Wendy Williams’ recent visit to Asbury Park brightened the lives of many after Superstorm Sandy, setting the stage for healing for many as well as adding the first energetic sparkle of the season.  Cheering people up and on is pretty much standard operating procedure for the talk show host and former area resident.

Born on Central Avenue in Asbury Park and moving to the Wayside area of Ocean Township with her family when she was five years-old, Williams is a smart and fresh voice in an otherwise cluttered daytime schedule of blah.

Working in the talk show arena for years, I heard regularly from viewer focus groups that they wanted hosts to have a point of view rather than robo-moderate.  Williams delivers a real-life female perspective to the issues and celebutards of the moment, live to millions of homes every day – not easy.  Viewers embraces her “calls it likes I sees it” engaging style.  Her “transcendent likability” (key words in the biz for being relatable on camera) is high-def platinum.

I spoke with the glamazon (size 42 Louboutins) Williams after the launch of her PETA “I’d Rather Go Naked” holiday campaign – when she declared in front of hundreds of fans in Times Square that “fur is not the mark of success anymore” and that “a decent person with compassion” does not wear fur.

During our interview she reminisced about the holidays of her youth in Asbury Park, as well as the most interesting person of the year…

Wendy Williams spent the first 25 years of her life in Ocean Township and Asbury Park.

Wendy Williams spent the first 25 years of her life in Ocean Township and Asbury Park.  Photo courtesy Debmar-Mercury Prod.

TBP:  What were the holidays like for you growing up at the shore?

Williams:  I remember shopping hours on end at the Monmouth Mall with my mother for family gifts and buying all my friends gifts at Spencer’s.  Also the lines for Santa were shorter at the Seaview Square Mall so that’s where we used to take my little brother to see Santa every year.

While on Christmas vacation from school, the main place to go and meet boys was the Middlebrook Cinema.  Also, we would usually get our Christmas tree at Turner Brothers, a local garden center.

My heart will always belong to the Jersey Shore, particularly Asbury Park and Ocean Township.  I miss being there more often.

You got me really thinking about the shore.  I reflect on summers buying licorice and Planters peanuts in Asbury’s Convention Hall.  I also reflect on my young life with my family at Perkins Pancake house on Friday nights.  The Eatontown roller rink is where I did most of my adolescent socializing.  I will always, always be a Jersey Shore girl.

TBP:  At this time of year, what traditions do have in the Williams-Hunter family?

Williams:  Now that I have my own family I find we are not as festive and into the celebratory things the season offers. We work so hard; we are so grateful and it is the three of us – my husband, son and I.  We enjoy spending time alone.  We do not have any traditional food or Christmas music playing.

Our tradition is to work hard all year and really enjoy the two weeks off.  Our son Kevin is 12 years old now so Santa Claus is different today and he is so aware of the economy that he does not bug us for anything.  We very much appreciate the time alone as a family away from the rest of the fanfare of our otherwise hectic lives.  Kevin wanted a Christmas tree this year so we do have a six-foot one in the house.

TBP:  Fans love the“Hot Topics” segments on your show.  What annoys you about the holidays?

Williams:  People ask for gifts and it drives me crazy.  Meanwhile, we are in a deep recession and I am my own adult that is not going into debt over Christmas.  I so did not think this is the type of adult I would be but I cannot remember the last time I asked my husband for a gift.

My husband and I just celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary and I am so grateful for that.  My son made the basketball and the honor roll and we could not be prouder.  And I am feeling great about a new fourth season of my show.

I am very much aware of what we have and being mindful of how and where we give in these times and who needs it the most is more important.  All I want for the holiday is Sandy clean-up and health for my family and me.

TBP:  Who do you think that it would be a gift if they left the spotlight?

Williams:  I think everyone could say it with me, “Lindsay Lohan.” It’s just sad and a shame. I don’t even need to elaborate.

TBP:  Forget Barbara Walters, I want to hear from you who the most interesting person of 2012 was.

Williams:  Donald Trump, because of his Twitter wars and the things that would fall out of his mouth. He kept coming up in “Hot Topics” this year on our show.

TBP:  Your “Wendy-isms” are legendary – from “friend in my head” to the iconic “how you doin’?”.  Where did “we are only good if we give back” come from?

Williams:  Giving is a good trait and being selfish is disgusting.  For as bad as some of us are doing, there are always those doing worse.  Silent giving is always more attractive than public giving.  You, silently helping your fellow man is a very, very attractive trait – anytime of year.

The “Wendy Williams Showairs weekdays on Fox affiliates and the BET Network.  Check local listings.  For video of Williams’ visit to Asbury Park as well as her conversation with Mayor Ed Johnson and Garrett Giberson of the city’s fire department, click here.

And speaking of PETA, click here to join William’s in a pledge to be fur-free.  Click here to learn from PETA why you should go down and waterfowl feather-filled free in 2013 (no photos).