By Terrance Turner
Jan. 30, 2021
I have a career for over three decades talking about people, and now I’m being talked about. I’m doing Hot Topics, and now I’m a Hot Topic.”
Tonight, talk show host Wendy Williams did with herself what she does with everyone else — she spilled the tea.
Tonight, in a two-hour Lifetime documentary, Williams revealed long-held secrets about her addiction, her health, and the collapse of her two-decade marriage. She coughed. She cursed. She cried no less than eight times. In fact, Williams broke down within less than a minute of filming.
“I’m an emotional person, and I’m not afraid of sharing my vulnerability,” she said, through her tears. And share she did — from her childhood growing up in New Jersey to her very real problems in adulthood.
There were issues even from the beginning. Born in July 1964, Williams grew up in New Jersey, the middle child of three children. She struggled with her weight from a young age. “Wendy was overweight,” her parents say bluntly in the documentary. “I was weighed constantly,” Williams reveals. Her father told her, “Wendy, you’ve got such a pretty face — if you could just lose the weight.” To do so, Williams went on strict diets and even became bulimic. Her brother found out but did nothing. But the purging stopped when Wendy learned that bulimia could lead to tooth decay.
Wendy found that out from a gossip rag. “I loved the tabloids — the National Enquirer, the Globe, the Star magazine,” she enthuses. It was those tabloids from which young Wendy learned about plastic surgery — which would soon become a major part of her adult life.
At 24, Williams’ passion for gossip and tabloids led to a career opportunity. She was hired by Hot 103.5, a New York radio station, in 1988. She was fired — because, she says, a fellow jock was kissing up to everyone in the station. She got hired by Kiss 98.7 and became a “shock jock”, famous for salacious gossip and invasive personal questions. In the documentary, we hear clips of her asking Mariah Carey intrusive questions about her sex life. We hear that she secretly recorded an off-air interview with Whitney Houston, asking about Houston’s drug use and whether she discussed it with her daughter Bobbi Kristina.
But that go-there, say-anything attitude would come back to haunt her.
In the meantime, Wendy Williams would contend with her own #MeToo moment. In the late 1980s, Williams interviewed a rising R&B singer. He invited her to a party — and then back to his hotel room. Williams joined him. “I was just gaga over this man,” she told reporters while promoting the film, “and he asked me to go to an opening party, an album release party, with him that night.”
He told her he was going to go change before the party, and then emerged with “nothing on — just a pair of boxers.” She didn’t know what was going on, but Williams wasn’t down with it. “I didn’t want to have the sex,” she says. “He forced himself on me,” Williams reveals, “and he date-raped me.”
After the rape, “I went home, scrubbed my skin off, cried,” she says. She didn’t tell anyone, Williams says. She does not name the singer in the film. But in a recent interview, Williams revealed that her assailant was R&B singer Sherrick. (He died in 1999.)
As she dealt with the after-effects of her assault, Williams escalated an addiction that befell so many in the 1980s. “I started doing a lot of coke,” she confesses in the doc. “I got high like, five days a week.” Her cocaine habit went on for years, even as she worked to conceal the drug abuse from employers and co-workers. But the documentary intimates that her using wound down around the same time that she met the man who would change her life forever.
“I met Kevin on April 6, 1994, and we met at a kiddie skating rink where DJ Mister Cee was doing the music,” Williams says. “Kevin” was Kevin Hunter, a debonair hoodlum from Brownsville. He asked for her number through someone else. Wendy fell for him — hard. “He smelled good; he looked good,” she recalls in the doc. “We liked the same music. He had a great sense of humor.”
In Hunter, Williams found a lover, protector, and diehard supporter: “He made me feel loved. Comforted. And supported.” Kevin supported her in her career goals. He supported her when she decided to have plastic surgery — liposuction and breast implants. Kevin even saved her from an attack by R&B group Total. (Williams had been disparaging Total on the radio, claiming they were broke and that their manager Puffy didn’t pay his workers. Total jumped out of a bus to come beat Wendy up; Kevin swooped in and prevented her the attack.) It was the start of a protective attitude that would pervade their relationship.
“By the first traffic light, I knew I liked him,” Williams reveals. She was so taken with him that they continued the relationship even after she left New York. A tumultuous relationship with Hot 97 led to her departure from the station. A non-compete clause prevented her from going to a station within a certain radius of Hot 97. She began working at a Philadelphia radio station.
Williams credits herself with the success of the station. “When I got to Philly, Power 99 was No. 14 in the ratings, and I took it to No. 1,” she says. Her career took a backseat to motherhood — or at least an attempt at it. Williams got pregnant twice — but suffered two miscarriages at the five-month mark. She also had to deliver a stillborn child.
The tragic losses actually solidified the couple’s bond. Hunter decided that their child should be in wedlock this time. He and Williams married in 1997. Then Williams conceived again. This time, she was able to carry to term. On August 18, 2000, she gave birth to her only child, Kevin Hunter, Jr. Motherhood, she says, was everything she wanted it to be.
But Wendy Williams’ joy was short-lived. Just two months after Kevin Jr’s birth, Williams went to the nursery and overheard “Big Kev” talking on the phone. She knew he was talking to a girl, Williams says. But he swore it was over. And Wendy wasn’t ready to cut the cord. “I didn’t know how to be a mother,” she explains in the film. And she didn’t want to raise the infant by herself. So she decided to stick it out. “I said, ‘Alright. Well, this is love. We’ll not get divorced’,” she says.
Instead, Williams made a high-profile return to New York. She met with Vinny Brown, her New York program director, and negotiated a new deal. She let Hunter think he had brokered the deal when he called Brown to discuss salary and hours. “Kevin doesn’t know that,” Williams said. “I’m telling this story for the first time publicly.”
By then, Hunter had become Williams’ manager. As Williams’ star rose, Kevin Hunter became more widely known — and more intimidating. “When Kevin was nice, he’s lovely,” Williams says. “But when he’s mad or mean, or things don’t go his way, he’s the worst.” This impression is further bolstered by former co-worker Arthur J. Brown, who says that Hunter “was bullying station managers” and that he witnessed tense moments between the couple. “I didn’t see anybody get their head bashed,” Brown says, “but it would get very tense […] It never affected her when the mic was on. But when the mic was off…”
Co-workers interviewed in the film paint a troubling picture. When Wendy landed her own talk show in 2008, Hunter was a menacing presence on set. A stage manager says that “Kevin would literally grab her off the floor if he was unpleased.” But according to Williams, that was the extent of the physicality. Hunter’s mother alleged last year that she witnessed her son choking and kicking Wendy. But Wendy denies that in the documentary.
“Kevin’s not a woman-beater,” Williams says. “I wasn’t a battered woman…Kevin never beat me.” She adds: “I was an emotionally abused woman, and I was taken advantage of horrifically.” But she maintains that Kevin never abused her physically.
What affected her more than anything, however, was the infidelity. Kevin owned a New Jersey condo of his own, which Williams regarded as a “party house” to spend time with his friends. Williams knew Hunter and his friends were partaking: “They’d drink brown liquor and smoke blunts!” Williams didn’t want that in their house, around their child. So Kevin Hunter having his own condo was no big deal…at first. What Williams didn’t know was that Hunter was entertaining more than just his friends.
One day, she came over to the condo and found incriminating evidence. “I opened up a night table drawer and saw a Rolex watch,” Williams tells the camera. “He said, ‘I was buying that for you.’ I said, ‘You’re lying. Who’s the bitch?'” Hunter denied the accusation of cheating. But Williams knew better: “There were underwear that didn’t fit me in the bed, and the bedsheets were nasty.”
“And whenever I went around Kevin’s people, they could never look me in the eye, and I knew it was always out of guilt,” Williams charges. She says she’d demand, “Look me in the eye. You don’t think I know? Look me in the eye.”
Things got worse. So Williams put her snooping skills to the test. “Kevin had gone to LA for ‘business’. I hired a PA — yes, I did,” Williams says. “I found a whole lot of stuff.” The results were startling: Kevin Hunter was not only sleeping with but living with another woman. Wendy’s former employee Charlamagne was from South Carolina, like the other woman, and had introduced her to Hunter.
Charlamagne introduced Hunter to massage therapist Sharina Hudson. “Charlamagne didn’t introduce Sharina to Kevin for the purpose of getting that close,” Williams says. “And Kevin’s so stupid — what a stupid gorilla. The PI was taking pictures of them going to the gym, going to dinner, her with Gucci, Pucci and Lucci,” Williams says.
Williams’ voice drips with disdain as she talks about Hudson being “in the passenger seat of my Rolls-Royce Ferrari. And my son’s in Miami.” She seethes at Kevin Hunter for buying a house — mere miles from the Hunter residence — “to share with that backwoods bitch.”
“You planned dates for dinner with another woman. You planned to sit down on that beach in Miami with that other woman,” Williams says. And eventually, Hunter had a baby with this other woman. In March 2019, Hudson gave birth to a baby girl — reportedly fathered by Hunter. Williams was shattered by the news.
That betrayal was the last straw — and the nail in the coffin of a 22-year marriage.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.