WITH TAMMY FAYE
Televangelist and Pop
Culture Misfit, Tammy Faye Bakker Messner opens up about
makeup, the PTL scandal, and receiving comfort from Ron Jeremy
and Vanilla Ice
INTERVIEW BY RANDY WAAGE
Tammy Faye Bakker Messner is best
known for her love of mascara and for creating the biggest
Christian television network, "Praise The Lord"
Ministries with her then husband Jim
Bakker. In 1987 all of that changed when PTL went bankrupt, Jim went to prison, and Tammy
had to find the strength to make it on her own.
You grew up poor with 8 other siblings?
Iím the oldest. I grew up in International Falls,
Minnesota. Right there on the Canadian border. It gets cold up
there. Itís the coldest in the nation, but I love it!
Iím a down to Earth Girl country girl. Iíll
never forget where I came from.
Are there things that you collect?
I donít collect anything except shoes & purses. I
love shoes & purses. My Aunt Virginia use to call me Purse
Poor. I spent so much money on purses that I didnít have any
money left to put in my purse.
I make cool cigar box purses. I make all kinds of things. I
make jewelry. I can make just about anything if you can do it
with your hands. Iím very crafty. I love to decorate. Iím
good at decorating TV studio sets and I pretty much decorate
my home like Iíd do a
set for television.
Do you have a favorite fast food restaurant?
I like Chiliís a lot and I also like Applebeeís. I love
Pizza, but I donít sit in front of the Pizza Hut and eat.
Iíve read youíre into sweets & junk food.
I like Chocolate and Pizza period. Nothing else. I think
everybody knows Iím a Chocoholic. I also live on Diet Coke,
which isnít good. I drink about 6 a day. Maybe more. I have
a diet Coke sitting somewhere all the time. Iíll drink them
cold, warm, flat, and fizzy. Iíll drink them a day old. I
Why donít they make you a spokesperson for Diet Coke?
Theyíve missed out on something there. I donít know why
they donít. Maybe Iím too old? I feel about 25 inside.
Do you eat vegetables?
What is a vegetable? Is Pumpkin Pie considered a vegetable?
When I had cancer I changed my eating habits a lot. I began to
eat more vegetables and cut out the sweets. Iíve become much
more careful about how I eat. I think itís important to keep
my immune system healthy so the cancer doesnít come back
You have a slim figure.
I do. I work on it. I keep an eye on it. If I get over a
certain weight I cut back for a few days. I can easily take 5
pounds off in a week.
Youíre not taking Diuretics?
Heck no. Generally, what I take is Slim-Fast. I love Slim-Fast. I
donít eat breakfast. I start everyday with Slim-Fast, which
is full of vitamins. It tastes good. Of course I drink the Milk
Maybe I should get in on that.
Itís very satisfying and if you want something really
good put it in the freezer. Let it get almost frozen, but not
quite. Put a little dab of cool whip on the top. Oh my gosh! Youíd
think you died and went to heaven. Iíve tried other drinks
and I think Slim-Fast is the best. Itís the only one Iíve
been able to stomach so far. Slim-Fast gives you lots of
energy and all the vitamins you need.
Whenís the first time you put on makeup?
After I went on Television. That was the first time I ever
put on makeup as far as wearing lipstick and all that. My
girlfriend put mascara on me when I was 16. That was all the
makeup I put on until after I was married.
You were brought up in a strict environment.
I never knew anything different so I didnít think much
about it. I was so happy when I found out God didnít give a
heck that I wore makeup or not. He looks from the heart not on
the outside. Once I finally realized that I was free.
How much do you think is too much makeup?
Thereís no such thing. Everybody ought to have the
privilege to put on as much as they want.
Do you think only women should wear it?
I think drag queens have to wear it.
I noticed in the documentary, "The Eyes of Tammy
Faye" that Rupaul is the narrator.
He and I are good friends. He makes a more beautiful woman
than any woman Iíve ever seen.
Which celebrities have a tough time with makeup?
I donít care how they wear their makeup. I donít judge
anybody by their makeup. Itís not a big deal to me.
Why do you think America is so fascinated with you?
I have absolutely no idea.
You were on the 2nd season of Surreal Life.
I had fun doing that. I got thousands of e-mails. I have
read every single one of them. I had an atheist e-mail me
saying I donít believe in God, but Iím going to pray
for you just in case. I had every kind of denomination. It was
one of the most unbelievable things that has ever happen to me
in my life. Every time I do a show the e-mails pour in. To me
e-mail is such a delightful thing.
You became friends with everyone on the show?
Ron Jeremy just called me and I told him I was well. He
said God answered my prayers. Itís so cute because Ronís a
New York Jew and I told him he was right. God did answer his
prayer. A couple of days ago Vanilla Ice called me up. He said
Iím just checking on you to see how youíre doing. Heís
an awesome young man with a tender heart.
Erik Estrada and I talk. I call and leave messages on
Trishelleís machine. I just give her little momma messages
you know. I tell her I love you & I hope youíre doing
well. Just kind of encourage her.
There arenít certain people you donít want to associate
with or talk to?
Thereís no one I wouldnít take out to eat or have in my
What if people have different thoughts or beliefs from
I believe in Jesus Christ. I believe that we must be born
again. I believe thereís such a thing as salvation. People
call it religion. Itís not. Itís salvation. I believe itís
something that happens between you & God that becomes a
Do you believe in reincarnation?
Absolutely not. My bible says that doesnít happen.
We only have one shot?
After this itís all over. When weíre gone from here itís
heaven or hell. Thatís what I believe.
Have you seen visions? Has an Angel talked to you?
No. I know that God guides me and directs me when I need
direction & I donít know what to do. I believe God
healed me of cancer along with the doctors and their
knowledge. I think heís the healer and heís the reason I
beat lung cancer in 5 months. The fact that people prayed for
me. If I donít know what to do I just ask God. If Iím not
supposed to do something he closes the door & doesnít
make the opportunity available anymore.
Iíve seen times were I feel in my heart I should be doing
something. The feeling wonít go away so I just go ahead and
do it. I feel everyone can have God as their friend.
Are you forgiving?
I love people and God loves people. As far as Iím
concerned we all have the same hurts, the same wants, the same
desires, and the same needs. When Iíve gone to foreign lands
theyíre the same as we are. I think the world is basically
Why is it that so many people arenít forgiving?
Thereís a devil and heís alive and well. He does his
job really well. I think the devil is what makes people cruel
and mean. He causes people to murder and to do horrible acts
to each other.
Is there a rhyme or reason to why God is so bad towards
Heís not bad towards anybody. Everybody goes through
crap. Itís not just the poor ministers. God allows different
people to go through different things to make us strong, to
build our character, and to light our path.
I have a verse that I live, work, eat, sleep, and talk. Itís
from Thessalonians in the bible: "In everything give
thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning
If I know Iím walking with the Lord and trying to live a
Christian life that whatever comes in my pathway that he
allows it. If he allows it I can take it. Iím not going to
complain about it. Who wouldnít you go through something to help
a lot of people go through it? I would.
Your family was forced out of the Praise the Lord Ministries.
With all the adversity I went through I understand what itís
like to lose everything. I lost my home, my car, my family,
all my finances, and my reputation. Everything. I know what itís
like and I know you can survive it. I know you can make it if
you just stand firm. That itíll all come back.
At first the "Praise the Lord" television
ministry was a great success story.
We never dreamed that could happen. We just worked hard, we
loved God, we loved people, and thatís what happened. It was
more surprising to us than it was to anybody.
You did your TV show for 20 years?
We did the show for almost 30 years.
When you look back on everything are you amazed at your
body of work?
Itís almost like it happened to somebody else. Itís as
if it didnít even happen to me.
Is it because itís been so long ago?
When I was on television I pictured some people sitting in
their house and thatís whom I was talking to. I never
dreamed that there were millions and millions of people out
there. In fact our ratings went over Johnny Carsonís many
times. I could never think that big. I never thought that much
about it. We had the largest Satellite Network in the world at
You were honest about the ups & downs of your
relationship with Jim.
Sure I was. Jim & I went to a marriage workshop three
times. The marriage workshop we created is the one we went to
ourselves. We created them because we were having problems.
What more can you say about that?
You set up charities to help people out.
We set up charities all over the world. Not just the United
You had a huge singing career with more than 40
albums. How does all that get done?
Wind me up and away I go. You get done and you make another
one. They still
order the albums from
me. I put them on CD. I still sell lots & lots of CDís.
My favorite song in the whole world is Blessed Assurance. Iíve
recorded that two or three times.
You only had your salaries from PTL?
My albums alone and the books we wrote more than covered
our salaries. We gave all that money back to the ministry. We
never took one dime. I have three Gold records hanging on my
wall. We gave all those profits back to the ministry. People
donít want to know about the good stuff. If they knew the
good stuff then theyíd have to realize that they believed
something that was not true and people donít want to be
The media sometimes only tells one side of a story.
The media makes up their own way the story should be
written and that has been very sad to me.
It must have felt at one point that PTL was getting so big
that it was spinning out of your control.
It did. It got bigger than Jim & I. We were just two
kids from Michigan and Minnesota. We didnít even have a year
of Bible College under our belt. We didnít know how to do
television. No one taught us. We just went on and did it.
PTL was eventually taken from you.
We just got an apology from one of the main men who
destroyed it. I just got a long e-mail and he apologized
profusely. I have gotten so many apologies itís absolutely
unbelievable. This is one of the leaders of PTL that we
trusted and found out later he couldnít be trusted. We didnít
know that. He wrote and apologized. That meant so much to me.
He asked that weíd keep it confidential, but Iím grateful
that he said Iím sorry. He needed to do it for himself not
me or not for us.
Jerry Falwell played a big role in the downfall of PTL.
Yea. Jerry has never said anything to me. Iíve wanted to speak
to him, but he wonít speak to me.
Were your friends around when you were in need?
Very few people were around. Hardly anybody. It was an
interesting study of human nature. We persevered in God. It
was all God. He said Tammy you donít need people Iíll help
you. Thatís what I felt God was saying to us. He made some
unbelievable things happen for us during that time when I didnít
know where the next house payment was going to come from. I
didnít know where the next meal was coming from.
Your ex-husband Jim Bakker was sentenced to prison.
It was very sad. It was the saddest time in my life. My
children too. We
were all hurting more than anybody will ever know. There no
way to talk about hurt like that because thereís no way to
talk about the depth of hurt. Thereís no way to put it in
words. The depth of hurt canít be put in words. Hurt is a
feeling. Itís not something you can talk easily about. Itís
Was PTLís Heritage USA an amusement park?
It was more of a campground with a big waterslide in it. It
was more of a ministry place. Itís still there and somebody
just bought it. Theyíre opening all the buildings back up
again. Their first service was last Sunday. Christians have
bought it again. They reopened up the Heritage grand, which is
a huge, gorgeous hotel. Theyíve opened up the upper room
again which is copied from the upper room in Israel.
They do fabulous plays at our big Amphitheater. My children
still love Heritage and talk about the place. Weíre all glad
itís reopening again and is going to be used for the gospelís
sake. Itís like a small city. Itís tons of acres. It was
huge and went for miles & miles.
Youíve said Jim was a quiet, shy person.
He is a shy person. I have a high respect for him. I still
think he did the best talk show that ever was. I still think
he was the best one in the Christian world. Everybody has
tried to copy him ever since. I donít care what they say
thereís nobody that can come up to what Jim did. I have
great respect for him. I wish heíd
do it again. Heíd kick everybody in the butt. He still has
the ability to do it. Nothing really has changed.
You still talk with your ex husband?
Yea, whenever the grandkids have something going on in
school. Jim & his new wife Lori will come down. Of course
my new husband Roe Messner & I will go and have lots of fun
What's it like to see parodies of yourself being done on TV
shows like Saturday Night Live?
I laugh harder than they do. Laugh and the world laughs
with you. Cry and you cry alone. I had to learn to do that. It
hurt badly at first because I was hurting horrible. My little
heart was broken in pieces. I prayed to die and I prayed that
our whole family would die, but thank God he did not answer
that prayer. Iím awful glad he didnít.
What about the "The Jim J. and Tammy Faye Show"
you did back in 1996?
I love Jm Bullock. He and I are like brother and sister. I
had 11 different people I could have chosen for the show. Jm
and I have the same wild personality. We say what we think and
think what we say. We are very easy going people, but yet weíre
very over the top in our own ways.
Are there celebrities youíve met or found interesting?
Iíve been on Drew Careyís show. I love Drew. I love the
lady on the Golden Girls Estelle Getty who played the Grandma.
She came on the show totally prepared not to like me. She said
by the time the show was over, "I fell in love with
Now sheís very ill and I feel sad. I wish there was some
way I could go and see her, but sheís too sick. Betty White
went to visit her and she didnít even know Betty. Estelle is
going through a hard crisis in her life right now. I love her.
She was on our show three different times and I told her I
thought she was the cutest little lady I ever saw in my life
& how much I loved her work. I met Phyllis Diller who is
an awesome woman.
Phyllis is interesting, but I wouldnít want to meet her
without her makeup.
There are people I wouldíve liked to have met, but maybe Iím
glad I didnít. I wish Iíd met Lucy and Liberace.
and I were at the same hospital at the same time. He was dying
of AIDS at the time and I had Pneumonia. I wanted to go see
him, but my doctors felt that in my delicate condition it
would be best that I didnít go into a sick room with anyone.
Liberace told the people who worked for him to make sure
Jim and Tammy get to see my house. They called us up after I
got out of the hospital and Liberace had died and they invited us
over to see his house. We then went through his home. I cried
because I loved Liberace. I thought he was a great, great man.
He was a good human being.
I wish Iíd met Elvis too. They said he watched PTL all
the time. I would have loved to have met Elvis. He was one of the
neatest people. Theyíll never let him die. Elvis will never
die. Heíll always be around in people's minds which is good.
What projects are you working on?
Womenís Entertainment has just bought 90 minutes of a new
documentary about me. The people who did "The Eyes of
Tammy Faye" did a new documentary on me. They were with
me during my first Chemotherapy treatment clear on through to
when I found out the great news that I was cancer free. Randy
and Fenton of
Worlds of Wonder produced it. Theyíve been
kind people and theyíve changed my life.
These are two gay friends of yours?
Most of my friends are gay. Iím not kidding you.
Youíre a fag hag?
Most of my good buddies are gay. I like a lot of them. Many
of them have stayed at the house. They come through to see me.
Iíve got so many gay friends that I write to and who Iíve
adopted. Iíve got one young man who Iíve unofficially
adopted. He calls me mom. I try to help him through some of
the things heís going through in his life right now. Iíve
kind of unofficially adopted several young gay men. Iím just
there for them as mom. They all call me mom. I answer to that
name happily and with great humility. I preach to a lot of gay
Does your love of gay people alienate certain Christians?
There are a lot of Christians in the gay community too.
Some of the nicest people Iíve met in my life ever are
gay and my husband agrees with me.
Being gay can be tough.
I know it is and that makes me sad. Your life shouldnít
be any tougher than anyone elseís. I have a special love in
my heart for the gay and lesbian community. I have these two
lesbian ministers that I go preach for all the time.
They have a wonderful church. Iím happy because for a
long time the guys would fill my one-woman shows. Weíd have
a ball together, but very seldom would the girls come. Now
theyíve opened up their hearts towards me too. To me people
are just people. I donít care what they do in their
bedrooms. That doesnít make any difference to me.
Many Christians state homosexuality goes against their
Thatís their beliefs, but the church is suppose to love
everyone. I think itís terrible what the church has done to
the gay community. We should at least agree to disagree and
live in harmony. I
want to be part of the church that helps bring us all
together. I want to welcome the gay and lesbian community into
Didnít you meet the Senior President Bush at one time?
I met dad and mom Bush. I met president Reagan. Jim flew on
Air Force One with two of presidents. He flew with Jimmy
Carter and he flew with Ronald Reagan.
That is a privilege.
He felt it to be that. He felt honored to be a part of
that. I met Nancy Reagan like everybody else. You line up and
shake hands. With mom and dad Bush we were at some place where
they live with a lot of other people. Mrs. Barbara Bush was
kind to us and took a couple of us girls upstairs and showed
us a rug she was making. She was very, very kind. She was very
down to Earth and homey. She is a wonderful person.
there people that you're surprised were fans of PTL?
Rosie O Donnell said she could sing the whole PTL theme.
She said I bet you canít. I said no I canít. She sang the
whole theme. I couldnít sing it. She watched our show and
told me I taught her how to do TV. Iíve heard a lot of
people say that. Kathie Lee came and was on our television
Is there anybody that you donít like?
Why would I not like anybody? There are people Iíd rather
not be around. Itís not that I dislike them. Itís just I
donít want to be around them. Itís not because you donít
like them itís because thereís certain people we enjoy
more than others.
You donít have a mean bone in your body?
Iím sure I do somewhere. I can get riled up just like
Would you like to do a variety show again?
I would like to do a show like Tammyís House Party again.
It was really, really fun. There wasnít anything we didnít
conquer. We went for the gusto.
I would like to do a television show. I think a lot of
people think Iím too old. They give people with a lot less
experience than Iíve had TV shows. I think I could do a show
that would be fun. Maybe it would be too clean. I donít
know. I donít know if itís because I have high morals. I
wonít swear or talk about sex. I wonít do all that stuff
We were a reality show before their was a reality show. We had
no scripts. We were live.
Iíd still like to work with young people today in a kidís
show. I want to know what makes kids tick. I want to know whatís
the difference between todayís generation and yesterdayís
Is there anything about Tammy Faye weíd be surprised to
I love baby dolls. I love dogs & cats. I love animals
more than anything. If I could I would rescue every dog from
every dog pound. My ex-husband would tease me that I loved
animals more than people. Thatís not true. Iíve got two
dogs and two fish right now. Iíd have birds if my husband
would let me. He thinks theyíre too noisy.
Is there a particular designer that you go for in your
I love Target. I love TJ Max and I love Marshallís.
Anything that says resale on it Iím heading there. I like
anything thatís baggy & sags & drags. Iím kind of
a gypsy at heart.
You had your own line of wigs for a while?
It worked out good because I got free wigs. I have a makeup
line called, "Heaven". Itís a neat makeup line
that they sell in boutiques and beauty parlors. Itís got my
face on it.
We worked hard to make good makeup. I wasnít going to put
something out there I wouldnít use myself. Iíve got good
colors and fun things. I didnít want it tested on animals.
We got our makeup line altogether and youíre not going to
believe this. Someone asked about Mascara. I was in shock. It
was the first time I forgot about the mascara. I didnít even
think about my makeup line carrying mascara.
Mascara is your bread and butter.
Right now weíre looking for good mascara. I want
something waterproof because thatís all I wear.
Is there a particular color you like?
I stick with black. I stick with LíOreal Lash out. I think black mascara looks good on everybody. I think
everybody could look better accentuating their eyes a little
bit. I believe the eyes are windows to the soul. I think you
can tell a lot about a person from their eyes and by the way
they look or donít look at you.
If you have a little bit of eye makeup and lipstick youíre
ready to go. I didnít say false eyelashes. Itís important
to care about yourself. I look at women who donít wear
makeup and think who do they think they are that they can get
by without it. Itís the insecure ones that wear it.
Would you ever leave the house without makeup?
No, never. I do it for myself. I donít do it for somebody
else. I do it because I care about myself. I want to look the
best I can in any situation.
It has become your trademark.
I am the queen of makeup & mascara and not one big
Makeup Company has asked me to be their spokesperson. Even if
they did it to make fun of me it would sell their makeup for
Youíd be okay with that if they made fun of you?
Oh sureÖheck yes. I make fun of myself more than anybody
makes fun of me.
Is there a particular way women should apply makeup?
Lots of it! I honestly donít wear as much as I claim to.
I really donít.
You want it to look natural?
I donít like anything natural. I donít like natural.
No, I donít!
You want people to know youíre wearing makeup?
I think if youíre going to wear makeup people ought to
know youíre wearing it.
You have a couple of different styles.
I get bored easily. When I get bored I change. Iím a
blonde again. Iíve been a redhead for years.
Do blondes have more fun?
Definitely. Iíll tell you redheads have lots of fun too.
When you were growing up was there someone you had a
I loved John Wayne. He has always been a hero to me as far
as a man. He was a Marlboro man.
What do you want to be remembered for?
I want people to know that I lived what I ministered. I
walked my talk. I look up to Billy Graham because he walked
He was the one guy who visited Jim in Prison?
He was there when Jim got out of Prison. Billy invited Jim
up to his house and was kind to him. They gave him a wallet
because he didnít even have a wallet out of prison. He didnít
have anything and Graham helped him up. Billy Graham is my
hero. I think he is a modern day hero of believing what you
If that can be on my tombstone, "She walked her
talk" then I will be a happy person.
Find out more about Tammy check out her website at
If you get the chance rent or buy the great documentary
about her life & the PTL ministries called, "The
Eyes of Tammy Faye"
You can also watch for Tammy in repeats of the 2nd season of The Surreal Life.
For the die hard fans of Tammy Faye Bakker Messner you
can listen to the entire interview in 4 sections:
Thanks again Tammy for the interview. Quite a few of Tammy's songs are
catchy and I would
love to hear a few of them remixed into dance mixes. Come
on homo DJ's help us out!
CLICK HERE for a special retroCRUSH Greeting from Tammy Faye