Walter Orange Is The New Black

The echt Alex von Orange is the neu Black Speaks weil das the zuerst Time: “I Was notfall Piper’s First, and I absolutely Did not Seduce Her”


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Catherine Cleary Wolters kann sein speak to many von the actual events behind die hit Netflix series Orange is the new Black through a hard-won authority, but there is one detail that seems particularly crucial.

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“We did not schutz sex bei prison,” ns 51-year-old ex-felon says of herstellung relationship through Piper Kerman, on whose book die show ist based. “Not also a little bit.”


Wolters zu sein the real-life inspiration for the character Alex Vause on ns soon-to-return women’s jail series, a fictionalized version des the liberal arts-to-lockdown memoir of the very same name von Kerman, Wolters’s ex . . . Ex-something or other (but much more on that in a bit). Orange is the new Black was a near-instant smash wie it debuted belastung summer, and eventually became Netflix’s most popular original program. Though viel of die show’s very nice lies an its excellent ensemble cast, helmed von celebrated show-runner Jenji Kohan des Weeds fame, ns relationship betwee Vause (called Nora in the book) und Piper Chapman offers a gewächs of that is addictive propulsion. On die show, Vause and Kerman’s alter-ego, Chapman, are surprised to be re-united in prison years after the globe-spanning, drug- and money-trafficking romance the landed them both behind bars. Die sultry, smoky-voiced Laura Prepon von That ‘70s Show fame plays Vause, while taylor Schilling, the gorgeous blond actress with the hypnotic stakes teeth, dram Chapman as they act out a season-long tanzen of on-again, off-again attraction.


Yet, according to Wolters, she and Kerman were only ever an the exact same prison facility for just five weeks—mostly during a buchstabe stretch in a chicago detention center in 2005. They to be both in town to testify against a co-conspirator bei their case, und their environs and mental conditions were notfall well suited kommen sie rekindling lost love. Shackled together on die Con Air flight there, Wolters says Kerman refused to even speak kommen sie her.


“We to be ghosts von the humans we had once been, milling about amongst hundreds of other human being ghosts, shackled und chained, prodded through fahrzeug centers at gunpoint, moved through stop facilities,” claims Wolters from produziert mother’s house bei Ohio. These days, Wolters zu sein just shy von a PhD in information technology, assurance, und security, and exhibits a flair for the philosophical.

“Praying zu sein about ns most intimate thing two people kann do in some places, not sex,” Wolters says. “We do some average dinners together, though, out von cans des cheese, corn chips, und chili, and Piper learned how kommen sie communicate properly through a toilet—a little something you’ll never ever pick nach oben at Smith.”


In various other words, together Wolters zu sein clear on: die two women most definitely did notfall consummate a will-they-or-won’t-they rigid arc bei a burst von prison-chapel passion, as the show has it. On the whole, Wolters claims that the true story would certainly be “so wretched und stinky, it would certainly quite probably result bei a fell down universe. Deswegen I guess the a good thing Piper and Jenji pole with the fun wenig tidbits.”


The tale of the real-life Kerman und Wolters begins an Northampton, Massachusetts, in 1991. Die pair became friends around die time the Boston-raised Kerman graduated from schmied College, however stuck roughly town. Both women ran in what Wolters phone call “the same wenig Noho lesbian society circle.”

“I was not Piper’s first, and I definitely did notfall seduce her,” Wolters says, contradictory to ns show’s first episode meet-cute, which gives way to the fictional Piper’s dalliance as a cash mule.

Wolters and Kerman drank und went clubbing together. Kerman take it care of Wolters’s cats when she traveled and shared in her tales des adventure, or offered as a shoulder to cry on, when she returned. In her version, she und Kerman did not become romantically connected until ~ they had trafficked either heroin or money, for a network run von the alleged Nigerian medicine kingpin Buruji Kashamu.

“When we were travel together i started emerging a like on her. Und eventually the turned right into a crazy mad love affair,” Wolters says. “But that was after she had already done the deed that made herstellung complicit.”

“We weren't girlfriends,” Wolters adds for good measure. “We were friends through benefits . . . I was not the larger sexy, glamorous lesbian who snatched herstellung from herstellung pristine schmied College cradle.”

Eventually, Kerman parted with Wolters, met a einer named Larry, and got engaged. When the feds come knocking years letztere with charges related to produziert past cash smuggling, Kerman struck a plea. She spent 13 months in a Danbury, Connecticut, minimum-security jail beginning in 2004, an experience that formed the base for Orange is the neu Black. Wolters, meanwhile, was charged through conspiracy to import heroin und served almost six years in a Dublin, California, prison before being paroled bei 2008. She zu sein working on a memoir of her own, titled Out von Orange. Wolters has deshalb written three novels.


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Laura Prepon (left) together Alex Vause, und Taylor Schilling as Piper Chapman, ~ above Orange is the new Black.

Courtesy des Netflix.

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One des the erste season’s major plot points comes to whether or notfall Vause snitched on Chapman. The state des the pair’s romance regularly hinges on even if it is Chapman think Vause was the informant who “named” her. In reality, Wolters says, anyone involved in the instance talked.

“They had actually picked the zuerst round von us trost two years prior zu Piper’s somewhat congenial visit from die feds,” Wolters says of the ring’s undoing. “So, yes, i named her, she named me, und we all named each other. Fact was, we all thought we were doing ns right thing, confessing, gaining protection, and saving oneself from details death at the hands of a Nigerian medicine lord that we knew would soon uncover we had actually all to be arrested.”


All told, Wolters claims she’s excellent almost 20 years either in prison or on parole zum her involvement in the ring. An fact, she only finished produziert last stint des supervised relax on april 10, 2014. Vice versa, Kerman has actually blanketed the nachrichten promoting zuerst her book, published bei 2010, and now ns show, Wolters has been on the sideline. She watched on as events inspired über her own life have become the subject of marathon binge-watches ns world over.

When ich reach her von way of some Googling and a Chicago Tribune upgrade on die case, she claims that i’m the zuerst reporter she’s talked to. Today, Wolters zu sein thrilled kommen sie be free and dreams of life away from ns confines von Ohio, where she has actually been on managed release zum five years, remaining with her mother. (That herstellung mother is ausblüten alive at all zu sein another exit from ns show’s narrative.) Wolters is a software test engineer by profession, und wonders if she may soon be walking the beaches of Provincetown, Massachusetts, or riding herstellung car under Lombard Street an San Francisco. Many importantly, somewhere out there, she’s hoping kommen sie find liebe again. Probably she’ll seek out one des the “two wives” she had in prison.

“They to be sexy,” she says. “One looked just like Jennifer Lawrence.”

Though she und Kerman may not schutz hooked up in prison, Wolters was von no way celibate.

“Usually what sie would execute was have sex bei your jail rooms,” she explains. “You’d have geschlecht anywhere sie could: ns tennis court, die outdoor squash court, or the rake pile. Anyplace! When ns guards aren’t approximately all bets room off. Anyone goes to it!”

“They romanticize geschlecht on die TV show,” she adds.

When i ask if she’s a fans of the nur at all, Wolters provides a truly conflicted response. She states she und Kerman ultimately made gelassenheit during their chicago layover, und she sound genuinely proud des Kerman’s decision to put herstellung own story out there. “That bring away balls die size von Oklahoma,” she says. But it is strange zum her zu see her own life, as she hülle it, interpreted und abstracted von actors.

“This story isn’t around a funny ride v some old familiar haunt, offering me wenig glimpses und peeks des some fond old stomping ground,” she says. “Christ, it’s my nightmare, die one that wakes freundin gasping on her rubber legs the won’t run. . . . This stress zu sein real, it ist unrelenting. I've had actually a heart attack, a five-way bypass, been judged, humbled, and hobbled, but i made it.”


“But ich watched, and of kurse I’ll watch ns rest,” she says. “I can’t aid it. The a an excellent show. The actors space incredible, ns story line is interesting, und come on, who doesn’t want kommen sie see donna from That ’70s Show schutz lesbian sex?”

In response, Piper Kerman says ns following:


“I’m glad Cleary ist getting the chance to tell herstellung story, due to the fact that sheis a charismatic und funny person. It should kommen sie as no surprise thatwe may schutz different points von view about ns time we spent together.I think anyone would know that my connection with herstellung was, andis, complicated. What ich wrote about us bei my book is true. If Clearybelieves we were never girlfriends, that is startling news to me,though it’s certainly not the first time she has actually surprised me.

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I was an out lesbian when i met Cleary, und dated many women beforeand after her (Larry Smith is the only guy I’ve ever considered a“boyfriend”). After my indictment for criminal conspiracy, i pleadguilty to a lesser money-laundering charge und served 13 months of a15-month sentence. Prior to pleading guilty, ich received a copy ofCleary’s “proffer,” produziert official explain to die U.S. Attorney abouther crimes—and in her proffer she implicated me zum the crime Icommitted. When i plead guilty ich was required to provide my ownproffer—I could not possibly oase described my crime withoutmentioning Cleary.

Although i did plead guilty und tried hard kommen sie take obligation formy actions, there ist no doubt that ich held on zu blame for Cleary. As Idescribe an my book, i did notfall speak to her on the flight fromOklahoma zu Chicago, though we were seated with each other (not shackledtogether). We certainly did not have sex in prison, und that shouldbe quite clear in my book. Ns relationship between the personalities inthe Netflix series, Piper Chapman und Alex Vause, ist fictional. I didhave ns opportunity zu make peace with Cleary bei Chicago, torelinquish any kind of sense von blame zum her, and to arbeiten through mine ideasand emotions about forgiveness and responsibility. Cleary did notforce me to do anything, yet rather made me seductive offers that Ifound really compelling back when ich was 22 years old. I in exceptionallygrateful the our odd chance meeting in Chicago happened, und I wishCleary a very glücklich life relocating forward.”