For Pam DiMuccio, it would be the ultimate triumph delivered by one of her favorite TV personalities: To join partner Liz Hillen in a rare, nationally televised gay wedding officiated by Bravo channel star and executive Andy Cohen in his Watch What Happens Live clubhouse.
And it's not just because she's a Cohen and WWHL super fan. DiMuccio and Hillen live in Tampa — a city within a state where same-sex marriage remains illegal.
So DiMuccio figures winning Cohen's recently announced wedding contest, traveling to New York and getting married on national television would be a tremendous sign to the country that it's time for marriage equality everywhere, especially in Florida.
"I think having more visibility and ammunition to say 'Listen, this is happening; the trend is going, hop on board,' is a great thing," said DiMuccio, who harbors a secret hope that Cohen, hailed as the first openly gay host of a late-night talk show, wants to officiate a same-sex wedding.
Cohen, the executive vice president of talent and development at Bravo, became an on-camera star hosting a talk show devoted to dissecting the channel's various reality show characters and storylines. Earlier this year, he announced a contest where fans could win a wedding in his show's clubhouse set, and 2,000 couples submitted 200-word essays.
The prizes are calculated to make a Cohen fan drool: Wedding in the clubhouse, officiated by the host himself (Real Housewives of Atlanta star NeNe Leakes might even agree to be a bridesmaid, according to one press account), a 2014 Fiat car, and a glitzy reception.
DiMuccio and Hillen are among five couples chosen as finalists after submitting a 1-minute video, which took them about eight hours to film. Fans are asked to vote for the couple they like after watching all the videos at bravotv.com/wedding; deadline is Sept. 6, with winners to be revealed Sept. 9.
"I may be a lesbian, but I have no idea how to use one of these," DiMuccio cracks in the video, holding up a wrench; later the couple notes they've been together 14 years and would love to be married on his show. It wouldn't be the first gay wedding on national TV — Conan O'Brien officiated the wedding of his costume designer and his partner in 2011 — but it might be the first real-life lesbian wedding on cable TV nationally.
"When (Cohen) got to our names, he said 'I love a lesbian wedding,' " said DiMuccio, laughing. "Of course, we're reading (meanings) into everything. I want to win because I want people to connect with us."
DiMuccio, 47, and Hillen, 41, met in 1997, when the two worked for the same physical rehabilitation hospital in Largo. They began dating two years later.
So why haven't they married before now?
"Before it was legal (in some states), it would be just another fabulous party," DiMuccio said. "Having it legally recognized is a whole other thing. And I want to make that point in front of a nationwide TV audience."