WCHS Interview

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RC (Rob Caldwell, interviewer)

GF (Genie Francis)

Obviously this is a bit of a dream come true for you, and itís just about to come about. When did the idea first come about, when did you say ďGee, it would be really fun to start up and run my own store?

GF: Iíd say I probably started thinking about it in my mid-30ís when I started thinking about Gee what am I going to do after the General Hospital thing is all over. Iíve always wanted the white picket fence and to retire into the country, and I saw myself as an antiques dealer, ultimately. But then I got here and I thought there are so many people who are already doing that so much better than I could.

RC: There are a few others here in Searsport that had the same idea

GF: Yeah, this is antique row, and Iíd much rather just refer my clients to them. So what I chose to do was the fill ins, the things that I thought the area lacked in terms of home design. We didnít have great bedding, we didnít have great lighting, and we didnít have a great selection of rugs. So thatís what I tried to bring in, the things that I was missing from my own personal shopping.

RC: So, itís almost July now, how many months ago did you say Ok, weíre going to do this, time to go.

GF: When I put my nose to the grindstone you mean? (Laughs)

That would have been January 1st, when I started doing the shopping and the planning. Prior to that, in November, we started cleaning up the space, and renovating the property, which wasÖ I love this old property, and I wanted to shine her up and make her new again. Itís built in 1890.

RC: How hard was it to find a place you liked? From just the outside, and the inside, this is a lovely building but how much looking did you have to do?

GF: This is the first thing I looked at

RC: Holy Cow

GF: I know, everybody thinks thatís funny, but Iíve always driven past it and thought Oh, I love that building, Iíd love to paint it and fix it up and clean it up. And then when it became available, you know, it was just a no brainer. I thought it was perfect, always what I had envisioned getting in an old house.

RC: So you found a lovely old house, but you had to do a lot of work to get it into the kind of shape you wanted it to be in

GF: We did do an awfully lot of painting and scraping, painting and scraping. Literally every surface in this house had to be scraped and painted, so we had to do that, and it took quite a bit of time.

RC: Are you good at that? Are you handy?

GF: (Laughs) Iím pretty handy but I didnít do the painting, no, especially how high up this roof goes, and on the outside? Oh boy, no, you wouldnít get me up there

RC: Do you have any retail experience or are you learning as you go?

GF: Iím learning as I go but you know, when I started acting I didnít have any acting experience so the way I look at it is you just keep learning in life. And what Iíve done, is Iíve hired women who are smarter than me, and have more experience in retail than I do, and theyíre teaching me.

RC: I have to ask you, Ďcause the Internet is just buzzing about this, and I guess itís out there, but I guess your going back to General Hospital for a brief stint this fall?

{Jaw drops, taken completely off guard}

GF: Holy Cow manÖ holy cow, how did you find that out?

RC: Well, how are you going to be running the shop if your back on GH?

GF: Man you are blowing my mind right now. I am so going to be in trouble with ABC if you put this on the air. Wait, when are you putting this on the air? How did you find that out?

RC: Itís on the internet, and now, I havenít seen it but Iíve been told that ABC put an announcement out, that it was dated Monday..

GF: Did they announce it?

RC: Yeah, dated Monday

GF: Sigh.. then itís fine. Yeah, Iím going to do a little short stint onÖ you know, they swear me to secrecy because they like to have control over how it comes out and anyway, yes, I am going to do that, Iíll be doing that during the month of October and the worst part is, Jonathan has to go away and do a job during October too. Wouldnít you know it? Weíve both been unemployed for 6 months and now we both have to go away at the same time. But Iím very excited, and I think it will be fun to revisit my character. Umm. It will only be for 4 weeks but they have promised me that they wonít kill her off. That would be awful, I donít want to, you know, go and do that!

RC: Given your character, you need that job security, that your not going to meet that untimely end.

GF: Well you never know, you never know

RC: You started on General Hospital when you were just impossibly young

GF: I was 14Ö.

RC: And stayed there a long time. Overall, was it a good experience? Did you enjoy it?

GF: Yeah there were years that were harder than others. The teenage years were hard, but theyíre hard anyway, arenít they? And it doesnít make it any better to be on the cover of all those magazines at that time. I mean, think about it. Kids that age, itís just more than you can handle. Often, itís more than someone in their 50ís can handle. You know, they flip out. I loved my time there in my 30ís. I had a great time, you know. I had my children there, the place was very nurturing to me, they gave me a baby shower, they went through all thisÖ. When I was in labor, when I was in labor with my son, I went to the hospital and I called the booth, I called the control booth at General Hospital. I did, ďIím in laborĒ and I just wanted you all to know. They were like- OK, Genie (Laughs) Let us know how everything goes. You know, it really was a wonderfully nurturing place to be during that time.

RC: One of the things that floored me, was you know you talk about how tough it was being a teenager there and I still canít believe this, but you talk about the first time you were kissed you were on General Hospital

GF: Yeah, it was, it was, and you know all the people who played my parents were standing there across the stage, there was a car parked on the stage cause it was ďScotty and Laura having their first kissĒ and the people who played my parents were standing there going Oh look, Genieís having a love scene! It was awful, so humiliating!

RC: And you were still so young, probably late teens, maybe early 20ís when the show was at itís pinnacle, and Luke and Laura got married, cover of Newsweek, the highest rated episode in the history of daytime television, I mean it must have been really tough to deal with.

GF: Yeah, it was, but there were lots of fun times too, it wasnít all tough, I mean there was good and there was bad, but I hadÖ. I didnít really understand what a big deal it was, I didnít get it. Iím still surprised now, that basically 30 years later, you know they still want me to come back and do more of that. I mean, howÖ well, obviously it had quite an impact! So, its still dawn.. sinking in what a big deal it was.

RC: Do you get a lot of interesting fan encounters? People around here who recognize you, know you, come up and chat with you?

GF: Uh, basically I think Mainers either have very high self-esteem or are just generally very polite. Or, they came up here because they want that kind of private life, and they want me to have it too. And they let us have it Weíve gotten to know a lot of people here, weíre close to many people in this town but itís happened naturally, weíve let them in, and they, you know theyíve responded to it. Iíve never felt intruded on here, Never.

RC: Do you still watch General Hospital?

GF: No, I donít. I donít watch because when Iím not on it, it makes me sad (laughs) so you know I really donít want to watch, I try to forget about it and get on with my life.

RC: You and Jonathan, and correct me if Iím wrong, met on the set making the TV movie North and South, or, and I also read this was that you met on Bare Essence

GF: We did

RC: That was this TV Series that you had, in the mid Ď80ís, which is correct?

GF: We did, we met on Bare Essence, which was a mini series I did, when I was 19 years old, and we met then, and our relationship was more like, he was like a big brother, he teased me a lot, and he would say things like ďhey your wig looks good today Miss FrancisĒ which I loved, because he didnít seem to care much about how important Laura was, he was just teasing me and I liked that. But we didnít have a romantic relationship, it was about 4 years later we got together we were doing North and South, and then I had an immediate crush on him and he had one on me, and we werenít going to tell each other, it was actually Kirstie Alley, who was in the show with us, and we were both confiding in her and she just got sick of it, sick of us, so she told Jonathan how I felt about him, and then I was furious with her. Itís pretty funny, but itís really because of her that weíre together.

RC: Do you ever see Kirstie? Because she has a place here in Maine

GF: I havenít seen her, no, I havenít seen her, Iíd love to. Iím hoping sheíll come shop (Laughs)

RC: Thatís a good idea, that would be ideal, wouldnít it?

Interview ends.

Big ol' heap of thanks to Joni for this transcript!