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Interviews With Jeanne Phillips, Denise Austin, Leon Talley, Fern Mallis

Aired August 23, 2003 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, Dear Abby herself, Jeanne Phillips, she'll give us an update on her mother, the original Dear Abby, and her battle with Alzheimer's. It was on this very program she first discussed her mom suffering that awful disease.
And then fitness queen Denise Austin, on why men and women aren't created equal when it comes to fat zones.

Plus, "Vogue" magazine's Andre Leon Talley how his religious faith helped take him from humble southern roots to the top of the fashion heap.

And, inside the glamorous megabucks world of high fashion with Fern Mallis, executive director of New York City's annual 7th on 6th Designer Showcases. They are all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Terrific show in store for you tonight on LARRY KING LIVE, and we begin with an old friend, Jeanne Phillips, the nationally syndicated advice columnist. You know her as Dear Abby. Her mother is Pauline Phillips, the founder of that column. Her late aunt was Esther Lederer who wrote as Ann Landers and died of cancer in June of 2002.

Jeanne was last on this program in April talking about Operation Dear Abby. She came on in September of last year to discuss her mother's diagnosis with Alzheimer's. Let's talk about that first. How is she doing?

JEANNE PHILLIPS, DEAR ABBY: She's doing OK. She's not declining at this point. She's sort of leveled off according to her doctor and she's maintaining. She's doing all right.

KING: Is it that new drug that helps them not decline as fast?

PHILLIPS: There's a new drug called Memantine that I've heard about but mother's not on it yet because she had some other problems and they wanted to deal with those first.

KING: Does she take medication for Alzheimer's?

PHILLIPS: Yes, she takes Aricept.

KING: OK and does that seem to help?

PHILLIPS: Yes, it helps.

KING: What's the difference between dementia and Alzheimer's, do you know?

PHILLIPS: I believe there are many dementias and Alzheimer's is one of them.

KING: Oh, all in the related field of memory loss.

PHILLIPS: Right because there could be small strokes that can cause the dementia. There can be other conditions that would cause a dementia.

KING: How did you first notice it about your mom?

PHILLIPS: It came on very gradually with my mother and I don't think anybody recognized it at all.

KING: There's not one event?

PHILLIPS: No, it wasn't any one event. My mother's always been -- you know my mom.

KING: Yes.

PHILLIPS: She's always been upbeat.

KING: Very.

PHILLIPS: Very and whatever changes my mother had gone through, you know, you can attribute it to various things, maybe a little disorganization, you know, maybe just having a, you know, an uncreative day, that kind of thing. It's very subtle and the people that interact with somebody who's not well learn that they step forward when the person steps back, you know, to just try to fill that gap.

To be more specific, I really didn't realize something was wrong with mother until she became depressed and that was so unusual for my mom that I knew something was wrong.

KING: That preceded the memory loss?

PHILLIPS: No, the memory loss was going on but she was -- I attributed that to disorganization, you know, oh well she forgot where she put this.

KING: When did she give up the column?

PHILLIPS: Well, she didn't really give it up. It was more, as I said, stepping in to fill a gap.

KING: So, she stopped writing?

PHILLIPS: She stopped writing quite a while ago but then we switched jobs because I had been editing her for a long time before that.

KING: And she edited you? PHILLIPS: So, she began editing me. I mean it was the most natural thing to do.

KING: What was it like, Jeanne, or is it like for the caregiver, you?

PHILLIPS: I'm not a caregiver. I'm not the caregiver. My mother lives back in Minnesota and she has round-the-clock caregivers with her. She can't be alone and it's a very strenuous job.

KING: What is it like for the loving family member?

PHILLIPS: What is it like? It's very difficult for the loving family member to see these changes in someone that they care about. It's very difficult and it takes great patience and it takes great understanding and strength.

KING: Are you getting involved as others are like Nancy Reagan and others with Alzheimer's, learning more about it, talking about it?

PHILLIPS: I'm trying to learn more about it. I haven't been asked to do more.

KING: Would you if asked?

PHILLIPS: Absolutely.

KING: Is the hardest part, does she forget you?

PHILLIPS: They make sure that she doesn't forget me because when I call they say your daughter's on the phone and then she perks up and she's wonderful with me. I'm going back to see her in Minneapolis. I'm leaving tomorrow evening. I'm leaving tomorrow. I'll be there tomorrow evening, so you know more on that later. I'm assuming she'll know who I am. No one could be closer.

KING: Is it very difficult when you're with her?

PHILLIPS: Is it difficult? No, it's not difficult.

KING: Really?

PHILLIPS: It's not difficult for me. I love my mother. I reach out to my mother.

KING: But when you have depression and memory loss?

PHILLIPS: My mother's depression was medicated.

KING: It was chemical?

PHILLIPS: Yes. They were able to medicate her and put her in a better place.

KING: Does she remember Dear Abby? Does she know about her column? PHILLIPS: People call her Abby.

KING: So, Abigail Van Buren?

PHILLIPS: That's a clue, yes, they don't call her Pauline. They call her Abby.

KING: Do you get letters about it?

PHILLIPS: Yes, I do. I got a bunch of letters after I talked to you about it from people who are going through the same thing, letters and e-mails. I called some of them. I wrote some of them.

KING: All right, let's get to other areas. How well has Operation Dear Abby gone?

PHILLIPS: Well, Operation Dear Abby's gone real well. The readers have been wonderful and they've left more than two million messages for the troops so far and on the anniversary of September 11 I'm putting something else in the column about it, you know, condolences to the families who lost.

KING: I guess we ought to explain what it is.

PHILLIPS: I'm sorry, Operation Dear Abby...

KING: No, I assumed we did talk about it but there are new tuners in all the time.

PHILLIPS: OK, Operation Dear Abby is an online continuation of the program that my mother started many years ago which is cards and letters to the troops. But with the anthrax problem two years ago the military halted any service member mail because they were afraid that it could be doctored up and it could be fatal. So, now people can leave online messages of encouragement to the troops and this is a partnership with the Pentagon.

KING: And who's supposed to write and about what?

PHILLIPS: All of us are supposed to write and all you have to say is you're in my thoughts and I'm thinking of you today and you're doing a wonderful job and thank you for, you know, standing in the front of this fire in some cases and risking your lives to take care of us.

KING: Do you know how many people have used it?

PHILLIPS: Yes, more than two million.

KING: Really?

PHILLIPS: More than two million messages have been left so far.

KING: Our guest is Jeanne Phillips, Dear Abby. We'll be right back.


KING: We're back with Dear Abby, Jeanne Phillips, always great to see her. It has become more obvious since 9/11 that events changed us. Is it obvious in your mail?

PHILLIPS: I get a lot of mail from families and military members talking about how difficult the separation is for them. That's -- and I get a few letters from the military saying, you know, thank you for the support.

KING: But there are people who write to you because their son or their loved one is in Iraq?

PHILLIPS: That's correct and they're having trouble with the -- and they're having trouble with the separation or they're afraid because someone has volunteered to go. I recently had a letter from a woman who said she's just furious because her career military husband had a choice.

He could have been reassigned for the rest of his career and had a desk job stateside but he didn't want to be separated from his buddies and so he had volunteered to go on over to Iraq and she has three little ones, I think three, two, and one, and she's just beyond angry that he would risk his life and risk leaving her and the children.

KING: Yes, how did you answer her?

PHILLIPS: The answer to that is there are support groups for spouses and families of the military and I urge you to avail yourself of them. Yes, your husband is a very brave man and I can understand with the -- indoctrination isn't the right word but with the training these people get they become very attached to their buddies and feel a loyalty.

KING: You reach 95 million readers.

PHILLIPS: No, 110.

KING: We pick them up all the time, right? Is there a pulse that you can tell?

PHILLIPS: Yes. Anything that bothers people in this country at one point or another is going to cross my desk absolutely.

KING: So you've noticed changes over the years?

PHILLIPS: Well, sure. I mean it depends on what's going on at the time. You know so many people have been laid off.

KING: Yes, so you get a lot of that?

PHILLIPS: I've gotten some of it. Recently there was a letter in the column from somebody who said, you know, I've been laid off for a long time and maybe you should put some tips in the column about how people should treat people who have been laid off. You know just number one call and express concern about how they're doing and, you know, they may be really stuck for money. So, why don't you just, you know, call and invite them over and have a cup of coffee or invite them out to do something simple or rent a video and bring it over, something so that they don't feel quite so isolated, tips like that.

KING: Do you get a lot of mail from young people?


KING: You do. I mean from teenagers.

PHILLIPS: I sure do.

KING: I don't know why that surprise -- I thought you would then skew older.

PHILLIPS: A lot of people think that my mail would skew older but it doesn't. The majority of what I get comes from people between the ages of 18 and 49, but what's really interesting is the majority of the rest of that mail I get comes from people who are teenagers and sometimes below.

KING: Really?

PHILLIPS: And that's an interesting subject because the kids today are -- they're so sharp and a lot of them are young and you think well, you know, how can as 13-year-old be this wise but I'll get a letter from a 13-year-old saying, you know, my parent -- my dad abuses my mom.

I'm quoting directly from this last one. "He doesn't hit her. He does it with words." Imagine, a 13-year-old, and she said that the thing that's so terrible about it is now my brothers are starting to pick up on it and they're doing it to her too. How can I make my father stop abusing my mother?

KING: How do you answer a letter like that?

PHILLIPS: Well, I am saying to this girl you know this is a terrible problem and you're absolutely right. You must tell your mother that this is something that is going to make an impression on your brothers for the rest of their lives and how will she feel when they start abusing their wives in the same way that they're starting to abuse her?

So, I think the smartest thing you could do is to get another adult, somebody that she will listen to and have her point these things out and I think your mother should probably take you and the boys and get out of there.

KING: Do many young people feel alienated?

PHILLIPS: Oh, a lot of them feel alienated but for various reasons. I get letters from kids saying, you know, my mother is drunk all the time and she's passed out on the couch and is this normal?

I get mail from someone else. She says, oh, she says my mother is divorced and you know she's had really bad luck with men and she's now on her third boyfriend since the divorce and that was two years ago and when I try to say mom, my sister and I really need to spend more time with you, she says you don't want me to be happy. I mean the kid has more brains than the mother.

KING: After Columbine...


KING: ...did you get any mail from people who are either worried about it happening at their school or people fearful of themselves?

PHILLIPS: Sure, absolutely. What do you think causes this and how can kids react that way? And, I believe that -- I believe that kids who -- I believe it's a basic lack of respect that kids aren't taught to have for one another. You know you don't have to be the most popular kid in the school to have people acknowledge your presence. The kids at Columbine from what I have read were the goats. They were disrespected by everybody and beat up on and humiliated.

KING: And made fun of.

PHILLIPS: And I don't think anybody has a right to do that to anybody and I'm not excusing that but I can certainly understand. They're human. I'm human and if someone treated me that way I'd kind of want to retaliate but not necessarily by shooting them. But, yes, you want to get your own back.

KING: Because of that New York City has now instituted a gay high school.

PHILLIPS: Oh, I think that's wonderful. I think the gay -- the gay/straight alliances in the school are very useful as far as creating understanding among kids and so kids aren't necessarily so stigmatized or demonized for being who they really are.

KING: We'll pick up on that in a minute. My guest is Jeanne Phillips, the nationally syndicated advice columnist. You know her, of course, as Dear Abby.

Lots of other guests coming including Andre Leon Talley, the author of "ALT a Memoir," he is Vogue's editor-at-large. Don't go away.


PHILLIPS (voice-over): Dear Abby: I'm scared. I think my mom is showing signs of Alzheimer's Disease. What should I do? Signed, Frightened. Dear Frightened: When my mom first began showing signs of memory loss, I was scared too so I called the Alzheimer's Association for help.

I'm Dear Abby. If you or someone you love is experiencing memory loss, take my advice. Contact the Alzheimer's Association. They help families like ours.



KING: We're back with Jeanne Phillips. You know her, of course, as Dear Abby. Are people talking more about homosexuality? Wasn't that taboo once?

PHILLIPS: Sure, it was. It wasn't mentioned in print and I don't think it was mentioned on television either and now, now there's so much mention of it on television that you, I don't know, you can hardly get away from it and that's not a bad thing by the way. One of my favorite shows is "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy." I find it such a...

KING: Because?

PHILLIPS: Because I find them endearing, the five fairy godfathers and they're, you know, waving their wands around and really creating a new reality for somebody and I think it's wonderful.

KING: Is it improving our understanding?

PHILLIPS: I hope that it is. I think that it is. You know whenever people get into an, us versus them, and try to isolate other people I think this is very healthy myself.

KING: OK, because...

PHILLIPS: Most of us know a gay person, whether they admit that they're gay or not.

KING: Sure. How about humor in the column has that changed over the times because your mother used to write?

PHILLIPS: No, it has not changed.

KING: Always have a sense of humor.

PHILLIPS: Always, I try to have a sense of humor. I don't have one that's as richly refined as mother's was but I try.

KING: Wasn't that what separated your mother from every other advice columnist?

PHILLIPS: That's very interesting you should say that. In the time when the column first started...

KING: When it was so hot, everyone was talking about how funny Dear Abby was.

PHILLIPS: And brief, mercifully brief.

KING: Yes. PHILLIPS: Because the other advice columnists at the time were pretty dull and they wrote long. Mother realized early on that you want to get in and out clean.

KING: How did sisters both wind up being advice columnists?

PHILLIPS: My aunt started first and she asked mother if she would help and after mother had helped for a while there was a decision made somewhere along the line that Eppie (ph) should do it alone and mother was left knowing that she could do it and no place to put it. So, she started one of her own.

KING: Were they, in fact, rivals?

PHILLIPS: They were professional rivals.

KING: Yes, but not personal rivals?


KING: Responses go beyond the column, right? I mean you answer people.

PHILLIPS: You mean I call people?

KING: Yes.

PHILLIPS: Yes, I do.

KING: And write to people that you don't necessarily print.

PHILLIPS: Yes. I have a staff who answers mail that I can't answer and that can't, you know, and that doesn't make the column and I call people.

KING: Do you try to answer everybody?

PHILLIPS: I try to answer as many people as I can. It's a physical impossibility to answer everybody.

KING: What decides on what makes the column?

PHILLIPS: It's a gut thing. You just know. When it's something unusual you just know or if it's something you think is important that could be educational. It's a -- I'll tell you I have an exchange of letters coming up.

A while back I printed a letter from a woman who talked about her husband who was a non-compliant diabetic and didn't take the insulin and didn't keep the proper diet, had terrible mood swings and irrational behavior and sometimes violence, she said.

And, you know, when my readers write to me about what's going on in their lives I do not question that they're telling me the truth. The next thing I knew I got a letter from the president-elect of the Diabetes Association telling me that that couldn't be possible that whatever was causing the problem it couldn't be the blood sugar and I printed that because after all this is a person with credentials.

An avalanche hit me and it was from outraged people who have diabetes or are related to people who have this condition talking about how, and I should have known it, I should have known it, talking about how swings in blood sugar can indeed affect a person's personality. And then I started remembering that, you know, when I get hungry I can get nasty.

KING: Sure.

PHILLIPS: And that it's one of the reasons why being a food server is so difficult because people with low blood sugar become sometimes impatient. And, I'm going to be printing those letters that I got very, very soon.

KING: Can you still be surprised?

PHILLIPS: Oh, always. Yes, of course, I can be surprised. I can raise an eyebrow as well as anyone else.

KING: You haven't read it all?

PHILLIPS: I don't think I'll ever read it all. I'm always fascinated with people and interested and sometimes they surprise me.

KING: Is the number one problem generally relationships?


KING: Getting along with someone else?

PHILLIPS: It's all relationships but there's a lot of loneliness out there. A lot of people are somehow disconnected.

KING: Any reason for that do you think?

PHILLIPS: I think...

KING: More so in a swift society like we're in?

PHILLIPS: That's right. I think it's the pace that we're keeping up and there just isn't time. A lot of people feel that there isn't time to reach out to other people the way perhaps they did when things were not so fast-paced.

KING: And you have a Web site, right?


KING: You mention it in the column and you get tons of -- people e-mail you.

PHILLIPS: I have a Web site. It's and people do e-mail me.

KING: Do you seek advice from anyone? PHILLIPS: Yes, of course, people like you.

KING: Come on. No, I mean do you ever seek, you know, do you ever have a problem where you go to someone for help?

PHILLIPS: Absolutely. I have a Rolodex full of experts in many fields and people are very generous with sharing themselves and I have good friends who are in the various professions too.

KING: Is weight a big problem?

PHILLIPS: Oh, yes it is. It's a very big problem for a lot of people.

KING: Have you discussed it about yourself?

PHILLIPS: No. I've never talked about my issue. This is the first time.

KING: But you've lost weight, right?

PHILLIPS: I've lost a ton. In the last few months I've lost about 32 pounds.

KING: So, do you basically agree that most people who get fat are basically always fat -- no -- there's a skinny person inside a fat person even when they lose weight?

PHILLIPS: Or there can be a fat person inside a skinny person struggling to get out. People have -- eating touches on a lot of issues and some of them are emotional issues. Sometimes people are feeding themselves because there aren't other things in their lives. Or, sometimes, they just need to make some changes in their lifestyle pattern.

For me it's been programming enough time to really stop and consider what I eat, to take the time to prepare some more things than I was doing and doing less eating out and exercising.

KING: That will be our next show.

PHILLIPS: If I'm still thin.

KING: So good to see you looking so. Jeanne Phillips, she's Dear Abby, back with more of LARRY KING LIVE right after this.


KING: We now welcome to LARRY KING LIVE another old friend, Denise Austin, author of the book "Shrink Your Female fat Zones" workout programs available on DVD and VHS. She's star of "The Daily Workout" and "Fit and Light" on the Lifetime Television Network.

And, she's a member of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, the always lively, exuberant, with another hit book on her hands and a DVD and a VHS to go with it shrink your -- wait a minute. Female fat zones are different?

DENISE AUSTIN: "Shrink Your Female fat Zones."

KING: You mean female fat zones are different than male fat zones?


KING: Or else why signal them out?


KING: How so?

AUSTIN: We've got a little more around the waistline after menopause and more on our hips, thighs, and buttocks because of babies and genetically we're predisposed of a little more fat on our hips, thighs, and buttocks.

And, the goal is to try to burn fat through aerobic exercise and then straight training and toning to really shrink those areas to really firm them up but most importantly to speed up your metabolism because the more muscle cells you have the more calories your burn every minute.

KING: Now, isn't the main male problem...

AUSTIN: The waistline (unintelligible).

KING: The waistline.

AUSTIN: Around that middle.

KING: The tire.

AUSTIN: There's not of great exercising you can do to kind of shrink that area but there's three ways to do it. You've got to eat right and, of course, you're a good eater. I'm so proud of you. Eat a good, healthy diet. You've got to do something cardio to burn fat from the whole body.

And then, target that specific area to really spot tone and trim but you can't really lose weight from the whole body through weight training. You've got to do something aerobic to burn fat.

KING: What are abs?

AUSTIN: Abs are abdominal muscles. Feel my tummy. Come on Larry.

KING: And the idea is to toughen up your abs?

AUSTIN: Yes, zip up your abs.

KING: And will that tighten -- lower your inches? AUSTIN: Oh yes, definitely. If your abdominal muscles are strong the rest of your body probably is strong because these are the most important part to keep strong, to keep your back healthy.

Eighty percent of Americans who suffer from lower back pain have weak abdominals so if you just keep the abs strong in return it acts like a girdle for the spine so it's really important to keep the abdominals strong.

I just do 30 minutes of exercise every day, five days a week, and that's what the book's all about, how to squeeze in some exercises, ten minutes for your abs, ten minutes for your hips, thighs, and buttocks, depending on what zone you want to trim and tone. I've got a specific area of the muscles to really help shape it up.

KING: Every time you watch television you click channels. You see new pieces of equipment.


KING: They're always pushing new -- infomercials for new pieces of equipment.

AUSTIN: Right.

KING: You've written how many books?

AUSTIN: This is my seventh book, yes.

KING: OK, are there new things?

AUSTIN: Well, there are lots of different types of machines and vehicles to motivate you and anything that's going to motivate you I'm for because we all want to be motivated. But, the book is all about how to really, you know, lose inches around your waistline and the best way to do it.

KING: But is this a new thing that wasn't around ten years ago?


KING: I mean what's new to write about?

AUSTIN: Exercise is always trying to teach someone a different way. I've got a whole section on Pilates, yoga.

KING: What?

AUSTIN: Pilates. Pilates is a great form of exercise that really deal with the whole mid section of the body.

KING: Pilates.

AUSTIN: Pilates, yes. It was a man's name years ago. He developed these series of exercises. He was a gymnast like I used to be and he developed a series of exercises that really work the entire waistline. These are called the core muscles. So, I put a whole section in the book all about how to zero in on those muscles.

Good posture is the key to flatten that tummy too because the more you sit up nice and tall the more it actually stays. You are your own architect so you want to pull that tummy and zip up those abs on a regular basis.

KING: How much of this, Denise, is mental?

AUSTIN: Well, to get yourself exercising is mental. You got to do it because it makes you feel better.

KING: You don't want to do it.

AUSTIN: Right.

KING: But you always feel better after you do it.

AUSTIN: That's right, even I do. I mean after all these years.

KING: Nobody wants to.

AUSTIN: You know, I'd rather sit on the couch and sit with my kids and eat doughnuts, are you kidding me, but I know how much better I feel when I exercise and, personally, 30 minutes if you could squeeze in 30 minutes five days a week that's only two and a half hours in a whole week to really decide about feeling good, better health, feeling good and, most importantly, getting more energy and boosting that metabolism.

KING: Is it tougher for women?

AUSTIN: Well, it is for certain women because stress levels. We have now found through research around the middle area if you have a lot of stress in your life did you know that around the middle starts to get a little flabbier and it's worse on the heart.

The closer your fat is to your heart, which a lot of men have problems too, that big beer gut and that belly, you need to really shrink around the waistline to protect the heart because the heart is...

KING: Does that mean you're down and you eat more or is it more than that?

AUSTIN: It's less. You've got to eat less calories. You've got to exercise aerobically to burn fat from the whole body and then you've got to do targeted exercises, toning up exercises with either weights or just getting down on the floor.

Like today I woke up. I got my 30 minutes in through some walking. I did a little combination walking and running and then some sit-ups and push-ups because I had no equipment, so you've got to do little things that really keep your muscles strong without overdoing it.

KING: How do you know what equipment to buy? AUSTIN: That's hard because you want to get something that you're going to use. I tell people are you promising that you'll use it three times a week? Then you should buy it.

KING: A lot of it goes in the closet and never...

AUSTIN: That's right. A treadmill is great. A new exercise fitness ball is good because you can do great exercise on it. And, of course, a set of dumb bells, weights, I think that's probably the best.

KING: And you're not a doctor but what do you make of the late Dr. Atkins versus (unintelligible) the concept of fat versus low carbs?

AUSTIN: Well, I'm into balance. I've always been teaching, preaching to people it's all about moderation.

KING: OK to have some carbs?

AUSTIN: Yes, good carbohydrates. That's what my book is. I have a six-week eating plan and it's exactly what I do. I eat good carbs. I have my protein. I make sure I have breakfast, lunch, and dinner, never skip a meal. That slows your metabolism and your energy level down, so I'm a big believer in eating good breakfast, lunch, and dinner but don't overdo it on the carbs.

Well, 80 percent of the time and have some treats 20 percent of the time because if you don't -- I'm a mom. I, you know, work full time. If you don't have a couple of your treats you'll go nuts. I'm always a big believer in moderation and good balance. If you're eating well, good fruits and vegetables, and you're eating, I always have salmon twice a week. I make sure I have some flax seed.

Every morning I have my cereal or egg white omelet. Just make sure you're eating good foods and I've kind of put it all around on the eating plan in the book.

KING: You lay out the eating and the exercise?

AUSTIN: Oh, yes. I even give you exactly what to do every single day for six weeks to get you a jumpstart on the right plan because it's all about eating. It's all about how to move and how to do these certain tricks to burn fat.

KING: Were you ever fat?

AUSTIN: Well, I gained 35 pounds after having each baby. I mean I've had two children and I had -- I gained 35 pounds but I was never fat. I was a gymnast as a child, got my degree specializing in exercise physiology.

KING: Is there a lot of weight gain associated with menopause?

AUSTIN: Oh, definitely and if women just realized they've got to get out and exercise. KING: While menopause...

AUSTIN: While menopause, pre-menopause, right before pre- menopause and that's the time -- I'm 46 years old and it's really the most important time for a woman to really take care of your body because you need to burn the fat now because walking just three, four times a week for 20 minutes is great. So, if you could just start off easy walking and then build it up, by the time you hit menopause you'll feel good.

KING: The thing is to get started right?

AUSTIN: Yes, it's just get started. Being a member on the President's Council on Physical Fitness and sports we're just telling people start ten minutes a day, just do something, anything to get yourself off that couch, get yourself moving. It's all about the more muscles you move the more calories you burn. How many times in a day can you get up and move your muscles? You'll burn more calories.

KING: You've worked out with the president, haven't you?

AUSTIN: Yes. He's in awesome shape.

KING: Yes, he keeps fit, right?

AUSTIN: He is so -- I mean he's dedicated to fitness. He knows how important it is for stress levels. It really makes you feel good. He can run a mile in six and a half minutes. That's awesome, especially, I mean he is 57.

KING: You do it -- what days when you don't exercise?

AUSTIN: Oh, I just relax.

KING: You just...

AUSTIN: I love to stretch. In my book I have a whole section on stretching.

KING: Stretching.

AUSTIN: Stretching and keeping your body flexible and limber is so important especially as we age so when we reach for something we don't pull our back out or pull a muscle. Flexibility is important. I spend five minutes every day in the book to give you great stretches because I believe it's...

KING: By stretches you mean?

AUSTIN: Oh, stretches, any stretches you can do to really reach and stretch the body. All stretching is good for your body. So, I put together 20 of my favorite stretches that you should do on a regular basis. If you have neck tension it's because your muscles are tight and tense. You need to let them relax and stretch a little. If you have a back pain you need to stretch and take your time. It's all about keeping your body flexible, strong through toning up exercises, and aerobic training through cardiovascular workouts like walking, swimming, bike riding.

KING: You're one of the most extraordinary people I know Denise.

AUSTIN: Oh, thank you sweetie. I love you. Keep it up. You look awesome.

KING: Denise Austin, the book "Shrink Your Female fat Zones" and it's available in DVD and VHS and, of course, as a book. Denise is quite a lady and we'll be back with more of LARRY KING LIVE after this.


KING: It's now a great pleasure to welcome to LARRY KING LIVE, Andre Leon Talley, author of a terrific new memoir, "A.L.T. Memoir." There you see its cover. He's "Vogue's" editor-at large.

You can read his monthly style facts column in the new September issue, which has Nicole Kidman on the cover and about 732 pages. You're 6'7". You're one of a kind. What brought you to fashion?

ANDRE LEON TALLEY, "VOGUE" EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Well, when I was a young boy growing up in Durham, North Carolina, I was the only child. I lived with my grandmother and fashion was my hobby. It was my escape hatch.

I spent a lot of time in the library alone and I discovered "Vogue" magazine in the library and the pages of "Vogue" were my baseball, my basketball. When other guys were, you know, out playing sports I was busy pinning up the pictures from "Vogue." The pages from "Vogue" would be pinned on my wall in my bedroom.

KING: Did people make fun of you?

TALLEY: People didn't make fun of me because I think that people have always been kind of intimidated by my presence. I mean I wasn't tall when I was nine years old but being the only child I was very protected living in a house with women.

I grew up in a house with my grandmother and my great-grandmother and these were the role models and I lived a very strict life. Church was very important. I grew up in the church. My faith is very important even in my life today and I just went through life with the privilege of being loved in a household where there was not a lot of money.

We weren't poor. We certainly were not rich but the main ingredient in our house was love and that love and that sense of my grandmother knowing who she was brought me to where I am today.

KING: Did your dad want you to be an athlete?

TALLEY: Oh, yes, my dad wanted me to play basketball.

KING: Was he disappointed?

TALLEY: My dad was very disappointed, very disappointed, but also very proud because he would do anything for me. He provided for all my education. He sent me the World Book Encyclopedia when, you know, it was red, Morocco bound. I still have those. I had the shiny red bike. I mean he just was proud of me. Even before he died he was really proud of everything that I've achieved.

KING: In your memoir, you don't deal a lot about romantic life. You say you've had two great loves. Is that coming in the second book?

TALLEY: I think it will come in a second book down the road because the two great loves are people who are not famous but they're very known in the fashion world and this is not a tell-all book. I did not want to write a tell-all book. I wanted to write a book that would speak to people about what it means to have solid, good old- fashioned values.

KING: You are the single largest contributor to the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, a very famous church. I've had the honor of being there.

TALLEY: Oh, thank you, yes.

KING: Is that a balance between what you do and what you are?

TALLEY: Well, Larry, it's a great balance. It's a great leveler. I think you just have to look up to something other than what you do every day in a fashion magazine or being sort of a big- time person in the fashion world.

When you go home at night you say to yourself it that all there is and there isn't and one of the great things that "Vogue" has given me is the opportunity to give back to people. So, I give back by doing this work at the Abyssinian Baptist Church with, you know, Dr. Calvin O. Butts who's a great friend, a great spiritual leader.

I've also gotten involved with Dr. (unintelligible) Oz and his foundation for the advancement of cardio therapies. We just raised $120,000 two Saturdays ago in South Hampton at the (unintelligible) house. So, my extra time now is spent giving back through working for other causes. That comes through "Vogue."

KING: Andre, didn't the fashion world used to be lily white?

TALLEY: The fashion world used to be lily white. It's almost still lily white but, you know, the fashion world in the '50s was perhaps in a way more liberal than it is now because there were people who were creating revolution and change, Yves St. Laurent, you know, people in Paris, the swinging '60s and '70s.

But the point in the fashion world is it is one of the few industries where color does not really matter. I mean you can become because of your talent or because of your beauty. Liya, the new spokesperson for Estee Lauder, Estee Lauder never had a girl of color in their ads and this year, I mean, thanks to Anna Wintour who gave Estee Lauder the idea, she is representing, you know, a great, great cosmetics empire.

KING: Were you one of the breakthrough figures?

TALLEY: I think I was but I didn't think of myself as a breakthrough figure at the time. I came along in the '70s, 1975, '76, '77, the great years of Studio 54, which you won't hear about. I'll touch on that in another book.

I came up with Halston, Andy Warhol, these were the great, great moments for fashion. Fashion was smaller then, you know. You could go to two fashion shows a day. When you're at "Vogue" now during the season you can go up to 12 fashion shows a day. It's a serious business.

KING: You recently told the "New York Times" there's so little elegance in fashion now we're living in a vulgar age, meaning?

TALLEY: Yes, meaning that, you know, people have got to get back to it's OK to have casual Fridays but it's great that fashion, if you look at the September "Vogue" fashion is returning to a more dress-up, you know, not that you have to wear an evening gown but you just got to dress up, pay more attention to the fit of your clothes, the look of your clothes.

We're not saying you have to go out and buy, you know, like a $10,000 outfit but the biggest thing you can wear in fashion this fall that will really punch up your wardrobe is a beautiful pair of Prada gloves or an incredible pair of (unintelligible) new pair of shoes for women.

You just have to have a more polished look because the age of vulgarity, it seeps through through the media, not through your show but through, you know, reality TV and advertising. It's all quite vulgar.

But, I mean the world, you know, everyone is so bored quickly now. Before you just had to read "Vogue" well once a month and then you didn't do much else in fashion but go to fashion shows maybe twice a year.

KING: Why is "Vogue" so important?

TALLEY: Well, "Vogue" is important because Anna Wintour who's at the helm and has been for 15 years, speaks to many readers. It speaks about issues in an intelligent way and it has the best photography.

We work with the world class photographers, (unintelligible) Newton, Irving Penn, Stephen Mizels (ph), Stephen Kline (ph), Arthur Elgort (ph), and of course if Nicole Kidman has 20-some pages it's because she gave all that time because she knew she was going to work with the world class artists and genius of our times.

KING: And it's read by a wide group, right?

TALLEY: Oh, it's read, it's like over 1.5 million every month but it's also not just a fashion magazine. It is a quality magazine.

KING: Yes, I agree.

TALLEY: "Vogue" has always stood for quality as your show.

KING: As is your book. Thank you, Andre.

TALLEY: Thank you for having me.

KING: Best of luck man.

TALLEY: It's a great honor. Thank you so much.

KING: Andre Leon Talley, the book "A.L.T. a Memoir." We'll be right back.


KING: We now welcome to LARRY KING LIVE from our studios in New York Fern Mallis. She is Executive Director of 7th on 6th. They produce the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week twice a year in New York City. It showcases the spring, summer, and fall winter collections. It starts September 12. It marks the tenth anniversary. Is this 7th Avenue coming to 6th Avenue, am I that much of a simpleton to figure that out?

FERN MALLIS, EXEC. DIR. 7TH ON 6TH: You got it right on the money.

KING: And what happens on 6th Avenue?

MALLIS: The world comes together for a week. All the designers put their runway shows on. Thousands and thousands of press and editors from all over the world come to town. The buyers are there. The models are there. Every fashion needs to -- everybody who loves and feels anything about clothing is there from morning until night for eight days straight.

KING: Now, there being where, on the street?

MALLIS: There being in Bryant Park on 6th Avenue behind the public library from 40th to 42nd Street, right in the heart of Manhattan, a block away from the garment center in the fashion industry's backyard.

KING: All under tent?

MALLIS: Tents, several tents we put up and we create a fashion city for a week. It's our Ellis Island of fashion.

KING: Mercedes-Benz sponsors it?

MALLIS: They have been doing that for the last three years. They've been a terrific sponsor. It's all about style and cars and fashion and trends and shape and form, so it's a great marriage.

KING: Can anyone go to this?

MALLIS: No, it's by invitation only, which is what makes it the hottest ticket in town. You can't buy a ticket to it. It's for the designers and we put on about 50 some odd shows during the week and they invite the guests. We invite our sponsors, many in addition to Mercedes-Benz, and you get to see what's going to happen and what we're all going to be wearing in the next six months.

KING: So, famous designers, they invite people and people can come and you can eat there and there's stuff like that?

MALLIS: Yes, yes cafes, lounges, bars, Internet access, everything, green rooms backstage.

KING: What started this?

MALLIS: Well, what started it was actually an accident, the ceiling collapsing at designer Michael (unintelligible) show ten years ago and the plaster came down over the runway and given the great models, the Naomi, Cindy, and Linda, and all the super models of the day brushed the plaster off their shoulders and kept walking.

Well, the fashion journalists in the front row didn't take kindly to it and the next day we were creamed. Susie Menkas (ph) from the "International Herald Tribune" wrote I live for fashion. I don't want to die for it. So, we said whoops, we've got a job to do.

I was the director then at the Council of Fashion Designers of America, a not for profit trade association of all the designers. Our board was Calvin and Ralph and Donna and Oscar and Bill and every name you've every heard of yin your life and Warren (unintelligible) on your neck and we said this is the mission. We have to do something about this.

And, we looked and looked for spaces in New York and Bryant Park was literally the backyard and we called up some sponsors and got some money raised and ten years later 20-some odd seasons of shows in addition to additional seasons of men's shows that we organize separately and we are now there, 7th on 6th and Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week is celebrating the tenth.

KING: And you do it in September and what other month?

MALLIS: February. February we show the fall clothes and now we're going to be showing the spring clothes.

KING: Was that on during 9/11?

MALLIS: We had just been up for two days, 7th on 6th had just been bought by the big blockbuster IMG Corporation that we now are owned by. The tents looked gorgeous. They were perfect. Everything was in order and 9/11 happened and it was probably one of the scariest, certainly the scariest day in many of our lives. We had thousands of journalists in town. We had to shut down the tents of course. We shut down the park. We were the biggest public event in New York City at the time outdoors behind the library, near Grand Central, near Times Square. Nobody knew what was happening but we knew we were not going to be looking at beautiful girls walking down the runway.

KING: Is it -- it sounds wild to put this thing on. It sounds like people running into each other. Where do the girls dress and undress?

MALLIS: We have huge backstage. It's creating theaters. We have three different venues, different sizes. All the models are there, all the hair and makeup backstage, all the publicists, all the producers.

It's nonstop fresh fashion frenetic activity for literally eight days and then it ends with parties every night all over town. It's a huge economic incentive to be there. The city loves it. We've become one of the most important events in New York twice a year. Every cab driver knows when Fashion Week is up.

KING: Are you ever picketed by say the fur and leather people?

MALLIS: Absolutely.

KING: You are.

MALLIS: But, you know what, we have won over the fur, the anti- fur protesters.


MALLIS: The PETA folks have actually been at shows. They've thrown that red paint on the runway and now they host a show and they sponsor a show for designers who design in alternative material, rubbers, and synthetics that don't harm animals. They don't design with leather and now we've made peace and it's marvelous.

KING: In the world fashion scene, Fern, how important is the United States?

MALLIS: It is very important and I think that our American designers are some of the best ambassadors this country has. You know you travel anywhere and they know who Calvin Klein is and Tommy Hilfiger. The apparel industry is huge and it's certainly the second and third largest industry in New York. We pump in a couple hundred million dollars a year just by this Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.

KING: Well, Fern, thank you for spending this time with us. Good luck with it.

MALLIS: Thank you. Come to a show.

KING: I'm going to be there, September 12.

MALLIS: We'll have a seat for you.

KING: Seventh on 6th at Bryant Park in New York. I'm Larry King. We'll be right back.


KING: Thanks for joining us on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE, a sprightly group of four, hope you enjoyed them all.

Tomorrow night we'll repeat an interview with Bill Maher.

And, Monday night, we'll look back at the life and times of Alfred Hitchcock.

Thanks for joining us. Stay tuned for more news on your best outlet for news, the most trusted name in news, CNN. I'm Larry King, good night.


Talley, Fern Mallis>

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