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  • by Christine Champagne

    April 22, 2003

    "All My Children" made TV history on Wednesday, April 23, when Erica Kane's (Susan Lucci) lesbian daughter Bianca (Eden Riegel) kissed a woman -- marking the first ever same-sex smooch on a daytime soap opera.

    Were soap fans ready for this? Riegel says yes. "I know that on the (Internet) message boards, there is a small but vocal minority that didn't want to see this," the actress reports. "But the vast majority (of fans) were ready, excited and with the story line."

    For those of you who haven't dropped into Pine Valley (the town in which "All My Children" is set) lately, Bianca -- who came out about two years ago -- got involved with Lena (Olga Sosnovska), a mysterious European beauty who works at Enchantment, the cosmetics company owned by Erica. Bianca works there, too -- and she couldn't resist flirting with Lena. Neither could Bianca's buddy Boyd (Marc Menard).

    But ultimately, it was Bianca who scored a date with Lena. In an episode that aired a week before the kiss, the two women enjoyed a wonderful night out at local hotspot SOS -- with Myrtle (Eileen Herlie) tagging along. Suspicious of Lena's intentions, Boyd persuaded Myrtle to play chaperone.

    Boyd had good reason to worry. "Lena has made a lot of mistakes in her past. She has not proven herself a very nice person. Of course, Bianca doesn't know that," Riegel explains. "And now Lena is working with Michael (a bad guy played by William deVry) to try to take down Enchantment."

    As part of the secret plot, Lena was told to get close to Bianca so she could be more easily manipulated. The problem is, after their first date, Lena realized her feelings for Bianca were genuine, and that she just couldn't use her. Rather than tell Bianca the truth, however, Lena simply informed her that she could never see her again, quit her job and decided to leave the country.

    "For Bianca, this was a huge disappointment," Riegel says. "Every time she opens up to a woman, she gets her heart broken." Bianca was ready to accept the bad news and move on, but Myrtle urged her to follow Lena to the airport and demand an explanation.

    On the episode that aired Wednesday, April 23, Bianca did just that. When she first read the tense, romantic scene scripted for Bianca and Lena, Riegel was thrilled. "It's that kind of old romantic airport scene in which the two lovers decide whether they can take the risk and take a chance on love -- only it's two women this time."

    After catching up to Lena, "What Bianca basically said is, 'Look, what I felt is real. I think you felt it, too, and I think you're running away from it,'" Riegel reveals. "'And I think that we should risk everything and try.'"

    Overcome by her true feelings, Lena realized she couldn't walk away so easily, and the two women kissed.

    Riegel had never kissed a woman before. "I was a little nervous because I wanted it to look natural and organic and real and true," Riegel says. "I didn't want it to seem tentative."

    She and Sosnovska discussed practicing the kiss. "We thought about maybe trying it out in the dressing room first," Riegel says, laughing. "But then we just thought, 'We are professionals. This will be fine.'"

    As the actresses predicted, once they were immersed in the emotion of the scene, the kiss just came naturally. "I think that moment felt really real," Riegel says.

    What's next for these two lovebirds? Well, "All My Children" is a soap opera, so we know the road to bliss will be paved with obstacles -- including Michael. "Michael has something on Lena, and he will use it against her if she doesn't comply with his wishes," Riegel says. "Yet if she does comply with his wishes, she'll hurt Bianca, and she'll hurt Erica's company. So it's a very difficult situation for Lena."

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