Interview: 'Housewives' Ramona Singer, Kelly Killoren Bensimon talk
By John Bracchitta, 02/09/2009
The Real Housewives of New York City are back, and returning housewife Ramona Singer and new addition Kelly Killoren Bensimon say the new season is going to be good.
During a conference call with reporters on Friday, Bensimon and Singer talked to Reality TV World about why Kelly was interested in joining The Real Housewives, how she dealt with her transition from her own previous reality show to the ensemble cast of the Bravo reality series, how Ramona felt upon hearing the show would be adding an additional housewife, and how the show has affected their lives off-camera.
Reality TV World: Okay, Could you talk about that a little?
Kelly: "Sure, I'm the executive producer of my own television show on Plum TV and it's called Behind the Hedges. It's basically the inside scoop to my real life. You follow me everywhere with my kids, with writing, riding, I mean every single thing that I do, all my friends, where I go. It's really insider.
Like, for example, when I'm getting ready for a party, the camera's there and [it's on me], it's really like me: uncut. And I'm the executive producer, so I allow for a lot more things than [others] normally would because I'm in charge so I know what's gonna happen.
It's also a magazine format where it's very short and informative. Basically the reason i wanted to do the show was to [show] my life at all times and do things in what I call "backdoor education," like you're learning things and you don't know that you're learning.
[For example], I go to learn how to ride a [stick shift] and I end up at [a racing school] and I'm driving race cars. So, as a woman to drive a racecar is kind of an oxymoron, like [most women] don't like to drive race cars, most women don't like things that are like that. So I go and do it, and that's how I learn how to drive a race car.
It's backdoor education, like, the things we wouldn't do, or just to show that women can do different things and have fun. I don't necessarily want to become a racecar driver, but I know how to drive a stick now.
Reality TV World: How was it switching from a show focused very much on you to a more [ensemble-type] show like The Real Housewives?
Kelly: Well, to be honest with you, there's a lot of personal focus. So it's like these personal episodes and then you're exposed to the other women. And what you're doing in your life and what you're doing with them really don't... they're very separate.
I think that's what's very interesting about the show is that you can see how these women are navigating through New York City raising children, working, living with their husbands -- or boyfriends -- and really navigating through New York life.
Then you see them with, the Type-A personalities, being independent, being very assertive [and] interesting women. So, [this show is] the ultimate "Trojan horse."
Reality TV World: Ramona, what was your reaction when you found out they were going to add another housewife for the second season?
Ramona: Part of me said "Why mess with the mix?" They say if it works, why fix it, right? If it's not broken, don't fix it. So I was kind of surprised that they wanted to add another housewife.
But, you know what, when I met Kelly, she gives off this great, positive energy. [She's] vivacious [and has] a great smile, which of course I gravitate to. So I welcomed her with open arms.
Reality TV World: Could each of you talk about how the show has changed each of your lives, for better or worse?
Ramona: Well you're recognized all the time! And now, oh my gosh, I came from my doctor's appointment [and] I had no makeup on because I wanted [the doctor] to look at my skin. All of the sudden this girl goes "Oh, I can't wait for your new show to come on in two weeks," and I'm like "Oh my God, let me get my sunglasses on and put on some foundation!" I quickly opened up my purse...
You get recognized constantly. I mean, it's just unbelievable.
Kelly: I mean, I guess the whole thing with...
Ramona: (Interrupting) You haven't seen it yet Kelly. Get ready, it's going to happen.
Kelly: No, I haven't. As a model people are like "You look familiar," and...
Ramona: (Interrupting) No, but they're gonna act like they know you now, and they're gonna start talking to you like they know you!
Kelly: I've been modeling since I was 16, and literally I've been on a plane, or anywhere, and someone's like "Are you my cousin's best friend?" and I'm like "Hm, no," [or they'll be like] "Do I know you from somewhere?" [and I'm like] "No."
I mean, that's constantly been the thing. [I always get] that I'm quite recognizable, but they don't know how they know me or from where they know me...
Ramona: (Interrupting) They think they know you! Because they watch you in your life, and you're not anonymous anymore. And that's good because, personally, I get invited to more interesting parties. I [never have a problem now] getting a reservation, or if I walk into a restaurant and they go "I'm sorry, we don't have a table outside," after 15 minutes they figure out who my husband and I are and they go "Oh, you know that table we thought we didn't have? We have that for you right now."
Kelly: I know the first time I saw myself on a bus I almost freaked out. I was on my way to a [New York Rangers] game and [saw an ad] and I was like "Oh, that's clever. What is that?" Then I'm like "Oh my God! That's us! That's Me!" and I ran out of the taxi -- the taxi driver was like "Excuse me, lady?" and I'm like "No, no, no I need to do something" -- and I took a picture of the bus.
Ramona: It's like Carrie Bradshaw, remember in that scene? It's so Carrie Bradshaw, I love it.
Kelly: It's so funny. But I mean we'll see. I have no idea how the country is going to respond to me or react to me.
Ramona: They're gonna love ya Kelly!
Reality TV World: Kelly, can you talk about what you think you brought to the show that it might not have had before?
Kelly: Well first of all I live downtown, so I have that. I'm a single mom, so it's like I'm single, I'm working and I'm very... although I'm successful I'm very relaxed about myself. It's not like I'm super-aggressive about things. I just have a lot of opportunities and I like to maximize them, but never in an aggressive way. I'm not really a New Yorker in that way. People are always like "Are you from California?" They never think I'm from New York.
So I think that I have a more relaxed approach to everything, but also just the whole downtown [thing]. I mean, I live downtown, so everything that I do is in a different way, not [good or bad], just different. I'm a foil to the other girls, definitely.
Also in the call, the women talked about why Ramona decided to come back for the show's second season, how Kelly's status in her numerous circles has been affected, and whom they would like to see in a celebrity The Real Housewives of Hollywood edition.
Ramona, as someone who's seen the first season of the show, what made you want to come back and do it again? Did you have any qualms about doing a second season?
Ramona: First of all, to my surprise, I really enjoyed doing the show. I really did, I enjoyed it. I came back because it a great vehicle the first time to promote the website, TrueFaithJewelry.com and I'm really very entrepreneurial. Doing the show the first time it opened my eyes to other business ventures. Now I'm going on [Home Shopping Network and selling] a jewelry collection.
Also, I got a lot of responses from women when I did the show last year about [this talk I had with my daughter] that it's really important as a woman to be financially independent, and that this way you can really marry any man you want and if something goes wrong you can get out of the marriage because you have your own money and you don't have to wait for him. I actually gave that message again, without even realizing it, because my daughter now is 13, and I wanted to show her that even now I can start new businesses. So she helped me create a logo for True Renewal, which is my skin care line. So, that's why.
Kelly, we see in the first couple of episodes that you're a model and a writer, has being on the show affected your status in society at all?
Kelly: You mean, bad?
Bad or good.
Kelly: I think that some people are very concerned, but they're just concerned with themselves. I mean, think about it, when anyone has a strong opinion about something it's because it's their reflection of them. I'm proud of everything that I do, I'm proud of everything my children do. I have no insecurities about the way I act or react, so however they deal with whatever I'm doing is really their problem. It's really not mine, and I still love them regardless, but if they have reservations about it, than I really can't do anything about that. If I live my life thinking about what other people are going to be thinking, than I'm gonna be that woman with 10 cats (Laughs).
So you have no regrets doing the show?
Kelly: No! It's been fun. It's been great. It's been a great exploration, and I would definitely do it again.
Ramona: Well, I thought Atlanta was a little bit over-the-top as far as consumption. I was a little appalled by it to tell you the truth.
That one line by that blonde [where she says] "I have to be buried in my Dior," or is it "I have to die in my Dior" or something like that? That just kind of rubbed me the wrong way.
Did you have a favorite Atlanta housewife?
Ramona: You know, they're all women who are supporting their children -- married or not married -- I just, I don't know. I watched Orange County, I taped it and I watched it. I have to tell you, after seeing the first 30-minute [Atlanta preview] show, [I asked my daughter if I should TiVo it] and she said "Absolutely not!"
To each their own.
Ramona, I know we've seen a few confrontations you've had with Alex and [her husband] Simon, and you said that Simon makes your skin crawl a little. What is it about him that rubs you the wrong way?
Ramona: I am a great reader of people, and I give off a lot of positive energy and I don't play games. I can't play games, it's not my personality. I don't think [Simon] really shows who he really is, and I don't even know who he really is.
He just gives off a negative energy to me, and that, to me, is creepy.
Can we expect any more interactions -- or confrontations -- with him this season?
Ramona: Oh yeah!
If there were to be a TheReal Housewives of Hollywood, who would you like to see?
Ramona: I think Demi Moore. I really admire Demi Moore. She got divorced and she got her life together, she's with a younger man and they have a very beautiful relationship. I think she raised great kids. She balances her life between work and family, and I admire her.
Kelly what about you?
Kelly: Um... I mean, I understand what Ramona is saying about Demi, but I would rather see someone who's not balancing it all. It would be like how they're destructive. If I'm gonna watch television I wanna see something that's fun, I wouldn't wanna watch something [more serious]. [Maybe someone] like Lindsay Lohan, even though she's not married. Someone like that, someone who's more off-color than Demi. TV to me is escapism, and I'm not watching The Science Channel.