'Real Housewives of Orange County': Lynne Curtin admits she's a 'little ditzy'
You might recognize her as the sole brunet in a bevy of blond manes. Or maybe the lady always sporting cuff-wear? Guess it depends on what catches your attention first. Lynne Curtin joined the "Real Housewives of Orange County" midway last season. Her questionable comments and spacey demeanor at times got her pegged as the ditzy -- and incredibly tanned and toned -- gal of the bunch. This season, we've watched as she and her family struggle with finances and downsize from their Capistrano Beach home to a smaller rental in Laguna Beach. Then there's the other struggle: controlling (or not) the wild teenage behavior of their daughters, Raquel and Alexa.
I snagged a few mobile minutes with Lynne to get her take on life in 'Housewives' land.
Hey, Lynne ... what are you doing right now? Sounds like you're driving...
I'm trying to get cuffs out. I have a lot of cuffs on my website that look kind of similar to the Saints symbol ... the fleur de lis. I'm just on my way getting orders out right now cause the business is booming right now, especially with the Saints winning [the Super Bowl]. I just happen to have a fleur de lis on my cuffs anyway, and a lot of people from Louisiana recognized the symbol and, coincidentally, with the team winning I have a lot of people ordering them right now.
What made you decide to get into the cuff business in the first place?
Because my girlfriends in Orange County had a lot of money ... and just being able to afford to buy them a gift that they don't have. Instead of buying them Juicy sweatsuits -- they already have like 10 of those -- I wanted to find them something that they didn't have already; it had to be unique. And going to boutiques and buying stuff there, they wanted like $300 or $400 for one; it was unaffordable. I was already doing jewelry like 18 years ago and with research I was able to find the right product to wrap the leather around them. It's all been a learning process. Now I've extended to handbags and purses. And I'm coming out with a bedding line soon.
Cool. And I see you have Gretchen modeling a piece on your website.
Yeah. Gretchen on a motorcycle. I got that cool, kind of cross-motorcycle-looking things for the Harley people too. I got a lot of rocker crosses. And I named some after my daughters. I have Raquel, and I have an Alexa. The Alexa cuff is the one that has a fleur de lis on it. That's surpassing our Raquel sales right now. We'll see ... it just depends what people are into.
Well, let's rewind and talk about how you got yourself on the show.
I had one girlfriend who was doing my skin care; she knew somebody that worked for a store that was doing the wardrobe, and also, my other girlfriend had a daughter on an MTV show.
I knew it! Was she modeling one of the pieces on your website?
Yes, Kendra [Mayo from Laguna Beach]. Her mother and I have been best friends forever, and she's a really good photographer in Laguna Beach. So both of them in one week said, "Can we give your name out?" -- unrelated to each other. So I was like, "Oh, sure. Why not?" Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be here today on a show, having such a great time with all the women. It's been a blast.
Wait. Did you watch the previous seasons?
Um, yeah. I did a bit, actually. Lauri [Waring] happened to be a really good friend of one of my really good friends. And I knew Lauri was having a good time on the show. That was part of the reason ... I thought, "If Lauri is doing the show, I want to interview for it. That would be fun." I didn't know I was going to be replacing her at the time.
So before you joined the cast, was there someone you expected to click with, or someone you knew you'd have to watch out for?
Not in particular. Not until I got on the show and someone said we would be going out to dinner with everybody. ... I had a heads-up about Vicki [Gunvalson]. I didn't know all the characters by face that well, so I wasn't sure who she was. I whispered over to Gretchen [Rossi], "Which one's Vicki?" 'Cause I'd only really remember a few of the episodes ... like the one with Lauri and the trailer. Being a mom keeps you pretty busy. You can't really follow every show. I was a little nervous the first time I saw Vicki 'cause I was like, "uh-oh. She's going to be tough on me." But she turned out to be a doll. This season, she's been one of my closest friends on the show.
Is that how it really is? It's seems like you guys don't really hang out on a regular basis. When all of you are in a room, it's usually a setup like the sleepover and cooking party ...
Actually, we do see each other. I was invited to an event for Vicki. Or I get invited to an event for Tamra [Barney]. Like Tamra and I just talked. We're going to take a spin class tomorrow. I saw Jeana [Keough] the other day at my gym.
How's she doing?
She actually came by and dropped me off some clothes the other day; her friend's a designer. But she's doing great. She loves my cuffs; she's my little model. She's doing great.
I'm curious to know what it's like being part of a reality show ... do you watch each week? And what's that like reliving some of those events?
I do watch. I'm like underneath the covers. I'm like, "Oh, my gosh, did I do that?" or "Did I say that?" Sometime I wish I would have thought before I said something. But I just try to let it all go. I'm just as real as I could possibly be. It's all real. I'm a little ditzy, I admit it.
Well, let's talk about that. You were certainly portrayed as the ditzy gal last season ... and the other women -- mainly Tamra and Vicki -- weren't shy about pointing that out. Given that, how were you able to move past that and become so close?
I think they just really realized who I am and what I'm about. I am a hard worker. I think they see the fact that I am ... I'm doing really well with my business right now. I've learned a lot from Vicki from just seeing her, and now I know what she's going through. Before, it was a cottage industry, my business. It wasn't like how it is today. Now I live, eat, breathe and sleep my jewelry line. It's a constant work in progress. Just trying to keep it fresh. Keep it new. I'm very excited. The bedding line might, I think, be in Costco; we're talking. We'll see.
Seems like you're busy; that's something that seems to be a frequent topic in episodes -- how much you guys do in comparison to Vicki. I mean, last week, she left your housewarming party and caused a ruckus with the whole working thing ...
Yeah, we touched on that subject a little bit last week. We all work. We're all working people. My husband goes to work every day. We're not in the traditional sense. She probably goes to the office every day -- but who knows if Vicki really goes to the office every day? She has an office, but I don't know if she actually goes there from 9 to 5. My point is, nobody really knows how hard everybody else is working. And we kind of got on her case a little bit about that. Everybody was offended by that statement. She kind of brushed it off a little bit, saying, "Oh, I didn't mean it that way."
Think she's still just bitter about the girls weekend turned couples retreat?
I think she's over that. What she's got going on right now, she's a nervous wreck. She just hasn't been herself. [More on that in my interview with Vicki on Friday.]
Let's turn the table back to you. Your daughters are really highlighted in this season. And viewers see how you struggle to communicate with them ... and you bring in this youthologist to sort of help you with that. How did that come about?
I heard about this book called "You're Grounded." One of the other parents told me to check it out. I ended up calling her [Vanessa Van Petten], and she was really into coming down. She lives in L.A. I was at first a little eerie 'cause I was thinking "she's 26, what is she going to know?" She actually had a similar situation, you know, being a teenager and was going through all the same issues and turned her life around. The girls talked to her and they really did listen ... and it stuck for a couple of weeks. She inspired them. Raquel went out and got some art supplies; she actually has a website and has sold three paintings. She actually took one right off my wall the other day and sold it. Not a lot of money, but at least it's something.
Raquel seemed to be the rebellious one at first, but this season we see Alexa take on that role.
They're two years apart. They're both going through it at different times.
A lot of the readers of this blog have commented about the lack of boundaries you and your husband have in place. How do you respond to the criticisms you receive on how you discipline your daughters?
They don't see everything. They see a little bit here, a little bit there; they don't see what really goes down: the arguing, Frank getting upset, us taking away Raquel's vehicle. You just see a little bit. You don't see everything that transpires. I am tough. I'm strict. Alexa is home right now. She's not grounded but, you know, she just got her license and she wants a car. Does she have a car? No. Raquel doesn't have a car either right now. Neither one of my daughter's have cars. I am tough.
And what about the whole Gretchen situation?
Oh, gosh. I just say let the parenting duties stick with the parents. That's all I have to say. I don't wish her any ill when she has kids. I was just saying, 'You know what, Gretchen? Wait 'til you have kids, then come talk to me." I wasn't saying it to be mean or anything, I just wanted her to know that no one knows your kids like you do. I'm with them 24/7. And somebody who just spends maybe 25 minutes with them here or there is not going to be able to know my daughter and then tell me what to do about my daughter.
Continuing on with that, a lot of people were upset that you would allow your daughter to get plastic surgery at such a young age ...
My daughter is 19, and she had an injury. If you look at the comparison to her nose now, it wasn't like a drastic change. It was Raquel -- the same nose, minus the bump. She wanted a breast augmentation also. Did I let her do that? No. With the nose thing, she was bugging me for the past five years. Every day. Every time she was in front of the mirror. It's like someone who wants to get their teeth whitened or repaired. It seems a lot more invasive than it really was. It wasn't all that invasive. She didn't bruise; she didn't look like an accident victim. Neither of us got much bruising. I think nowadays, the way they perform these surgeries, it's amazing. I was on these tablets that you get from the health food store; you won't bruise, you won't swell. I took them two weeks before. It was very holistic. I barely had to take any pain pills. The thought I was on a lot ... I just left telling them, "No, I'm just relaxed." I'm very sensitive because I'm very much a pure system. I barely even drink ... aside from the show, when you see me a couple of times. That's how sensitive I am -- I kind of went on the deep end a few times 'cause I'm not a big drinker.
OK. Now let's talk about the husbands. We see the them in a bigger capacity this time around. And we see the wife-husband dynamics. Alexis and Jim Bellino's relationship is quite different than, say, Vicki and Donn's. ... Where do you and your husband fall on the spectrum?
Well, I'm in charge [laughs]. We get along really good. I actually got Frank running in right now; he's actually handling a lot of my business right now for me. It's kind of nice now. It's a whole different set of circumstances since I've been so successful with my company cause he has to listen to what I say. I'm the boss...no, it's actually 50-50. He lets me go wherever I want to go. If I want to go tomorrow with my girlfriends to Greece, I can get on a plane if I can afford it.
I don't know. I wouldn't have lasted five years if someone was telling me what to do. There's no way. I think that's why we've lasted 20 years, because he listens to me. We don't take each other too seriously. We get over it. We don't ever go to bed angry at each other. We're not like that. We just know each other so well now.
But in this week's episode, we see that Frank has kept you in the dark about finances. Want to clear that up?
What it was was a discrepancy over a deposit. It was an exorbitant deposit that Frank failed to tell me about. It was like an insurance binder that the woman wanted for our house. Since she knew we were on a show and filming, I think she was thinking we were rich and had all this money and thought, "Oh, why is she getting her face done?" I would get mail every day sent to her house from different doctors. ... I think she was looking for a deposit in order for her to get surgeries on her face. I think she was angry that I was getting some surgery done. I really feel that ... that's what I think went down. The rent was paid every month on time. But, yes, Frank did fail to tell me that there was this huge, huge -- more than you could imagine for any deposit. I could have put a down payment on a house. And he failed to tell me because ... I don't know what he was thinking was going to happen in the interim. That's why I was so ... I was kind of blindsided that day when I found that out. And my daughters called me and I was so sad that they had to go through that on camera.
Was it hard to have that all transpire on camera? To have it all exposed?
I don't really care what anybody thinks. As long as I have my family behind me, that's all that matter to me. I have good friends; my friends know me -- they know what it's all about. And you know what? I was just in Vegas for three days and I had more love and more support from strangers coming up to me. ... It was a natural high. We couldn't go 10 feet without people coming up to us and telling us how much they loved the show. Men were coming up! I can't believe how many men watch the show. I felt like a celebrity. I sold two cuffs that night. My girlfriend and I sold them off our wrists.
So no plans to leave the show any time soon?
I'll be doing it until in my walker. I love it. It's fun. I have a good time. As long as the people like me, I'll stay as long as they'll have me.
Photo: Lynne Curtin. Credit: Bravo
Check back Friday for my take on Thursday night's show ... and my interview with Vicki -- "Wa-hoo!"