“I mean, I don’t have any implants! D’you know what I mean?”
Lisa Vanderpump, a cast member of Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, threw her hands up in exasperation.
“These are real,” she said, peering southward at her generous, porcelain cleavage, which was peeping out from behind a bright magenta cocktail dress. “You know what I mean?”
It was late in the afternoon, and Vanderpump was comfortably ensconced at a table at SUR (not French; English for Sexy, Unique Restaurant), her and husband Ken Todd’s latest Euro-y addition to the Los Angeles dining scene.
Her pocket-sized pooch Giggy snoozing beside her, she’d just come from a taping of Chelsea Lately where Chuy—Chelsea Handler’s “vertically-challenged” sidekick, in the words of the always verbally imaginative Vanderpump—had apparently copped a feel of her derriere. In Chuy’s defense, it had been a fact-finding mission of sorts, or at least an attempt to verify whether the body part in question had been surgically enhanced—an allegation promulgated by talkshow host Wendy Williams.
“I don’t know why she said it, because she’s black as well, right?” Vanderpump said. “So she’s used to—you know, I have a black butt, right? But she kept saying, ‘Lisa Vanderpump has had a butt implant!’”
She shook her perfectly-coiffed head in disbelief, causing a pair of enormous, diamond pendant earrings to slowly shimmy back and forth. Giggy, outfitted in a black onesie with the word “gigolo” encrusted in rhinestones on the back, raised his head momentarily and then sank back into slumber.
It’s been a tough time for Vanderpump, who had emerged as a kind of Teflon princess in the first season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Wittier, wiser, and far more in touch with reality (granted, a reality with big, fat quotation marks around it) than any of her BH peers, she was spared the humiliating coal-raking endured by Camille Grammer (who, during Season 1, was universally the most-hated housewife) and Kim Richards (the most off her rocker; an honor miraculously wrenched from Ramona Singer of The Real Housewives of New York City).
But in the second season (part deux of its reunion show airs Monday on Bravo), Vanderpump lost some of her powers. Suddenly the Jackie Collins doppelganger found herself on the outs with the series’ popular (i.e. mean) girls, a troupe led by Kyle Richards, she of the luscious false eyelashes and even falser modesty.
“I’ve been hurt, definitely, by this season,” Vanderpump said.
“I’m a normal person. I’m not a reality star or celebrity,” she added, allowing her listener to momentarily forget that her house is the size of Versailles, and that her idea of a cozy, intimate wedding looks like something dreamed up by Liberace. “A normal person that signed up for this. So when you see negative things about yourself…”
Granted, nothing Vanderpump did or said this season was notably egregious, or even mildly evil, it was just that she, as usual, pointed out the obvious. That Taylor Armstrong’s stories about her abusive husband Russell (who tragically ended his life just before the season aired) rang—at first—untrue. (By the end of the show, Vanderpump was on Armstrong’s side.) That her daughter would rather have her Las Vegas bachelorette party at Planet Hollywood than at The Palms (who wouldn’t?), even though the Palms is co-owned by fellow housewife Adrienne Maloof.
And then there were the Vanderpump classics: throwaway zingers that only a feisty Brit who starred on “Baywatch Nights” and slunk around the 1980’s music video “Poison Arrow,” and has lived to laugh about it, could come up with: “Maloof hoof” to describe Adrienne’s new, and seemingly out of nowhere, ladies’ shoe line? Ka-ching!
But as the first episode of the reunion showed us last week, the ladies were none too amused; they collectively ganged up on her.
“Apparently I’m in trouble with the other women,” Vanderpump said—our chat was a few days before the reunion aired, though it had already been filmed. “They don’t get my humor.”
“I’m not vicious,” she went on. “Maloof hoof? I thought that was funny.”
Adrienne did not; the comment caused the normally snoozily impartial heiress to actually get something close to mad.
Things got more heated when Adrienne accused Lisa of leaking a gossip item to Radar Online.
Vanderpump rolled her eyes at the reminder.
“Look, I’ve had 26 restaurants and nightclubs. One, called Zoo Bar, was one of the most avant garde nightclubs in London. I’ve seen everything,” she said, pulling apart a salmon tea sandwich that Ken had dotingly delivered to the table. (He continued to putter about in the background for the duration of our chat, stopping by every once in a while to see whether she needed him for anything.) “I’ve seen people who are gay pretending to be straight. Straight pretending to be gay. Sleeping with each other’s wives. I say nothing. I see a lot, say little, and write nothing.
“I’d be a billionaire if I could sell stories,” she continued, and then paused, looking up seductively from under long, black lashes. “Do you want to buy a story?”
She waited a beat and then cackled to herself mirthfully, causing Giggy to once again stir.
But underneath the jokiness, it was clear the reunion was tough to relive.
What, in particular, had stung?
“You know, Taylor saying, ‘Oh, your ego’s out of control… And she did that whole thing, ‘Oh, your picture’s on your iPad.’
“Yes, it is! And there’s my sex monster lying on top of me,” she said, holding up her iPad and showing the screensaver image—she and Giggy looking blissfully postcoital.
Then there was the accusation by Kyle that she “preys on the weak.”
“She said that to Taylor. You watch that and you think, She’s a friend of mine? She’s apologized for it on her blog, but it still hurts.”
She frowned, but only for a moment. Lisa Vanderpump is not a wound-licker.
“So what else d’you want to know?” she said, perking up.
1. What’s up with the talk that you may get her own spin-off show, and that you might not be returning to RHOBH next season?
“Am I coming back? Look, let’s be honest. The season hasn’t even been picked up yet. Of course, with the staggering, the phenomenal, ratings, I’m sure it will be, but who knows? It has not been picked up. And the day it is picked up, if they ask me, I will consider.” (Read: She’s totally coming back.)
2. What would be a spin-off focus on?
“My sex life. My sordid sex life.” (O.K., funny. But not helping us here. Whispers are that the show, if it happens, would not, however, focus on Vanderpump’s home life, in or out of the bedroom.)
3. Kim Richards. Clearly she has a problem that goes beyond being late all the time to Kyle’s functions. What’s your take on her situation, and isn’t it reckless, even dangerous, to have someone in that condition on a reality TV show?
“I think that last episode we saw”—when Kim was crawling around on the bathroom when she should have been getting ready for the SUR party—“I thought, ‘OK, there’s something going on here.’ But to be really honest, I really didn’t know what position she was in. I knew she’d had a history [of substance abuse].
“She wasn’t in the show that much. She wasn’t integrated with us. It’s often difficult for the viewer because they don’t understand that things they’ve seen, we haven’t seen until it airs. So I really hadn’t seen her or been around her, maybe just three or four times.”
3. Early on you—along with many of the other ladies—were skeptical about Taylor’s claims of abuse. Where do you stand now? Do you believe she was physically hurt by Russell?
“A hundred percent, yes, I do. And I’m so glad that we managed to turn this around, because when this happened I wanted to be there to support her, and it would have been very difficult if we had been at odds with each other, so thank God for that. We were in a good place, so we were able to support her, and I think all the women have. I think when something as tragic as that happens, you have to put your differences aside, and my heart goes out to the family.”
4. How did Cedric, your former close friend and current tormentor, get into the SUR party?
“He just got in and walked through the door. Look, we’re filming a reality show. If the occasion arises where there’s going to be something confrontational and it’s real… I didn’t know it was coming. Did I want him to come? Of course not… But I’m done with him. I’ve moved on.”
5. Even though she was all over your husband, you were the first housewife to stick up for Brandi, who was more or less pummeled by everyone for the first several episodes. What won you over?
“What happened was, and it was off-camera—we went to Hawaii, and I thought, I actually quite like her. She made me laugh. And I thought, ‘Wow, this is quite a refreshing woman.’ I hadn’t seen what had gone down at Game Night—” when she, perhaps rightly, accused Kim Richards of being a drug addict and said “I will kill you!” to the Richards sisters after they attacked her parenting, “but I liked her.
“But it was really, I saw a dog—and dogs are my passion—that was going to be destroyed. And I said, ‘Oh, God, I can’t have another dog [die]. My dog just died, Bookie.’
“And she said, ‘I’ll take it.’
“And I said, ‘Why?’
“She said, ‘It’s cute, and I could give a dog a home.’
“And I thought, I love this woman. The cameras weren’t on at the time… It totally changed my perception. So slowly we just became friendly. Do I think she’s blunt and says some things? Yes. If I could take a half-dozen words out of her vocabulary? Yeah. If I could wash her mouth out with soap? Yeah. But do I like her? Yes, I do.”
Questions answered, it was time for our lady to head out to her next gig: a marriage advice session on Dr. Drew’s show.
“Can I do Dr. Drew like this, and just put a jacket over it?” she called over to Ken, looking down at her satin dress. “I just don’t really want to look like a slut if I’m doing Dr. Drew.”
She cocked her head. “Is Dr. Drew straight or gay?”
A minion seated nearby said he was straight.
“Then slut it is!”
And she was off.