Even though her bob and boobs are better than mine, I think I like Jenny McCarthy.
I like her toilet trash humor, all the more shocking because it comes out of her perfectly pretty mouth. I like the fact that she juggles being sexy with being a mom. And, although I was initially wary of her criticism of vaccinations, I like that she’s asking questions and making people think twice.
It’s been three years since McCarthy’s son Evan, now 6, was diagnosed with autism. Since then, she’s become an outspoken critic of the increasing number of vaccinations and the one-size-fits-all approach to giving all kids the same immunization dose, no matter their weight. Meanwhile, Evan has now “recovered” from autism, reclaiming his language skills and eye contact.
The former Playmate with a serious funny bone came to Miami Saturday to help open an FAO Schwarz boutique in the Macy’s at Dadeland. Just before coming to town, McCarthy gave me some phone time from her home in Los Angeles. We covered a lot of territory – from autism recovery and Sarah Pallin to fake boobs and shocking the nuns back at her old high school. Then we realized the time and dashed off to pick up our kids from school.
Q. You say that your son Evan has recovered from autism. Is there any doubt in your mind that maybe he wasn’t autistic from the start; that he was misdiagnosed?
A. The mainstream media and many people think he and other recovered children were misdiagnosed, but I had gone to four of the top neurologists in the world and UCLA, which has the top diagnostic center. He went through a three-day evaluation there and he was considered ‘moderate,’ not even mild. Then you still have to do a diagnostic clinic and, after that, you go to the state and they do a weeklong diagnostic. Then we went to an agency that gives treatment and a whole other diagnosis. There is a long, involved process. There is no doubt in my mind that he was autistic and the medical community and UCLA stand behind that diagnosis.
Q. You tried a lot of things to help Evan – a GFC (gluten-free and casein-free) diet, vitamins, therapy, a detox of metals – but what do you think helped him the most?
A. Each kid is different. This is the analogy I use: Each kid that gets hit by a bus is going to break a different bone and is going to require different treatment. We find that most of the time if you change the diet, the kids become very clear in the head and are able to absorb therapy. Evan had an overgrowth of yeast. Ninety percent of kids with autism have systemic yeast infection in the gut. Yeast creates alcohol. These kids are literally drunk. They look horrible. Once we detoxed the yeast, Evan started talking in conversations. For the past 10 years, moms have been doing this. It comes down to who’s strong enough not to believe the medical community and trust moms. There are thousands of recovered children and hundreds of doctors who now believe in this.
Q. You’ve questioned the increasing number of vaccinations and the fact that some have traces of toxic ingredients like mercury. But you aren’t totally against vaccinating children, are you?
A. No, but I do believe that this generation of kids is being born a littler more susceptible to toxins than we were back in the day. It’s obvious because of the numbers. (The CDC reports that autism in the United States has been increasing for 2 ½ decades, from one child in 10,000 to one in 500 or perhaps even one in 166 today.) So I say, ‘Let’s get rid of the toxic ingredients we know our kids are having trouble with.’ Just because you invent a vaccine doesn’t mean we should all have it.
Q. Did Evan receive all his vaccinations?
A. The MMR (to fight measles, mumps and rubella) was the last one because he started having seizures. He received everything up until then, including the chicken pox one.
Q. So will he get any more?
A. Hell no … but the only ones he hasn’t received are mostly the boosters.
Q. Do you worry that some parents are not vaccinating their children at all because they’re fearful the shots could lead to autism?
A. I don’t want to scare the American public into completely giving up vaccinations. But if no one is giving us an alternative, what the hell are we supposed to do? There needs to be a slow and fast track, and we need certain ingredients removed. Mercury does still exist in some of the shots. You can go online and see that the tetanus has mercury. Five more still have trace amounts of mercury. They go, ‘trace is no big deal,’ but some of these trace amounts are above the toxic levels for drinking water. Why are they bullshitting us? I’m going to be a wart that doesn’t go away.
Q. You’ve won a number of celebrities over to your cause, including Charlie Sheen [she appeared last year on his TV show Two and a Half Men and co-starred with him in 2003’s Scary Movie 3]. It’s been reported he doesn’t want to vaccinate his children and is fighting with his ex over it. Has that been resolved?
A. I haven’t talked to him about it since I was on the show, which was a year ago. When I was on the show and brought it up, he told me, ‘I completely support your cause.’
Q. What were some of the warning signs that first alerted you that something was seriously wrong with Evan?
A. Hand flapping, tip-toe walking, loss of eye contact.
Q. So how is Evan today? I read he was mainstreamed into a school.
A. He was mainstreamed into a pre-school, but he was catching every germ and having seizures, so now I home school him for his health. I’ve turned my old house into a school for him. (Home is now with boyfriend-actor Jim Carrey in his house, a half-hour away.) Evan has a regular teacher I hired from the L.A. school district. In the health areas, the problem is these kids are sick, which is why when we fix their physical sickness, their autism went away. They are so sensitive to their environments and viruses. Viruses have been known to trigger autism. We have to be so careful.
Q. Do you have any trouble convincing people you are serious about this? Do they expect you to say something funny even when you’re dealing with this issue?
A. No, when you have a sick baby, nothing is funny. Everybody just wants to help. I don’t get that at all anymore. The only people who don’t take me seriously are the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Q. You wrote two funny books about being pregnant and a mom. [Belly Laughs: The Naked Truth about Pregnancy and Childbirth and Baby Laughs: The Naked Truth about the First Year of Mommyhood]. But your latest book (Mother Warriors: A Nation of Parents Healing Autism Against All Odds, out this month) is about parents who have helped their autistic children recover. Did you ever think you’d be writing about such a serious topic?
A. I’ve always been kind of psychic and intuitive about things happening. I always had this feeling that I was going to lead a cause. I just thought, ‘Please don’t let it be breast cancer.’ Now I can’t tell you how much I wish it was that instead of this. But Evan is not the poster child for autism. He’s the poster child for hope.
Q. I read you downsized your implants. Why?
A. I just decided to go smaller. I was kind of over the big thing. But it’s time for a readjustment. They’ve become so saggy, I may have to go big again. They’re going not only south, but east and west.
Q. How do you feel about Sarah Palin, especially since she’s the mom of a special needs child?
A. I don’t know. I’m a Democrat. I do feel that if she can make some great change within the autism community, she’s got my vote. But she hasn’t done anything. I’ve got questions right now. We’ll have to see.
Q. How do you balance your funny, naughty and sexy persona with being a mom? How do you switch it on and off?
A. People ask me all the time about balance. I say there is no such thing. You’re either too much on one side or too much on the other at one time. I kinda fly by the seat of my pants.
Q. You attended an all-girls Catholic high school [Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High in Chicago], but you’ve done some pretty naughty things. [Sitting on a toilet with her underwear at her ankles in a Candie’s ad, telling Carson Daly on his late-night TV show that she’d like to “bone” aging actor Robert Wagner.] Do you ever think about those nuns?
A. All the time. I went to a very prestigious Catholic girls school and it was very into empowering women. Instead of saying, ‘In the name of the father and the son,’ we would say ‘In the name of the creator’ because the nuns didn’t rule out that our creator could be a woman. I think I may have taken it to a level they weren’t expecting, but they are probably very proud now.
Q. Do you still consider yourself Catholic?
A. My belief system has expanded into something where there is not so much rigidness. I say that I’m a ‘recovered Catholic.’ I don’t think I’m going to burn in a pit of flames anymore.
Q. Would you send Evan to a Catholic school?
A. If I did, it would be only because it’s the best school around.
Q. How do you think you’ll handle it if you catch Evan on Playboy.com? [She was Playboy’s Playmate of the Year in 1994.]
A. I don’t know … I don’t really think about that. I’m so open-minded. I’m just going to say, ‘Yeah, so mom posed naked, no big deal.’ I think it’s best to just be honest and open.
Q. But you won’t mind him seeing you in your role in the new video game? [McCarthy plays video vixen Tanya, the heroine from an upcoming video game called Red Alert 3, part of the Command & Conquer series.]
A. No, he is going to love it. When I was pregnant, me and my ex played video games. We did it together a lot, hours into the night, so it’s kind of funny. This is back in the day when I was pregnant and couldn’t move. We played Silent Hill a lot and a bunch of others. I don’t do it anymore, but I knew exactly what they were talking about when they called me for this. This is probably the last sexy person I will do in character. I won’t be carrying a gun and showing cleavage much after this. I’ll leave that to the 26-year-olds. I turn 36 next month, on Nov. 1.
Q. What else do you have coming up?
A. I’m hosting a web show on Oprah.com. I just did the first one live last night. It’s going to appear every other week or so throughout the year. I’m going to have different topics like love and sex or dating or insecurities. I’ll have some guests, depending on the show. Last night, I just talked for an hour straight.
Q. You’re involved with a lot of different things, so why FAO now?
A. I was so happy when the CEO of FAO Schwarz called me. He explained to me that he wants people to know FAO is not just for rich people like the persona has been. He went to the store and got rid of toys that were over-priced and not very good. He wants to come out with a new brand of good stuff that teaches imaginative play and the connection with that – especially with my child and the autism community – is that play is one of the most important tools for children. That’s how they learn to problem solve in life. If doing a lot of cause and effect, they’re not learning anything. In imaginative play, you have to figure out scenarios: which way the truck will go, up or down? You have to use your imagination to problem solve. I just thought, ‘What a great, great thing to support for kids.’
Q. Do you usually pick up a toy or souvenir for Evan when you travel? What will you bring him from Miami?
A. It depends if I spot something. I usually pick him up a snow globe in every city I’ve gone to, but I don’t think I’m going to find that in Miami! No snow falling on the buildings there. I’ve picked him up planes in airports. FAO has sent a ton of toys to the house. I have my own line of teach2talk, which is a Baby Einstein type of video series for kids with autism. The DVDs teach how to share, play with toys.
Q. Are you still trying to start a line of non-toxic products for children?
A. Yes, it’s called Too Good by Jenny and it’s non-toxic products and food. I want to make it really affordable. We’re pushing for Target. And I want the organic food line in mainstream grocery stores.
Q. I loved your character as “the perfect mom” in the web series In The MotherHood. [Shown on inthemotherhood.com, the snarky, branded online show was recently optioned by ABC as a TV sitcom starring Chelsea Handler from the late-night talk show Chelsea Lately, Megan Mullally from Will & Grace and Cheryl Hines from Curb Your Enthusiasm.] How come you’re not doing the TV show?
A. They asked me to do TV show and I didn’t want it. Everyone was like ‘how could you not?’ But I don’t feel like being a full-time TV character. There is some truth to be dealt with out there.
Q. So you’re going to concentrate on the autism cause?
A. Yes, until we see a change.
Q. I’ve heard you and Jim Carrey refer to Evan as “our” child. Does Evan call him dad? How do you handle the whole two fathers thing? [Evan is the son of director John Asher, who McCarthy divorced in 2005.]
A. We kinda say – and I’ve even heard Evan on his own say, ‘I have like two daddies.’ We don’t correct him. Sometimes he’ll call Jim his best friend or mommy’s husband or mommy’s friend. He’s still trying to figure that out on his own. He knows there’s this guy who adores and loves him and plays with him.
Q. I’ve read you guys subscribe to the Goldie Hawn-Kurt Russell model of a relationship with no ring. Do you think you two will ever get married?
A. Never … OK, maybe when we’re 100, damn, we’ll do it. Right now, it’s nice to know we’re in it because we want to be.
Q. Do you think you’ll have any more children?
A. No, no more children. I got my butt kicked the first time.