Her name is Eden Riegel. If you’ve ever watched soap operas, you know who she is. She’s an Emmy winner, a daytime television icon and the star of an immensely popular web series with the racy title Imaginary Bitches, created for her by her writer/director husband, Andrew Miller (he’s Canadian!). She’s beloved by many, a symbol and heroine to many more and the complete antithesis of a Hollywood starlet (and, yes, I know what “antithesis” means). The mere fact that she so graciously agreed to answer these questions, despite my complete and utter lack of any journalistic ability, proves this fact. She’s smart, she’s funny, she’s rather irreverent, she’s generous, she’s talented and she’s got a wicked sense of humor.

And because she was so gracious in answering what I did not realize was probably too many questions, I’ve split this Q&A into two parts. Look for Part 2, featuring questions about her ground-breaking and iconic role as Bianca Montgomery on All My Children and being a newlywed, to be posted soon.

Again, I can’t thank Eden and Andrew enough for agreeing to answer these questions and taking the time out of what is undoubtedly a very busy schedule to do so.

SS&D: Let’s start with Imaginary Bitches. Have you finished filming for the season? What can we expect from “Eden” and her friends in the coming weeks, both real and imaginary?

Eden: We have finished filming for the season and there is lots of fun in store, I promise! But I don’t want to give anything away because, well, the episodes are like a minute.. If I give away a few surprises it’s like giving away the whole show! I will say that the two-episode season finale is awesome. And the imaginaries begin to bring to the surface parts of Eden’s personality that she didn’t know were there and, frankly, doesn’t want to deal with. I wonder what will happen?!

SS&D: I think it’s safe to say we’re all very excited to find out. Will we ever see the physical embodiment of Catherine or Heather? While I love the idea of never seeing them and watching you interact with very imaginary characters, who do you think would be the perfect actors to play them?

Eden: I don’t know if we’ll ever see them… ask Andrew, he’s the mastermind. I do know that he was very adamant that we shouldn’t see them for at least the first little while. That’s where all the comedy comes from. I’m thrilled, because I get to say three times as much as I would if Catherine and Heather were real actresses, and I get all the good lines! Lines I would never get to say usually because I always play such a sweetie-pie. Here I get to unleash my inner bitch. And it feels good. Also, I like the fact that I get to picture them however I want. I am influenced by the logo, of course…. but I think the perfect actresses would be Frankensteins. You’d have to combine the looks of one with the incredible bitchiness of another with the shallowness of another with the sluttiness of another. It gets messy and bloody. And I don’t think anyone would want them to actually exist! Shudder!

SS&D: Shudder, indeed! Now, I have to ask how much of Catherine and Heather is actually your own subconscious. I mean, have you ever seriously (eats chocolate) thought the things that Catherine and Heather have “said” in real life and wish that you could have actually said them out loud?

Eden: Yeah, I think of them… just a few minutes to late! Seriously (eats chocolate) I really wish I could come up with this stuff. Andrew’s brain just works on a whole different plane. A seriously (eats chocolate) bitchy plane. Wait a minute! I never really thought about this… I wonder if they are reflections of Andrew’s subconscious! Maybe he’s not Mr. Perfect after all!

SS&D: Or have you… actually said them?

Eden: Golly, no. Although I must say, because of Andrew’s influence, or Catherine and Heather’s, or maybe just because I’m growing up, I am absolutely getting more in touch with my “inner-bitch” every day. And I freaking love it! I think for so long I haven’t known anything, not even what my own opinions are. It feels so freeing to start to figure it out, to be able to trust my instincts and not blame myself. Maybe it’s because women are taught to be nice and not say or think mean things that I have traditionally stuffed down any unpleasant thoughts. But not anymore, baby!! Stand back!

SS&D: Everyone look out for uncensored Eden in the future, then. That should be interesting and a lot of fun! Now, “Eden” is such a departure from Bianca, and it’s obvious you’re having a great deal of fun playing her. Is there something you’d really like to see “Eden” do that would completely shatter the good-girl image that portraying Bianca created once and for all?

Eden: I’m not entirely comfortable with idea of “shattering” the image that made people like me so much. I haven’t gone all the way over to the dark side. I still want (read: need) people to like me… like any actor does, I guess. Please like me…

SS&D: I don’t think there’s any question that we do like you. You make it hard not to! So, do you think “Eden” will ever find that one person who puts her back into the group with her “real” friends? Or is she destined to always be on the outside looking in? Or does she prefer to be on the outside looking in? Do you think she’s actually okay with not being a “relationship Pod-Person” and that’s some relief Catherine and Heather afford her?

Eden: Well, that’s a really fascinating question. I think the girls, for all their bitchiness and STDs, are actually a really positive influence on “Eden.” She may well someday find someone to love and love her back, but when she does she will no longer need that person to complete her. And she won’t be with them only to fit in and have something to talk about with her “pod-person” friends, or because she needs someone to tell her she’s pretty, but because she loves herself and therefore has real love to give. Of course, Catherine and Heather don’t think that’s possible. They think men are just for sex and entertainment. Use one and move on! But they are not totally without feeling. They love their girlfriends and think you should be 100% loyal to them. Even if it means shattering their fantasies and telling them things they don’t want to hear.

SS&D: So, If “Eden” were to find someone and begin a relationship, do you think the “girls” will actually go away, or will they find fault with the man in her life, rather than just being snarky to “Eden’s” real friends? I think they’d find a reason to torpedo the relationship, especially if “Eden” isn’t really sure about the guy.

Eden: The girls will only go away when Eden doesn’t need them anymore. I don’t really want to think about it because it makes me cry. I’ve grown very attached to those bitches.

SS&D: I think we all have. And it’s obvious that this is “Eden’s” subconscious talking when she attributes something to the “bitches” (and it’s also become quite apparent that “Eden” is the only sane one in her circle of friends) and that she’s using Catherine and Heather to say things she never would have said before, including taking shots at everyone’s significant others (like saying that Catherine called the boyfriend’s “losers”). Do you think “Eden” will ever get to the point where she starts speaking so frankly and doesn’t blame Catherine or Heather? That what she blurts out is actually her OWN opinion? It’s apparent that she has a wicked sense of humor.

Eden: Somewhere in there she certainly does have a wicked, like, truly wicked in the old sense of the word, sense of humor. I already think that there have been a few instances of Eden using the bitches to say what she really feels. It’s a convenient way out. Her neuroses seem to give her something of a free pass. There will be a tension between Eden and the IBs. I think they will get very close, and start having a blast with one another, and then Eden will pull away if she feels herself getting to far from the sweet girl she sees herself as (and, essentially is, I think — if maybe a little nutty). It is a very tough transition from sweet girl who lets everyone walk all over her, to confident, secure woman. I am sure there will be plenty of growing pains.

SS&D: Is “Eden” at all concerned about Brooke seeing Dr. Kee?

Eden: She sure is! What a quack! We will touch on that in Episode 11.

SS&D: Do you ever look at the writer/director of Imaginary Bitches and say, “This is crap, I can’t do this.”

Eden: Naw, I look at him and say “Coochie, coochie, coo!” and he says “Not on set, baby!”

SS&D: (laughs) What about, “What’s my motivation?”

Eden: Well, yes on that one. I am a big pain in the ass. I like talking about the character’s motivation for EVERYTHING.

SS&D: Okay, how about, “I’ll do the damn scene as soon as I stop laughing!”

Eden: That’s a huge problem on set. Fortunately in most scenes it’s okay to laugh. It’s real. It’s only when I am repeating something really scandalous that Catherine or Heather said that I have to practice it in the mirror like a hundred times so I can try to say it with an angry look on my face and not tear up laughing. Sometimes they are so funny I could die laughing. There’s a line in Episode 9 (coming up this Friday) [ed.: this eppy actually aired last Friday] that I literally couldn’t get through in any rehearsal. Fortunately I was able to say it once, on shooting day.

SS&D: Hmm, now I’ve got to re-watch the episode and try to figure out which line it was, even though I think I have a good idea of what it was! But your facial expressions are probably some the more brilliant moments on Imaginary Bitches. The eye-rolls, the looks of exasperation, the WTF? moment that was absolutely priceless in episode one. Does this come naturally for you? Or do you practice looking in a mirror until the look is just right? Are you rolling your eyes at me right now?

Eden: I definitely do not need to practice the eye roll. I’ve been doing that my whole life. It’s weird, right? I actually ROLL my eyes! I thought that was just an expression!

SS&D: Well, many times, those eye rolls make the scene without you having to speak a word of dialogue (and I love eye-rolls, they really say so much). Although, Andrew has written some fantastically hilarious stuff, your brother has added some brilliantly hysterical and… icky… stuff. You’ve populated the show with good friends, the crew is family. This is a real labor of love, isn’t it?

Eden: That’s right. That’s why we love it so much. Usually in this business you have to be a big shot before they let you surround yourself with and work with people you really like. But because we’re on the interweb, we can make our own rules. And rule number one is it has to be fun.

SS&D: Would you like to see IB picked up by a network? Do you think it would work as a 30-minute sit-com? Would you even want to be boxed in by the conventionality of network television or is the Internet doing the right job for you?

Eden: I’m not sure how it would translate to the boob tube. I think maybe we would need real bitches (with real boobs). Not sure how this imaginary thing would go over. Man, I’d sure like the opportunity to give it a whirl, though. I know it would work great on the silver screen!

SS&D: I think it would be perfect as a feature length film. Are you hiring? (*ahem* blink *cough*) So… um… How overwhelmed are you by the response? You’re coming up on 4.5 million views on YouTube, not counting the views generated by your MySpace page, fans embedding the clip into their own pages and the IB website. Did you ever think it would actually get this big or is this bigger than your wildest dreams? I think it’s a massive success…

Eden: It’s amazing. We just got featured on the front page of YouTube and got half a million hits over night! That was super fun. It’s amazing to get emails and posts everyday with new people discovering the show and loving it. It means everything to us. This show is a huge part of our life right now. We’re proud of it and all we want is for people to see it.

SS&D: The numbers are proving they are, which is absolutely fantastic. Those numbers are growing with every episode that’s uploaded and your many fans anxiously await every Friday night for the next installment. Not to mention the chats after each new episode, where you graciously give your time to interact with your fans (and have endure the occasional obnoxious idiot). I think this is one of those reasons you’ll never have to worry if your fans like you or not, you make it impossible for us not to.

Check back later this week for the second part of my Q&A with Eden where she answers more of my interminable questions about Bianca, BAM, her new puppy Riley and life with Andrew with her usual grace and dignity…

Click here to visit the Official Imaginary Bitches website: http://www.imaginarybitches.com/Home.html

You can also watch every IB episode and subscribe to the IB channel at YouTube here: http://www.youtube.com/user/ImaginaryBitches

And you can check out the Official Bitches MySpace page by clicking here: http://www.myspace.com/imaginarybitches Be their friend!!