With the premiere of season two of RuPaul’s Drag U less than a week away, we had a chance to talk to one of season one’s most famous alums, actress Erin Murphy. Erin, who you may remember as Tabitha from the beloved series Bewitched, competed against fellow TV legends Charlene Tilton (Dallas) and Dawn Wells (Gilligan’s Island) to see who was the “baddest bitch in school”. Even though she didn’t draguate with the highest D.P.A., Erin won the hearts of a whole new generation of fans. Erin chatted with us about her Drag U experience, the tips she took away (and one she shared with the drag professors) and lots more in our exclusive interview. From Bewitched to a possible new reality show, Erin tells all. After reading our interview, it will be easy to see that she’s still definitely got the magic!
Socialite Life: Hi Erin! It’s great to talk to you. I loved you on Bewitched and I thought you were a riot on RuPaul’s Drag U!
Erin Murphy: Oh, thank you! (Drag U) was so much fun. It was actually one of the more fun jobs I’ve done.
SL: How was your experience on Drag U?
Erin: It was really great. I was one of the few people that they contacted who has actually seen RuPaul’s Drag Race, so I was really excited about it.
There’s lots more with Erin Murphy after the jump!
SL: And you picked Pandora Boxx to be your drag professor…
Erin: I did! Well, I chose Pandora because that season of Drag Race was currently running when they called me. So the week they had me in to do the show, they had just aired the episode where Pandora was eliminated and I was outraged, so I asked for her!
SL: How was Pandora as a drag professor? Did you actually learn anything?
Erin: Of course I did! I mean, you kind of go in there and it’s all for good fun, but I have to say a lot of the drag tricks translate well to the red carpet, so I kind of got some posing pointers. (Laughs)
SL: Did you keep the duct tape corset?
Erin: I did not keep that – but I have gotten a duct tape bra since then! (Laughs) We’ve all stayed in touch. I’ve talked to Michael – who is Pandora – all the time. He’s talking about moving out to L.A. now.
SL: That’s great! (Erin lives out in L.A. herself) Pandora’s my favorite queen and you were my favorite star on the episode of Drag U, so it was so cool to see you together!
Erin: I really loved all (of the queens) and I have to say that Raven is one of the sweetest people in the world – even though she is kind of a diva on the show, she’s just the greatest person you could know. And Juju‘s hilarious.
SL: I’ve seen photos of you on the red carpet, you’re glamorous! Did you really just want to go on the show for fun?
Erin: Well, it’s different with people who are already kind of in the business because we’re used to wearing makeup. I mean, I don’t think any of us had really let ourselves go, so it was kind of a different version of the show. But with me, I almost didn’t get hired for it. They called me originally to do it maybe a month before to ask me if I would do it and then they started researching and looking at my pictures and they said, “Erin doesn’t need a makeover!” But everyone they approached turned it down. They wanted Erin Moran, who was Joanie on Happy Days, they wanted Nellie Olsen (Alison Arngrim from Little House on the Prairie), they wanted Tiffany, they wanted all of these other people. They wanted Jose Canseco! (Laughs) So, it was last minute. I didn’t know I was doing the show until a maybe day or two before we shot. I would recommend (being on Drag U) to everyone. I told all of my friends who said “no” to it that they really should have done it. It was really fun.
SL: Could you share one of your own beauty tips?
Erin: I’m a fake lash fan. I wear the little individual clumps of fake lashes all of the time – that way you can wake up and you look fabulous and you don’t have to put on makeup in the morning! That’s my favorite makeup tip – but I taught my favorite skincare tip to Raven and he called me and said he swears by it now. It’s an aspirin mask. You dissolve 5 regular, uncoated aspirin in your hand in warm water and you just rub it on your face like a scrub and you let it sit for 10 minutes. It’s pure salicylic acid so it kind of makes your skin fresh and beautiful and it costs ten cents!
SL: You are one busy lady – not only do you act and host a variety of programs, you’re also a beauty writer. Of all of the things you do, what is your favorite?
Erin: Well, this is kind of a scoop for you, but they asked me…well, we’re in talks to do Celebrity Wife Swap for ABC. It’s a total scoop. I’ve got another meeting with them when I get off the phone with you, but they asked me to do it. I’m kind of debating that right now, but I think it might be fun. It’s a new series from the same people who did Wife Swap. They have such a franchise with Dancing with the Stars and all of that – ABC loves “celebreality” so they’re doing it this season. It was picked up.
SL: You’re not a stranger to the reality genre. What’s been your favorite reality experience?
Erin: To be honest, my favorite reality experience…I worked for the Fox Reality channel for about four years and it was the perfect job. It was just basically watching reality shows and then talking about them on TV – talking about what’s good and what’s bad in reality. I’m totally into development and working that side of reality.
SL: What’s your favorite reality show?
Erin: Project Runway. I like all of them, but Project Runway’s my favorite. I also like America’s Next Top Model. I like a lot of different ones! (Laughs)
SL: Did you watch the last season of Drag Race?
Erin: Of course! I’ve watched every season of Drag Race! (Laughs)
SL: Who was your season three favorite?
Erin: Oh gosh…well I knew from the beginning that Raja was going to win. So…ummm…is Carmen Carerra the beautiful one? I don’t know…I like drag queens for a different reason. I mean, you look at some of them and they’re so convincingly a woman and there’s different things I like about drag. My favorite drag queen ever is Pandora. I like her whole wacky thing.
SL: The way they edited the show, it made you look rather competitive. Are you competitive in real life?
Erin: I’m the most competitive person you could ever meet! The thing about that show was that we were just playing. I would never say anything mean to Dawn or Charlene – they’re both dear friends. We were just having fun and being campy for a TV show. We all enjoyed it and loved it. There was no real competition between us. Actually, when we were filming the show, we weren’t sure we’d be doing it as a competition. It was just going to be the whole show of it – they just kind of made it a competition. Now, for that, I wasn’t competitive, but in everyday life, I’m totally competitive!
SL: One thing I didn’t know about you before I saw you on Drag U is that your husband’s name is Darren. How much ribbing do you get about that?
Erin: It doesn’t really bother me. Everyone comments about it, but I think it’s funny.
SL: I also know you’ve got a lot of kids – how are you able to manage being a mom with your professional career?
Erin: I think the biggest influence having a big family has had on my career is that it’s made me rethink my job choices. I can’t do a sitcom or an hour-long drama – which is something I would be typically drawn to – but I’m not willing to be away from the family 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. I’ve made different career choices because I’m a mom. I mean, I love the reality genre and I love hosting but I don’t know that I would do as much of it if I didn’t have kids. I think I’d be on a sitcom.
SL: You made the decision after Bewitched to leave show business and just be a teenager. Did you have any regrets about that?
Erin: I didn’t because I still worked when I wanted to. I mean, I would get offers for things and I’d do it if it was fun and kind of would add to my life instead of taking away from it but I didn’t fit in on auditions anymore. I mean, someone would call with a guaranteed job and I’d do it but I didn’t have to make the drive up to L.A. – so I think it was a good decision. And, also I think because I walked away from the business when so many child stars were still trying and trying to work, I think when I came back as an adult, people have been so welcoming. I’m at the point where I’ve known so many people in the business that when I’m interested in doing something, the doors are open. I was talking to a friend this morning about in the spring maybe doing guest spots on things – like letting them kill me off on C.S.I. or something – where I could work for a week but not as a regular! (Laughs)
SL: When I was a kid – and I’m not that much younger than you – I loved the Tabitha sitcom. Had you been approached to do that show?
Erin: I wasn’t, only because Lisa Hartman (who played the role on the 1978 ABC series) is ten years older than I am and the premise of the show was that they wanted Tabitha to be a grown-up. There’s been a bunch of offers since then. I’ve gotten probably six scripts over the years to redo Bewitched or redo Tabitha – but I don’t think it’s a good idea. I think a lot of those remakes – where they do that kind of “Where are they now?” – they’re not very good. Bewitched was such a good project, I kind of feel like it should stand on its own. I don’t know, I think if someone ever came to me with a great script and a great cast and wonderful people behind it, I might do it, but I don’t regret not doing the Tabitha show. The show wasn’t very good! (Laughs) I think it’s on every list of the worst sitcoms ever and I’d rather not go down in history like that!
SL: What was your favorite memory from working on Bewitched?
Erin: Oh gosh, my whole childhood was basically on the set. It was wonderful. One of the things I’m most thankful for now is that I stayed in contact with everybody on the show. Elizabeth Montgomery‘s children are my good friends now and her ex-husband (William Asher), who produced and directed Bewitched and directed I Love Lucy is like my uncle. The relationships, I think, are the best part.
SL: In researching you before our chat, I learned you were a stunt double for Virginia Madsen.
Erin: I did stunts for a bunch of years. I was a stunt double for Virginia Madsen and Melissa Leo!
SL: What kind of stunts did you do?
Erin: I did driving stunts, I did falling stunts, like falling on the big inflatable bag. I did horse stunts – like horseback riding and wagon stunts – and things like that. I’m pretty adventurous! (Laughs) A lot of people don’t know that (about me) but it’s in print somewhere, so now people know about it. It was something I did for a few years.
SL: In addition to everything you do, you also do a lot of work with charities, in particular autism charities.
Erin: My 9-year-old has autism, but I’ve been involved with children’s charities my whole life. I got involved in autistic charities before I had a child with autism. And then, obviously, since Parker was diagnosed, I’ve been very, very involved with autistic charities.
SL: Which charities do you work with?
Erin: I do a lot – there’s one in Los Angeles that I do a lot of work with called the Special Needs Network. It’s a wonderful organization that services the communities that don’t usually receive the services. They provide free summer camp, school supplies, all kinds of testing in South Central Los Angeles. I also work with Cure Autism Now and Autism Speaks and a lot of different ones.
SL: What been the most rewarding this for you as far as working with these charities?
Erin: I think there’s a certain responsibility with being even slightly famous and I think it’s nice that I can use my small amount of fame to make a positive influence. Sometimes people do listen a little more if they know who you are so just kind of getting the word out there, autism education…people listen to me, so I might as well talk about something worthwhile instead of just what kind of shoes I wear! But I wear cute shoes too! (Laughs)
SL: So what kind of shoes do you wear?
Erin: I wear really good shoes. I love fashion, so I wear designer stuff and lot of vintage stuff – I love clothes!
SL: Is there anything you haven’t done that you still want to do?
Erin: Oh gosh, I kind of feel like I never want to define myself by one thing, so I like exploring new opportunities – that’s why I’m thinking I might be interested in guest starring on some dramas or things like that. Since I’ve always leaned towards sitcoms and reality programs, I think drama might be fun. I just don’t want to do anymore theater – the schedule’s crazy!
SL: Is there one question you’d be happy to never be asked again?
Erin: I think I’ll surprise you – I’m going to say no. The only reason I’m saying no is because the person who’s asking you that question, they don’t know that you’ve been asked that question a million times before. They want to know the answer, so it’s their first time asking the question – and I don’t ever want to be the person who says “I don’t want to answer that. I don’t want to answer you.” If someone cares enough to ask the question, I certainly care enough to answer it.
SL: How can fans best stay in touch with you?
Erin: Well, I’m new to Twitter (@Erin_Murphy) – it seems like a really fun way to get in touch with people! I reconnected with my old friend Kathy Hilton (Paris’ Mom) via Twitter and ended up going to the premiere party for their show! So, that’s an easy way to stay in touch with me. It’s funny, I have a lot of actress friends who don’t do their own Twitter and I thought it’s fun to do and people write really nice things back. It’s good to stay in touch with people – and it only takes a few minutes out of your day! (Laughs)
In addition to her Twitter feed, you can keep up with Erin at her website. And don’t miss out on the season premiere of RuPaul’s Drag U, Monday, June 20th at 9pm EST on Logo. Don’t flunk it up!