Meet the Woman Who Inspired ‘Orange is the New Black”s Alex Vause

Orange Is The New Black

An interview has recently been published with Catherine Cleary Wolters, the woman who inspired ‘Orange is the New Black”s lesbian heartthrob, Alex Vause.

‘Orange is the New Black’ is Netflix’s most popular original program, based on Piper Kerman’s memoir of the same name. It tells the story of a woman who goes to prison ten years after being involved in a drug smuggling ring, whereupon she is reunited with the ex-girlfriend with whom she committed her crime in the midst of a passionate love affair.

Piper Kerman’s memoir differs quite greatly from Jenji Kohan’s hit TV series, and in the article published in Vanity Fair, Catherine Cleary Wolters, a.k.a. ‘The Real Alex Vause’ (known in the book as Nora) explains that her side of the story is quite different to the reality presented in both the television series and the novel it’s based on.

One difference is the romance plot between Alex and Piper in the television series, which is a major storyline on the show. In her memoir, Kerman and Wolters never became romantically involved while in prison together. In face, Wolters says they were only incarcerated together for five weeks. Wolters said that the true story would be ““so wretched and stinky, it would quite possibly result in a collapsed universe. So I guess it’s a good thing Piper and Jenji stick with the fun little tidbits.”

In the show, Piper is seduced by Alex as a naive young woman fresh out of Smith college, and is convinced to become involved in a drug ring during their relationship. Wolters says that in reality Kerman and herself didn’t sleep together until they had both committed the crimes that they would eventually be incarcerated for. As well as this, Piper wasn’t quite as naive in real life.

“I was not Piper’s first, and I certainly did not seduce her,” Wolters said.

“When we were traveling together I started developing a crush on her. And eventually that turned into a crazy mad love affair,” Wolters says. “But that was after she had already done the deed that made her complicit.”

“We weren’t girlfriends,” she added. “We were friends with benefits . . . I was not the older sexy, glamorous lesbian who snatched her from her pristine Smith College cradle.”

However, Wolters did suggest that although she and Kerman were not romantically involved in prison, that didn’t stop anybody else.

“Usually what you would do was have sex in your jail rooms,” she said. “You’d have sex anywhere you could: the tennis court, the outdoor squash court, or the rake pile. Anyplace! When the guards aren’t around all bets are off. Everyone goes to it!”

“They romanticize sex on the TV show,”

Kerman served 13 months for her involvement in the drug ring, and Wolters served almost six years in a California prison before being paroled in 2008. Wolters said she’d done in total almost twenty years in prison or on parole for her crimes, and only finished her last stretch of supervised release on April 10th, 2014.

“This story isn’t about a fun ride through some old familiar haunt, giving me little glimpses and peeks of some fond old stomping ground,” she says. “Christ, it’s my nightmare, the one that wakes you gasping on your rubber legs that won’t run. . . . This stress is real, it is unrelenting. I’ve had a heart attack, a five-way bypass, been judged, humbled, and hobbled, but I made it.”

“But I watched, and of course I’ll watch the rest,” she says. “I can’t help it. It’s a great show. The actors are incredible, the story line is interesting, and come on, who doesn’t want to see Donna from That ’70s Show have lesbian sex?”

Indeed. Read the whole interview and Piper Kerman’s response here.

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