The Real Stephanie Dupont

Stephanie Dupont is a recent addition to the Village Irregulars. She is described in Spanking Watson (1999) as, "the drop-dead gorgeous blonde who lived upstairs across the hall." Kinky describes himself in Steppin' on a Rainbow as being "mentally ill to think I had a chance with her." Rambam, Ratson, McGovern, Hoover, and the other Village Irregulars are real people with real-life references. But McCall says Dupont is "a real person but not a real character. She made up this person and pretended to be someone else. She had a lot of people fooled -- me included -- for a while." In fact, he would only proceed with the discussion of Stephanie Dupont after clearing the issue with Kinky. He then referred to a December 1999 Vanity Fair article, "The Miranda Obsession," about an overweight Baton Rouge social worker named Whitney Walton who masqueraded as a blonde Tulane co-ed and part-time model with old money connections in New York and Geneva and engaged in an extended series of telephone conversations with male media celebrities.

McCall elaborates, "Whitney Walton was friends with almost everybody. From maitre d's at fancy restaurants to movie stars, writers, pop singers, football players, team owners, she seemed to know everything. If you had a question on where to go or what to eat if you were in a strange city, she knew where to go, and she seemed to know all the people involved and they all knew her. She was a smart, sophisticated lady who knew a lot about everything. She got this information I guess from talking to men over the phone -- important men -- or she must have been a voracious reader.

"Kinky talked to her for seven years. Seems like he was always on the phone, he talked to her two or three times a day. But she was very elusive. I tried to meet her a couple of times. She always had these excuses. I remember once I was at this hotel in New Orleans and I got a call from the doorman. He said, 'This beautiful, drop dead gorgeous blonde pulled up in a black Porsche convertible and asked to speak to you, and I was so shaken by her beauty that I called the wrong room number and then realizing what I had done I called your real number and she got in the car and drove off before I could tell her that I had the wrong room number.' And I thought, 'That's Whitney I'll bet.' Kinky has told me about her for years that she's supposed to be the most beautiful woman on earth. She's five foot eleven, she's blonde, she could be a movie star, but she's so young she doesn't want to take on the roles."

Bryan Burroughs, who wrote the article in Vanity Fair, describes the ruses that Walton utilized to plant faux Whitneys in various situations with the intention of throwing her suitors off the track to keep them coming back for more. Kinky has planted his own faux Whitney Walton in his detective novels, grafting her mesmerizing telephone voice on the blonde bombshell fantasy that she conjured up in his mind, and then projected on to the character of Stephanie Dupont. McCall says that he and Walton had a falling out before the Vanity Fair article came out, and he hasn't talked to her since. "I knew it wasn't real, and somewhere in Kinky's mind he had to have known it wasn't real. Whitney was somebody that we all pretended existed, and we all probably saw her as some different person."

Now the Whitney Walton saga is unfolding in a most unexpected way. She has received $1,000,000 for her memoir, which is slated to be published by Cliff Street/Harper Collins next year and another $1,000,000 for the film rights from MGM and Robert De Niro's Tribeca Films. (De Niro was one of Walton's telephone pals.) According to Walton's literary agent Dean Williamson, "Robert De Niro will be involved in the making of this film. In what capacity, we are still not sure." Williamson emphasizes that the major aspect of the Whitney Walton phenomenon is her voice, "A humorous and charming but strong voice of total reason." And so an audio book will be released in conjunction with the memoir, giving readers the opportunity to hear with their own ears just what Kinky, McCall, De Niro, et al. found so captivating about Whitney Walton.

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  • Citizen McCall

    Kinky Friedman once remarked that the line between fiction and reality is the one he snorted back in 1978. More than two decades later, he's still getting things mixed up. Chronicle writer Sidney Moody investigates why he puts his friend John McCall, the multimillionaire shampoo magnate and owner of the beauty supply firm Armstrong McCall, in his new detective novel Steppin' on a Rainbow without even bothering to change his name.

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