Meet Kellyanne Conway’s Gay BFF

“The smile, the blond hair, the vivaciousness, a little bit flirtatious—she was just fun.”

Whenever a right-wing shill claims to have gay friends, we usually ask to see the receipts. But in the case of Trump flak Kellyanne Conway, there really is a Jack to her Karen Walker.

Or at least there was.

A profile in The Atlantic recounts the bosom-buddy relationship between Conway and Republican pollster Frank Luntz that blossomed when the two met in the 1980s at Oxford University. He was in graduate school and she was on an semester abroad from Trinity Washington University, in D.C.

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 08:  TV personality Frank Luntz attends HBO's Official Golden Globe Awards After Party at Circa 55 Restaurant on January 8, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California.  (Photo by FilmMagic/FilmMagic for HBO)
FilmMagic for HBO

“She already was political, and right of center,” recalls Luntz, now 55. “The smile, the blond hair, the vivaciousness, a little bit flirtatious—she was just fun.”

Once, she and some friends took Luntz shopping and made him try on a Speedo for a laugh.

“I’ve been fat for, like, 15 years, but I wasn’t always fat,” he says. “Nevertheless, a guy like me should not put on a Speedo.”

To writer Molly Ball, the incident sounded “humiliating and cruel,” but Luntz insists it was hilarious.

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 24:  Pollster/TV personality Frank Luntz attends Christmas Eve at the Los Angeles Mission on December 24, 2008 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
David Livingston/Getty Images

After law school at George Washington, Conway actually went to work at Luntz’s polling firm. Their camaraderie continued on trips around the world, where they’d play pranks together—like pretending to be a married couple arguing in an elevator.

She eventually left to start her own business and that’s when, Luntz claims, she started saying things about him that hurt his feelings. The two didn’t speak for several years but have apparently buried the hatchet and reconnected.

ALEXANDRIA, VA - DECEMBER 9: Political consultant and pollster Frank Luntz poses questions to a focus group of Donald Trump supporters as journalists observe though a one-way mirror behind him in Alexandria, Virginia Wednesday December 9, 2015. (Photo by J. Lawler Duggan/For The Washington Post via Getty Images)
J. Lawler Duggan/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

Luntz is an interesting character himself: He’s a gay man who crafted the messaging for Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America, served as a talking head on Fox News, and advised Republicans trying to impeach Bill Clinton. In 2010, he was awarded PolitiFact’s “Lie of the Year” award for promoting the term “government takeover” to refer to President Obama’s efforts on healthcare reform.

Then there’s his memorabilia.

Sure, it might seem natural for a Beltway wonk to have a stash of vintage campaign pins, but Luntz’s collection is creepy—like the mannequin of Bill Clinton sitting in the electric chair used in The Addams Family.

President Bill Clinton doll seated in the electric chair from the Addams Family movie in the memorabilia collection of Republican strategist Frank Luntz at his house in McLean, Virginia, July 9, 2007.  (Photo by MCT/MCT via Getty Images)
MCT via Getty

There’s also Margaret Thatcher slippers, an entire room filled with old periodicals, a Hillary Clinton doormat, a letter from 1950s burlesque queen Blaze Starr, and a Terminator dummy with an Arnold Schwarzenegger campaign button jammed in its forehead head.

Arnold Schwarzenegger button on Terminator mannequin in the memorabilia collection of Republican strategist Frank Luntz at his house in McLean, Virginia, July 9, 2007.  (Photo by MCT/MCT via Getty Images)
CT via Getty Images
Letter and fan photo from stripper Blaze Starr in the memorabilia collection of Republican strategist Frank Luntz at his house in McLean, Virginia, July 9, 2007.  (Photo by MCT/MCT via Getty Images)
The periodical room in the memorabilia collection of Republican strategist Frank Luntz at his house in McLean, Virginia, July 9, 2007.  (Photo by MCT/MCT via Getty Images)

He even framed his tickets from President Clinton’s impeachment trial.

Framed tickets from the impeachment trial of President Clinton in the U.S. Senate in the memorabilia collection of Republican strategist Frank Luntz at his house in McLean, Virginia, July 9, 2007.  (Photo by MCT/MCT via Getty Images)

Was it Luntz who advised Conway to wear that patriotic ensemble at the inauguration? If so, maybe he didn’t actually forgive her for hurting his feelings.

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: Hope Hicks and Kellyanne Conway depart the Blair House as he heads to a morning worship service on Inauguration day at St. John's Episcopal Church in Washington, DC on Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images
Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.
@ItsDanAvery