There is no question that Betty White is, well, an icon in the gay community. I don’t even need to tell you what she is famous for. So when I got the chance to talk to her, I jumped at it.

White has been working with the Lifeline Program for several years. Since 1989, the Lifeline Program has been at the leading edge of the growing life settlement industry. Founded in Cleveland, it began with a very simple mission: to assist terminally ill patients. Through a transaction called a viatical settlement, the company helped terminally ill patients (most suffered from AIDS) sell their life insurance policies for immediate cash. The terminally ill patients received money to pay medical bills and were able to live out their lives with dignity. 
  
Lifeline co-founder Stephen Terrell tells us that finding the perfect spokesperson was easy. He immediately thought of Betty White, not just because of her role on The Golden Girls, but because her personality makes her so trustable.
 
Terrell grew up in the country without a lot of friends and was bullied in school. Television filled a lot of his free time (like The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Brady Bunch and The Partridge Family.)  Having posters of David Cassidy and Donny Osmond earned him his first gay card, and he came out of the closet at the ripe age of 14. He got most of his support from gay hotlines like today’s Trevor Project.

Terrell said, “When I was a kid, you didn’t think it could get better. But it does. Having come out in the ’70s, I didn’t have many role models to follow, so I had to go through a lot of painful years looking for me.”

Terrell says he found his calling with the Lifeline Program: “The company was created as a financial option for people with AIDS in the ’90s. My business partner had a partner with AIDS, and they could not afford his medical bills and keep food on the table -- something had to give. When they had to decide whether or not to let a life insurance policy lapse vs. pay it, he had the brilliant idea to ask friends to buy the policy at less than the face amount, leaving some money in the pay-out for them as interest on the investment. So an idea was born.”

Today, many medical advances later, HIV has become a more manageable condition rather than a terminal sentence. The Lifeline Program then restructured, offering the same service to seniors to give them financial freedom in their golden years.

Terrell wanted to have a project that the Lifeline Program could use to target a younger market, so he came up with the idea to create a viral video that captured White’s sense of humor.
 
“YouTube is quickly becoming a major entertainment power and sharing catchy videos on Facebook and Twitter is the avenue of communication,” Terrell says. “Bringing it to life required a major team of talented and energetic people. I have to say, I am working with some of the best people I could find. When you put them all in the ‘Betty Bubble,’ magic occurs.”  

Terrell and the Lifeline Program are releasing a music video starring Luciana and featuring Betty White, two of today’s hottest stars. The role of Sue Ann that White played on The Mary Tyler Moore Show may have prepared her for the collaboration with Luciana on “I’m Still Hot.”
 
White says, “Sue Ann would definitely say she was still hot. She was one of the first hot girls on television. It’s a great song, and we’re so glad that Luciana and Sony let us use it. I don’t know if I’m still hot, but Luciana sure is, though I wasn’t so happy with how skinny she is – I kept trying to feed her a sandwich!  We had a wonderful time on the set, and the song is catchy and fun.”

Terrell adds, “Betty is … still hot to me and most of the country with a whole new fan base of kids enjoying her warmth and humor.  At 89 and up for another Emmy with 64 years in the business – that’s hot! For our company, I want to show seniors and baby boomers that age is just a number and you can still be hot.”
 
Luciana is a huge Betty White fan, and sources say she was brought to tears when she met White. They bonded immediately. On set, it seems, White may have bonded with some of the hunky models as well.

She says, “These boys were built like brick outhouses. I kept thinking, if I was 10 years younger?!  There was so much energy on the set, and while I told Steve at the end of the day that he could never get me to do it again … he knows I would.”

Terrell says, “We put love drugs in the cheesecake, but that’s our secret. LOL. There was an invisible force field love bubble over Siren Studios on the days we shot the video.  Everyone was crazy in love with each other.  I don’t know anybody that wanted to go home.  I had to tell the “Betty Boys” they were cut, and none of them left for two more hours or so.  I hated that … not.”  
The Top 5 Q&A with Betty White:
What was it like working with Luciana and those hunky men on set?
Seeing all those hunky men and Luciana, I knew there wouldn’t be a line at the craft services table. They were all so fit. One of the lines in the song is about cheesecake and we had plenty of it on the set, so I fed cheesecake to my beefcake!
  
Why do you think candidates should choose to use the Lifeline Program?
The boys at Lifeline really care about people and helping them pay for retirement.  I’m lucky because I don’t really worry about retirement.  As long as I keep getting a chance to work, I’m going to show up on the set … and I might show up even if they don’t ask me.
  
Is there any advice you would give to Luciana on having longevity in the entertainment industry? 
I would tell her to always be professional: Learn your lines, be on time and respect the business. But I would also say that she should always continue to have fun, which she does… and for goodness sake, eat something!
  
Why do you think the LGBT community embraces and loves you so much?
Throughout my career, I’ve always portrayed characters that were humorous, but also weren’t afraid to speak their minds, especially when it came to racy or controversial topics. I think this struck a chord with the LGBT community. We both also share a very strong love for animals. When you combine the two, it’s a very strong match.
  
The world continuously sees you on TV/ movies and every entertainment outlet possible. How do you keep your energy up and your body so fit?  
Well, I’m certainly not built like those boys in the video or as skinny as Luciana, but I have always tried to stay fit, get my rest and eat right. Everything is OK in moderation, and I have also been blessed with good genes.
 
The Lifeline Program world premiere of Luciana and Betty White’s “I’m Still Hot” will be at 7 p.m. PDT on Oct. 11, the same time it debuts at the Abbey in West Hollywood, Calif. The song is available for purchase on iTunes, and a portion of the net proceeds benefit the Los Angeles Zoo. For Betty White video clips/downloads and more on the Lifeline Program, go to www.thelifeline.com

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