Get to know 'Real Housewives of New York City' newbie Sonja Morgan
As if our attention span wasn't already working overtime, the folks over at Bravo decided to add another gal (two, actually) into the mix over at "The Real Housewives of New York City."
First up: Sonja Morgan. We were introduced to Morgan two weeks ago. Remember, she's the one who lives next to Martin Scorsese? She's blond. She loves yoga, sex, and Botox -- not necessarily in that order. And she's already adding a bit of her own drama to the show in the form of an Argentinian model/actor named Max. She may be the "straw the stirs the drink," but earlier this week she was just the woman who locked herself out of her home. But she still managed to chat with Show Tracker to dish on her reason for joining the show, Ramona's outspokenness ... and Kelly's amnesia.
Had you watched the show before joining the cast?
You know, I really didn’t watch it before. But I knew some of the girls on the show and I had seen clips. It seemed very exciting. I gave them great kudos for having the bravery to do it. But I was nervous. I don’t really like to be in large groups of people. I’m really good in small groups.
You had turned down the show before, right?
Yeah. At the beginning, they came to me when it was “Manhattan Moms.” And I was totally flattered, but since I hadn’t seen the show yet, I was scared off because I didn’t know if it would come off “Jerry Springer”-like or distasteful. Who knew? Who really knew?
What made you finally accept their invitation?
Well, I saw The Countess [LuAnn], a good friend of mine, blossoming on camera and having a ball. And I saw Ramona totally evolving -- I think she calls it “the renewal.” And I said, “These girls are having a ball.” They have their books, their trips, events they go to … I wasn’t so excited about the events because I’m already … I have a lot of responsibility in my life already with my own charity work and the social life I set up for myself.
So did you see this mainly as an opportunity to commercialize yourself?
Oh, absolutely. I mean, come on. Is anyone really that naive? Why else would anyone go on it? It’s kind of brash to say that, but why would anyone stick themselves out there? There has to be a point. I think to brand myself is a great idea. I have a wonderful career and a lot to share with the other housewives out there; tips about cooking and flower arranging. I’ve built some beautiful gardens around the world, I’ve filled beautiful homes around the world. Entertained celebrities, royalty, artists, very tasteful people.
And you’re used to having cameras on you, but they’re usually not filming your every move. Was that hard to get used to?
It’s true. I’m used to it … I used to model and I tried a little acting. I don’t know if I ever get used to it, but I’ve done it. I think I’m a little bit of a natural in front of the camera, but I never like the way I look.
Do you feel pressure to look good every minute?
Well … look, I’m standing in front of my house right now in gym clothes and no makeup. I will never be the type to … my girlfriends in Texas, they don’t open the door unless they have on full makeup. I’m just not like that. I do my own hair, my own makeup.
Yeah, the gals on the show look like they go through hair and makeup before the cameras start filming. It’s a lot different than it used to be.
Yeah. I think the girls look good. I don't wear a lot of makeup. It’s just not my look. Some of my interviews, you’re going to see. I think I look a little too made up. I can’t take it. I just don’t like all that makeup on me.
And you’ve known Ramona for a while. Was she always so wacky and outspoken?
Oh my gosh. Ramona was much crazier before. Like off the charts. We were single; we didn’t have responsibilities other than dating and getting to the gym and socializing. We’re both networkers.
What do you think of her, as Bethenny says, diarrhea of the mouth condition?
Ramona's just … she’s a drama queen. I think it’s good for television. But she’s not gross. She’s not distasteful to the point of using bad language or becoming violent. She’s probably the New York "Housewives" limit on being wacky. I know Ramona. They’re just scratching the surface. It’s all in the editing. They tape hours and hours and that’s what they use. Like me, I talk for hours and hours. And they love every time I talk about sex. If I mention sex, it’s used. I mean, thank God it was on my daughter’s vocabulary list this year.
You mention you knew a few of the ladies before, too, right?
I bumped into Jill Zarin at a friend’s funeral. Bethenny, I met through a group of friends from Washington. They always spoke highly of her. Similar to Ramona, what comes off on the show is really just scratching the surface of who [Bethenny] really is. She is really cool.
Was there anyone who wasn’t as you expected?
Yep! Kelly! Kelly! I expected Kelly to be laid-back; that we would have a beer on the beach in the Virgin Islands and read books. What I didn’t know is that when you get Kelly around the rest of the girls and they start taking their punches, she just loses it.
What do you mean?
You’re going to see. We all went to the Virgin Islands. Ramona took us down there. I said, “Oh, I can’t wait. I’m going to hang out with my new friend, Kelly” cause I had hung out with LuAnn and Kelly at the beach and I thought she was really cool. She was very complimentary to me. She told me that I’m exactly the kind of girl her ex-husband would love. That’s the ultimate compliment, right? Of course, Kelly never remembers meeting me. Cause, you know, Kelly never remembers meeting anyone cause she’s in Kelly world. So I get down to the Virgin Islands, thinking we were going to hang out. I get down there and … Bethenny was like a cat with a ball of yarn with Kelly. And Kelly went for it every time, hook, line, sinker. Everything. Overboard. I was sitting with her, trying to neutralize. And I was petting her arm, “saying stay calm.” Then Bethenny just said, “Go to sleep!” Everyone kind of freaked out after that.
Coming into this, were you leery that you’d find yourself involved in some of these cat fights?
No. I’m a self-made woman. I’ve worked all my life. I’ve worked since I was 14. I’m used to attracting jealousy, attention, scandal … I’m used to it. So going on the show… I mean, once I decided it was my poison, I took it. Once you make that decision, there’s no turning back. You can’t live in fear. It’s about the big picture. I need to take care of my daughter and our home and get a career solidified from all the different experiences I’ve had.
So will we see you clashing with anyone?
No, I haven’t clashed with anyone. I’m already good friend with LuAnn and Ramona. I had a ball with Alex. I call her the diplomat. She’s sort of the ambassador’s wife. She could be married to a prince. I have yet to spend some more time on camera with Jill; she’s been preoccupied with LuAnn and her recent divorce. I had my dukes up when I met Bethenny. I was ready to duel, but she was sweet as could be. She has outrageous humor. She says some snarky jokes to me, but I give her free creative license. People tune-in to see these things. If she really meant it, it would be mean.
What do you think of her feud with Jill?
I think it’s time to move on. I think it was time to move on a long time ago. First of all, I’m not following it very closely. What I saw in a clip was Bethenny really baring her feelings, showing her raw emotions to Jill and Jill has just put up this wall. She’s just not going to have anything to do with it, unless it’s going to be Jill’s way.
In last week’s episode you mentioned you were the “straw that stirs the drink.” Will we see you stir things up as the rest of the season plays out?
“The straw that stirs the drink” came from John Mariani, a restaurant critic, because I was a restaurant consultant and ambassador. I would bring celebrities and socialites to restaurants and then critique them. But, yes, I think you’ll definitely see me mix things up. I like to make sure everybody has a nice time. Great food, good drinks, great laughs. Just enjoy yourself.
And what has been the reaction from those in your social circle? Have you noticed people trying to distance from you since you entered the realm of reality TV?
When they first asked me to do this, my first reaction was, “Oh, I can’t do this. I don’t know why anyone would.” But as reality television has unfolded over the last three years, things have changed. I was having dinner … hmm, I don’t know if I should drop names. Let me think about this. I was having dinner with some very important TV personalities who have talk shows and they were saying that reality TV is it today. That is the way to break in and brand yourself. No one’s distanced themselves from me. If anything, some people who didn’t have my current e-mail address have found me. And if I get invited to something exclusive, you know I’m not bringing the cameras.
What’s it like seeing yourself on TV?
That I don’t like. I’m very critical. I don’t feel old, it’s not about that. I’m very comfortable with my age. It’s just I don’t like being out there in front of people to be criticized. Everyone says, “Oh, you look beautiful. Great skin! Great body!” They could say it all day long, but I wouldn’t believe it. I’m vain. I’m vain. I want to be as pretty as I can. The others don’t have a problem. Ramona, LuAnn … they love it. They love it. They know they look good.
Last thing … tell us about Max.
Come on. Who doesn’t want to talk about Max? He’s amazing. I met him at Equinox the first day he landed in New York. He was just here for the week. Then I told him he should be an actor. I introduced him to an agent. He went back to Argentina. He moved out of his apartment, sold his boat, and came back. We have a fabulous relationship. We did Thursday night date nights. We would see each other. He’s beautiful, inside and out. He makes you feel special. We’re still great friends. I’m there for him, if he needs me. He’s there for me. But wasn’t it weird how Kelly reacted? She is so weird about it. “Max who?” Come on! I saw clips of her with him from last season. The minute I went to dinner with her and LuAnn, I thought we would dish about him. I don’t think it’s too much information to share. It’s girlfriend talk. But she didn’t want to talk about it. She just refuses to talk about him. I wasn’t prying, I just wanted to be girlfriends and talk about this guy we both were seeing. The mystery is why she doesn’t want to talk about it.
-- Yvonne Villarreal
Photo credit: Bravo