The Untold Truth Of Tan Mom

To her friends and family, she's Patricia Marie Krentcil, a widowed mother of five. To pretty much everyone else, she's Tan Mom, the woman who made headlines due to an unfortunate misunderstanding involving one of her children, and who has gone on to become one of the quirkiest, unpredictably wacky celebrities ever. 

Obviously, Tan Mom's nickname was spawned due to the hue of her skin, baked to a deep brown by countless hours of exposure to the blazing sun and augmented by regular visits to tanning beds. Over the years, in fact, her skin tone has varied widely, from a honey-roasted golden glow to a color so dark it resembled a burnt cookie left too long in the oven. As her fans quickly found out, though, while her tan may define her, it's also the least interesting thing about her, given her outrageous, over-the-top personality and hilariously bonkers behavior, chronicled in exhaustive detail via her numerous appearances on SiriusXM's "The Howard Stern Show." Along the way, she's dabbled in reality television and adult entertainment, stepped into the ring for a celebrity boxing match or two, recorded a few pop singles, and even dipped her tanned toe into the cutthroat world of politics.

She's been in the public eye for more than a decade, but how much do fans really know about this often-misunderstood and wildly unlikely celebrity? To find out, read on to delve into the untold truth of Tan Mom. 

She became famous for being arrested and charged with child endangerment

Back in 2012, Patricia "Tan Mom" Krentcil was a New Jersey homemaker raising five children. Then, she was placed under arrest and charged with child endangerment, based on accusations that she placed her 5-year-old daughter, Anna, in a tanning bed. Krentcil was adamant that she was innocent. "It's all made up," she told the New York Daily News of the allegations. "I'm not dumb."

In fact, while Krentcil conceded that she did take her daughter with her to the salon, she insisted she never placed her in a tanning bed. The whole thing, she said, was a misunderstanding that came about when a school nurse took Anna's declaration that her mother took her to a tanning salon as being the explanation for the child's sunburn — which had actually resulted from playing and swimming outdoors, not from a tanning bed. "I tan, she doesn't tan. I'm in the booth, she's in the room. That's all there is to it," Krentcil told NBC New York.

Ultimately, a grand jury opted not to indict — but not before the experience made the woman who came to be known as Tan Mom infamous. Reflecting on her arrest and the ensuing ordeal in 2022, she told Insider that being caught up in the media frenzy about the case nearly destroyed her. "They took my whole soul, they took my energy," she said of her treatment by the media during that time.

She hated how her arrest affected her kids — and got her banned from 60 tanning salons

During the period after her arrest when she became branded as Tan Mom by the media, Patricia Krentcil's life was thrown into turmoil. There was a period where paparazzi and TV news crews staked out her home, to the point that she was hesitant to go outside — a truly unfortunate turn of events for such a serious sun worshipper. "I've literally been stuck in my home for the past year," she told NBC News after the grand jury decided not to pursue an indictment. "No matter where I go, everyone knows me. It's very uncomfortable."

Yet that wasn't the only fallout from her arrest. According to a report in the New York Post, more than 60 tanning salons had banned her from utilizing their services, with some salons even displaying FBI-style wanted posters of Krentcil to ensure she wouldn't be served. "We don't tan people like that," one salon manager told the outlet.

Speaking with Us Weekly, Krentcil admitted that the most difficult part of her ordeal was the impact that it had on her children. "I felt bad for my kids," she said, revealing that she and her entire family became pariahs within their community. "It went global," she told the New York Post of her infamy after the scandal. "There are no words to describe what happened to me and my family."

An interview with Howard Stern changed everything and made her a reluctant member of his Wack Pack

In 2012, Patricia Krentcil, a.k.a. Tan Mom, was booked as a guest on Howard Stern's Sirius XM talk show. Stern has long had an uncanny ability to transform some of his quirkier fans into niche celebrities in their own right as members of his Wack Pack, which has certainly been the case with Tan Mom. 

While Krentcil had already achieved a certain degree of notoriety for the allegations underlying her arrest — and she was actually first on the show to promote her new line of skincare products — it didn't take Stern long to recognize that Tan Mom was radio gold. His instincts proved right on the money when one of Stern's staffers called in, pretending to be Kelly Ripa. "You look like a burnt octopus, Tan Mom," the fake Ripa exclaimed. Oblivious to the fact she was being pranked, the enraged Krentcil fired back. "You know, get over yourself, because you're really, really not pretty," she yelled. Then, staffer Sal Governale called, impersonating actor Ray Liotta, expressing a romantic interest in Krentcil. She instantly shifted gears, morphing from furious to seductive during a hilarious exchange in which Tan Mom shamelessly flirted with faux Liotta, who begged her to leave her husband for him.

That became the first of numerous appearances on "The Howard Stern Show," sparking what can be described as arguably one of the oddest showbiz careers of all time.

She's flirted with pop stardom

As Tan Mom continued to appear on "The Howard Stern Show," she attracted the attention of Adam Barta, a music producer and reality TV personality who'd created novelty music singles with Alana "Honey Boo Boo" Thompson, "RuPaul's Drag Race" queen Eureka O'Hara, and even Nadya "Octomom" Suleman. Barta enlisted Patricia Krentcil and brought her into a recording studio, resulting in her first single, "It's Tan Mom." According to Barta, Krentcil was the worst singer he'd ever worked with, revealing she was quite inebriated when she arrived in the recording studio. 

Despite the challenges of working with her, Barta re-teamed with Krentcil for a follow-up, "Free 2 Be Me." The two even attempted to perform the song live in Stern's studio — and the performance predictably went hilariously off the rails. The botched performance, however, did give Stern some insight into the chaotic process of recording with Tan Mom. "I thought she sang to music when she did these songs — she just goes in there and starts ranting and raving and then they put it to music," Stern told listeners, who also learned that Tan Mom initially thought the recording booth was a shower. 

The collaborations kept coming, including the singles "Life of the Party," "Glossy," and "Money Maka," in addition to their bonkers live online "event" dubbed "Tan Talk" — which eventually spawned a series (with the same name) on the streaming platform Tubi.

She claimed to be 'a totally different person' after her husband's death

Patricia "Tan Mom" Krentcil had a somewhat contentious relationship with her husband, Richard Krentcil. She filed for divorce in 2013 but didn't follow through. In fact, listeners of "The Howard Stern Show" often heard her berate him, even once bizarrely referring to him only as "driver" while he shuttled her to her favorite tanning salon.

That all changed in June 2020, when her husband underwent emergency surgery after suffering a heart attack and stroke. After the surgery, he was diagnosed with colon cancer. The following year, he died. "We had our ups and downs," she told Insider of her late spouse in a 2022 interview, "but he was my best friend."

She also told the outlet that she'd undergone a fundamental adjustment in how she chose to live. "I'm a totally different person today — I changed my whole attitude on life," she explained, insisting she was ready to put her more extreme behavior behind her. "I don't get disrespected anymore. I don't party or do any crazy things," she added. At the time, she also insisted she was in no hurry to begin looking for love, preferring to focus on her children instead of pursuing a new romance. "I'm not rushing relationships, that's not the most important thing," she said.

She's had a longtime crush on a Stern show staffer

After Tan Mom first gushed over Sal Governale pretending to be Ray Liotta during her first appearance on "The Howard Stern Show," the relationship between the two — at least on the air — took a strange turn. It all began during a subsequent appearance when Governale appeared in the studio with her to discuss his amorous intentions — in X-rated detail. At first, Krentcil balked at his overtures, but after just a little persuading she was sitting on his lap. "It smells like cigarettes and tanning cream," Governale quipped of her scent; when Stern asked if he was aroused, he admitted, "Very much so." 

As Stern fans are well aware, however, Governale is married — perhaps the biggest reason why he and Tan Mom haven't enjoyed "chicken soup" together (her unique euphemism for having sex). Of course, it didn't help that he and fellow staffer Richard Christie played a prank on Tan Mom in which they pretended to be at the climax of a sex act with each other when she walked in on them in an office, leading her to conclude they were gay lovers. Governale eventually revealed the whole thing was a stunt, and he and Krentcil made up by smoking cigarettes together.

"I love Sal," Patricia Krentcil confirmed during an interview with the "Kermit and Friends" podcast. "If he wasn't married, let's cut to the chase — that's another one of my phrases — I would have gone out with him."

Her film debut was X-rated

As Tan Mom's notoriety grew, it was inevitable that the movies would beckon. In 2013, TMZ was the first outlet to report that Patricia Krentcil had signed a deal for her movie debut — in a gay adult film. TMZ's sources revealed she was paid $1,000 for her role in the flick, "Kings of New York," in which she appeared fully clothed, with no "chicken soup" involved. In her scene, Tan Mom portrayed the owner of a tanning salon visited by some of the film's characters prior to their weekend jaunt to Fire Island.

According to the film's writer/director, Marc MacNamara, working with a star of Krentcil's caliber was not without challenges. "We expected Patricia to need a bit of hand-holding, but when she showed up we quickly found out we had to hold more than her hand to prop her seemingly inebriated body up," he wrote in an email to HuffPost. "She seemed to having a great time, but it was definitely a challenging day. In the end she delivered Tan Mom in all her glory and that's what people are infatuated with."

Meanwhile, Krentcil's promotion of the film went off the rails when she attended Exxxotica Expo 2013. Her booth was situated next to that of adult film star Jenna Jameson, and let's just say they didn't get along. "Patricia became aggravated with Jenna, which resulted in calling her a 'whore' to Jenna's face," Krentcil's management team, GR Media, said in a release to

She claimed to be a Scientologist — but knew nothing about it

The controversial Church of Scientology has laid claim to many adherents over the years, including the likes of "Mission: Impossible" star Tom Cruise, "That '70s Show" alum (and convicted rapist) Danny Masterson, and "Saturday Night Fever" legend John Travolta. During a 2017 appearance on "The Howard Stern Show," Tan Mom revealed that she too had become a follower of the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard. 

During a conversation with Stern show staffer Shuli Egar, Patricia Krentcil claimed to have been a Scientologist for more than six months. Asked what OT (Operating Thetan) level she'd attained, she guessed she was maybe at level four, but couldn't say for sure. She also had no idea who Hubbard was, had never had a reading via one of the church's E-meters, and didn't appear to have much basic information about Scientology at all — although she confirmed she had paid for courses. "You have to forgive me. I'm not stupid," she said. "Everywhere I go, for ridiculous reasons, people are weird. And I don't know why. So that's why I went to Scientology because I thought it would make it better."

Tan Mom's flirtation with Scientology opened the door for her musical collaborator, Adam Barta, to stage a prank (which he posted on YouTube), in which a woman impersonating ex-Scientologist Leah Remini called her up and begged her to leave.

Tan Mom shocked the world when she stopped tanning

Patricia Krentcil's media-derived nickname came to define her, but that led to something of a conundrum when she made a decision to back away from tanning — at least temporarily. That decision, however, came about when In Touch magazine offered her a challenge to see if she could stop tanning for one entire month so that Tan Mom could become less tan.

She took the magazine up on it, with In Touch displaying before and after photos of her after 30 days or so out of the sun. "Everyone says I look so much better less tan," she told In Touch, but she admitted she wasn't sure that she bought into those opinions. "I feel weird and pale," she complained. CNN's Anderson Cooper weighed in, admitting he was dubious that she'd manage to stay away from tanning in the long term. "I'm not at all sure that moderation is her strong suit, so we'll see what happens," the news anchor quipped.

As Cooper predicted, Tan Mom's weird, pale era didn't last long. As fans can attest, she jumped right back into the tanning bed — one that she owned, situated in her home (possibly because she'd been banned by all those salons). Interviewed by the New York Post in 2021, Krentcil revealed that she was still tanning in her bed twice a week. 

She went viral with the craziest photo

In 2023, Tan Mom was once again the topic of discussion between Howard Stern and co-host Robin Quivers. Amazingly, it didn't have to do with her antics but was the result of a video screenshot that went viral due to its sheer nuttiness. In the pic, the "Howard Stern Show" staffer known as Wolfie is seated on a couch, holding a microphone up to another man, identified as Patricia Krentcil's boyfriend. At first glance, it appears they're the only two people in the photo — until the realization sinks in that Tan Mom is in fact sitting between them, completely camouflaged by a skin tone that is an identical match with the dark brown sofa.

When she first glimpsed the pic during an episode of "The Howard Stern Show," Quivers was taken aback. "Oh my god!" she yelled when she finally spotted Tan Mom hidden in the photo. "I'm telling you, that you cannot make her out. There's three people sitting on the couch, but when you look you only see two people ... and then all of a sudden you realize the couch has hair ... Do you know that somebody could invade her house and if she just sits on the couch they'll never know she's there."

The photo went viral on social media, leading to all manner of wisecracks. "The Pentagon could spend a billion dollars and still not achieve this level of camouflage," joked one X (formerly Twitter) user.

She attempted to launch a lifestyle blog

There's truly no telling where Tan Mom's life and career will go next. Gwyneth Paltrow has achieved significant success from her Goop lifestyle website, something that did not go unnoticed by Tan Mom — or at least by those looking to make some money from her celebrity status. Back in 2013, The Cut reported that Patricia Krentcil had ventured into the lifestyle lane with the launch of her blog, Tips From Tan Mom on Tumblr, in which she shared recipes, entertaining advice, and ideas on home decor. 

While Tips From Tan Mom apparently didn't last long (the site is now inactive), Krentcil similarly opened up her life to fans when she entered the world of social media. Her Instagram page, in fact, features selfies (including one in which she shared that though she was getting over the flu, she had just had her hair done), a shoutout to the staff of a Boca Raton tanning salon, a cute photo of her daughter's dogs, her home's Christmas decorations — and even the occasional risque bikini shot

Tan Mom is not the greatest job applicant

Tan Mom has certainly nailed the art of transforming notoriety into celebrity, but how would she fare in a more traditional work environment? That's what producers at "The Howard Stern Show" wanted to find out, and they put a plan in action that involved Patricia Krentcil being questioned by an HR professional in a faux job interview

Suffice it to say, the interview was a flat-out, full-on train wreck. Her answers to predictable questions were ... let's say, revealing. One query, for example, asked how she would resolve conflict in the workplace if it were to occur. "Occasionally we all snap ... but don't get in my face," she responded. "If somebody keeps being rude and obnoxious, staring and just looking at me or something, then I'll just be like, 'What do you want? Why are you staring at me? I'm not staring a you, why are you staring at me?' That pisses me off, excuse my Polish."

As host Howard Stern observed, Tan Mom hadn't even come close to landing the job, yet had already managed to become embroiled in an imaginary fight with a non-existent co-worker. "It sounds like big trouble already," Stern mused, telling his listeners that her responses epitomized how not to answer questions while being interviewed for a job.

She emerged from a coma

Tan Mom has not had an easy go when it comes to her health. Back in 2013 during an interview with CNN, she discussed the metal plate in her head. "Somebody hit me when they were on steroids," she said, "and I almost died — twice."

In 2019, reports emerged that Patricia Krentcil was in the ICU battling pneumonia, and had been placed in a medically induced coma until doctors determined her lungs and heart had regained enough strength to function without medical intervention. According to her musical partner, Adam Barta, her condition was grave. "Currently, she is still on life support (via the intubator) and in a medically induced sleep until her heart are lungs are strong enough to handle functioning on their own," he wrote in a statement to Us Weekly. "The fluid is draining from her lungs and she is improving today but she is definitely not out of the woods." 

Amazingly, Krentcil emerged from her coma and said she was feeling fine. However, a family member told Page Six how close she'd come to death. 'Her heart stopped ... she had CPR done [for about six to eight minutes]," the source said. "It was dire." For Tan Mom herself, it felt as if her whole physical being shut down. "I had a breakdown in my body. My whole system just collapsed," she said, admitting she was happy to be alive. "I'm grateful — I have a lot to live for."

Tan Mom starred in some reality shows that flew under the radar of most TV viewers

While Tan Mom's movie debut in a gay adult film may have not been auspicious, her television ventures have been far more within her wheelhouse. The first was "Tan Talk," a talk show/reality show of sorts she co-hosted with Adam Barta. Naturally, she called up Howard Stern to plug the project. Describing the show, she said they'd be welcoming celebrity guests, although they weren't exactly household names: Crystal (whom she described as a psychic) and Carla, both of whom she introduced without sharing last names. She had, she revealed, reached out to John Stamos and Ryan Phillippe (spoiler alert: neither has appeared on "Tan Talk"). "It's three episodes, and it does involve Tan Mom contacting Jeffrey Dahmer on a Ouija board, so there's that!" Barta told Out Front Magazine, detailing the series' apparent highlight.

In 2023, she returned with another show, "#TheDish," once again partnering with Barta. "#TheDish" wasn't strictly a reality show, but more of a parody of reality shows. Also appearing were numerous drag queens and "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" star "Mama" June Shannon. 

In addition, she also appeared in an episode of Jerry Springer's "Judge Jerry," in which she pursued a somewhat dubious dispute against Barta. "That was a real stab in the back," she said after losing her case. "I will not work with him again."

Tan Mom is running for Senate

Tan Mom has never been accused of being predictable, and that was certainly the case when in August 2023 she announced she was running for Senator. Campaigning as a Republican, she was challenging incumbent Florida Senator Rick Scott. "The thing with my campaign is that you know everything about me from the start," candidate Patricia Krentcil said in a statement to Fox News. "There's no skeletons or hidden secrets or shocking dirt to be revealed. What you see is what you get because my life has been documented."

In an interview with TMZ, Krentcil explained what she had to offer the people of Florida as their representative in the Senate. "I was horrified about the book banning, of fear in Florida, there's just a lot of episodes that are going on here, and nobody's addressing them," she said. She also wanted to fix the problems with Medicaid, which she described as "being abominably banished" — even if she did struggle to pronounce the word "abominably."

She also discussed her candidacy during an appearance on — where else? — "The Howard Stern Show." She insisted that her Senate run was no stunt, and she wasn't joking around. "I really want to be serious about this," she said. She was also candidly realistic about her chances within the political arena. "I don't plan on winning, to be quite frank with you," she conceded.