Two years ago, a series of odd billboards greeted passers-by in New York, Atlanta, and the San Francisco Bay Area. They showed a cuddling, smiling couple under the title "Charles & YaVaughnie" and listed a website documenting the couple's romance. Research only deepened the mystery: The man was an Oracle president and already married - and not to the woman on the outdoor ad.
The man, Charles E. Phillips, eventually admitted to carrying on an eight-and-a-half-year affair with his billboard paramour. Within 10 months Phillips was out as co-president of Oracle, the largest maker of business software, and as a director at Morgan Stanley, where he had met his mistress YaVaughnie Wilkins. At some point, he quietly left the President Obama's advisory Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. The public billboard campaign had clearly been intended to shed light on his private philandering.
But some mysteries were never solved. Why did Wilkins give up her $11 million love nest south of San Francisco? Why did she finally turn on her lover after eight and a half years? Did she really not know he was married, and wonder why he wouldn't let her move to New York (where his wife lived), as a story in the New York Post had it?
Wilkins has finally provided answers on Dr. Phil, where she said she did not know she was "the other woman." See video above. She added that the billboard was inspired by Philips' own company, Oracle, and catalyzed by the Tiger Woods scandal. Her reasoning for the campaign is basically just a series of slightly insane emotional impulses. That's approximately what you'd expect from someone who was lied to for nearly a decade by their life partner. Her account of what happened after she realized she had been duped:
I was driving down the highway and I noticed a billboard that his company had put up for their big annual conference in San Francisco. So I just thought, 'If Oracle can put up a billboard I'm going to put up a billboard...' Then I just let it go and moved on until the Tiger Woods issue happened. I had been having unprotected sex with this man for eight years, and I realized at that moment, 'Oh my god, I'm a mistress... I'm not his girlfriend...' It made me feel sick...
This [billboard campaign] was my way to say, 'I was significant, I was not a mistress.'
The timing in Wilkins' version of events adds up. The Post said Wilkins became aware of another woman — Phillips' wife, it turns out, who he made abortive efforts to divorce — through an anonymous 2009 email. The Woods scandal broke in late 2009, and the billboards went up in January 2010.
(On the other hand, Wilkins' assertion that she is a "very intuitive woman... and when something doesn't smell right, I question it" does not make a whole lot of sense given how long she was kept in the dark.)
These days, Wilkins offers consulting and is developing a toilet paper roll that dispenses air freshener. She blogged about her Dr. Phil appearance on the website where she promotes the roller and her company, Follow Thru LLC. The LLC's slogan reads, "Perseverance Pays Off With a Little Follow Thru." That is demonstrably true when the perseverer is Wilkins, and when the product is revenge.