(1998 author's note: this article is based on a series of interviews I did with Gennifer a couple of years ago.
Gennifer Flowers, Bill Clinton's Other Woman
by Tracy Cabot, Ph.D.
Gennifer Flowers, the woman who had a 12-year affair with Bill Clinton and almost cost him the Presidency in 1992, says he will always have a part of her soul. But today, at 45, when the petite singer looks back over those years, her lips curl in disgust.
"I thought he was different," she recalls sadly. "I loved him and he said he loved me. I could never imagine him turning against me.
Gennifer thought that Bill Clinton would always use his power to protect her, but ultimately "the system" turned against her. When frightening things started happening, Clinton denied any involvement.
"My apartment was broken into three times and ransacked once. My stuff was torn out of the drawers and thrown everywhere. A man down the hall from me was beaten almost to death because he had a videotape of Bill coming to my apartment, and I had made audio tapes of Bill and me talking on the phone. Several people connected with Clinton died, allegedly by suicide.
"I was scared. I was afraid something would happen to me, and it would be made to look like a suicide. That's why I went public and wrote my book, 'Passion and Betrayal,' to protect myself and to tell the real story. I was just trying to cover my rear end with the book. My back was against the wall. I had been a pretty naive little girl when I was on the side of the power structure. Then I didn't have that support and I was scared. Bill wasn't there for me as he had always been. He turned his back on me and let the spin doctors take over to discredit me."
When Gennifer came to see me at the Burnsley Hotel in Denver where she now lives with her boyfriend, Finus, I was surprised at how tiny she is, and at how much she looks like Bill Clinton. They could almost be brother and sister.
"Bill had the most beautiful lips," she recalls, and I am struck by how much her lips look like his. Was it like kissing herself, I wonder?
Gennifer has Bill Clinton's strong square jaw, pointed chin, high cheekbones, and pouty, cherubic full lower lip. She talks softly with a slight Southern accent. Her sincere and open blue-green eyes look straight into yours when she talks. Her petite figure is topped with Dolly Parton-sized bosoms, and she is very, very attractive, dressed stylishly in black pants and a leopard print blouse. I can see why Bill Clinton was attracted to her, and her to him. After all, we are all drawn to others who look like us, especially if we like our own looks.
Interestingly, Gennifer's new fella, Finus, is nothing like Bill Clinton. He's dark-haired and "much more conservative," adds Gennifer. Finus couldn't come to the interview because his two pre-teen daughters were visiting. "I know this is hard to believe," childless Gennifer says, "but I'm looking forward to being a grandmother. I'll be getting all the pleasure without going through the pain of childbirth."
At 45, Gennifer isn't planning to have children of her own. She still looks wistful when she talks about the abortion she had when she was having her affair with Bill Clinton.
"I was so upset. I guess I secretly hoped he would say he'd divorce Hillary and marry me, but he didn't. When Bill and I started our relationship, he had only been married to Hillary for 18 months. He was the Attorney General of Arkansas, not Governor or President.
"I had hopes that Bill would marry me until Hillary became pregnant with Chelsea. That's when I realized that he was lying to me about Hillary. He had told me they weren't even sleeping in the same bedroom. He hadn't said they weren't having sex, only that it was like a duty he rarely did." She laughs at her own naivete. "Isn't that what they all say?"
Wasn't she angry with Bill Clinton? "No I wasn't angry, because after Chelsea was born, I stopped thinking he'd divorce Hillary and marry me. I wasn't vindictive. I was invited to lots of places he was and I could have gone, to the inauguration or his debates, but I didn't. I was even asked to critique Hillary's dress, but I didn't. I didn't seek him out to embarrass him.
"But I got extremely disgusted later. I got angry at the betrayal. If Bill suffers because of my story, that's his fault. He should take responsiblity for what he did. He could have just admitted our relationship. I never really thought he'd admit our relationship for everything it was, but I never anticipated that he'd allow a full public relations effort to be launched against me. I felt victimized and I wasn't prepared for any of it."
Gennifer says it was Bill Clinton, not her who pursued the relationship. He flirted with her at official functions and press conferences and eventually talked his way into her apartment.
"I never asked him to take out that little instrument of his," she says with an edge to her usually soft voice. "He was very eager to do it. He was very insistant and persistant. I didn't come on to him first. He came on to me.
"But he was so seductive. The first night we were together, we just talked. He was so attentive to my ideas, my career, my suggestions. Then, three weeks later, when we did make love for the first time, I was ready. So many men had been intimidated by my independence and my career, but not Bill.
"We had a passionate affair, but I was always disappointed that he couldn't spend the night. There was only one wonderful night in 12 years when we actually spent the night together. It was a very special night. I'll never forget it."
How, I wonder, did a public figure, the Attorney General and then Governor of Arkasas think he could escape detection on his visits to Gennifer's apartment? Surely he must have known he'd be recognized.
"At first he wasn't discreet at all. He'd come by on his morning jog, with security people following him, and I'd see him coming from my balcony and get a rush of anticipation.
"He came right in the front door and didn't seem to care that the doorman could see what floor he got off the elevator at. Then he got more discreet and came in the side entrance, but the doorman still saw him. The doorman started to talk about Bill's visit, and then he stopped. Bill probably got to the guy's boss and shut him up. In Arkansas, that's how things are done."
Gennifer is sure Hillary knew about her and Bill. "The couple times Hillary and I ran into each other, I could tell from the looks she gave me that she knew. Also, Bill told me Hillary asked about me and they had a big fight over him seeing me.
"The one time he was with me and he started to cry, I think he had a guilt attack. I think he felt bad because he had promised not to see me and there he was. His feeling bad didn't last long.
"I don't know why Hillary put up with it all those years, probably political ambition and I think she loves him. Bill said they had an open marriage. I was amazed when I first saw Hillary that he would be attracted to her. She was probably one of the few women he met at school, and she is smart. He told me she was bisexual and I even know one of the women she was rumored to be having an affair with. Bill called hillary 'Hilla the Hun.' She was pretty tough, but so was he.
"In a way I'm glad I never married Bill Clinton because he probably would have fooled around on me too, and I wouldn't have put up with it."
On the other hand, Gennifer was willing to keep seeing Bill Clinton even if he was going to stay with Hillary. Like many people, she may have been recreating her family situation in her own life, since her father cheated on her mother.
"Once I realized Bill wasn't going to leave Hillary and marry me, I still kept seeing him. I'm the kind of girl who can have screw buddies, and I did. I bore easily and I thought thirty minutes of wonderful was better than a lifetime of mediocre.
"Bill Clinton reminded me of my dad. They were both handsome and had women around them all the time. My dad was unavailable and flirtatious, and he played around too.
"After a while, I realized my relationship with Bill was a comfort zone. When I needed advice or just wanted to get away from the stress of show business, I went to Bill. I'm sure that having Bill there all those years made it impossible for me to get involved with anyone else. I'd compare men I'd meet to Bill, and they just didn't measure up."
When she talks about measuring up, Gennifer doesn't mean penis size. She says "Bill Clinton isn't really big, but I didn't care because I was in love, and he had lots of ways to satisfy me, especially with oral sex."
Talking to Gennifer, I got the idea that she doesn't regret one moment she had with Bill Clinton as her lover. as a matter of fact, she looks back on it today with relish. "The high's were so high," she recalls dreamily. It was exciting playing in the danger zone.
"Much as I enjoyed the relationship, and I'm so glad I had it, I'm glad it's over. I thought I was in control of my life at the time, because he was there whenever I wanted him, but I really was out of control."
Like all love addicts, Gennifer began to realize her relationship with Bill Clinton was self-destructive, but she was unable to break the ties that bound them together. She kept getting just enough of him to keep her involved.
"I was hooked on him and seeing him was like heroin for me. My girlfriends would say, 'You're not still seeing him, are you?' and they'd say, 'How can you be so stupid?' So after a while I never mentioned his name because I didn't want them to tell me how stupid I was."
Gennifer frequently meets women who are having affairs with married men and hope they'll leave their wives. "Just recently at a book signing, a very beautiful blonde came up to me and told me that she had been in a relationship with a married man for five years. My heart sank and I felt so bad for her because I know where I was when I was five years into the relationship with Bill Clinton.
"The advice I would give any woman who is in love with a married man is 'Get out as quick as you can.' But I also know how hard that is to do when you're so involved."
It was only when Gennifer met someone new and stopped seeing Bill Clinton all together that she was able to get on with her life.
"Eventually, I broke up with Bill, except for our conversations, so it wasn't about him dumping me and me being angry. I had met Finus and I really liked him. I realized my relationship with Finus couldn't really go anywhere as long as I was so involved with Bill. Finus was very understanding, even though I first told him there was nothing between Bill and me. Then later, I had to tell him the truth. There was some cooling off in our relatioship when I told him. I was really afraid it was over.
"But Finus and I were able to overcome the problem and today we have a very different relationship than I had with Bill Cinton. With Finus, I feel more relaxed. We can just be together without all the excitement. I'm much more balanced than I was with Bill.
"I became the queen of kiss and tell because I was scared. I never thought anyone would ever find out about me and Bill. I wanted to just cherish the love we had in a secret place inside of me forever, but then the story came out about us in the Star.
"I thought my life was over. I didn't know what kind of quality of life I would have. I didn't cooperate with the first story that broke about us in the Star. If it had been an Arkansas publication, we could have stopped it in a second. That's how politically powerful Bill and his friends were.
"I haven't talked to Bill since I went public. I mean, would you talk to me if you were him? I still have a tape recorder.
"I felt I might as well tell my side, since they already knew everything and were going to publish it anyway. I was paid in the low six figures. That sounds like a lot of money until you realize you have to give the government half in taxes, and then you have to pay lawyers. There's not that much left afterwards. I should have gotten more. There wasn't a lot left to live on. I had lots of expenses too. I had to move."
Gennifer came to Denver with Finus because she'd always wanted to live in Colorado. "Aspen and the mountains appealed to me," she says, but admits she doesn't yet know how to ski, although Finus does.
"Finus had been here, and he can work anywhere since he's with an investment firm and they have offices everywhere."
Gennifer, a former newscaster, seems to be very sharp and talented, but she has a blind spot when it comes to men. I was surprised when she told me she moved to Denver with Finus and they weren't even engaged.
"Well, we're not 'officially' engaged," she says, emphasizing the officially. I can always move back. I can always kick him out," she laughs. "That's the good thing about being financially independent. I wouldn't have come if I couldn't have done that (kick him out).
"I'm not sure I really want to get married ultimately. I've never been married and I'm not sure I want to. What's the big deal about marriage unless you want children? Finus already has children. I'm taking hormones because my levels are low, and they act as birth control pills too, so I probably won't get pregnant, but if I did, I would have Finus' child. I have never allowed society to dictate to me what I should do. I did allow my mother to put some pressure on me to get married when I was in my early twenties, but that's all.
"I want people to understand I have never allowed my affair with Bill Clinton to stop my life. I've had a very active singing career. My career has been my security and an incredible high, better than any drug or sex. It's a lot of challenges and fulfillment, so I don't look to my lovelife for all that.
"Look at Lena Horne, still singing into her sixties, that's what I want to do."
Listening to a tape of Gennifer singing, you can hear a bluesy, almost black sound to her Southern white voice. So it's easy to see why Lena's her role model.
Gennifer sings standards like "Ain't Misbehavin'," "The Way You Do The Things You Do," "When A Man Loves A Woman," and "Teach me Tonight." She has lots of range, going from a whispery high voice to a deep, throaty sultry one. Imagine her singing "Happy Birthday" to Bill Clinton in a take off of Marilyn Monroe singing to Jack Kennedy which she once did at a dinner. She was perfect for the part, even to her voice.
When their relationship was at its peak, Gennifer and Bill Clinton were seeing each other several times a week. Looking back on it now, Gennifer remembers the excitment.
"Because I was a news reporter, I'd see him sometimes during the day while I was working covering a story. He'd give me one of those piercing looks and the shivers would just go all through my body."
When they weren't together, Gennifer obsessed about her lover, Bill Clinton. She thought about him all the time, wondered what he was doing and imagined the things they'd do when they got together. "I was really addicted to sex with him," she admits now.
"We would do some far out things in bed to entertain ourselves. We'd use food a lot. He'd go look in the refrigerator and take whatever was there. Ketchup, mayonnaise, whatever, he'd smear it all over my body.
"Then we'd make love with the food smearing all over in between us. It was very sensual and made the lovemaking even more memorable. I didn't mind cleaning up the sheets the next day because I was so in love. It was fun cleaning up because it reminded me of what we'd done.
"Sometimes I'd dress up in a teddy and stockings and high heels. He loved it. And sometimes I'd tie his hands to my fourposter bed and make love that way.
"At the time, I thought I was the only woman Bill was seeing. Later when the State Troopers told their stories about all the women he had, I realized I wasn't the only one. I once asked him if he was seeing anyone else, and he said no. I believed him because I couldn't figure out how he'd have time to see anyone else. I guess I was wrong. If what the Troopers say is true, he has amazing stamina. I'd say it sounds like an addiction to sex, to me.
"I saw him quite often, sometimes three or four times a week. I didn't want him there all the time. I did early on, but not after Chelsea was born.
"I didn't need him to go out to dinner or the movies. I had other people to go to the movies with. I enjoyed Bill's company, and he could turn me on. He really could," she recalls wistfully.
Even today, Gennifer admits a part of her is still connected to Bill Clinton. "But I don't have fantasies of meeting him some time in the future and rushing into each other's arms."
Even if Gennifer were to meet Bill Clinton today, sweet words of love wouldn't be on her mind. "Instead, I'd want to tell him how disappointed I am in him. I'd discuss his actions. I wouldn't yell and shout. I'm not that type. Bill and I never did have a fight.
"I guess I'll never really stop thinking about him. After all, he was a big part of my life. I hear certain songs on the radio which remind me of him, or I see him on television or hear something about him on the radio. I don't think I'll ever really get away from him. I'm still sort of hooked on him. I guess it'll never really be over it.
"But today, I'm not in love with Bill. And I'm so glad about that. It sets me free. It's a great feeling. I can see him for what he is, and what it took to get there. I don't know if he's lost all his idealism, but I think he uses it when it suits him."
After the Gennifer affair, and the accusations of many others, has Bill Clinton cleaned up his act? Does he still fool around? Does he smoke pot in the White House?
"I think he'd have trouble sneaking a joint into the White House," Gennifer laughs, but she's not sure that he's changed his philandering ways. Gennifer thinks the rumors that Bill Clinton and Barbra Streisand had an affair are true. "Well, I have certain psychic abilities and I feel like it just may be true. I had that feeling when I saw her giving concerts for him and being so supportive."
For Gennifer, her affair with Bill Clinton has been a mixed bag. In one way, she's gotten money and fame from her association with the President. She has financial freedom, a new theatrical agent, and she's going to star in a play in Rhode Island. On the other hand, her life is permanently scarred. She will always be known as the woman who had a 12-year affair with Bill Clinton. She can never go back to live in Arkansas and she will always be afraid.
"There are people in Arkansas who Bill Clinton has done lots of favors for. People like farmer Brown somewhere who has a gun and figures he'll repay Bill by taking care of his little problem, me. I rarely go out alone. I live in a security building."
Indeed, the building Gennifer and Finus live in looks like a high rise fortress. It faces Cheeseman Park, Denver's gay park, and has windows only on the park side.
"I'm always careful," she confides, and I can see the high price she has paid for her affair with Bill Clinton.
Gennifer would like to have a talk show of her own where she'd discuss women's issues. "I'd want to be on radio," she says. "Radio's the only media that doesn't lie to the American People. Then someday, I'll retire and follow my artistic nature. Maybe I'll become an interior decorator."
Is there anything she wishes she'd done differently? "Yes, I wish I had pictures of me and Bill Clinton. There were so many opportunities to get them over the years and I didn't. And I wish I'd made more tapes of our conversations. By the time I started taping, our relationship had cooled off quite a bit, and we were mostly talking about keeping things quiet.
"Thank God I had those tapes," she says softly, "or I would have been dismissed, although there are lots of eye witnesses who saw us together."
Gennifer Flowers is one woman who is not easily dismissed.
© copyright 1995-2011 Tracy Cabot