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Larry King Live

Supreme Court Upholds Boy Scouts' Ban on Gay Troop Leaders; Darva Conger Poses in 'Playboy'

Aired June 28, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, the ex-"Millionaire" bride bears more to the world than the showed her-married-on-TV husband. Darva Conger first primetime interview since posing for "Playboy," and she'll take your calls. But first, the Boy Scouts booted James Dale out as leader because he's gay. The Supreme Court said that's OK. It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening.

By the way, Hugh Hefner, the publisher of "Playboy," will also be with us for a bit of time when Darva joins us.

We start with James Dale and Evan Wolfson. James sued and lost in the United States Supreme Court today to remain a scout leader with Boy Scouts, The vote 5 to 4. The Jersey law upheld him, but they struck that law down. Evan Wolfson is dale's attorney, and he's the senior staff attorney with the Lambda legal defense and education fund.

Now, James, were you surprised at that ruling?

JAMES DALE, GAY EX-BOY SCOUT LEADER: I was very surprised, being that the Boy Scouts had always taught people to be honest and open with who they are, and this seems to go against everything about that.

KING: Were you a lifetime Scout?

DALE: I was in scouting for about 12 years, and I attained the rank of Eagle Scout, and I was assistant scoutmaster when I was expelled at the age of 19.

KING: Why did you come out?

DALE: The reason why I came out is when I realized and discovered the fact that I was gay, I didn't think that it was appropriate to hide that. The scouting program always taught me to be honest and open about who I am, and also to be a leader in my community, and those were exactly the same things that I was doing that prompted my expulsion from scouting.

KING: Evan, the majority opinion was 5 to 4, written by Judge Rehnquist, says, "The Boy Scouts asserts that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the values. To require the Scouts to accept an openly gay leader would significantly burden that organization's right, and that that organization literally can have its own conditions." What's wrong with that?

EVAN WOLFSON, JAMES DALE'S ATTORNEY: Well, what the Supreme Court said in its 5-4 majority is that this organization has the right to discriminate, but the court did not say that discrimination is right.

And the real losers here today are the Boy Scouts, because they have won the right now to call themselves an anti-gay organization. But who is that going to help? We have a lot of lesbian and gay kids in this country. We have a lot of non-gay kids who need to learn about people who are different from them, and this ruling today is going to do nothing to help those kids.

KING: Evan, did you argue before the court?

WOLFSON: Yes I did.

KING: All right. Were you surprised at the ruling today?

WOLFSON: I was surprised. I was surprised and disappointed. We really hoped that at least one or two more justices would join the very strong four members of court who dissented in much more powerful, much better reasoned opinion.

But again, we feel that no matter really what happens legally today, the real power of this decision and this case is that it has educated America that there are gay kids, there are people like James Dale who are qualified to work with them, and frankly this decision will be will be left behind in not too long a time, because most Americans don't believe in bigotry and discrimination.

KING: You, I guess, were not surprised at Scalia and Thomas, though.

WOLFSON: They were less surprising.

KING: James, what would be wrong with, I guess, a gay Boy Scout troop?

DALE: Actually, that was never what we were fighting for. I think the scouting program had always taught people to be honest and open about who they are. I think the sad thing here, now, that teaching kids to hide who they are, and that ultimately damage that is going to happen -- the Boy Scouts have won a very shortsighted victory -- what's going to happen now is that people across America are going to speak up and speak out, because this is not what America is about. They have create the Boy Scouts for some Americans, not for all Americans. I think that sponsoring organizations, such as schools, and fire departments and police departments.

I think that lots of donors are going to say, "Why am I supporting a program that says that only some people are OK, and a program that is teaching that some kids are better than others?" I don't think that's where America is heading. Like, for example, dinosaurs became extinct, because they couldn't evolve. The Boy Scouts are going to be irrelevant if they don't catch up with where America is today.

KING: Evan, do you think that the Boy Scouts are almost quasigovernmental?

WOLFSON: Well, the Boy Scouts are extraordinarily entangled. Twenty percent of the troops are sponsored by public schools alone. Others are sponsored by fire departments and police departments. And today's ruling, if the Boy Scouts continue to discriminate, leaves open the question now, of how public schools can continue to support a discriminating organization. And frankly, there are a lot of organizations that people cone can turn to put resources into, groups like Girl Scouts, groups like the Boys' Club, like the 4H Club, while filed brief on our side, all of whom don't discriminate, all of whom really do welcome all kids.

KING: Based on this ruling, though, if there were a lesbian Girl Scout leader, she would be tossed, right?

WOLFSON: No, because the Girl Scouts of America does not discriminate.

KING: Oh, they don't have that ruling.

WOLFSON: That's exactly right. What the court said is that the Boy Scouts can discriminate if they want to, but it's a very hollow victory, because why would they want to?

KING: But obviously, James, they want to.

DALE: And I think an important thing here now is when I was 15 years old, I was a gay kid, and in Scouting, I found a place that taught me feel good about myself, to sort of pride myself on those qualities that made me unique, and I think what the Boy Scouts are doing now, is they're telling gay kids to hate themselves, they're telling kids all across America that they're not equal, and they're teaching non-gay kids in scouting program that they can only deal with people that are just like themselves. They're creating a homogeneous society, where these leaders that they're creating are going to ill- prepared to deal with real world.

WOLFSON: Part of what's sad about this case, Larry, is that the Boy Scouts really had to minimize themselves, diminish themselves, in order to win this case, They're a very important program, they mean a lot to kids, but you wouldn't know that from the way they described themselves to the court and the way the court allowed them now to discriminate. That's going to be a real blow to a lot of kids.

KING: All right, Evan, Yogi says it ain't over till it's over. Is it over?

WOLFSON: Absolutely not. Courts do not have the final word. It's now...

KING: They don't? The supreme court doesn't have final -- well, the membership could change, right?

WOLFSON: That's exactly right.

KING: Boy Scouts could change its policy.

WOLFSON: Exactly. And the members now can speak up. Parents now can speak up. Sponsors, public schools the United Way, people who put a lot into this organization, I think are going to be very surprised to learn that the organization that they thought is open to all boys, it turns out is a discriminator.

KING: James, then, do you think this might be a Pyrrhic victory for them?

DALE: I definitely think so. I think that we're on right track as a nation. I think that we're moving in the right direction. There are over 700 groups in high schools, gay-straight alliances in public high schools where gay kids come together and find support in their peers. The Boy Scouts are positioning themselves to be obsolete. And I think that as a nation, over 10 years, we have come to realize, that there are gay people all around us there are gay and lesbian people in our families, our neighbors, and I think that is a reason to be very hopeful.

KING: Are you going to miss being a Scout Leader, Jim?

DALE: Definitely, because the reason why I'm fighting this for 10 years now and the reason why I stuck with it for 12 years before that, is because I think in it has potential to be a really wonderful program. But the Boy Scouts have taken that away from themselves by putting their foothold in discrimination.

KING: Thank you, James Dale and Evan Wolfson. Another historic decision that the court today -- they say the decision could work in reverse.

When we come back, Darva Conger and for a while, Hugh Hefner, and wait until you -- we got stuff to show you. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE, and welcome to our program for I think the third or fourth time.

Darva Conger, the annulled "Multimillionaire" bride. She's in our studios in New York, and she is the featured pictorial and the cover shot on the August edition of "Playboy" magazine. There you see its cover. I guess we can't show you what's inside the magazine, but it is very revealing. We will show you some parts with some parts blocked out, I guess. And the man who made it possible, the founder, and editor-in-chief of "Playboy," is Hugh Hefner. He's us in our studios in Los Angeles. He has to leave shortly. Most of the hour will be spent with Darva.

Why did you do this, Hugh?

HUGH HEFNER, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "PLAYBOY" MAGAZINE: Well, I think it was part of a series of...

(CROSSTALK)

HEFNER: Sure. You know, I have a great deal of fascination with her, and the notion that we could present a pictorial that would, in effect, be equivalent of the wedding night she didn't have, it's too delicious.

KING: Darva, why did you do it?

DARVA CONGER, POSED NUDE FOR "PLAYBOY": It was a financial decision based on the employment straits I was in right then. It was a credible offer. They offered me an honest day's pay for an honest day's work, and I had no problem doing it, and I remember receiving some very good advice from certain people that I should do it.

KING: Who came to whom first, Darva?

CONGER: To my knowledge, they came to me. I wasn't intimately involved in the details of the contract, as my manager negotiated it.

KING: Who did you contact, Hugh? How did this work?

HEFNER: I'm not sure, as a matter of fact. Initially, I'm not sure, whether her representatives came to us, or vice versa. There had been some press coverage on the fact that other magazines and other publications had approached her. So I'm not sure.

KING: Did you have other offers, Darva?

CONGER: Yes, I did. I guess the Web site was offering, I guess a million dollars, and there were some multimillion dollar offers from other magazines but I wasn't comfortable with what they portrayed, so I opted for something...

KING: Any offer from competitors of "Playboy," like "Penthouse?"

CONGER: Yes, I believe there was a multimillion dollar offer from "Penthouse," but I never considered it. I wasn't comfortable with that.

KING: So it had to be "Playboy?"

CONGER: If anything, it had to be "Playboy."

KING: She's mentioned multimillion dollar offers. Can you mention what you paid?

HEFNER: We can't talk about the actual figure. It was something less than that, and obviously, the decision on her part was based on something more than just the money.

KING: Is "Playboy" a public corporation?

HEFNER: Yes, it is.

KING: OK, can't I find that out if I'm a stockholder what you paid her?

HEFNER: I don't think so, but maybe.

KING: No? You paid her a considerable amount of money. I'm entitled to know salaries over $250,000 a year, right?

HEFNER: Yes, possibly. You might be able to find out.

KING: Well, any shock stockholder. But it wasn't over a million?

HEFNER: Well, we don't talk about the amount of money.

KING: Darva, doesn't this look, frankly, like just a blatant chance to take advantage of a situation?

CONGER: Well, that begs the question, why not take advantage of the situation? The situation certainly took advantage of me. The media, entertainment, made so much money off me, and while I'm sitting there in my house with no job, I thought it was a pretty good opportunity for me, quite frankly.

KING: All right, is "Playboy," using -- frankly, is this rank capitalism? She's famous, let's show nude. I mean, let's be honest, she's famous, let's show her nude.

HEFNER: Yes, of course, of course. Absolutely. I think that that is, you know, a journalistic coup for a celebrity that is very unique in this moment. And one of the things that's fascinating about it is the very nature of the celebrity. It is so interconnected to the media phenomenon. There is a celebrity created out of this voyeuristic interest in...

KING: What kind of print -- how much are you printing? How many issues?

HEFNER: Well, I know it's going to be larger than usual, and we do expect...

KING: Do you expect it be one of your biggest selling issues because of that?

HEFNER: Yes, we do.

KING: Darva, are you surprised at that? You may break records.

CONGER: Well, I hope so. I would like to. I'm incredibly pleased with the magazine, with the pictorial. It was well shot, well done, and I'm proud of it, I'm happy with this.

KING: You show everything in these pictures. Now some people who pose for "Playboy" and not. They may hide a little something. You hid nothing. Why?

CONGER: Well, I beg to differ. I think I -- the knees were firmly -- I posed in a position that was comfortable for me. It reached My comfort level. hit was something that I knew wouldn't embarrass me or my family. Yes, there is full nudity, but I believe it's very much a tasteful, tame pictorial. So I didn't have a problem with nudity, per se, it's just the innuendo that's perceived along with it and the way the pictures are posed. I don't think there is anything salacious.

KING: Can we guess that you have never posed nude before?

CONGER: Yes, you can guess, you can bet on it.

KING: What was it like?

CONGER: It was, obviously, a very different experience, but it was almost clinical. I was with team of professionals. They knew I'd done anything like this before. We very much in the outdoors. It was hard work, quite frankly. I worked very hard. I wanted it to be best thing I could do. And it was very nonsexual. It was almost just -- it was just new adventure, and I had great time.

KING: Why do I like to see nude pictures of well-known people, Hugh? Why? I mean, you know, a body's a body.

HEFNER: Well, I guess, it's part of, you know, our Puritan background. In this particular case, I think there is special curiosity because of the very nature of it. In other words, the fact that she didn't show up for wedding night turns this into something else.

KING: You're saying this is what he missed, in a sense, right?

HEFNER: Yes, yes. He's going to have to buy thy magazine.

KING: You don't feel at all -- I mean, it's obvious, that people are going to say, hey, look at "Playboy." That doesn't bother you?

HEFNER: Just the opposite.

KING: You enjoy it?

HEFNER: Well, you know that there are certain lines that we won't cross, but no, I don't have any problem with this at all. I think, as a matter of fact, this is a high tribute to the nature, and the curious nature, of celebrity in America today.

KING: It's obvious. Thanks, Hugh.

HEFNER: My pleasure always.

KING: Hugh Hefner leaves us, but Darva Conger remains. She'll be with us for the rest of the hour, and we'll be including your phone calls on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE.

Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, MARCH 8)

KING: True that you were offered a million dollars to pose nude?

CONGER: Yes.

KING: At a porn site?

CONGER: Yes.

KING: What? For a Web porn site, or?

CONGER: From what I understand, yes.

KING: Did you ever consider it?

CONGER: No.

KING: I mean, one might say, look, you made this mistake, you did it as a lark, you were going to do this, so a year from now, who'll remember? And you'll have a million dollars.

CONGER: But I'll forever be posted on a porn Web site. I mean, talk about, judgment errors. That's a big one right there.

KING: How about money for your story? A book? A tabloid? Pitch?

CONGER: Not a tabloid pitch. Anything that's credible that comes -- that takes advantage of the talents, the skills, the person that I was prior to this show, is certainly credible and does not further demean everything. I'm open to consideration of that. I'd be a fool not to be. But I'm not going to do anything that's going to dig myself further in the hole.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Darva is this "Playboy" pictorial the person you were prior to all of this?

CONGER: Absolutely. I never had a problem with "Playboy" or nudity, and I've said that on many different occasions. For me, it's context in which the nudity is portrayed, and going back to that line of, you know, I don't know what pornography is, but I know when I see it, I know what I consider pornography, and I know what I'm uncomfortable with, and "Playboy" is something I've never been uncomfortable with.

KING: Let's say it's not pornography, but it is a nude pictorial, right?

CONGER: Sure. It is absolutely a nude pictorial.

KING: And when you do this, you know that there is going to be an element of criticism. You know that going in.

CONGER: And that's different from my life previously how? I've been criticized from the minute the "Multimillionaire" show aired. And all I can say to those people that choose to criticize me is that I am living my life for me, and I'm doing things for my best interests and the best interests of my family, and I have no problem with this decision that I have made to better my life.

KING: You could have, could you not, have just left the scene. It didn't work. You walked out on the marriage. OK, the program turned into kind of a farce. Rockwell goes on television. You could have just said goodbye, I'm a nurse, I'm going back to being a nurse, see you.

CONGER: That's exactly what I did do. I went back to being a nurse to a job that wasn't there and the inability to get a job in my profession. So that tends to change playing field for you, and that point in time, this offer from "Playboy" was on the table. And, I spent a good time really, really thinking about it, and I chose to do it, and I have no qualms about that.

KING: So you mean even with a nursing shortage in America, no hospital...

CONGER: Critical care nursing, none in my local area.

KING: Nobody would hire you?

CONGER: Nobody hired me.

Actually, I take that back. I was hired by one hospital, and, prior to starting work there, it was inundated by the media and the public. Apparently it had been released that I would be work there, and it was an untenable position. I couldn't work safely for my patients or myself. And it also did make me much more aware how closed nursing was to me at that point in time.

KING: There are some people saying that you also are getting a percentage of sales in the magazine, is that true?

CONGER: You know, I don't really want to discuss the financial aspects of this, except to say that I was very well compensated, and it was a very savvy business deal I believe, and I'm very comfortable with it.

KING: What are you going to do now?

CONGER: You know, I'm stewing over a few offers. I do have a few offers in television and media. There are some correspondent-type and hosting position that people are in talks with me over. I'm giving them careful thought, careful consideration, but I am taking things definitely step by step. I have learned in this town that until the deal is signed and sealed, you can't give it too much credence.

KING: You're in New York. Are you still resident of Southern California, coming back to Southern California?

CONGER: Yes I am. KING: So you're not planning to live east.

CONGER: No. No. I like to visit often. It's beautiful here, but I'm a California girl.

KING: OK. Therefore, this could be the start of someone who said here that she didn't want to be very public, the start of an extraordinarily public career. Supposing you take one of these television offer. You want to be on the scene for good.

CONGER: It could conceivably evolve into that, however, what I have been constantly defending myself against is comments taken out of context. I wanted my private life back. I wanted away from the publicity all associated with being on that "Multimillionaire" show. I was mortified by that. I was offended by it. I had done such an incredibly stupid thing. Of course I didn't want any publicity associated with that. Of course I wanted my privacy related to that back, and this -- in this context, I don't have a problem with that. I don't want to be making the rounds of the talk shows every night. I don't want to be harassed by the media. I don't want the tabloids chasing me around, and no one wants that.

But for me to say that I'm entertaining credible offers, that perhaps showcase a skill that I wasn't aware that I had, a speaking skill, and combining my nursing background, I have no problem saying I would be interested in doing something like that.

KING: You are doing limited promotion for this, right?

CONGER: Oh, I wouldn't call it limited. Promoting...

KING: Are you going to do a whole wide sweep for it?

CONGER: Yes I am.

KING: We'll be right -- I'm sorry, go ahead, what were you going to say?

CONGER: Oh, I just say I really believe strongly in this pictorial. It's beautiful, and I'm happy with it, and I would like to promote it greatly.

KING: Our guest is Darva Conger, the annulled "Multimillionaire" bride. That marriage is over, by the way. The husband of the affair was on this program. Here is something of what he had to say. And we'll be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FEBRUARY 29)

KING: Did you know right away as you went to cruise this is not going to happen?

RICK ROCKWELL, "MULTIMILLIONAIRE" GROOM: Darva told me 36 hours after we were married.

KING: And what did she say? ROCKWELL: Basically, she said that this is not me, I shouldn't -- I'm not an impulsive person, I don't do things like this.

KING: Why did she?

ROCKWELL: I tried to ask her that. I...

KING: And you didn't get an answer?

ROCKWELL: No. I had, you know -- basically, I can't speculate what she was thinking, because I can't get into her head. So many people have speculated what I'm thinking over the last 10 days that I wouldn't want to do it.

KING: When she said that to you, were you very hurt?

ROCKWELL: I was really hurt. I mean, I was really disappointed.

KING: You couldn't have been in love, that's logical. You couldn't have been in love.

ROCKWELL: Correct. But I was devastated.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: She's the front cover and the featured pictorial in the August issue of "Playboy" now out. Lots of things to talk about and we'll be taking your phone calls.

There were reports that they want you had to do a kind of bedroom wedding night sort of pictorial, true?

CONGER: I believe that was the initial -- what they desired, but it was never anything I was comfortable with. The one area that I sort of gave in was on the cover, wearing the wedding gown. And I understand the point of view that is what I'm associated with, and it was sort of tongue in cheek, so I was OK with that. But in no way, shape or form did I want a salacious little bedroom innuendo or anything associated with a honeymoon night or the lack thereof.

KING: Are you happy with the cover?

CONGER: I am. I think it's pretty cute. It's funny.

KING: You've described yourself as a good Christian.

CONGER: I have.

KING: Can you reconcile that with the -- how God would feel about this, in a sense. As a good practicing Christian, don't you think many of your Christian friends, and fellows and other followers would be aghast at this?

CONGER: As good Christians, I'm sure they would be concerned, I'm sure they will be praying, I'm they'll remember "Judge not lest you be judged." And the difference between them and I is we all do things that are against our faith and our beliefs, and every sin is same in the eyes of God. The only difference between them and I is that what I do is dissected in the public eye.

KING: But why then do something against your belief? If it is against the belief to do this, let's say to show yourself in public, as that's against the Christian concept, why do it?

CONGER: Why? At this point in time in my life, it's a decision I've made, and I believe it's in my best interests. It's a private decision. It's between me and God, and I leave it there.

KING: Did you...

CONGER: It has nothing to do with the opinions of anyone else.

KING: Did you have to do anything for -- did they make you trim down or anything? Did they you make any changes? I mean, this is this is not an everyday event. Did you have to do anything different for yourself?

CONGER: Well, I'm happy to say I didn't have to do any trimming down. I've always been very thin. I've always been very much in shape, so that was fine. They did put hair extensions in, which was a whole new experience, but it felt like 20 pounds of extra hair on my head, but that was it. Everything else was me. There is no air brushing. There is no touching up. I've had nothing done. That's all me.

KING: Rick Rockwell says that he might flip through the magazine but he won't buy it. Any comment on that?

CONGER: Well, you know he is notoriously frugal. I'm not surprised he wouldn't buy it. And quite honestly, it wasn't geared for him anyway, so I don't honestly care.

KING: Do you -- when you have -- I mean, "Playboy" has posed in the nude Rita Jenrette, Jessica Hahn, Patti Davis, Roxanne Pulitzer, Faye Resnick, Elizabeth Gracen, who admitted having an affair, or said she had an affair with Bill Clinton. Do you feel part of a kind of the notorious group?

CONGER: It depends on the angle you look at it. In that sense, you could say I fit in with that group. The way I tried to do the pictorial, and the models that I used were Cindy Crawford, and Katarina Witt, and Marilyn Monroe, and these very classic women who used what is a mainstream, very respectable magazine in its circle to further their careers. That's the impact that I took, and I would like to point out all those scandals previously mentioned were sex scandals. At least mine was a no sex scandal. The only thing I did, the only think I involved hurt me and me alone.

KING: Yes, yours was non-sex scandal.

CONGER: Yes, it was. KING: We'll ask you about being a celebrity and what do you make of all this reality television, and we'll take phone calls as well. Darva Conger is with us.

Tomorrow night, Dana Carvey and the famed cardiologist P.K. Shaw (ph) will be along for a while, too. Dana had a terrible thing happen to him in a bypass operation. He's going talk publicly about it tomorrow night. We'll be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FEBRUARY 29)

ROCKWELL: And I remember telling Darva that, to me, this was a chance for a new beginning, because, you know, in relationships I hadn't always done everything right in my previous relationships. And I thought this is going to be under such a magnifying glass, that this is the opportunity of a lifetime to really be a good significant other for someone else and know that you are on notice and that you are accountable.

KING: You had never been married.

ROCKWELL: Correct.

KING: What did she say?

ROCKWELL: Well, I think she said something to the effect that, well, that's all the emotion coming out now because I was kind of choking back the tears while I told her that. And I had -- I hadn't really -- released any emotion through this. As I said, there was kind of eerie calm around me, so it...

KING: Now you're releasing it.

ROCKWELL: Yes.

KING: Did it move her or not move her?

ROCKWELL: I don't think it got through. In a big way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Darva Conger, the subject of the "Who Wants to Marry a Multimillionaire" program for Fox, and now the subject of the front-page pictorial in the current "Playboy."

I know show business is in the family. Your mom was in a movie, right?

CONGER: She was in a couple of movies, yes.

KING: What was her stage name?

CONGER: Susan Harrison. KING: We're going show a scene with your mom from the fame movie 1957, one of the terrific movies, listed as one of the best movies ever made. "The Sweet Smell of Success" with Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis. Watch Darva's mom.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're going in to the hands of a good psychoanalyst.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You tried to kill yourself tonight.

SUSAN HARRISON, ACTRESS: Yes. I'd rather be dead than living with you. For all of the things you've done, J.J., I know I should hate you. But I don't. I pity you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Why didn't she follow up on that?

CONGER: You know, you'll have to ask my mom that. All I know is that she stayed at home. She raised me and my brother. And she was a wonderful mom. And looking at her, just since sends chills up my back. That's a star. That is a truly talented woman who has fortunately for me been able to guide me through much of this.

KING: Still very close with her?

CONGER: Absolutely. She lives with me. She's my best friend.

KING: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We'll go to some calls for Darva Conger. Hello

CALLER: Hi, Larry. Hi, Darva.

KING: Hi.

CONGER: Hello.

CALLER: Darva...

KING: Go ahead.

CALLER: I'm sorry. Of all the interviews I have watched you give, you criticized Rick Rockwell. You said that you would never...

CONGER: I haven't criticized Rick Rockwell. I've said -- I don't criticize Rick Rockwell. I just don't have anything to do with him. This is not his fault.

CALLER: Ok. Well, this is -- this would be my question. You stated you never had a real conversation with him. And you didn't spend time with him on the cruise. So my question is: Why? Why do you sound so hateful toward him. What has he done to you?

CONGER: I've made a point of not going into that in the media or the public eye. Let's -- I will put it this away. There are reasons that I dislike him. It has nothing do with him picking me on the show. I don't hold that against him. It was my own fault for being there. But my dislike or my avoidance of him is based solely on his own actions. And I am not going to go into that in public.

KING: Because in a way, he made you famous.

CONGER: He -- he inadvertently made me famous. It was incidental. And I don't blame him. I put myself in that position. I don't blame him for choosing me. The things I hold against him are strictly against him in interactions we had after that. But it's not for the public consumption. I'm not out here to trash him. I just don't want anything to do with him.

KING: Cornwall, Ontario. Darva Conger. Hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: Darva, if you could do it all over again, would you do it?

CONGER: Absolutely not. I would not -- if you mean by going on the multi-millionaire show, no, I would not.

CALLER: No?

CONGER: No second-guesses about that one. I would never do it. I don't care about money. I don't care about any of it. I lost so much. And it was a -- the fact that I did it to myself, I mean I can't even I can't blame anybody else. So no, I would never do it again.

KING: Why not? I mean, let's look at it this away. It's gotten you on television. It's gotten you much more money than you would have made as a nurse. It might give you a television career. And you -- it's not a sex scandal. Why not do it again? Why wouldn't you do it again? What did you lose?

CONGER: You have to look at perspective of what's important to me. I did lose my profession, my career, something I worked at very hard to be good at, and something I really liked. And I was -- I just enjoyed it. It was my area of expertise. I lost my credibility, my dignity, or I don't know. I don't want to say I'm victim. I didn't lose it. I put myself in a position where I was -- I gave it up.

I suffered many sleepless nights. I hurt my family. I hurt my friends. And all this fame, and the notoriety, the celebrity, it's really not all it's cracked up to be. Granted, the money is very nice. And I am certainly glad that has come it from. But I made a very nice living before and I was comfortable in my little life.

KING: What do you think of reality television? The "Survivors" and "Big Brother" and all the rest? CONGER: I'm obviously not big proponent of reality television. I think it's very damaging. In my opinion, it's staged reality. They stage scenarios, and yes, your reactions might be very true in keeping with that scenario that is staged. But it is staged and it brings out these emotions, these actions. And the voyeuristic public is just eating it up. It's almost -- it's scary. It's very scary to me. And I -- I don't watch it. I don't want to be a part of it. I'm sorry I ever was a part of it.

KING: We'll take a break and be back with more of Darva Conger on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Dana Carvey will be with us tomorrow night. Bob Costas on Saturday talking baseball.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Did you get in to bed together? Was it discussed? Did she say no? What?

ROCKWELL: Well, I don't think a true romantic really goes over any kind of bedroom detail.

KING: Well, you get married on television. You pick a bride on television. Now you don't want to give me -- in other words, did you come -- did you get close? Did you discuss it?

ROCKWELL: We had -- we discussed a lot of things that night.

KING: All right, OK. But nothing -- the marriage was not consummated.

ROCKWELL: That is correct.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Darva Conger. And we'll go right back to your phone calls. Some 22 million people watched "Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire" last February on Fox -- 22 million.

Darva was given a chance to make a pitch to the mystery bride- groom.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "WHO WANTS TO MARRY A MULTIMILLIONAIRE")

CONGER: If you feel that I'm the perfect woman for you, and you choose me to be your bride, I will be your friend, your lover, and your partner throughout whatever life has to offer us. We'll have joy, maybe a few tears, but more ups than downs, and you will never be bored.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: You did very well with that. What were you thinking when you were doing it? CONGER: Well, I did a little too good for my own good, didn't I? I was speaking to my romantic ideal. I was sort of playing along with a role. They were words I would use. They were words that I thought were appropriate for the scenario, without looking fully into what the scenario actually was. And I take responsibility. I shouldn't have said that.

KING: Do you still want marriage? You want a family?

CONGER: Yes. Some day in the future I would like to be married and have a family. It's not a pressing issue right now.

KING: Hamilton, Ontario for Darva Conger, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry.

KING: Hi.

CONGER: Hello.

CALLER: Darva, are you having any trouble dating right now? Has it affected your dating?

CONGER: Honestly, dating is not a big focus in my life. I just -- it's not a time for me to be seriously involved with anyone. I date someone casually, but I'm focusing on just riding out this wave right now and focusing on my family. I hope in the future it won't affect it, but we'll see. And like I said, it's just not a big focus right now.

KING: Do you think it does? I mean, do you get a feeling at all that you maybe intimidate men?

CONGER: No. I think I get my fair share of approaches and fair share of compliments. And I didn't have a problem dating before. And I don't think I'll have a problem dating after.

KING: What kind of shows are you thinking about? I know you are not going to be specific and tell who has offered. But what -- if you had to pick it, what are you angling for? What do you think you would like to do? Would it be medically oriented since you're a nurse?

CONGER: That would certainly be a high on my list. Medically oriented, something involving co-hosting with a variety of topics. Obviously nursing is my area of expertise, but I have interest in a great variety of topics. And I think anything that I could really expand upon, and do a good job.

KING: Don't tell me -- Regis!

CONGER: Regis and Darva Lee -- it has a certain ring, doesn't it?

KING: To Chicago, Illinois, hello. Chicago, hello.

CALLER: Darva? CONGER: Yes.

KING: Go ahead.

CALLER: My question for you is: I understand that you can't get a job in nursing, but most of the population can't get a job that doesn't end up in the job that they are skilled in. So I think it is a big jump from nursing to "Playboy." Why didn't you try to get a job in a similar field or a different field, if it's not for money?

CONGER: It was a money issue for me. I have a certain standard of living and not -- it wasn't a very high one, but I owned my own home. I had a mortgage to pay. And I'm also the -- I support mother. She's my dependent. So I had to make a certain amount of money, and nursing is the only skill that I have, the only thing I knew how to do to make that money. You don't go down 7-11 and make that money. You don't make it at a fast food restaurant. And quite honestly, I didn't know what else to do. And the "Playboy" offer was there, and it was credible. And I chose to do it.

KING: Are you booked on the Regis show?

CONGER: Not to my knowledge I'm not. Maybe he'll give me a call now.

KING: Might be a good try-out for you. You were a guest at "Playboy's" wet-and-wild party at video distributors in Las Vegas, right?

CONGER: That actually hasn't happened yet.

KING: Oh. When is that...

CONGER: I might be a guest. But it hasn't happened yet.

KING: But you would go?

CONGER: That's -- yes, I don't have a problem going.

KING: You're going on Howard Stern's radio show tomorrow?

CONGER: First thing in morning, Larry. Oh, my.

KING: Why?

CONGER: You know what, quite honestly...

KING: It will not be an intellectual discussion.

CONGER: You think not?

KING: I wouldn't bet on it.

CONGER: I wouldn't either. Well, not every conversation I have has to be an intellectual one. I'm not going to read into it. I don't know what to expect. I'm just going to go in there with an open mind and try to handle it as appropriately as I can.

The honest truth is Howard's listeners and his viewers buy a lot of "Playboy" issues. And I'm promoting this magazine. And obviously I feel I am sort of putting myself in the line of fire, but I'm not going to be adversarial with him. Hopefully we can have a reasonable conversation. I'd certainly like to.

KING: You will make his day.

CONGER: Oh...

KING: We'll take a -- trust me. We'll take a break and we'll be right back. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Darva Conger and we go to Ann Arbor, Michigan. Hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry and hello, Darva.

CONGER: Hello.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: I would like to tell you, I support what you are doing, what you did.

CONGER: Thank you very much.

CALLER: My question is do you plan to write a book about your experiences?

CONGER: Well, they're still sort evolving. And, I know that's what you kind of do in this situation, you following the scandal. If I do write a book, it's going to be, once again, after careful consideration. And I'd really like it to be interesting and have a good beginning, a middle, and a good ending. So we'll wait and see what happens.

KING: By the way, if someone asked you, had no knowledge of this, what do you mean by scandal? What would you say? What was he the scandal?

CONGER: I think it was a media-created scandal in that sense. It was given that negative slant. All the things about how it would -- denigrated the sanctimony of marriage. And how could you do this after all -- never knowing this man and all these things? Quite honestly, in my opinion, the sanctimony of marriage -- it lies within each individual marriage. What I did was dumb thing to me. It does not extrapolate on to the whole -- our whole culture, but we allow it to. We don't pay...

KING: Also...

CONGER: ... nearly enough attention to our own lives, I think. KING: So once they planned they show they knew they would have that criticism?

CONGER: I think that they did. And I think that they wanted that. Isn't that what these reality shows are about -- stirring up criticism, stirring up public interest? That's what they do.

KING: Making money.

CONGER: That's right.

KING: Montague, New Jersey, hello.

CALLER: Hi. This is for Darva. You complain about what a mistake millionaire show did to you, like how you made that mistake.

CONGER: Yes.

CALLER: And you regret it.

CONGER: Yes.

CALLER: Do you re -- are you going to regret in a week about posing for "Playboy"?

CONGER: Well. considering that I did the shoot about two months ago, and the pictorials out and I love it, I don't think so. I'm very happy with it. It's a choice I made being fully aware of the ramifications, of the fallout, of the controversy, whereas with multi- millionaire show I wasn't aware of that. I didn't look into it. I didn't give it careful consideration. With this, I am aware of all that and I am accepting of it. And I don't find this to be anything that I'm going to worry about in the future.

KING: You mentioned a family. What does the family think?

CONGER: They're very proud. They're very supportive. Talk to my mom every day that I have been here. I just spent an hour on phone with my brother. They're my family. They love me. They don't -- they are much less critical of me than I am, actually. So I just can say they have been the bastion for me here.

KING: Hasn't anyone close to you, I mean the logic just in the numbers, been -- protested what you did? Said Darva, you shouldn't have done this? An uncle -- somebody?

CONGER: "Playboy"?

KING: No -- yes, the "Playboy".

CONGER: No. Not a single member of my family all the way down to my grandmother. Not one single one. They are there for me. And they trust me. They trust my comfort level. And also, you know, it's my family that I was raised in, perhaps our view of things is different than others. But it doesn't mean it is any less right or wrong. It's just our comfort level. KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Darva Conger. She's the front cover of the main pictorial shoot in the August issue of "Playboy."

This is LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Another key moment at last February's "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire Show?" the bridegroom to be Rick Rockwell makes his pick and proposes -- watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "WHO WANTS TO MARRY A MULTIMILLIONAIRE?")

ROCKWELL: Darva Conger, will you marry me?

CONGER: I will.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CONGER: Larry, you're torturing me. Come on, no more.

KING: Torturing me, too. I'm tired of seeing it.

New York City, hello.

CALLER: Yes, hi, Larry. Love your slow.

KING: Thank you.

CALLER: I just want to say, Darva, do you have any regrets to the other contestants who you took their spot away from them?

CONGER: I think if there had truly been someone on that show that wanted that, it would have been an appropriate match for Mr. Rockwell. And if that's truly what he wanted, yes, I would have those regrets. I do know from being there that I don't think that's the case. It was a purely engineered show for television ratings to make money.

KING: Wait a minute.

CONGER: And that's all it is.

KING: Wait a minute. Are you saying that you were going to be picked no matter what?

CONGER: No, I'm saying that whomever was picked I think the outcome would have been the same, just a different person. I don't think...

KING: In other words, whomever it was would have been thrown to a situation that would have been untenable?

CONGER: Absolutely. Absolutely.

KING: You mean, none of them would have stayed married to Rick Rockwell.

CONGER: I don't believe they would have. That is purely my opinion, mind you, but based on comments, based on talking to other girls, just being there, I don't think that any one of them would have been happy in that situation.

KING: Stephenville, Texas, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry.

I would just like to ask Ms. Conger why she just won't admit that she wants to be famous. There's nothing wrong with wanting to be famous. And I think the public would respect her a lot more if she would just say that is what she wanted all along.

CONGER: Why should I go ahead and admit something that is not my opinion? I don't just want to be famous. It was thrust upon me. It was thrust upon me because of something that I did, so I take responsibility for my actions, but I don't -- quote, unquote -- want to be famous. I want to go back to having a good, positive life. If something I do happens to place me in the public eye as far as a career or employment, that's fine. But I don't go around creating media opportunities. Almost every single time the media comes to me...

KING: Are you enjoying it?

CONGER: And there has been a big misconception. Do I enjoy it? I don't know. What do you think? I'm grilled consistently, I'm always on hot seat, and I'm not even trying to be defensive here, I'm actually learning from this, but it's not a very pleasant position.

KING: No, some might enjoy it. They might say, look, I'm going to get grilled, but I didn't do anything crazy, I didn't sleep with someone, I didn't commit act of adultery, I didn't do -- all right, maybe I made a mistake, look at all I'm making; in a perverse sense, I enjoy it.

CONGER: You know, I'm not that perverse, Larry. I mean...

KING: I like being recognized on airplanes.

CONGER: No, I don't like that, and I don't -- the fortune is nice, having made this money is nice, being in "Playboy" is nice, having this beautiful pictorial. That's a gorgeous cover shot. Some of the perks that go along with it are very nice. But I think throughout history, or throughout our recent culture, people have always warned about fame and what it can do to someone, and it is definitely a double-edged sword. And I'm very aware of the pitfalls. And it is not, overall, a great experience.

KING: It can also be addicting.

CONGER: I think it could if that's something -- I can see, you know, entertainer someone going into this, I want to be in entertainment, I want to be famous, this is all I want to do. I stumbled into this. This is nothing I chose for me. It was something I did stupidly without realizing the fallout of outcome, and I'm dealing with it best way that I know how.

KING: Canton, Ohio, hello.

CALLER: Hello.

I would like to know, Darva, what won't do you for money? Where do you draw the line?

CONGER: What won't I do for money? Well, I think a list of what I won't do for money is much longer than the list of what I will do for money. And I believe that you've got a little bit of a bias slant there, so are you trying to denote that because I posed for "Playboy" for money I would do other things for money? Just come out and ask the question.

KING: You've already said you won't do a Web site, you won't do what you consider pornography pictures, et cetera.

CONGER: No. No, I wouldn't hurt animals children. I won't kill or murder, rape, steal. That's a very broad question. Maybe if you could be a little bit more specific I could answer you.

KING: The implication was in the question. She's gone now.

What about following your mother's footsteps and turning to acting?

CONGER: Well, my mother was a highly skilled, highly trained, very experienced actress who chose that as a profession from early childhood and devoted her heart and soul to it and became incredibly good. Fame and celebrity, notoriety, whatever I have does not equate with skill in that arena. So if I did anything that regard, it would take make much more training than I have.

KING: All right, and finally, Darva, is there any queasiness about the thought of millions of Americans, starting tomorrow, looking at you?

CONGER: Well, I have to you, briefly, when I got off plane in New York, I came into the terminal, I was approached by just a hoard of men, running up to me, waving a nude photograph of me from the pictorial, so I got my first taste of it then, and it was disconcerting I'll be honest with you. But once I got over the initial shock, I'm fine with it. I'm not ashamed of those photographs. They are very beautiful, and they are very tasteful, and I'm fine with them.

KING: Thank you, Darva.

CONGER: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Always good seeing you. Thanks for being with us.

Darva Conger. She's the front cover of the August issue of "Playboy," and she's the featured pictorial in that issue.

Dana Carvey had a terrible accident happen to him, a bypass surgery gone nuts. He's going to be on tomorrow night with one of the famed cardiologists in America, Dr. P.K. Shaw of Cedar-Sinai. Dana Carvey tomorrow.

Stay tuned for CNN "NEWSSTAND."

I'm Larry King. Good night.

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