Karl: Did you want to use your real name? You don’t have to, some people don’t.
Dedee: What, like “Carol Brown?” *laughs*
Karl: Okay, we’ll use Dedee then.
Dedee: I used an alias back in the day when I had crazy fans trying to kill me. One of the aliases I used was Hank Green. I’ve always loved the name Hank, and green is my favorite color.
Karl: Shall I refer to you as “Hank?”
Dedee: No, because if I give it to you, I can’t use it anymore, right?
Karl: No, I suppose not. I’m going to get started then, Mr. Green.
Dedee: You do that.
Karl: Today is Friday, November 9th, 2012. I’m at, what seems to be rather clubby today, Marix Tex Mex interviewing the lovely actor, producer, and student, Dedee Pfeiffer. Thank you for giving me your time today.
Dedee: Of course. I’m an artist too you know.
Karl: I didn’t know that about you. What do you do?
Dedee: When I wasn’t acting I was sculpting male nudes. I just do them for myself, they’re not out there or anything. In fact, one’s a door stop – it’s a girl I did – beautiful pose, beautiful body, I just wasn’t feeling it. But the men… I love sculpting naked men.
Karl: Have you ever considered exhibiting them?
Dedee: No, I just have two in my home. They were very therapeutic when I was acting because there were so many days, months, and years sometimes where I went without working. When you have too much time on your hands you start obsessing about the wallpaper, the socks on the floor, the toilet seat being up or down… I took up the sculpting to keep my creative juices going and not be so obsessive.
Karl: Yes, it can be very zen and meditative at times.
Dedee: I did a sculpture of someone who is no longer with us. I cared about him a lot. I had to take a hammer to it and destroy it because I couldn’t look at it. It reminded me of such a painful time. But I have it in my head. I could sculpt it again.
Karl: It’s so intimate when you’re working on something like that.
Dedee: It is. When I work a piece, I have to be… I don’t want to say “turned on” but excited about the pose, excited about what I’m sculpting.
Karl: Can you state your age for our readers? Feel free to approximate.
Dedee: I’m 48, proudly. There is nothing more gross than a woman who lies about her age. When women don’t embrace it, you find out and think, “Awww, poor thing!” I never want people looking at me like that. When friends remind me that I’m almost 50, I say, “No, I’m staring down the barrel at 50 because this shit only gets better!” Bring it on!
Karl: Well, you look fantastic.
Dedee: Thank you.
Karl: You’re doing so much right now, I bet that has a lot to do with it.
Dedee: I believe that age is a number that keeps track of time and has no relevance of anything else. There are some 16-year-olds I know who are more mature than many 45-year-olds. Why give it such importance? Granted, I say that while all three of my ex-husbands were between eight and twenty years younger than me.
Karl: What’s your current relationship status?
Dedee: “Healing.” I’m divorced and healing. After three divorces I’m pretty wounded. But this is an opportunity for me to stop all the craziness with acting and producing and put myself through school to become a Psychologist. It’s a time to stop and work on myself, so that next time I find myself in a relationship, it will last… for the duration of my long life!
*smiles* Someone from my past has repeatedly told my boys, “You know, she’s almost 50,” so all of a sudden they think I’m about to die. I said to them, “Dude, I have every intention of living to 100, so I’m only half way there. So take a deep breath, Mammas not goin’ anywhere!”
Karl: Does telling them that help?
Dedee: Well, my mother suffers from Alzheimer’s so they’re doing the math. They don’t view me as almost 50 because I’m short, hyper, wear pig tails and don’t give in to that age bullshit. But they see my mom and ask me, “Wait a minute, that’s not going to happen to you is it?” And I say, “Well, not until I’m at least 100!”
Karl: I’m sorry. I watched my parents go through something similar with their parents, it’s difficult.
Dedee: It is difficult. My best friend died of AIDS, my dad cancer, I had an ex-boyfriend who committed suicide.
Karl: Jesus. Well, for what it’s worth, I’ve found that the people in my life who have been dealt the most blows tend to be the ones who celebrate life the fullest.
Dedee: I’ve had quite the colorful life. All of these losses could make me bitter, jaded, and angry but I refuse. I love waking up in the morning.
Karl: Do you love being a student? Are you a full time?
Dedee: I’m a full time mother and full time student. So I’m now able to help my sons with their homework! Before I would think, “Well, I don’t know how to write a term paper.” But after English, Math, Algebra, Statistics, Anthropology, Child Development, Speech, Sociology, etc… now I look over at my son and say, “Oh! Those are word problems! Trust me, get those right now when you’re young because they get ugly!”
Karl: What’s it like to go back to school as an adult?
Dedee: I raise my hand every class, make sure I’m prepared, read everything and do everything the professor wants… I’ve become a really good student. My professors have said, “Dorothy, we love having you in class because you help keep the class moving and you ask questions that provoke thought.” I may make a comment and someone will say, “Um… I don’t think I agree with her.” The professor will say, “Well, tell us why you disagree with Dorothy? You’re 18, she’s 48 – here we have two generations with completely different approaches toward this one topic. Let’s talk about it.”
Karl: In addition to sculpting, what else do you like to do outside of school?
Dedee: Take showers. That’s become a rare activity lately. *laughs* (God, I sound like such a smelly bitch.) All I do in college now is wear hats, no makeup, and sweat. To unwind… I like to lay with my kids and watch cartoons in my CA Queen. We lay sideways so it’s even fatter and wider, which typically turns into a pillow fight. To me, that is the best part of everyday. We also cook a lot. I turn the music up loud and we dance around and I teach them how to cook. We always make each other laugh and try to out smart each other.
Karl: You must exercise a lot for someone who spends a lot of time in the kitchen.
Dedee: I can’t get off the treadmill. I quit smoking thirteen weeks ago. I did the patch and I quit.
Karl: Congrats. Good work.
Dedee: I still have my inhaler. *takes a puff*
Karl: Do those work?
Dedee: Oh yeah! Look! *points at chewed up tip* I chew on it. I’ve actually lost weight quitting. I kept telling myself, “I’m not going to gain weight… I’m not going to gain weight… It will just give me an excuse to start up again.” My boys never see me do it, but they smell it on me. I brush my teeth, I put the cologne on, I come out and they’re like, “Uh… Really, mom?” I just transferred my addiction from the nicotine to the treadmill. I study while I’m on it. I’ve found that I’m a kinetic learner and it sticks in my brain that way.
Karl: I’ve heard of that being effective. That sounds awesome.
Dedee: It is awesome, except that now when I take tests, I have to stand and do this… *stands in front of table and simulates being on treadmill* I stand and sway. I’m alone, thank God, because it’s for Special Services, but you know they tape you. And you know they watch the tape and say, “Hmmm, we need to study that one.” But I get A’s. I’m on the Dean’s List.
Karl: Wow, Dedee, that’s fantastic!
Dedee: When you do it as an adult, you don’t just do it, you fucking do it. I didn’t quit an industry I spent thirty years in to just dick around.
Karl: So it’s Forensic Psychology? Is that what I read?
Dedee: Originally, it was Forensics. I wanted to do criminal profiling but I quickly realized that I don’t have the stomach for it. So I’m still Psychology, but I’ll be a child crisis specialist.
Karl: So kids who experience a traumatic event, like Columbine or something, they would bring you in to counsel them?
Dedee: Yes. I’m taking thirty years of acting and rolling it together with all of this education and I’m going to do something no one else has ever done. I don’t know what that is yet, but I know I believe in it. I can’t see how all of that, and all of this can’t help at least one child. With the personal trauma I’ve experienced in my own life, I can say to the child, “I get it, dude. Been there, done that. Tell me a story and then I’ll tell you one, which one do you want to tell me first? Someone died in your arms? My dad died in my arms, my friend died in my arms, my Rottweiler who was 115 lbs. died in my arms and I couldn’t even pick him up to get him in the car. Maybe the kid will say, “I saw my friend take a bullet. I had blood all over my hands.” I can say, “Got it. I had blood all over me.” It’s empathy, not sympathy. Instead of some crusty old therapist asking the child how he or she feels, I can say, “Fuck that, I know how you feel. Talk to me about it.”
Dedee to waiter: What’s your name?
Dedee: Cory, do you have anything hot and spicy that’s going to blow me out of this restaurant? I know you got some guys back there, you tell them, “Don’t be scared of a five foot three and a half inch blonde because they cannot make it hot enough for me.”
Cory: I’ll get you some chile de árbol, how’s that?
Dedee: C’mon, I’ll eat that like ketchup. Okay, fine. Thank you. At your Santa Monica location, the cooks used to come out to see who was trying their hot sauce, and I’d be going like this. *simulates drinking directly from hot sauce bottle* They would come out thinking it was some 300 lbs. guy and they’d see me saying, “Um… Not impressed.”
Cory: *laughs affectionately* Okay, I won’t spoil the surprise, I’ll let them think you’re 300 pounds. I’ll see what I can do.
Karl to Cory: Crab and shrimp enchilada.
Dedee: Cory seems like a sweetheart. I like my men hot, and my food hot. I like everything hot and fun, or what’s the point?
Karl: Well, on that note, what brought you to West Hollywood?
Dedee: Oh man… You have to understand that this was so many years ago, none of this looked like this. It’s unrecognizable to when I lived here. I lived down the street from Circus of Books. Two or three buildings down, there’s a white duplex on the right, I lived in the top unit.
I was first living in my sister, Michelle’s, guest house in Santa Monica. I lived above her and her first husband, Peter’s garage. It was just a room and a bathroom, but it was awesome. It might have even been a storage room, but we painted it and made it really cute. But once Lori, my little sister, wanted to move up to LA from Orange County, the two of us were in this little teeny room sharing a bathroom. Yea, that only lasted a few weeks. We needed something cheap and we found this awesome 2-bed duplex with a photographer friend of Lori’s named Michael. So Michael and I took the bedrooms, and we made the dining room into a room for Lori.
The area was… How do I say this?… All the money that has gone into Weho, you can see it now. If anyone remembers what things were like before all the money went into it, that’s what we had moved to.
Karl: Pretty grimy then huh? Was that the appeal, or you just needed something cheap?
Dedee: We just wanted something affordable. Remember, this was way before they put any money into any of these areas. I was just so young and naive. I was barely twenty and prostitutes were being beaten up in front of my apartment and yelling at their pimps. I had a Rottweiler so I didn’t need a gun, but it was dangerous.
I was working as a cocktail waitress at the Hollywood Tropicana while Lori was working at Gaucho Grill which had just opened. My nickname at work was “Double Delicious.” *laughs* There was this little cafe around the corner from Circus of Books where Lori and I would spend all of my tips on two Cokes, a big thing of fries, and hours at the Galaga machine.
Karl: Double Delicious and Galaga? Man, the good ol’ days!
Dedee: *laughs* No, I wasn’t a mud wrestler, just a struggling actress waiting tables on what had to have been one of the hardest crowds. And man, that machine was our damn heroine. *slaps vein in arm* To this day I’m still looking for “Bob!” He would beat our high score everyday while we were at work. We would show up at night and scream at the machine, “Bob! Who is this Bob?! Doesn’t he have a job? How can he have 40,000 points? This guy needs to get laid! What is wrong with him?” Then we would look at each other and say, “What is wrong with us?!” *laughs* We were no different – two hot girls, cute as hell, spending our nights in a gay community playing Galaga! I don’t know who Bob was but I would love to meet that son of a bitch one day.
Oh, and we would get barked at on the way there. *smiles* Guys would bark at us. We didn’t know what the hell they were doing until a gay friend of mine explained that we were in their territory and they were saying, “Get out of here!” I thought maybe it was just how they said hello here.
Karl: Was it hard to make friends in the area? I would’ve thought you two would have been popular.
Dedee: We became friends with these gay street boys. They were homeless. One Thanksgiving we actually made a dinner for them. We brought them in and the whole thing.
Karl: Wow! Good for you, that’s so sweet of you guys.
Dedee: Well, then they stole Michael’s camera equipment, my shoes, a calling card…
Karl: At Thanksgiving?! That’s terrible!
Dedee: Well, we don’t know when it happened. But, that’s okay. I tell my boys, “Karma is not about giving to get back. Karma is about giving because it feels good.” One of those kids got a job and got off the streets. I don’t know what happened to others but it was important for us to take care of our community. If you look at it in the bigger picture – these kids are trying to survive on the streets. They must have left an environment that was less desirable than being homeless. They chose sleeping out in the cold over going home. That says a lot about them. They did what came naturally to them, which is to survive. Those kids didn’t take my shoes to wear them, or take the camera lens to take pictures, they sold them for money.
Karl: What are some of the most noticeable changes you see as you drive through this area now?
Dedee: I used to walk out my front door to a guy giving another guy head behind the bush in my front yard. I think that’s changed. *laughs* Driving down Santa Monica Blvd. now, it’s just gorgeous with the shops and the buildings. There has always been somewhat of a flare. Even when it wasn’t “pretty” for lack of a better word, a lot of houses had style. They just didn’t have the money. They were trying with what they had. So what I’ve noticed over all these years is that element become more amplified and visible. This is seriously beautiful to drive through now.
When kids are young they get dirty, their nails get a little long and they have scratches and band aids… but later, when you see that kid after going through school, now as a working professional, you go, “Awwww, look at you! Where’d your band aid go? Where’d your dirty nails go? Where’s your broken toy?” Like a proud parent, I have watched Weho bloom into an adult. All of the people in this community took a dirty young neighborhood and nurtured it, cared for it, and helped it bloom into an amazing, prosperous adult.
Karl: That’s a beautiful way to look at it.
Cory: *points to untouched salad* You don’t eat much for 300 pounds.
Cory: Would you like to take this home?
Dedee: No, but I’m about to take you home… Just sayin’.
You know who’s going to eat this? My son. The other night he woke up at 12:30 and found me eating his Halloween candy.
Karl: Oh my God, the Halloween candy… It’s torture, isn’t it?
Dedee: I was so tired and broccoli and fish wasn’t cutting it… The gluten free pretzels weren’t cutting it… My raw almonds weren’t cutting it. I needed to stay awake for finals so I went for the M&Ms. He wakes up and asks me, “Are you eating my M&Ms?”
“Yes, I am,” I said.
“Can I have some?” he asked.
“No,” I said. “But look, this is what you get to do in college, you get to eat M&Ms all night so you can stay up and cram.”
He said, “I can’t wait to get to college.”
(I gave him two M&Ms.)
Karl: What would you like to see more of in West Hollywood?
Dedee: I’d like to see Cory be more friendly. No, I don’t think I’d change a thing here. Why fix something that’s not broken? And I say that completely acknowledging that there may very well be something broken here that I’m not aware of. But I think it’s wonderful the way it is. That’s such a student response isn’t it? I’ve become such a critical thinker, I have to look at everything from all sides. Years ago I would’ve said something safe like, “Weho needs more trees!” And you’d say, “Uh… Trees?! What sort of fucking answer is that?”
Karl: *laughs* LA can always use more trees. And where do you see the city twenty years from now?
Dedee: If they keep this up, they had better spread out. If more of LA could be like Weho, LA would be a better place to live in. There are a lot of things going right here that are not going as right in the surrounding areas. In 20 years, if a nuclear bomb (metaphorically speaking) is going to hit LA, West Hollywood will remain unscathed. There may be a little dust, a little shrapnel, but they’ll brush it off, pour their neighbor a margarita and say… “Let’s go dance.”