Watching reality television is an education in extremity. Seeing people under pressure, from the cameras and from other cast members, has brought about some of the most fascinating television of the past 20 years. The Real Housewives franchise alone, which has been filmed by Bravo in seven cities (D.C. is the only one to have been canceled), has shown bankruptcy, foreclosure, divorce, bad parenting, death by illness, and death by suicide. To me, it's the show of the American debt economy.
For its plots, Real Housewives, like most reality shows, often relies on the denial and cluelessness of its casts. And that is when a Brandi Glanville type of person — who on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills cannot stop herself from speaking her mind, even when it means revealing too much about herself or, conversely, hurting someone else — can really stand out. (Bethenny Frankel of The Real Housewives of New York City also had these skills.) She becomes a stand-in for and voice of the audience as she points out her fellow cast members' hypocrisy or lies or highness or general meanness; it results in a lot of fighting.
Glanville joined Beverly Hills in a recurring role during its second season. She had gained brief tabloid notoriety a few years prior as the jilted wife of TV actor Eddie Cibrian, who was famously busted cheating on Glanville with country singer LeAnn Rimes. The whole mess played out in the weekly magazines for months. Rimes and Cibrian married soon after, and Glanville was left to raise their two sons, Mason and Jake.
Like many Housewives before her, Glanville has parlayed her Bravo success into a book deal, and her account of the divorce, Drinking and Tweeting, was released last month during the show's third season, which airs on Mondays (after this week's episode, the season finale is next week, and then the always fight-y reunion episodes will start). The book has done well, particularly on The New York Times' e-book nonfiction list. In the book, as in life, as on the show, she reveals all — including, as you will see below, her thoughts about vaginal rejuvenation surgery.
I met Glanville (along with a network minder, since she says so many things she's not supposed to) at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills recently to talk about her book and this past season of Beverly Hills, which has featured her insane feud with Adrienne Maloof after Glanville revealed on camera that Maloof and her (now ex-) husband, Paul Nassif, had used a surrogate. Viewers didn't hear what Glanville actually said because of the privacy issues involved — you can watch the clip below — but it's all come out since. Maloof vs. Glanville — and it did end up involving lawyers and threatened lawsuits — provided this season's major story; Glanville's allies were few, with Lisa Vanderpump and Yolanda Foster being the only consistent ones. In the end, Maloof chose not to attend the taping of the reunion earlier this month, and was fired as a result.
It's a lot! Here's the interview.
So this season of Real Housewives has been insane. Mostly —
Brandi Glanville: Adrienne and myself?
Yes. What's it been like reliving it?
BG: Re-watching it is always hard, because it's the kind of emotions you put on a shelf and they're gone, and then you have to drudge them back up. Luckily, heading into the reunion, somebody wasn't there, so — I was anxious the whole night before, just thinking, What's going to happen? What's this going to be? Hoping we could come out on better terms. Then when she wasn't there, I was, like, Whew.
You were nervous only the night before? I would have been nervous for seven months.
BG: No, because I have two little boys, and I have a full life. I can't put that much energy into these women.
So at the reunion, were you all just sitting around waiting?
Show rep: I just don't want her to give too much away about the reunion, because we don't know what it's going to end up looking like.
BG: I'm always in trouble.
Show rep: That's why I'm here, so you don't get in trouble.
OK, so at a certain point at the taping, you were relieved to find out that Adrienne wasn't going to be there.
BG: I do feel like in a battle one-on-one, I can definitely handle myself. But I didn't know what to expect: Was she going to come, was she not going to come? The reunion still managed to get a little nutty. It still got heated.
Let's just talk about what happened with Adrienne. Things were going along perfectly normally with the season, and then you said the surrogacy thing.
We can talk about that openly, right?
BG: I can't. So, allegedly. Whatever.
So you said the surrogacy thing. Did you realize when you said it what was going to happen?
BG: I didn't realize it was going to be like this. Over our hiatus, she had done some things to me that were not pretty. And I was just kind of trying to get back at her for that. She didn't want me to have a job on the show, she was saying bad things about me in the press, and having her chef do really crappy things —
Her chef! Bernie.
BG: So when the show came back and we started shooting again, you can't really talk about what happened off the show on the show. So I just decided to say, "She's just a big fat liar." Because I was so angry at her. So I was kind of just being a little bit evil.
And you regretted it.
BG: Yeah! You know what? I didn't think about hurting her family; I wasn't trying to do that. But when I saw how it affected them, I felt really bad. At the same time, I felt like, gosh, why am I apologizing? I'm very sorry. But she didn't apologize to me ever. She had Bernie say I was a bad mom, that I drank all day, that I slept all day, and I didn't tend to my children. Lots and lots of different things. This was ever since last year's reunion, after I decided not to be her BFF and go against Lisa — which I just think is so ridiculous anyway. And then she just wanted me off the show. I think she's a really entitled person. So when she wants something, she uses her lawyers to get it. With me, it didn't work out that well. I am sorry for saying what I said. I didn't realize it was going to be this big of an issue. But at the same time, I feel like she should be sorry also. She hasn't said sorry to me. Paul has.
Sympathy should have been with her since you did say something awful, and somehow she managed to blow that. Because of how she handled it, viewers were on your side pretty immediately.
BG: I've had arguments with all of my friends, and a lot of them have a lot of money. But in this town, some of these people, they just can't handle having a conversation: "You know what, I shouldn't have said that, I'm sorry." And then I would say, "You know what, I shouldn't have said that, I'm sorry." And then we'd move on from there and figure out how to make it work. The stuff she said to me — I'm divorced, and I have a very not amazing relationship with my husband. So he was sending me the letters that were in the press from what she had said. "She just wants to get me fired," I'm explaining myself to my ex-husband. Which I shouldn't even have to do. But it caused me problems as well. I was like, "It's all BS. It's all about the show. Don't worry about it. Obviously, I'm great with my kids." It caused some problems. Definitely.
So the sequence of events: I'm asking because I feel like it got so confusing. You say the surrogacy thing. You go to the Mauricio party and have that huge fight with them. You then receive a letter.
BG: Right. There was a letter circulating, and they called my lawyer and said, "If Brandi doesn't come to this meeting, we are going to move forward and sue her." I was, like, why would I go to this meeting? And he basically said, "You have to go and sign a piece of paper and say you won't talk about Adrienne in this way ever again." I don't trust myself at all. At all. I go to my attorney, "How can I do that?!? How can I do that?" I'm not going to sign on the dotted line and say I'm never going to talk about you again. I just don't think you should have to when you're on a reality show. So there was all this back-and-forth with our lawyers. The bills got pretty mounting for me. Then, finally at the White Party, we kind of hashed it out, and they admitted they had a lawyer. I gave them the emails I had of the things Bernie said about me to these press outlets, and Paul's like, "OK, we're going to fire him." They didn't fire him.
Did you feel like they didn't know that?
BG: I think that he seemed surprised. But I feel like we'd gone over it with them a few times — at least with Adrienne. Like, I know that we had at the tea party, that Bernie had said negative things about me and Lisa and some of the ladies. I feel like if he didn't know, I would be surprised. But he acted like he didn't know.
Why did Adrienne at that tea party say that she wasn't doing anything with lawyers and you?
BG: I don't know. I can't answer for her. It didn't make any sense to me.
So after the White Party, was it the end of the lawyer-y stuff?
BG: I think so. It's all so long ago now. We kind of agreed at that point that they would drop the threat of the lawsuit. Then, of course, they start their own war with each other, and they get divorced. It was kind of a blessing in disguise? That it took the heat off of me? I'm like, somebody else has bigger problems!
You referred to the cast as "cunts" on The Howard Stern Show. Do you feel that way, or were you playing to the Stern audience?
BG: I have felt that way in the past, for sure. Not all of them. But they can be a little bit c-wordy. I mean, if you've watched the show, you can see that element in some of them. Not all of them: Lisa doesn't have that, Yolanda doesn't have that. I think the rest of them have a little bit of it.
Did you hear from any of them after that?
BG: I got a mouthful from Lisa. Because she's just like, "You just can't use that word." It was right before the reunion. She was like, "What do you think it's going to be like?" I was like, "I don't know." The truth of the matter is, when you're on Howard Stern, you feel like you're in his living room talking to him, you don't feel like you're having an interview. So I was just speaking from the heart!
That's in your heart.
BG: Sorry, ladies!
How are things with you and Kim Richards these days?
BG: You know what? They're OK, actually. The reunion was difficult. Ups and downs. But before I went away to New York for the book tour, she called me and gave me a pep talk. I didn't know it was her, it was a 310. "Hello?" "Brandi, it's Kim!" "Oh my god, what? What's going on?" "I just want to say I'm really proud of you. Good luck. Just be yourself." Really sweet. We talked for about a half an hour, which was shocking to me. But I thought that was really sweet of her to do that. We're in a much better space. But I still think she blames me a lot for the stuff I said about her last season. She blames me a lot for the pain. I think she's getting ahead of that now. But there's still some resentment now.
Whatever was going on with her that night in Season 2 when you accused her of doing crystal meth was very dark. And as a viewer, I didn't blame you for really yelling at them since they were being pretty awful. But why did you go to the "meth" place?
BG: I knew this was coming. It's interesting: I had just gotten a DUI, and I was doing my DUI classes at that time. So the day before, the DUI class was all about drugs — different drugs, and what drugs are cut with what drugs. Basically, crystal meth, speed, is used to cut every drug. We had a class on it the whole day before, and I'm, like, "Oh, so interesting, so it cuts cocaine and Ecstasy…" Pictures of how you can tell a meth head. It was just in my head. The first thing I did when I left, I said to my friends, "I said 'crystal meth in the bathroom.'" My friends were, like, "Where the hell did you get that?" I'm, like, "I don't know! I didn't say cocaine! I didn't say crack! I said crystal meth." They were like, "You are out of your mind." I was like, "It was in my DUI class!"
BG: I know. I know. It was not a pretty scene.
The whole Kim trajectory is fascinating and sad. I don't know whether you remember her as a child actress: I do.
BG: It's good that she's on TV, to be honest. If she wasn't, she wouldn't have anyone to answer to. People are watching her and wanting her to succeed — or fail. Everyone's watching her, she has to answer to all of us. I think she needs this. If she wasn't on the show, she could be behind closed doors doing whatever she wanted. And no one would care. Maybe her kids. Maybe Kyle. The show gives her a giant audience to have to answer to. I think she feels good right now, and she wants to succeed.
I don't know if you watched the first season —
BG: I did.
So the crazy limo scene when Kyle Richards exploded at Kim about her alcoholism, it's like, this has obviously been building up in their family for years and years and years. And it does seem like it took cameras and lots of confrontational situations, and lots of having to be together, to bring that about.
BG: I don't know what Kyle went through prior to filming the show. I'm sure she was at her wits' end when she called her out. I do think ultimately it's given Kim an audience — she has to get better. Yes, last season she was not OK. But she doesn't get to fail again. She's fine now, and she has to stay better. I don't know Kyle and Kim's relationship before the show: I don't think I would do that to my sister, but I'm sure she'd just had it.
What is your current relationship with Kyle?
BG: It ebbs and flows. We're both really strong personalities. I think of myself of more of a girl's girl than I think she is. Like, when Lisa did her show, I didn't necessarily want to sit down with Scheana. But my friend had a show, and it was going to be helpful. So after a little debate with myself, I decided to do it. Because I wanted her show to succeed, and I'm always tweeting about it. I think when you really care about someone, that's what you do for them. Certain ones of these women don't do that. I find that to be really telling about a person.
I was going to say that Lisa should have bought you a car for sitting down with Scheana.
BG: I know, right? It was heavy. Obviously, I had moved past it. When I sat down, it brought up old emotions, but I want everyone to do well. Even Scheana. Good luck to her! I don't really hold a grudge? Until I do. That's my way of getting out of everything: I don't really say bad things? Until I do.
You also announced on Howard Stern what everyone's salaries are.
BG: I got in big trouble.
BG: I got yelled at by Chloe, by Andy, by Alex, by Dave, by the other Dave — everyone!
I don't even know who most of those people are.
BG: I have nothing to say on this subject!
Do you like doing the show? It must take a lot out of a person.
BG: You know what, I look at my life four years ago, and I had just gotten out of a messy relationship, a marriage. And I was super depressed. I didn't have an education, I didn't have a job, I didn't have any income. I was like, what the heck am I going to do? So to say that the show is hard, four years later — no, the show is easy. It's a blessing for me. I just have to deal with the c-words a lot. And I could do that all day long. Give me money, I will deal with these bitches. It's not a hard job to be yourself. Maybe you don't have amazing relationships outside of work — I mean, I see Lisa and Yolanda, and that's it. I don't feel the need to go out of my way, because I have a lot of other friends I love. And don't fight with.
And are those friendships real? You can meet someone on a reality show and truly become friends?
BG: Oh yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, time will tell. Because ultimately, everyone ends up fighting with everyone. And I don't fight with my girlfriends. So you never know what's going to happen next season: Lisa's going to strangle me, Yolanda's going to kick me when I fall over.
She could kick you hard.
BG: But definitely, we go out to dinners. We don't talk about the show; we talk about our lives. And that's a real friendship to me.
You've been fighting a war on two fronts: The stuff with your ex-husband and LeAnn Rimes is actually the bigger tabloid story. I would also imagine that, as you said at the very beginning, that takes more of an emotional toll.
BG: At this point, now that the book is out, this is my last chapter on this front as far as dealing with this publicly. I really want to put this public war with LeAnn and Eddie behind me, and I want to communicate with them privately. If they'll have me. And move past this conversation.
Is that going to be possible?
BG: I think so. In the past, I've had them over for Easter to my house. They were fully making out. It was an Easter egg hunt. I wrote this book knowing full well that one day my kids will read it. As a child, my parents gave all the information — like, way too much. I'm kind of that way with my children. Mason and I have a really honest, open relationship. We talk about everything. So I know that one day I would tell them everything in this book too. People are like, "Don't you think about your kids?" I'm like, "Of course I think about my kids. I think about putting them through junior high and high school and college." There's no promise that Eddie's going to be able to do that. That's all I think about. And I don't mean that in a rude way, but I need to think about my responsibility as a parent and not be dependent on him since he's not my husband anymore.
Do they experience any trickle-down in school?
BG: Mason, my eldest, knows a little. It's hard, because I told them that daddy fell in love with another girl, another woman. That's really been my answer for a long time. But Mason knows there's more to it. He knows that for the longest time, it hurt me to talk about it. So he doesn't bring it up anymore. And Jakey doesn't remember us being married. So that's kind of a blessing in disguise.
But how do you articulate to a child why their parents are on the cover of a magazine, or why their stepmother and mother are?
BG: They know LeAnn's a country singer, they know dad's an actor, and now they know I'm on a TV show even though they're not allowed to watch it. I just say, "Oh, it's part of the job. It comes with the job. Most of what they write isn't true." They're perfectly happy with that answer. One day, I'm sure they'll be like, "What the hell was going on back then?" It's all been chronicled on the internet. So they'll know. Hopefully they won't want to delve backwards. But they'll say, "You rocked, you never said a bad word about dad." I think they'll think I'm kind of a rock star.
There's what happened, and then there's the fact that you've talked about what happened in public.
BG: Eddie and LeAnn have done numerous sit-down after sit-down after sit-down. For the past four years, tell-all interviews — the crying, the "we love each other," the 20/20, the Katie Couric, the whatever her name is…Giuliana Rancic. It's, like, enough already. I've never done that. Do I have an answer if people ask? Yeah, I tell them to suck it. But I've never, ever put my side in full detail. So this book is my side of the story. The only reason it continually gets talked about is because they continually do these sit-down interviews about it. It's something that's four years old. And they need — I think we both need — to step away from it now. After the book and everything. Put it behind us and move on. Hopefully, they'll have a child of their own and she'll understand better what a proper boundary is for a stepmother and a mother.
In your book, you talk very openly about everything. Including your postpartum depression, though you don't use those words.
BG: I feel like some women have it so, so bad. I didn't think mine was as bad as a lot of my friends' experiences. I almost didn't want to rain on their parade: "Listen, you were way worse off than I was."
You went to the Target every day and cried, though!
BG: I know. It's not normal. It was difficult.
And you love your Lexapro.
BG: I do! I tried to go off it recently and realized I'm a big fat baby and I can't get off of it. I tried! I started to get snappy and — I'm always bossy, but I was like, "Ooh, did I just say that?" Back on. Maybe I have a chemical imbalance, and I need it as part of my daily life. I find I'm a better person and a better mom. If a pill can make you better and healthy and happy, take it. Unless it's Ecstasy. Then don't.
The thing about the, uh —
No! What? I actually wasn't —
BG: You were going, "Uhhhh"—
That's terrible! I was going to say something about the Us Weekly cover saying you had cheated on Eddie first!
BG: I wish. I'll take any of them on right now. I'm like, "Oh my god, they're so hot." They're so stupid, because all it does is give my book more publicity. I just liked the picture, I was just happy to be on the cover. I was like, "Wow, that's amazing!"
That seemed orchestrated, and —
BG: It did. Why now? Why four years later? I think it was a last effort to discredit me before the book came out. If these were true, they would have been out years ago. Like I said, I'll have any of those guys — they're all really hot. I'll take ya! Call me!
I think any of us who are reality fans think while watching, What is the shit in my life that would be dredged up that I'm currently not dealing with?
BG: My friends all know this: I'm an open book. I was going to leave the vagina part out of my book. But I was like, if I leave that out, it's just going to be a bigger thing than it is. I was so embarrassed, and I didn't know if I wanted to share it. But I also knew that Eddie knew, and they had put it on Twitter a long time ago, but nobody was really buying it; and I had kind of lied about it on Twitter. So embarrassing. I thought, You know what, I can't be balls-to-the-wall all the time and take this out. It's not fair. And this would give them something to use against me. So I put it in there. And I cried. And then I hid in my house for a week after the book came out.
Why is it embarrassing?
BG: Every talk show I've been on, all they want to talk about is the vagina. Which is great. Even this morning, I did radio shows, all I talked about was my vagina all day. I was like, I can't talk about my vagina anymore. It is kind of like the new boob job, but it's not talked about. It's the hush-hush surgery. So I guess I'm just making it more — talked about.
You did call it your "kitty cat," and your mother seems to do that as well. That's more horrifying to me, frankly, than the idea of the surgery.
BG: Oh, that's funny! Um. I have nicknames for everything. Now it's the "vagine." I'm trying to make it a prettier word. The word "vagina," I used to not be bothered by it. And now it just really upsets me.
You talk a lot about having zero dollars when you separated. And how your settlement was crappy. Are you now careful with money?
BG: I've been very frugal. I now have a business manager who tells me what I can spend, what I can't spend. I've got all the right people around me. And I'm doing pretty well now. We have a lot of other amazing business opportunities; I don't even know what I can say yet. There are so many great things going on. A second offer for book number two just came in.
What would that be?
BG: I think it's going to be really raunchy, for sure. I want to go with the Drinking and ___. Like a Drinking and Dating. Dating, the game has changed. It is so different than it was when I was single. I want it to stay along the same lines: funny, but serious, and then a good message. Ultimately, I think this book-writing is amazing for me. I love it. I hate downtime. That's when I pick at my face. What do I do now? Get the needle and the tweezers! It's so fucked up. That's what I do. That's what I did yesterday. It's nice to have responsibilities.
Talk to me about the face picking.
BG: I don't want to. It's a problem.
But it really just happens when you don't have anything else to do?
BG: When I have time on my hands. And anxiety. I get into self-hatred mode. I didn't want to leave the house today. I was so happy this wasn't an on-camera interview, and now in the next one, I have to put more spackle on. When my skin is good, it sounds really — what do you call it? Silly. I'm confident, happy. And I don't think about it. When I do this — I-hate-myself kind of mood. But I have a therapist. And I think I'll be going back to see him. He told me I was cured!
This interview was edited and condensed.