Entertainment

Wendy Williams wows her fans

Wendy Williams minces onto the set in a tight, leopard-skin-patterned dress. She twirls around, to the lusty approval of the studio audience.

First topic: her pesky eczema scabs. Then she moves on to a discussion of Kim Kardashian's rumored breakup with Reggie Bush.

That's Williams in a nutty nutshell: TMI and TMZ in one big, busty, brazen package.

"The beauty of Wendy is she's not afraid to let everything hang out," says executive producer Rob Dauber. "She comes out every day and really shares her authentic self with the viewers."

People clearly enjoy her zany candor and her show's mix of salty girl-talk and celebrity gossip.

"I've always been a little askew," she says after the show, shot live on tape. "What do I have to lose by sharing?"

Backstage in her dressing room, Williams answers questions while abstractedly stroking strands of her lustrous blond wig.

"This is my 36-inch model, she says contentedly. "All my wigs are pretty big. You know us Jersey girls: We love our big hair." She then erupts into a gale of giggles.

Since a thyroid condition thinned her hair, Williams, 45, wears a sample from her extensive collection of wigs everywhere, even to the gym.

"No one sees me without it," she says. "Except the UPS man and the FedEx man."

On the show, which has been renewed for a second season, and on the street, her fans almost always preface their remarks to her with an imitation of her trademark phrase, "How you doin'?"

Williams has numerous ways of delivering the line. At its most extravagant, she sounds like the Cowardly Lion from "The Wizard of Oz" after a few too many tequilas. It's accompanied by a flip of the hands, as if submitting her lacquered nails for inspection.

Williams says she grew up in Ocean Township, N.J., feeling like an outcast.

"I never felt like I belonged. I was very often the only black, always the tallest girl, and generally the chubby one," she says.

"I always knew going to college was the key, and not to Rutgers. I wanted to go away where I could make my own life and really be me."

At Northeastern University in Boston, she deejayed on the campus radio station and interned at a Top 40 station.

Her first job after graduating was at a station in the U.S. Virgin Islands. "I made $3.25 an hour and worked a four-hour shift. You do the math," she says. "I made no money but every cent I made I spent on stamps" to mail out audition tapes.

She began the itinerant life of a broadcaster climbing the ladder from market to market, finally reaching the top rung in 2002 at WBLS-FM in New York, where she gained a national following.

Then the TV syndicators came calling. And not a moment too soon. "I've been waiting for this all my life," she says.

As much as she loves the spotlight, Williams also savors her home life with her husband and their 9-year-old son, Kevin, in North Jersey.

"You might think I'm out having glamorous lunches with my girlfriends on weekends but I'm home in my crafting room watching Lifetime on TV," she says.

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