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Piers Morgan Live

Chaz Bono's Story

Aired May 12, 2011 - 21:00   ET


PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: Transformation like no other. Chastity Bono, the little girl who grew up on TV, is now a man called Chaz.

CHAZ BONO, AUTHOR, "TRANSITION": I don't have memories until later in life. Until at least like 4 or 5, 6. I don't remember anything from my early childhood.

MORGAN: And tonight he's here to tell his extraordinary story.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Why don't you like your picture?

BONO: Probably because I didn't like the way I looked. I don't know. Maybe I'll start to like it the more I see myself looking different.

MORGAN: When did Chaz know he was meant to be a man? How did he break the news to his partner Jennifer? And his mother Cher?

Chaz Bono, his first live primetime interview. This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.

Chaz Bono tells his story in the new book "Transition: The Story of How I Became a Man" and in a documentary, "Becoming Chaz," which airs on Oprah Winfrey's OWN network. And he joins me now.

Chaz, I'm going to start by saying I watched you on "David Letterman" last night.


MORGAN: One of the most amusing encounters I've seen on a talk show in years. He was so uncomfortable. He didn't know quite how to handle you. Quite how to deal with what you were telling him, the enormity of what you'd gone through.

What was it like for you last night when you went on there?

BONO: You know I had -- I had a really good time. I like Dave a lot. I've always been a fan. And he's got this history with my family. So I really wanted to go on the show. And I thought, you know, he represented a lot of people who really don't know about this issue.

So it gave me a great opportunity to break it down, you know, really simply kind of do a transgender 101. And so I was -- I was really happy to do that.

MORGAN: Tell me this. When he began laughing at what you were saying and some of the audience were -- not all, I noticed. Some of them were.

BONO: Right.

MORGAN: Did you feel awkward when that happens?

BONO: No. Not at all. No. I mean it's that kind of a show. You know? It's a fun show. And I never felt like people were laughing at me. It was kind of a funny situation, me and, you know, Dave talking about this stuff. So no, I had a really good time.

MORGAN: I mean it's entertaining to watch.

BONO: Yes.

MORGAN: I just wondered how you felt.

BONO: No, I felt -- I felt really good, actually.

MORGAN: For the reasons you said, that he -- like a lot of people, probably on a slightly older generation.

BONO: Absolutely.

MORGAN: Would find this hard to deal with.

BONO: Hard to deal with and hard to understand, I think, more than anything. I mean I never, you know, got the sense that Dave was judging me or had any --

MORGAN: No, no.

BONO: -- view at all other than really not understanding it. And so --

MORGAN: Do you think -- do you think he got it by the end?

BONO: I think he was starting to get it. Yes.


BONO: I do.

MORGAN: Do you think maybe a few more lessons?

BONO: I think he was starting -- yes. You know? I think he was starting to get it.

MORGAN: You think it might be time to send him to some transgender classes?


BONO: I just -- you know, I want to get him off saying homosexual so much.



BONO: So you know, that -- if I did that, that will be great.


MORGAN: The book is fascinating, the story is fascinating. You know, like most people I can remember you as a little girl, you know, the "Sonny and Cher" shows. You don't have much memory of that time which I find very interesting.

BONO: Yes, of when I was really little on the show and of that kind of the picture that everybody has in their head and, you know, that I was probably 2 or 3, and I really don't remember that.

MORGAN: I want to play you a clip from the show actually.


MORGAN: Just to remind people who don't remember. This was you on the "Sonny and Cher Show."


SONNY BONO, "SONNY AND CHER SHOW": You can be a good little angel or you can be a naughty little devil, now --

BONO: I want to be a naughty devil.


S. BONO: All right, then pull it.


MORGAN: You don't remember that. Now you've seen it again.

BONO: Right.

MORGAN: What memories does it bring back to you if anything?

BONO: You know most of the memories that I have of that time was backstage. And you know the way that kids have silly memories of things. I remember that we shot at CBS and it was right near the farmer's market and I used to like to go there and get Mexican food. And you know those type of weird things.

MORGAN: Do you remember being --

BONO: And I don't really remember being --

MORGAN: -- part of a famous family? BONO: No, not at all. That really actually didn't register at that point. And then as I got older, it did. But not really about me. Just, you know, when I was with my parents and especially, you know, my mom, just how everybody else reacted, I was, of course, aware of.

MORGAN: Well, what kind of girl were you as you got past that stage and became 7, 8, 9? When you can start to remember, what kind of girl were you?

BONO: I was -- I mean I guess what you would call a classic tomboy. But you know what I would say was, you know, I was really a boy. I felt like a boy and my friends were all boys. And I was really comfortable in that space in school from ages probably, you know, 6 through 10, 11.

And then as I started to get older and about to head into puberty, things started to get difficult. Expectations of how a young lady should act started to creep in. And then, of course, I hit puberty and my body just started to transform in a way that was exactly the opposite of what I wanted it to do.

MORGAN: Were you able -- were you mature enough to understand that this transformation wasn't right for you? Or did you just feel odd?

BONO: I felt like it wasn't right for me, but at that point I mean, I didn't know -- I didn't know about, you know, being transgender. I didn't know that people could transition from one -- I had no idea. I just knew that something felt incredibly wrong and what was happening to me, particularly, I mean, I was very aware of my breasts and that they just felt wrong on my body.

And that I always tried to de-emphasize them in every way that, you know, wear baggy shirts and you know really try to de-emphasize them in every way that I could.

MORGAN: It was interesting to me in reading the book, the same time you're going through this extraordinary experience and the feelings that you're having, your mother, of course, is one of the world's most famous sex symbols, the embodiment of female beauty.

BONO: Right.

MORGAN: Did that make it more difficult for you?

BONO: No, I don't think it really made it -- I think that was kind of incidental. I think it was difficult in that I think as a mother and during that time period, she had expectations of how she thought I was going to be and there was friction between us because of that.

But I don't think it really mattered to me one way or the other that, you know, she was a sex symbol or any of those things.

BONO: As you got a little older into your teens, you began to think in your mind that possibly you were just gay, you were a lesbian.

BONO: Right, that's what I initially thought. When I was about 14, I realized I'm attracted to women and so I must be a lesbian. That must be what this feeling that I felt my whole life is. That must be the reason.

MORGAN: And you weren't attracted to boys at all?

BONO: Never, no.

MORGAN: You say that --

BONO: Though I have to say, I mean I do -- and I'm not used to having an hour so I can actually talk.

MORGAN: We've got --

BONO: I know, it's great.

MORGAN: Don't worry.

BONO: In looking back over -- and really after transitioning, there were some incidents when I was younger where I had really like, you know, guy crushes that guys have on each other. And I didn't realize it at the time. And I thought, oh, this must be -- you know, I must like him in a way that a, you know, girl likes a guy, and I would kind of, you know, pursue that.

And then go on a date or something and be like, this feels -- this is absurd. I feel ridiculous. And I don't want to be, you know, intimate with this person at all, but I really like him in a special way. And it was like I was having bromances before I realized I was a guy.

MORGAN: You had sex once with a man.

BONO: Once, yes.

MORGAN: What was the experience like?

BONO: Just kind of bland, really. I mean, it wasn't like a horrific dramatic experience in any way. It was just like --

MORGAN: Why did you do that? To prove to yourself that you'd at least try it?

BONO: No, it wasn't -- no. I mean It was kind of immature, but I was only 16 at the time. So many people would say to me, because I was out -- I -- you know, I was out to my friends and everything and people, you know, when I would tell them, would say, well, how do you know? You've never been with a man. And so I wanted to do it so I could say I've done it. I know.

MORGAN: So you get to your late teens. You now assume that you're a lesbian.

BONO: Right.

MORGAN: What is that like for you? As you go forward, you start to go out with girls. Does that feel natural or normal to you at the time?

BONO: It does, but there's an expectation of the girls that I'm going out with, that I'm supposed to act like a girl, too. And that felt weird. Like in high school, I -- you know had some experiences with girls who were experimenting more and were really probably straight and actually were probably responding to my male energy, because I still know them and they've never been with any other woman.

So that felt really good, but then as I, like, after high school when I actually started going out with lesbians, there was an expectation from them that I was supposed to act a certain way like a woman, and that started to feel really uncomfortable.

MORGAN: You must be getting really confused.

BONO: I was -- I was very confused and uncomfortable for a lot of my life.

MORGAN: At what point does the confusion you have when you think you're a lesbian start to transform into there's something else here?

BONO: Right.

MORGAN: And at what point do you work out what that something else may be?

BONO: For me it was a pretty long process, actually. And it was probably around 30, 31, and I remember I was -- I was dating somebody who had a lot of lesbian friends. And so I was doing a lot of different -- going to a lot of social events.

I can remember being at some big, like, house barbecue and there were a lot of lesbians around. And I was just kind of sitting back and watching, and thinking, and looking at everybody. And I realized that even the more masculine women there still had a really strong female identity.

And it dawned on me that I never had that. And so at that point I started to think maybe I'm not a lesbian. And if I'm not, what am I? And at that point I started to kind of go back over my whole life in my head and just put all of these different things together.

MORGAN: We're going to have a short break. When we come back, we're going to get to the moment when you decide, I want to be a man.


MORGAN: And we're also going to hear from Nick Cannon about an extraordinary scam targeting his wife Mariah Carey and their babies.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NICK CANNON, ACTOR/RAPPER: Saying that my wife was drinking beer and all that stuff. It's like, people will do anything to try to conjure up a story.




BONO: Everything is changing. There's so much clarity coming, and I'm sure there will be more things that I discover that I just didn't realize until I went on hormones and started to feel comfortable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll give you a mirror if you want to see.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nice and flat, huh?

BONO: Wow. Looks beautiful.



MORGAN: An extraordinary moment for the documentary "Becoming Chaz." And Chaz Bono is with me now.

It is an extraordinary documentary.

BONO: Thank you.

MORGAN: It's an extraordinary story and it centers really around, I guess, the pivotal moment when you decide, I actually want to be a man.

BONO: Mm-hmm.

MORGAN: And I'm going to do something about this. Tell me about that moment.

BONO: Well, it was a long time coming, so I think I was saying -- I started to put it together around, you know, my early 30s. And then suddenly I was like how can I -- what can I do about this? I'm a public figure. If I transition, you know, the whole world is going to know.

And I felt like, you know, I'm going to just be -- I don't know, a laughingstock. And so it took me years and years to get over the myriad of fears that I had about it. And in the end, I think it was -- I finally started to put my needs above everybody else's. And that's really what it took for me.

I was the kind of person who always worried about everybody else before me and thought everybody else's feelings.

MORGAN: You know what?

BONO: Yes.

MORGAN: This is my life.

BONO: I thought this is my life. Exactly. This is my life. And I'm going to be 40 and I need to do this for myself. And the actual moment happened kind of in two part in a therapy session where I had that epiphany. This is my life and I need to do this. And then I got -- went home and was talking to Jenny about it. And we got in to this huge fight like --

MORGAN: This is your girlfriend Jennifer --

BONO: My Jennifer -- yes.

MORGAN: Who's coming on in a moment.

BONO: Yes, exactly. And we got so -- I got so -- like she triggered something in me in this fight. And I had this primal experience happen of I think all of the repression feelings that I had stuffed down for so many years came out in this enormous primal scream. And we literally afterwards both knew this has got to happen.

MORGAN: And remarkably -- I don't say remarkably -- you know, I don't know her at all, but Jennifer stayed with you.

BONO: Yes.

MORGAN: And has supported you, difficult though as it's been for her. And we'll discuss with her in a moment how difficult it's been. Pretty amazing that she's done that.

BONO: It is.

MORGAN: We're going to listen now to a clip of your mother Cher.


MORGAN: Her reaction to your transition.


CHER, SINGER, CHAZ'S MOTHER: It's been difficult for different -- anyone different. For -- you know, for -- I mean from burning people that they thought were witches. Any time you're different, you're going to pay some sort of a price. It depends on the culture as to what price you pay. You know?

And Chaz works with children as young as 3 and 4 that just feel that they're in the wrong body, and she does counseling, you know. He does counseling. So it's a very difficult thing.


MORGAN: Even your mother is not quite sure if you're a he or a she, Chaz. I mean that's the -- uncomfortable moment.

BONO: It's -- you know, I mean, for her -- look, it's ingrained. It's 40 years of saying she. So it takes a little time to get out of that habit.

MORGAN: Be brutally honest. I mean --


MORGAN: Your mom, from all I've read, wasn't happy about the fact that you were a lesbian to start with, until your father Sonny reacted better to that.

BONO: Mm-hmm.

MORGAN: That's correct?

BONO: That is correct, yes.

MORGAN: So when you come with another whammy.

BONO: Right.

MORGAN: Which is, mom, if you thought that was bad, take a load of this.

BONO: Yes.

MORGAN: What -- how did she react when you first said to her -- I believe by then she'd got used to you being a lesbian.

BONO: Right. Yes. Definitely. And I mean --

MORGAN: Some of the interviews I saw her --


BONO: Yes, absolutely.

MORGAN: She'd grown to it and was supportive and everything else.

BONO: Totally supportive.

MORGAN: Became a loving mother.

BONO: Absolutely.

MORGAN: But then you hit her with this new bombshell. How did she react?

BONO: And again, this was over -- we talked about it over time. So it wasn't like one, you know, bombshell. Like --

MORGAN: So she knew. BONO: So she knew that this was something that I was feeling and that I was struggling with, and I was trying to figure out. And when I finally went to her shortly after the incident with Jen and told her I'm going to do this. You know, I've been struggling with this and I realize this is something I need to do and I'm going to do it.

She was actually unbelievably supportive. Just like amazing. I kind of couldn't believe it. She was so calm and we had a wonderful talk about it. And then I think as the reality started to hit her, it became more difficult for her and really she's talked about when my voice started to change, it really hit her. And she had to go through --

MORGAN: Because she's now got a son.

BONO: Right, exactly.

MORGAN: For the first time in 40 years.

BONO: For the first time. Yes. So she had to grieve the loss of her daughter, of that, you know, little bit of female side that I had. And as time has gone on, I think she's become more and more comfortable and understanding about it.


BONO: She'll continue to.

MORGAN: You certainly put her through the hoop, haven't you, Chaz? Let's be honest.

BONO: I guess. But you know I've always been a pretty, you know, good kid, a good guy. You know, this is how I was born. So --

MORGAN: Do you think that your mother knew? Do you think she had an inkling from an earlier age? Do you think?

BONO: No, I think she -- I think when I was really young, she thought I was going to grow up and be gay. I think that's what she thought. I don't think she really thought that. I mean I grew up in the '70s, we didn't know about this.

MORGAN: Not completely.

BONO: Yes.

MORGAN: I mean this is -- I mean you, actually, to your great credit, become a kind of trail blazer for this.

BONO: Yes.

MORGAN: But at the moment you told your mother about this, she being hugely famous around the world, you having grown up in this fame bubble.

BONO: Right. MORGAN: You would both known the moment this got out.

BONO: Yes.

MORGAN: This was going to be a huge story, possibly to beat you both with.

BONO: And I think -- I think that was -- you know, that was one of the areas that we kind of -- you know disagreed on a little bit. And I think she thought I was going to be much more difficult, and I had faith that we'd come to a place as a culture, that we would be able to be more respectful.

MORGAN: And tell me, since this has all blown up.

BONO: Yes.

MORGAN: And you've been on TV everywhere. Have you been vindicated in your belief on that? When you walk around, are people supportive to you?

BONO: Very.

MORGAN: Are you amazed how fast --

BONO: I --

MORGAN: -- America has come.

BONO: I have. I have really been amazed. I mean I've been amazed by how the media has covered this and how, you know, fair and open minded everybody seemed to be. And yes, I mean I have -- you know, if somebody recognizes me, I always get, you know, a really positive response from them. You know --

MORGAN: Because had you done this 25 years ago --

BONO: It would have been completely different.

MORGAN: You might have been abused in the streets at all.

BONO: Absolutely.

MORGAN: You've had none of that.

BONO: None of that.

MORGAN: I mean that's a remarkable sign of our times, isn't it?

BONO: It is really. Yes.

MORGAN: Does that make you feel good?

BONO: It feels great, absolutely. It makes me feel really great. You know I went to the Yankee store to buy a cap and the guy recognized me and couldn't have been -- you know, couldn't have been cooler. Hey, Chaz, oh cool. You know? That was it.

MORGAN: That must make you feel great.

BONO: It does, it does.

MORGAN: Hey, Chaz. That's cool.

BONO: Yes, exactly.

MORGAN: Let me take a break and when we come back we're going to come to somebody else who's pretty cool, which is your girlfriend who stood by --

BONO: Yes.

MORGAN: Throughout all this. Who is as brave as you.

BONO: She is.



JENNIFER ELIA, CHAZ BONO'S GIRLFRIEND: I was sober when we met. But when things get tough, I start to drink. I mean, I remember when Chaz told me that he was going to do this and I said, well, I can't be sober for this.


MORGAN: Chaz Bono's girlfriend Jennifer Elia who joins us now.

Jennifer, in many ways you've been through an even more dramatic period of your life than Chaz has. At least he knew kind of what was going on. You didn't have a clue really, did you?

ELIA: Well, early on in our relationship, he told me -- actually, I was told by a friend of his that he was indeed transgender. And I asked him. And he said -- this was in our first year, within the first few months, he said he was, but he wasn't planning on doing anything about it at the time. He was comfortable living masculine and as masculine as possible but he would indeed want to do it at some point.

MORGAN: And what was your honest reaction when he said that?

ELIA: I compartmentalized it and put it away.


MORGAN: Wow. I mean -- that's quite something, to compartmentalize it, is it?

ELIA: It's amazing when I can compartmentalize on that.

MORGAN: Your girlfriend says, I may become a man, and you compartmentalize it.

ELIA: I did. I walked -- I said, well, we're good for now.


ELIA: And I went into the kitchen and I went about my day. But I knew -- I've -- I mean I knew for years that we would have to deal with this at some point. I knew he would have to do this.

MORGAN: The great advantage of having you as his girlfriend is -- I think you're bisexual, right?

ELIA: Yes, that's correct.

MORGAN: This is sort of -- kind of conjecture, it's the fact. So you would be the perfect person to potentially find him as attractive as a man as he was as a woman. The question to me --

ELIA: Right.

MORGAN: -- right now is, do you?

ELIA: I find him more attractive as a man.

MORGAN: Really?

ELIA: Absolutely.

MORGAN: You see, you lucked out.

BONO: I did.

ELIA: Yes, he did.

MORGAN: Talk about backing the winner.

BONO: I know.

ELIA: Yes.


ELIA: I mean, I was -- you know, I am attracted to both men and women, but it is different to have that happen in the same person. You know?

MORGAN: As it was all unfurling, when it came out of its compartmentalization.

ELIA: Yes.

MORGAN: Great word, isn't it? And he broke free from that and he was going for the treatment and the testosterone and the hormones, and everything else, and he's becoming a man in front of your eyes.

ELIA: Right. MORGAN: He's beginning to shave and you had your breasts removed and everything. So you're physically becoming a man, when you're seeing that process, what's going through your mind? Was it concerning you? Did you suddenly freak out? Did you have arguments?

ELIA: OK, well, there are two components. There was the physical and the emotional. The physical, the major change first was the top surgery. I was very nervous about that. I was very nervous about going to San Francisco. That's where he did it. I had no idea how I would react. But to my surprise, I was thrilled. Like I got it.

When I saw his chest the way it looks now, I thought, oh, right, this makes sense. And I was surprised. I actually thought I might miss the other, but it worked.

MORGAN: So physically there wasn't a problem. What about psychologically?

ELIA: Well, emotionally we went through a lot of work. And I mean you go from being in a female dynamic, even though I believe Chaz was always male, he had estrogen. So you have two estrogens in the house, and then it goes to estrogen and testosterone and that's an adjustment, absolutely.

MORGAN: Well, without being too query here, but it's the kind of question I guess most viewers must be thinking, as your sex life been affected adversely or for the good by all this?

ELIA: For the good.

BONO: Yes. Yes.

ELIA: Because --

MORGAN: That's a remarkable thing, isn't it?

BONO: Yes.

MORGAN: That that's happened.

ELIA: We're lucky.

MORGAN: You've been able to -- yes. It is -- I mean I guess very fortunate.

ELIA: You know?

MORGAN: It can't always be the case.


ELIA: Right.

BONO: And it's not always the case. But it does happen. And I know other -- we know people who have gone through the transition together. And -- but, you know, we feel very lucky.

MORGAN: Do you know people where it hasn't worked? Where once the transition's happened they split up.

BONO: I don't actually. We only know like --

ELIA: I don't really know.

BONO: You know, one other couple, and that have very similar circumstances to ours, and they are, you know, happily married now. So --

MORGAN: Is part of the reason that you feel able to deal with it, Jennifer, that he's happier?

ELIA: Absolutely.

MORGAN: In himself as a man than he was as a woman.

ELIA: And that affects everything. I mean that affects our emotional connection, that affects our sex life, that affects everything. When you have a partner who's happy in their skin and happy in general, not depressed and feeling completely in the wrong body, it changes everything.

MORGAN: And are you happy now? Or are you still slightly wrestling with --

BONO: No. No.

MORGAN: You know what's going on?

BONO: No, not at all. I'm incredibly happy. And I feel really comfortable for the first time. I honestly didn't realize how difficult things were before until I had this to compare it to.

MORGAN: The strange thing is I've never met you before, but if I didn't know the story, you look like a guy.

BONO: Right.

MORGAN: You're dressed well in a smart suit. A big bulky --

ELIA: That's great, Piers.

MORGAN: Is that a patronizing thing to say?

ELIA: That's a compliment.

BONO: I've always felt like a guy. And now I finally am able to look like a guy, too, and be a guy. So that's -- yeah, that's what it was about for me always, was getting all of this on the outside to match how I felt in here.

MORGAN: For you, it's not been plain sailing. There's a story in the book that you were a teetotaler, sober when you were Chastity. Yes?

BONO: No, I was always Chaz, with you.

MORGAN: But you got back on to the alcohol. Why was that?

ELIA: Well, I can't blame it solely on Chaz's transition. My sobriety has been a struggle for years. It has been an off and on thing for me. But I've had periods of sobriety. But when he did tell me that he was going to do this, I used it as a pass for myself, which only an alcoholic would do.

MORGAN: For you, Chaz, when you saw Jennifer fall off the wagon, did it worry you that perhaps the stress of everything that you had put her through was now coming out in alcohol?

BONO: Actually, no. What it made me was angry, really. And it was different because I think in the past I would have been, you know -- and she had in the past fallen off the wagon. And I was -- I was really scared and worried and what's going to happen.

The difference this time that I really have had to learn to deal with the most through this is anger. And I got really angry. And I got really shut down. And it was -- and I put her through a lot.

And it was really hard. We had to really work in therapy and everything to get back on track.

MORGAN: And how are things right now?

BONO: Really good.

ELIA: Very good. I have a year and two months sober. And, you know, things have leveled out. I feel like -- we might disagree on this, but I feel that his -- I don't know. I feel that his levels of testosterone, his -- I make things -- medical advice up in my head. But I feel like his hormonal level has balanced.

I feel he's adjusted more. I mean, it might not be chemical.

BONO: That's what I think it is. I think I've adjusted to it more.

ELIA: He's adapted more.

MORGAN: Just for you physically going through all that must -- when you get pumped full of hormones and testosterone, you aren't going to be quite as balanced as you would like to be.

BONO: You just don't -- most men, it happens when they're teenagers and they have a long time to get used to it. For me, it happened at 40. And I really had to adjust to having, you know, a new range of emotions that I didn't have before.

MORGAN: We're going to have a short break. When we come back, I want to get to the nitty-gritty. Are you going to get married now?

ELIA: Oh, my goodness.

MORGAN: Is that the seal on all this. And I don't know, children? Can we talk about children?

BONO: Sure.

ELIA: Sure.



BONO: Draw back a little. Now push in. Pull out fast. OK. Good, Jenny.

ELIA: People think I'm a -- idiot, you know?

BONO: Sometimes, you know.

ELIA: See? It's so easy. I don't know why you've been freaking out. Wouldn't let me do this for I don't know how long, six months? It's not hard. Did it even hurt?

BONO: No, it was good. Perfect.

ELIA: You're on your way, kid.


MORGAN: Greater love, there's no woman that can do that, right?

BONO: That's right.

MORGAN: Do you ever miss the female Chaz?

ELIA: Not so much any more. But I went through a period where I definitely did. I had to adjust to the new -- the male Chaz. I mean in a sense of testosterone and estrogen. There was a softness that Chaz had as a female that is different now as a male.

MORGAN: From a technical point of view, are you now a straight guy?

BONO: Sure, yeah.

MORGAN: And you can't be a lesbian any more, right?

ELIA: I'm a bisexual woman.

MORGAN: You've remained a bisexual woman.

ELIA: And I stayed that way. So there you go.

MORGAN: Do you amuse yourselves when you explain all this to people who just sort of can't get it?

ELIA: We amused Dave. He did.

MORGAN: What did you think watching that?

ELIA: I thought it was great. I thought it was great. And he heard that bisexual girlfriend, he was like, oh, I don't know. Forget it. You know?

So I get it. You know. I suppose it can be confusing to people. We are in a straight relationship.

MORGAN: Yeah, so the obvious question then becomes, you've been together six years now.

ELIA: Six in August.

MORGAN: Will you get married? Have you talked about it?

ELIA: I would like to. Will we, Piers? Will we get married?

MORGAN: Chaz? It's to you. Looks like the gauntlet's been thrown down there.

BONO: Right. We've been engaged actually for two years and have -- kind of had to put things on hold a little bit. I think the other thing is we both have been real --

MORGAN: I think the lady would like you to get on with it.

BONO: She would. No, she would.

MORGAN: Now you're a man, you don't have any excuse.

BONO: No, we don't. Except, the one thing we have talked about a little bit is how we're big supporters of, you know, marriage equality. And that's kind of weird now, to be able to do that.

MORGAN: Are you legally now able to marry as a man and wife?

BONO: We are, yes.

ELIA: Yes.

MORGAN: And would you choose to do that?

BONO: I think that we probably will. And hopefully people will understand that, you know, that's something we want to do.

MORGAN: Before you were considering a civil partnership, potentially.

ELIA: Yes.

BONO: Actually, no, we really weren't, actually.


BONO: Because it was legal for a little while in California.

ELIA: We had a window.

BONO: We had a window. I knew at that point that I was going to transition. And I didn't -- it just didn't feel right to me to get married as two women because I didn't feel I was a woman.

MORGAN: Seems to me, Chaz, like you've been using a lot of excuses here to avoid taking Jennifer down an aisle. And she's made it absolutely crystal clear.

ELIA: Right?

MORGAN: Right. He's now behaving like a typical man.

ELIA: He sure is.

MORGAN: Which in a way is quite comforting. But


BONO: It is something we're going to be doing. Yes.

MORGAN: Is there a window here that we're talking about?

ELIA: There's no ultimatum. I mean, I'm here. We're here. We've been through a lot.

BONO: I would say within a year, definitely.

MORGAN: Within a year?

BONO: Yeah, it really has -- not to make excuses, but we went through a lot. I transitioned. She went to grad school. Then, you know, we were making the film. And I wrote the book.

ELIA: I had to get sober again. It was a nightmare.

BONO: It was a lot. Now I feel like once this is over, we can sit down and plan a wedding.

MORGAN: That will be some wedding, don't you think?

ELIA: I hope so. It would be nice.

MORGAN: The circumstances would be remarkable, wouldn't it? Quite a moment for you two when you stood there.

ELIA: It would be a lot. It would be a lot.

MORGAN: Do you dream of a church wedding? Have you ever always thought you may do that one day?

ELIA: It's funny because we do differ on our -- how we would like to get married.

MORGAN: Quiet registry office with no one watching, big church wedding with everyone.

ELIA: I was raised Catholic.

MORGAN: Like me.

ELIA: And I still -- I feel that I need to be married by some religious figure, a rabbi, a priest, someone -- someone with a connection to God. I don't know. But --

BONO: Yeah.

ELIA: He's not like that.

BONO: I was never religious. I actually really want my step mom to do it.

ELIA: And that's good for me.

BONO: Which is -- it would be really special.

MORGAN: Perfect timing, because we're about to talk to your stepmother, who is another remarkable woman in your life. You pay great tribute to her in the book. We can put the question to her.



MORGAN: About the wedding of the century, which I'm now creating as we speak.

ELIA: Oh, my goodness.

MORGAN: We'll also have Nick Cannon on the extraordinary tabloid scam targeting his twins with Mariah Carey.


MORGAN: I'm back with Chaz Bono and his girlfriend Jennifer. And we're also being joined by Chaz's stepmother, who is a congresswoman, Mary Bono Mack.

Let me go straight to you because we left on a bit of a cliff hanger there, where I had managed to engineer a -- what appeared to be a breaking news situation involving a potential marriage between the newly male Chaz and Jennifer.

Chaz was just saying that you are entitled, if you want to, to act as the person that marries them. So the obvious question is would you like to do that?

REP. MARY BONO MACK (R), CALIFORNIA: Well, Piers, I mean, great timing. But first, I want to commend you on being able to really make Chaz feel like a man and already put the squeeze on him to hurry up and get this done. But, you know, my husband told me something that's very important with marriage. And that is you can be right or you can be happy.

And Chaz, Jenny said a church, and I am so deeply honored and flattered that you would suggest me. But I think they need to work this out a little bit further rather than the pressures. I'm just deeply honored.

Chaz has been one of the greatest blessings in my life. I'm honored that he would make that request of me.

MORGAN: Without wishing to push this too far, congresswoman, but clearly Jennifer has expressed her wish. Should we get to a stage within the year-long window that Chaz has now said he will be held to, and we do get to that church and you are asked formally to be the officiator, would you do it?

MACK: Wow, you know, I honestly would be deeply honored to do it. But I really think we have to have some family discussions. I don't see why I wouldn't. But I -- being put on the spot right here to do it, I guess I feel a little more comfortable if I heard the two of them make the actual commitment and the actual ask.

MORGAN: I think I'm managing to maneuver this to where Jennifer would like it to go. Let me move on away from this to something slightly more serious, which is I'm fascinated to hear what you think Sonny Bono would make of all this.

Because Chaz made it clear in his book that Sonny was rather more tolerant when he first said he was going to be a lesbian than his mother was. Would it be right to assume that he would have been equally tolerant by this turn of events?

MACK: I -- it's so hard to guess how Sonny would have felt about this, you know, any more than anything else, after he's been gone for 13 years. It is always hard to second guess him.

But my hunch is that he would have been frustrated or scared or worried and all of the fears that you kind of have about this. But eventually, he would have come around and done what you do. And that is that you love your family. You do your very best to help them through whatever they're going through.

I know that Sonny loved Chaz with every bone in his body. And I believe that he would have loved him no matter what. I don't believe that would have changed.

MORGAN: It would be fair to say that your support for what is happening here wouldn't be massively popular with the Republican party that you represent. Is that an unfair thing of me to observe?

MACK: I -- You know, this is family. And family is so important. And Chaz has been such a hugely important part of my life. But the same token, I kind of rib Chaz because I'm not really popular in Chaz's community either.

So we kind of have some fun going back and forth on that. Sometimes we agree to disagree on things. But at the end of the day, Chaz campaigned for me when I ran as a Republican running for congress. So we put our love for one another ahead of politics.

BONO: Yeah. Actually, it's been an amazing experience because, I mean, yes, Mary and I have always gotten along. We love each other deeply. And it goes beyond politics. It really does.

And you know, I talk about this in the book, that, you know, that side of the family was so amazingly there for me. And sometimes we get in these, you know, party battles. And there are just things that are more important than that.

You can't judge books by their cover all the time.

MORGAN: Having said that, of course -- let me ask you, congresswoman. That's very decent of him to say that, but the reality is that there is a political aspect to this. And there are big issues involving the whole range of gay and lesbian rights, transgender rights and so on.

Do you hope that the publicity surrounding Chaz's story may lead to a more tolerant, dare I say, liberal attitude towards this kind of thing?

MACK: I don't want to throw out any political terms and label anybody anything here. But I am always one who believes we can learn something from everybody's story, wherever we can hear it, that there are bits of it to learn. And we can all gain some wisdom and happiness from watching other people's stories and accepting them and trying to hear a little bit.

You know, I'll be very candid. This is a strange story and it's hard to wrap your arms around it. And we're still coming to terms with it. What I'm not coming to terms is the fact that I love Chaz deeply. And Chaz has always been a huge and very important part of my life and my children's life.

That -- you know, that's what's important to me here. Chaz and I, I think we learned a long time ago -- because there was a little rough period with Sonny and Chaz on some political differences. I think we learned that we don't take those differences -- when it starts getting a little bit askew, we stop talking politics. Because it's not worth it when you're behind -- you're making pasta, behind the living room door. You're home.

So we just don't do it. And we agree to disagree and love and laugh. And that's really cool.

MORGAN: To sum up, love conquers all, right, Chaz?

BONO: Absolutely, it does. And Mary is 100 percent right. With my dad, we let that get in the way. When he passed away, it's like never again. And so Mary and I, you know, love each other. We have, you know -- and we do. If it gets a little to heated, we just back right off.

Because it's our family that matters and being part of that family. And that's what's important. And I have an amazing time with that family.

MORGAN: Look, Chaz, I think you're an amazingly courageous man.

BONO: Thank you.

MORGAN: I think you're an amazingly courageous woman.

ELIA: Thank you.

MORGAN: And I think you've been, Congresswoman, an amazingly courageous and supportive stepmother. And the whole story, I have to say, I find very uplifting.

BONO: Thank you.

MORGAN: The fact that you're now happy and you're happy makes me happy. And it makes everybody happy. Doesn't it? And if you're not happy, you're a cynic and you don't deserve happiness.

Thank you for joining me.

ELIA: Thank you so much.

MORGAN: And good luck with it all. I want to be at the wedding with my cameras recording every moment, live on CNN. Fair enough? We got a deal?

ELIA: We've got a deal, Piers.

MORGAN: Get her down the aisle, Chaz. That's what guys have to do. All right? Thank you both very much.

BONO: Thank you.

MORGAN: Coming up, Nick Cannon on his infant twins with Mariah Carey and a tabloid scam that targeted the babies.


MORGAN: Controversy tonight involving Mariah Carey and her infant twins. Her husband Nick Cannon tells me their babies, who have not yet come home from hospital, are already the targets of a shocking tabloid scam.


MORGAN: Nick, this is quite disturbing story today. When you were in the hospital and Mariah was there, that you got set up for some sort of tabloid sting. What was going on?

NICK CANNON, "AMERICA'S GOT TALENT": Man, it's more than one incident actually. There's been photographers actually in the hospital posing as different people, or real employees trying to get pictures of our kids, which is really sad when you think about people trying to make a buck off of newborn babies. But recently, I guess there was this -- the Child Protective Services were called with allegations that, you know, there was some drinking and drugs and all that going on while in the hospital, which, again, makes no sense to me.

Like how would a hospital even allow that? But it all started where a nurse suggested to my wife that if you drink Guinness, a small amount of Guinness, the dark beer, that it improves the yeast -- or the yeast improves breastfeeding.

I don't know if someone overheard that, or however it -- but then they were saying that my wife was drinking beer and all this stuff. People will do anything to try to conjure up a story.

MORGAN: Then someone turned up from the child protection.

CANNON: Yeah, literally talking to me. And of course, when I spoke to the person from the Child Protective Services, I was like, this is ridiculous. We're going to make sure that this isn't a case.

MORGAN: What a horrible thing to have to go through.

CANNON: Even to have to deal with that -- even my wife in the state she's in, and we're in the hospital, and to even have to think of someone possibly wanting to investigate your children. It's just sad, at the end of the day, that we have to go that far.

MORGAN: Is it one of the downsides of fame, that you were talking about?

CANNON: It is. But I think that you got to understand like this is what we have to deal with. It's sad. I'm more disappointed in society more than having to be it's because we're famous. It's just that people would even go to those lengths to even kind of do something to a family at such a beautiful time in their life.

MORGAN: I'm Irish. And where we come from, of course, you have to drink a pint of Guinness the moment you're born. That's obligatory.

CANNON: Absolutely. I think my momma might have had a 40 ounce or two.

MORGAN: I'm sorry that happened to you, Nick. I'm glad it's all sorted out.

CANNON: Thank you.

MORGAN: No problem.

You can see the rest of that fascinating interview with my "America's Got Talent" co-star, Nick Cannon, on a special edition of PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT on May the 30th.

Tomorrow night, Jessie James, the man who married America's sweetheart and then broke her heart. Listen to what he had to say about the woman who once called him her rock, Sandra Bullock.


MORGAN: We heard a clip earlier from Sandra saying exactly that, that she felt that was what you were to her.

JESSE JAMES, REALITY SHOW STAR: She didn't say exactly that.

MORGAN: Pretty much, said you were the rock.

JAMES: Yeah, but, you know, she said that same speech at four different awards shows. You saw two of them. So --

MORGAN: What's your point?

JAMES: I don't know. You can take whatever you get out of it, you know.

MORGAN: You don't think she meant it?

JAMES: I think she meant it to a certain extent. What does she do for a living?

MORGAN: Movie star, actor.

JAMES: What?

MORGAN: An actor.

JAMES: OK, cool.

MORGAN: You think it was an act?

JAMES: I think, you know, that whole -- people have to live in that world and --

MORGAN: Are you glad to be out of it?

JAMES: Oh, man, 100 percent. I just can't like -- I just, you know -- I -- I don't know. I don't know how I survived in there as long as I did, because it's just like, I mean - you're cool, but the rest of those people, I just can't hang with them. I just, I don't know, it's not-

MORGAN: They are all pretty fake, is that what you're saying?

JAMES: It's just pretend. It's not real.


MORGAN: That's a frankly rather astounding interview with Jesse James for the hour tomorrow night. Now, here is Anderson Cooper with "AC 360."