Photograph by MARY ELLEN MARK
Photo Editor: Jennifer Crandall
Cool cat Robin Quivers, whose voice has always soothed radio’s savage beast, Howard Stern, now works her magic on the screen.
If radio personality Howard Stern is king of all media, does that mean that his sidekick, Robin Quivers, is the queen? "I don't think so," she says with her trademark giggle. "It's like Princess Di when she marries Prince Charles. Maybe she gets to be queen, maybe she doesn't, you know? I'm family." Like Stern, Quivers, 44, recently expanded into the literary realm. Her 1995 book, Quivers, explores her troubled childhood as well as her ventures into nursing and the Air Force before she discovered radio. Now, along with Stern, she's plunging headlong into yet another medium. The movie Private Parts, based on Stern's best‑selling autobiography, in part chronicles the duo's partnership of 15 years, during which time Quivers emerged as an integral element in the show's success. Taking time to talk off the air, this radio royal proves to be as bold and self‑revealing as the king himself.
How do you respond to those who feel your show is harmful?
People want to blame us for the ills of society when all that we're doing is commenting on them. And you know, there are people who, if they were in a group, would say, "I would never speak to that woman." Then alone they'll say, "I listen to you all the time. I think you're great."
You're a black woman on a show that some perceive as racist.
Howard's probably the only nonracist person in America, because he sees each person as an individual and as an absolute equal.
How was it to play yourself in 'Private Parts'?
I didn't realize how much acting it was going to be. I had to think about what it was like to be doing this radio show for the first time, as opposed to having done it for 15 years.
The movie includes a brief period when you and Howard were on the outs. What was the most recent fight you had with him off the air?
We'd been working at K‑Rock a few months and it was Christmastime, when I always get wigged out; and I just lost it. I don't even know what I was saying. The next morning, Howard said, "If I'm such a horrible person and you don't want to work with me, let's dissolve this whole thing." And I realized, this is it. We're breaking up. And I screamed, "I just want you to know that I'm your biggest fan." And he screamed back at me, "Nobody believes in you more than I do." And then we started crying and hugging, and the theme music began, and we went on and did the show.
Would you call Howard your best friend?
Absolutely. If I could find a personal relationship like the friendship I have with Howard, I'd be married.
How has it been to reconcile with your father, who molested you when you were a child?
The term "reconciliation" sort of bothers me. I think what I did was forgive.
Is it true that you dated Dennis Rodman?
[Smiling] I went out to dinner with him. With a chaperone. At one point, I got up and about 12 women lined up to take my place. One of them said to him, "Look, I'm a lesbian. I would love for you to come home and make love to my girlfriend in front of me." I was stunned, but later Dennis said he gets propositions like that every day.
You've had a breast reduction, which, you wrote, you initially regretted.
I know now that it wasn't the breasts so much as what they represented; so, I could've just dealt with that psychologically without having surgery. But my breasts are very pretty. [Laughs]
Do you ever think about the radio show's finally coming to an end?
I once said to Howard, "Can we still do this at 50?" and he said, "I don't see why not."