Max Meisel knows how to assist a 'Real Housewife'
Some of TV’s most memorable characters are the lowly assistants. Daniel Meade had brace-faced Betty Suarez. Ari Gold had headset-wearing Lloyd Lee. And Montgomery Burns has bespeckled Waylon Smithers Jr.
In the reality genre, there’s Max Meisel. He’s got hair that would make the “Jersey Shore” boys jealous. Cookie seems to like him. And he beat out the eccentric dude with a love for falafels to become the new assistant/intern to Bethenny Frankel, she of Bravo's “The Real Housewives of New York City” and, more recently, “Bethenny Getting Married?”
Meisel, a former walk-on punt returner for the Syracuse University football team, took some time to chat with us via phone Wednesday — while he was on the treadmill! Read on to get his take on the Jill-Bethenny feud, how his football skills translate to assisting skills and the panties-picking incident.
First things first, do you find that you're consuming a lot of Skinnygirl Margaritas?
I don’t really have a choice. Whenever we’re out and we’re in the position to get a drink it seems like I have to order a Skinnygirl Margarita.
Are you a fan? I’ve never tried it. I might be the only one.
It tastes kind of like a watered-down margarita.
Is Bethenny still hassling you about picking up girls at events? Kind of kills the game, right, when your boss is egging you on?
I think it depends on her mood. Sometimes, as you’ve seen in the episodes, she doesn’t want me to pick up girls. Sometimes she’s encouraging me to pick up girls. It’s all about trying to gauge her mood.
Talk a little bit about that mood. What’s it like working for Bethenny?
Um … I guess … you have to be as all over the place as she is because her mind is racing in a million different directions. She has her hand in so many different jars: She’s got the Skinnygirl line, she has books, she has her own show. … There’s constantly a lot on her plate and nothing has to do with each other; that’s what kind of makes things difficult.
Why did you decide to apply for the position as her assistant?
It certainly was a bit out of my element. I saw it as a really good opportunity to learn from somebody who has really used the show that she’s on to build an entire industry for herself. I thought there was a lot to learn from that. I knew it was something that I needed to catch on to because I knew nothing really about what she does. But I was kind of excited that I was a novice in that area.
Right. You mentioned in a blog that, prior to hearing about the job, you had never seen "The Real Housewives of New York City.”
Yep. It’s not something I would ever watch. It’s just not my thing.
But you have since seen an episode, correct?
Yeah. I’ve seen a few now. It’s definitely interesting.
So has your experience playing football come in handy at all with this job?
Definitely. Although completely unrelated on the surface, it taught me that you have to be comfortable being uncomfortable. It’s a rare occasion when everything goes completely as planned. I sort of have to be OK with that, comfortable with that. … I have to be prepared to push forth despite all the elements pulling you in different directions. And that’s helped me a lot in working for Bethenny. I’m in situations constantly where I just have no idea what I’m doing. I can’t let that stop me from doing my job the right way.
And you have to deal with Bethenny constantly poking fun at your appearance. If it isn’t your hair, it’s your clothing. Will we see a change in your appearance as a result of the teasing?
I have changed my look. You’ll just have to wait and see what happens with that. I don’t want to give anything away.
In working for Bethenny, is it kind of required that you eat healthy? I mean, she’s got those books everywhere, right?
Mmm. I’m a pretty good eater as it is. There’s been a few times, though, when I’ve looked in her books and learned a thing or two.
There’s a rumor that you got pretty chummy with Ramona Singer [of "Real Housewives of New York City"] at Bethenny’s wedding. Care to explain?
[laughs] She’s a good dancer, I’m not gonna lie. She’s a good dancer. She was wearing this long, bushy dress. I couldn’t really dance with her because I thought I was going to walk all over her dress. And, you know, women and their dresses — that’s not something to mess with. I was in and out.
What’s been the weirdest task you’ve been asked to do as Bethenny’s assistant?
The viewers saw it. It was a few episodes ago when I had to pick out Bethenny’s panties. I mean, come on! You’re going to ask me to pick out your underwear? I have no idea. I can’t even pick out my own underwear. Also, it’s the kind of situation where you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t. I gotta worry about Jason, too. This is his wife and I don’t think he wants me in her underwear drawers; but, at the same time, Bethenny’s my boss and I have to listen to what she says. There are so many times where I’m caught in situations where I can’t say ‘no’ but I know I’m screwed.
With baby Bryn in the mix, have you noticed a calmer Bethenny?
Not really. But she definitely finds a reason to sit down for a moment and smile a couple of extra times a day. She knows her priorities are very much different now. She knows what to do. She’s a great mother and a wife.
Set aside the fact that she gives you a check. In the Jill and Bethenny feud, where do you stand?
I gotta tell you the absolute truth: I know zero about it. And I really don’t care.
So what’s next?
I think everyone’s goal is a second season. Who knows what will happen with that.
"Bethenny Getting Married?" airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on Bravo. Until then, here's more Max:
Photo: Meisel and Frankel in an episode of 'Bethenny Getting Married?' Credit: Bravo