can relate to in order to be attracted.
AE: After Ellen [DeGeneres] came out on TV, there was a whole surge of older women who came out.
AE: It is just TV, but it definitely influences people.
JW: It does influence people. I never realized how much until I received all these responses and people who are just desperate in the gay and lesbian community to have someone who makes things easier for them. You know, the more role models that we have that come out and that are living their lives and living good lives and saying, “Yeah, I’m gay and I’m fine with it,” like Lance Bass.