I met Jenny about a year ago when we worked on a pilot for her together. Right off the bat, my favorite thing about her was that she’s like a gross dude who happens to be really hot, smart and funny. Full disclosure, my least favorite thing about her is that we’re not sleeping together. Jenny’s one of those constantly busy super talented, hard working people who you’d normally want to strangle because they make you feel like you don’t do enough with your own life, except for the fact that she’s actually really lovely, so you decide to save the envy-strangling for someone else. A lot of us first became familiar with Jenny when she co-hosted MTV’s Singled Out. She’s since had her own TV shows, been in a bunch of other shows, movies and even video games. She’s become an incredibly dedicated activist for all-things Autism, even creating her own powerhouse organization, Generation Rescue. Jenny’s also, because I think she’s found a way to stop time, become a hugely successful writer. Her 8th book is out today. So, I decided to ask her some questions about the book and basically anything else I felt like asking.
JILL: You’re a six-time New York Times Bestselling Author. Your 8th book, Bad Habits: Confessions of a Recovering Catholic comes out today. I guess what we’re all wondering is, why are you such a writing book slacker? I jest. How the hell have you written so many books!? I’ve written zero books, but 6,348 tweets.
JENNY: It all began with a thought which was “Fuck, I’m broke and just had a baby!” So I sat down and wrote 40 emails to my friend about the shit that happened in pregnancy and then turned them into chapters of a book. Then went out to sell it and everyone thought it was disgusting and no one wanted it, except for one small little company. They took a chance and it debuted on The NY Times List and stayed there for 3 months. Fortunately for my book followers, I remained broke due to autism bolls so i have always been motivated to keep writing.
JILL: What’s your process when you write? Is it a lock yourself away in a room for 6 months thing? You’re a super busy chick and a mom, so I feel like it must take some serious discipline, regardless of your process?
JENNY: I have a problem with instant gratification so I want shit done quick. I wrote a few books in 3 weeks. But, lately it’s been taking me 3 months.
JILL: 3 weeks!? Sometimes it takes me 3 weeks just to make one move in a Words With Friends game. Very impressive. So, you grew up a pretty hardcore Catholic and even wanted to be a nun for a while. Hence the cover of your book. What were the nun habits (Ba-dum-dum. I’ll be here all night.) that drew you to considering that lifestyle? And then conversely, do you recall the moment when you decided … actually, not so much with the nun thing for me?
JENNY: I wanted to be a nun because I was taught that your goal in life is to try and make it to heaven. So, naturally I thought by becoming a nun I would have a guaranteed ticket into heaven. I even walked around the house with a towel on my head, in the shape of a nun’s habit, blessing people. The moment I lost the desire to become a nun was when I learned they couldn’t have kids. I knew my goal in life was to get to heaven, but I also knew I had a bigger goal – to become a mom someday. So, I took the chance of possibly being damned to hell for the sake of motherhood. Also, when I saw a nun for the first without her habit on, I knew that a short permed fro was not in my future.
JILL: I like that your decision was 10% perm-based. You’ve said that Bad Habits is your examination of faith. Do you feel like your definition of faith has evolved over the years? And, do you think it’s ironic that you might feel like you have more faith now, even though you have more distance from Catholicism?
JENNY: Good question. Yes, my definition of faith has evolved over the years, as should everyone who believes in a higher power. I think it’s healthy to expand your belief system and open your mind to new ways of thinking in order to spiritually evolve. I noticed immediately when I let go of the concept that I didn’t need to suffer for enlightenment, meaning feeling awful about my sins, I was able to focus on the good things I was doing in my life and do more of that. Cause and effect was my tool that took me to the next level. I do good, my life is good. I do bad things, my life is bad. That seemed to help me learn a lot more than saying the rosary after each sin.
JILL: Incidentally, this Jewish girl on Catholic girl interview is kind of a turn on for me. What are you wearing? I’m wearing what I wore to synagogue for Yom Kippur last week.
JENNY: I’m wearing my usual. Which is nothing. But, I’m entirely bedazzled.
JILL: Yea, while on first hear, I thought, hey that sounds soooo pretty! My second thought was … runaway rhinestones. Now while I can’t be positive about this, I’m pretty sure that you’re the only formerly aspiring-nun that I’m friends with who has also hosted, Love in the Wild. Did you have fun doing that this past season?
JENNY: Yes, actually. At first,I was like oh no this is gonna be stupid. But it turned out to not just be a learning experience about relationships. Because, I also got laid by this really hot guy on the crew.
JILL: Win win, I say. I hear that you may be doing a late night talk show for VH1. This makes me very happy as you give good talk show and would kill it on late night. Also, I think that you could be a little less buttoned up on VH1 than you’d likely have to be on a network. What’s happening with that show?
JENNY: The show premieres January 18th. We will be shooting it out of NYC, because I live in Chicago now and it’s closer. I’m excited that they want me to push the envelope. Little do they know how far I’m willing to go.
JILL: Hey VH1, she’ll go really really far. By the way, that’s such a dreamy job for this writer and I will be stalking you about it daily. Speaking of shows, in addition to your own upcoming VH1 talk show and hosting Love in the Wild this past year, you also did Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve show with Ryan Seacrest again and you came back (as Courtney) for Charlie’s funeral on Two and a Half Men, among many other things. You’ve done a million shows (as an actress, as a host, sketch comedy) and movies. What’s your ideal gig? Is it settling into one thing, or would that drive you crazy and your preference is to always bounce around?
JENNY: I need constant change. That’s why book writing has been so awesome. I’m hoping the talk show will not feel like work, so it can be the dream job I always wanted.
JILL: You were the Playboy Playmate of the Year in 1993 and this summer you were on the cover, again. First, let me just say, when they came to me back in ’93 and then again this summer asking me to do those covers and spreads, both times I was like, “I’m very, very busy watching TV. I cannot do it. Why don’t you go ask Jenny McCarthy?” So, you’re welcome. Seriously though, you look beautiful and it’s so bad ass that you just did it, again. Were you psyched to do it this time around? What were your thoughts about it?
JENNY: I was excited because there is no other motivation that can top posing naked to get into shape. Oh, and also being broke. It did help pay for Evan’s tuition and I was looking forward to showing guys that 40 year old naked chicks are just as good as 20 year old naked chicks.
JILL: Well, while I don’t have a degree in this type of Playboy viewership analysis, I can confidently tell you – you were successful. So, you’ve written about motherhood, pregnancy, autism, relationships, sex and now Catholicism. Do you already know what’s next? Is there anything left!? At some point, do you just publish your To Do List and that becomes a Bestseller? I’d buy it.
JENNY: Haha I wish. I don’t know what’s next, but the dates I’ve gone on and the losers I’ve slept with in the past 2 yrs would, no doubt, be incredibly juicy, but insanely funny.
JILL: You’ve become an incredible force/voice with all that concerns Autism. You started your organization, Generation Rescue, when your son, Evan was diagnosed and you said: “I’m not settling for this!” Since then, you’ve used your personal story to help other people around the world. I’m in awe of your dedication. I say this because I feel like the default, for us as normal human beings, when we find out that our kid has any kind of condition is to put all of our focus on him and you’ve found a way to do that and then to touch so many others, as well. How’s Generation Rescue doing and how’s that hottie little dude, Evan, doing?
JENNY: The organization is booming. We are the only ones out there funding low income families who can’t afford autism treatment. Autism costs 80k a year. And insurance does not cover most treatment. I realized how blessed I have been to write books and get naked to pay for autism, but most people can’t. So, I took over the organization to raise money for people who make under 30k a year and we pay for their children’s treatment.
JILL: That’s really amazing. You’re doing book signings/readings in people’s homes across the country right now. How’s that going? Have you stolen anything from anyone’s house?
JENNY: No stealing yet. Just enjoying cat-filled couches and beer out of cans.
JILL: In the “Product Details” section of the page, Amazon lists Bad Habits: Confessions of a Recovering Catholic as being 8.4″ x 5.8″ x 0.9.” I love that your book sounds like a hot centerfold. In my perfect world, Hefner hosts a book launch party at the mansion and it’s filled with bunnies and nuns. Any chance of that?
JENNY: Fuck. That would have been awesome. Should have done that.
JILL: Thank you so much for chatting with me, Jenny! I hope you’re ready to be a seven-time New York Times Bestselling author, because here it comes!
Links for Jenny and Bad Habits: Confessions of a Recovering Catholic: