RuPaul’s Drag Race star Sherry Pie, real name Joey Gugliemelli, appeared on the Tamron Hall Show in a virtual interview to answer questions about his admitted “predatory catfishing scheme.”
Gugliemelli apologized directly to his victims and the LGBTQ+ community. Afterward, Tamron — who was criticised for “giving Gugliemelli a platform” — spoke to journalist Ryan Mitchell, who said he wanted to make sure “the audience in the middle of America… [knows] that Joey, aka Sherry Pie, does not represent the LGBTQI+ community.”
Here’s how it all went down, and how Hall defended hosting Gugliemelli on her show.
Gugliemelli agreed to interview with no conditions
Gugliemelli chose to not dress in his drag character’s clothes for the interview, and wore no makeup or wig.
When Hall started to ask about the “allegations” against him, Joey responded, “There are no ‘allegations.’ I have admitted to my wrongdoings.”
Hall vowed not to shy away from confronting Joey with tough questions.
She first wanted to know if this interview would inspire more allegations against him in addition to the ones originally reported.
Gugliemelli replied, “I don’t know if after I do this interview if more will come forward. I’m here to just apologize and I wanna make that very clear. I understand now, in lieu of this year, how much pain I have caused.”
Hall specifically brought up the following quote from Esquire that she thought encompassed how the LGBTQ+ community felt about Sherry Pie.
“What you’ve done, as you know, can’t just be words; it has to be deeds. What have you done in this year that you’ve taken to reflect on this?” said Hall.
Joey started a new type of therapy to deal with mental illness
Gugliemelli described his journey as a longtime psychiatry patient and starting cognitive behavioral therapy.
This new regime was reportedly designed to treat Gugliemelli’s diagnosed Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).
“It manifests differently in each person, but… you go from feeling very highs to feeling incredibly low. There’s an immense amount of fear that comes with having BPD,” said Gugliemelli.
Gugliemelli clarified that he does not use his mental illness to excuse his predatory acts.
Gugliemelli: “I have reached out to… three of the victims.”
Joey revealed that he still speaks to two of the people whom he catfished. One of them requested that Joey no longer contact him.
Audiences also learned that there has so far been no legal action taken against Gugliemelli. Other than a wellness check, Joey said he has not been contacted by the police.
Along with his sexual misconduct, Joey is also accused of financial fraud having to do with the catfishing scheme.
Tamron Hall asked, “Are you worried about criminal charges? Here’s the deal: the catfish laws are very loose out there… In the hands of certain prosecutors, you could end up with civil or potentially criminal investigation.”
Gugliemelli answered, “I am prepared to take any responsibility… I am not here to hide. I didn’t want to be someone who was accused of something and who just kept denying denying denying. This wasn’t something I felt deep down good about doing.”
Gugliemelli explained “why”
Hall said she was most curious to hear exactly why Gugliemelli manipulated his friends with this “predatory catfishing scheme.”
“It was about control,” he said.
“Most of these things ended up happening because of my immense fear of losing these people. I had relationships with a lot of these people prior.”
Hall interjected to say that she did not understand how Joey could cause harm to people he called his friends.
Catfishing to control
Gugliemelli also offered insight into his mind’s process when he was orchestrating his scheme.
He admitted that he would switch from catfishing as his online alter-ego to then texting the person he was manipulating.
He wanted to be a source of comfort to the people he was deliberately putting in distress.
“I understand that this isn’t a situation of fixing. This isn’t something ‘sorry’ can heal,” said Gugliemelli.
When Hall grilled Gugliemelli about whether or not he kept any of the materials he received from his victims, Joey assured her that he did not.
“When these things would happen, and they would last for either a week or longer, in some ways when it would round out my brain would just compartmentalize that,” said Gugliemelli.
The Sherry Pie segment ended with Gugliemelli discussing his past relationships with the male sex and how that has influenced how he behaved.
“This journey, for me, is not ‘turn on the light switch and it’s over.’ This is a long journey for me. And I am only scratching the surface,” said Gugliemelli.
Hall: What does gay community really think about Sherry Pie?
Directly after the interview with Gugliemelli, Hall jumped over to a video call with MTV queer personality Ryan Mitchell.
Mitchell was one of the journalists who wrote online about the people that condemned Hall’s decision.
“I want to make sure that the audience in the middle of America who is not familiar with the queer community… [knows] that Joey, aka Sherry Pie, does not represent the LGBTQI+ community,” said Mitchell.
Hall confronts her controversy
Prior to the airing of Pie’s Tamron Hall Show episode, RuPaul’s Drag Race fans and contestants on Twitter criticized the show for giving Gugliemelli a platform.
Victims of Gugliemelli even reached out to Hall’s producers to try to stop them.
In the post-interview segment, Hall told Mitchell she wanted to talk journalist-to-journalist about when it is OK to interview people who have done bad things.
“I think you have to be aware of how [this is] going to impact the victims, and how is this also going to impact yourself with bringing folks onto a platform. So I think you can [interview bad people] by having an awareness of what the nuances are, and the context are, and listening to the people online,” said Mitchell.
Hall said she called on her 30 years of experience in investigative reporting, and said she thinks it is sometimes necessary to interview people who may have done unredeemable acts.
“This was the first time in 30 years that a sexual abuser has ever admitted it ever,” said Hall.
“I think we hit a lot of deep nerves with Joey and what he represents; a deep pain of division within the LGBT community amongst race, who gets to rebrand themselves, who gets to tell their story… That’s why this really punched,” said Hall.
Ever since Sherry Pie’s disqualification from RuPaul’s Drag Race, fans have been outraged by the mere mention of Joey.
Mitchell stated that they knew Hall would hold Gugliemelli accountable for his actions.
In the aftermath of the Gugliemelli interview, Mitchell commented that he thought Joey didn’t really add any new information; and that he could have done an Instagram Live instead of going on national television.
Watch the Tamron Hall Show every weekday on OWN.