HOLLYWOOD – Lisa Rinna is lounging on the sofa in her Hollywood Hills bungalow sipping a cup of hot cocoa that husband Harry Hamlin just made. Staring out a window into a neighbor’s backyard pool party, Lisa struggles to hold back tears as she shares the tale of an agonizing inner conflict she suffered for many years.
“I was my lips! My lips were me! Why is that so hard for people to understand? Why?”
Harry Hamlin came running into the room carrying a big white teddy bear and a ukulele. Lisa grabbed the teddy bear and squeezed it tight. As Harry strummed softly on the ukulele, Lisa hugged her teddy bear and wept.
It was twenty-five years ago when a young Lisa Rinna impetuously decided to have silicone injected into her lips. Profound breast implants followed, which she claims led to her big break into show business – daytime television’s Days of our Lives.
“My lips and breasts, together with Days of our Lives, threw me into the national spotlight. It was at that point I became aware that I was destined for greatness.”
Throughout the nineties, Lisa had several high profile appearances on mega-hit shows like The Hogan Family and Melrose Place along with many movies on the Lifetime network. To quote TV Guide: “When you add Days of our Lives to that stellar lineup you’ve got the recipe for a Hollywood legend.”
“I knew toward the end of the nineties that I’d reached a plateau that few women ever dream of. But I kept my ego in check. At that point I was married to Harry whose promising career had stagnated into direct-to-video movies. But Harry was mature enough to handle being over-shadowed by a beautiful and talented wife. Many times I brought him along to star-studded events, fundraisers and award shows.”
“I was astonished that she didn’t realize that the entire set would be mocking her,” recalled an actress from one of Lisa’s movies. “We used to call it the pooched face. God, it was hilarious. For days everyone walked around doing the pooched face behind her back, sometimes right in front of her. She was clueless.”
Lisa told the Daily Rash that she first became acquainted with what she calls “my own personal Auschwitz” during a break on the set of blockbuster mega-hit, Good Advice, co-starring Charlie Sheen.
“Charlie had beaten up a prostitute the previous night in an alcohol and cocaine induced meltdown. She came to my trailer the next day looking for a shoulder to cry on and antiseptic for her cuts and bruises. I poured her a cup of tea, but her lips were so swollen from Charlie’s beating that she was unable to drink from the cup. She looked up at me and said, ‘now everybody’s going to make fun of my lips like they do yours.”
Lisa stared out the window as Harry quietly strummed the ukulele.
“At that moment everything changed. I ran out of my trailer crying hysterically. It was just too much to take in all at once. I went to a liquor store and bought alcohol. I remember wondering if I would end up in rehab like so many successful artists do.”
Harry Hamlin told said he’s never questioned the fact that he married Lisa because of her blow-up doll appearance.
“What was there to question? The lady had bulbous lips, balloon breasts and a limited capacity for understanding. I had no doubt I’d found my soul mate.”
After years of introspection and thousands of hours of therapy, Lisa decided last year to have her lips deflated. The healing process has taken many months during which time Lisa has learned much about herself and life.
“My large ample lips gave me an identity that I didn’t have before. When I walked down the street with my lips and breasts bouncing, I felt like a somebody. When truck drivers honked their horns or gang-members yelled vile, sexual taunts my way, I knew I could accomplish anything.“
She dabbed her eyes with a tissue.
“Is that so bad?”
After performing on Dancing with the Stars and taking a turn as guest judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race, Lisa made the decision to return to serious acting.
“I was blessed with the gift of acting. Don’t get me wrong, I’m going to miss my lips, but I see now that they prohibited me from getting more prominent roles throughout my career. Harry and I are producing a remake of Sophie’s Choice that I’m going to star in next year. Although Meryl Streep’s performance in the original is quite good, I’ve always felt I could have added a little bit more depth. More of an upbeat flavor, if you will. I remember years ago watching the original movie and thinking, where are the laughs?”
Harry continued to strum his ukulele as Lisa gazed out the window. The glint in her eye seemed to say, yeah, I’ve been though some tough times. But I’m a survivor. And people….you ain’t seen nothing yet!