In 22 years as the smile behind Wheel of Fortune, Vanna White has sported more than 5,600 elegant designer dresses. Ungaro, Vera Wang, Versace—you name the brand, and chances are that Vanna has made it shine. My late Grandma Millie, an avid Wheel fan for as long as I can remember, always said that Vanna looked prettiest in her sleeveless stuff and in the low- cut outfits that showed off her cleavage. After this past weekend, however, I'd say she's the sexiest in her custom-made Polartec robe.
I know this because I saw her in it. While most of you spent Saturday night mourning the loss of Trent Dilfer, I was in a back room at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center downtown, gabbing with none other than Vanna herself. She, Pat Sajak, and the rest of the Wheel of Fortune crew were in town this weekend for three days of live tapings. With the help of an entourage of publicists, I managed to grab her for a while between takes.
Like a goddess descending from the clouds, she emerged from her trailer with a smile, wearing nothing but blue Chinese slippers and a chianti-colored robe. Her fine, blond hair cascaded softly down her shoulders, rising and falling with each step she took toward me, a forest of simple, yet subtle, curls. She tilted her head slightly as she ran her fingers through these locks, continuing her manicured fingers down the side of her neck before gracefully—almost nervously— extending them in my direction. Finally, mercifully, she spoke.
"Hi there," she said, as if we had just met on the dance floor at Club Medusa. "I'm Vanna White."
"I, I know," I stuttered, floored that a 44-year-old woman could look so dang good. "It truly is a pleasure to meet you."
The conversation took off from there, and for the next 15 minutes, everything else on earth fell away. Vanna told me about how she copes with standing on her feet all day, her exercise routine, and her 1-year-old cat, Sophie. She described her relationship with co-host Sajak as "brotherly," and said that the two frequently get together for family barbecues during the 42-day filming season each year. She said she frequently comes up with ideas for the guy who creates puzzles on the show. She even mentioned that she holds a Guinness World Records distinction as "Television's Most Frequent Clapper," and averages more than 720 claps per show, quite a lot for a woman with such small hands.
After all of this small talk, Vanna and I finally got to talking about her robe. Vanna described it as "a bunch of sewn-up blankets," and deemed it "the warmest piece of clothing" she's ever owned because, well, because it's made of blankets. She explained that there is no other robe like it in the world and said the show's costume designer made it for her because she always complains of being cold on the set. When I asked her what she was wearing underneath, she told me, "Underwear." Then, in a moment reminiscent of her May 1987 appearance in Playboy, she pushed off her slippers to show me the blue nail polish on her toes.
Immediately two thoughts rushed to my mind: "Jesus Christ, I can't believe Vanna White is flirting with me," and, "I wish Grandma Millie were still alive so I could run home and call her." And so it was—there, three floors above a packed Cheesecake Factory on a warm summer night, I found myself face-to-face with Vanna White in a bathrobe and her naked feet. I thought spending a day with Seattle Storm rookie Sue Bird was dreamy, but these 15 minutes transported me to a bliss I never thought was attainable in human form. Vanna turned me on like a letter, then left me to solve the puzzle on my own.