True Blood Writer Raelle Tucker
From hippy to Hollywood, True Blood writer Raelle Tucker has come a long way since her Ibiza beginnings and a strip club called the Blue Rose.
HOLLYWOOD loves a happy-ever-after – and Raelle Tucker’s life is the stuff movies are made of. The story goes a little like this: boho Ibicenca grows up in a rural island community with a charmed existence riding horses and performing in plays. Deciding she has bigger fish to fry, she ships off to the US of A to seek her fortune. Fast forward a decade or so and she’s a hotshot scriptwriter living the Hollywood dream. And along the way she opens a strip joint. In Ibiza.
Los Angeles based Tucker now makes a living writing modern fairytales, while seemingly starring in one of her own. A scriptwriter and co-executive producer on the hit HBO series True Blood, she recently married actor David Wright and has come a long way since her misspent Ibiza youth when she frittered away “a lot of time getting high” and “not much time focusing on school”.
For the uninitiated, True Blood is a sexy, supernatural romp set in a southern American backwater frequented by pert waitresses and pesky vampires. The blood-soaked series is not for the squeamish, and has made quite an impact since premiering in 2008.
Alongside Oscar winning screenwriter Alan Ball (of American Beauty fame) Tucker and a small writing team merge meaty themes about sex, morality and mortality into humorous, horror-filled feasts for the small screen. She’s already penned and produced eight episodes of the cult series and is currently writing the season four finale.
But Tucker’s transition from Ibiza’s dirt tracks to Hollywood’s star-studded sidewalks didn’t come without a few culture shocks. “The first time I walked into a supermarket I started crying. Well, laughing-crying, because in Ibiza back then we had a little tiny store with like four things. We didn’t have supermarkets or highways, you know? I’d never owned a telephone in my house at that point. I’d never used a mailbox. I didn’t understand anything about the way the world worked, and so it was a real challenge. It took me a few years probably to sort of acclimatise to what one would consider normal society.”
While paving the way for her big break Tucker cut her teeth as an exotic dancer and returned to Ibiza where, for ten years each summer, she ran the Blue Rose strip joint in Figueretas.
“At night we did these fabulous, sexy, erotic shows and it was a blast. I feel like it’s a really unique story for me to have come from. Like most writers, I think we spend so much time in our heads… and being that much in my body was actually really an interesting balance for me. I think it really informed my work and kind of gave me a different story, a different vision, more than I think certainly most television writers in Los Angeles have.”
Tucker’s story of the good girl gone bad, done good, is a strange collision of idyllic country innocence and big city savviness, of simplicity with a smidgen of sleaze. She was 22 when the Blue Rose opened in 1997, after she convinced her sister and her parents (“who had never been to a strip club”) that it was a feasible business venture.
“It was my idea originally. I wanted a place that had choreographed shows that was kind of like burlesque theatre mixed with a table dancing club. There were no strip dancing clubs in Ibiza at that point – and so I convinced everyone to get on board with it. It was very successful and very scandalous.”
The scandal, Tucker says, came mostly from the fact that the club was co-managed by her parents.
“My parents were hippies. Everyone knew us and some people saw it like my parents were opening this club and selling their daughters as strippers. So there was this big scandal about ‘they’re selling sex’ and all of this silliness. The truth was, I was a dancer, my sister became a dancer, we had this idea. My parents reluctantly funded it because they wanted us to have a business and not just be doing this by ourselves in Los Angeles, you know? So they kind of reluctantly got behind it and they took a lot of heat for it.”
She cites the discriminating Ibiza “double standards” of a vocal few for fuelling the frenzied tittle-tattle.
“They’re like ‘Oh it’s OK for us to be naked on the beach and have crazy sex in nightclubs’ but if you charge money for it – I don’t even mean for sex but for sexuality – it’s somehow dirty and gross. We were all very surprised by that because we thought this was a really free place and my sister and I were really happy to do this. We were celebrating this. So we felt very surprised that some people responded that way.”
The saucy history, the hit show, and the Tinseltown credentials combined make for a fascinating modern fairytale that looks set for a Hollywood ever-after. But amid all the hype, Raelle Tucker’s roots are still firmly set in Ibiza.
“Ibiza’s always home to me. The sort of hippy Ibiza person that I was growing up is definitely re-emerging and sort of saying to me ‘hey chill out man. You need to relax a little more. You need to just kick back a bit more because life is short’.”
First published in Pacha Magazine, Ibiza, May 2011.
© Abbey Stirling