Vanity Fair has an illuminating interview with Clare Wolters today. She was the real-life inspiration for Alex Vause, the character in Orange is the New Black played by Laura Prepon, and she’s speaking out for the first time essentially to say, “No. I did not sexual relations with that woman.”
In fact, she and Piper Kernan — who wrote the memoir upon which the Netflix series is based and is the inspiration for the lead character, Chapman — only shared a prison for five weeks in Chicago when they were both asked to testify against a co-conspirator in their case. And although they did mess around in their earlier days while they were running heroin, they were not girlfriends. Just friends with benefits. Once they saw each other in prison, Kernan refused to speak to Wolters, as you might expect.
From Vanity Fair:
We were ghosts of the humans we had once been, milling about amongst hundreds of other human ghosts, shackled and chained, prodded through transport centers at gunpoint, moved through holding facilities,” says Wolters from her mother’s house in Ohio. These days, Wolters is just shy of a PhD in information technology, assurance, and security, and exhibits a flair for the philosophical.
“Praying is about the most intimate thing two people can do in some places, not sex,” Wolters says. “We made some mean dinners together, though, out of cans of cheese, corn chips, and chili, and Piper learned how to communicate effectively through a toilet—a little something you’ll never pick up at Smith.”
In other words, as Wolters is clear on: the two women most certainly did not consummate a will-they-or-won’t-they narrative arc in a burst of prison-chapel passion, as the show has it. On the whole, Wolters says that the true story would be “so wretched and stinky, it would quite possibly result in a collapsed universe. So I guess it’s a good thing Piper and Jenji stick with the fun little tidbits.”
So, Orange is the New Black is heavily fictionalized? Who’d have thought? It’s a great piece, though, and a must read if you want more insight into Kernan and Wolters’ relationship, and how it led to Kernan’s prison sentence.
Oh, and there are pictures of Wolters, because I know that’s what you’re most curious about (spoiler alert: She looks nothing like Laura Prepon).