Bravo Channel's Real Housewives reality series premiered back in 2006 and became a worldwide hit. The Real Housewives of Orange County is currently in its twelfth season by filming the lives of several women in California.
Vicki Gunvalson is an original cast member who was born and raised in the Chicago area. She owns Coto Insurance and Financial Services, Woo Hoo Productions, LLC, and Diamonds by Vicki.
On a recent trip to the Windy City, Gunvalson and gal pal Kelly Dodd, who joined the cast last season, sat down to talk about the real life of a Housewife.
Windy City Times: I know Vicki is a Chicago native, but have you been here before, Kelly?
Kelly Dodd: I have, and only have two requestsan Italian beef and a Chicago dog.
Vicki Gunvalson: It has to be dipped!
KD: Those giardiniera things on top as well. It is heaven. Why don't we have this back home?
WCT: Well, Chicagoans know how to eat. How did you become a Housewife, Kelly?
KD: I got approached, but it was more like a job interview.
VG: Not when I started. The creator of the show, Scott Dunlop, had a little article in our local newspaper and my son answered it. It was going to be called Behind the Gates. I had an insurance business out of my home and they came over with little hand cameras. This was 13 years ago.
Six months later, I got the call. I told them I thought the show was about my son coming home from college to a privileged life. They said they were switching it. I told them I didn't like name Behind the Gates because what would happen if I moved? Desperate Housewives was on at the time so I suggested the Real Housewives.
WCT: I didn't realize you created the name.
VG: It was a collaboration. Scott and I sat down to talk about it. When they used the name of Orange County, I knew I was in trouble because I didn't have the rights to any of the other franchises.
It has been a great ride. We get to meet people like Kelly. She lives by the beach and I live half-hour inland. It can be fun but hard. Sometimes people are not kind to you on social media. You have to block and delete, then move on to the next one. I would never go on someone's social media and berate them. If they don't like me then why go on my Instagram?
We have had to be there for each other. It is tough. You are under a microscope.
WCT: Social media has really changed since the beginning of the run, hasn't it?
KD: There are trolls on there saying nasty things.
WCT: I saw memes about you, Vicki.
VG: There is a meme of me that says, "Shannon gained weight and that's my fault."
WCT: Are there misconceptions about you?
VG: I don't walk around screaming "Woo-Hoo" all the time. However, when you film 40 hours a week and they need seven minutes, then they are going to grab the drama. You are going to find it with us. We are very opinionated and strong women.
WCT: Is there a moment you regretted something you said or did?
KD: If someone came around and filmed you, then took every little nuance of everything you said, you wouldn't remember saying it. You forget things, but it is on there forever.
WCT: So Peggy Sulahian is being accused of homophobia currently by her gay brother. Thoughts?
VG: I don't know anything about it. People thought I was part of a cancer scam. I wasn't. I am never going to judge Peggy until it comes out of her mouth to me.
KD: I wanted to talk to her about it to get her point of view. I haven't had an opportunity to. Most of my family and all of my friends are gay.
VG: I think her brother is trying to get into the limelight and press by saying that. Why would he say that? Is he trying to hurt her? Popularity?
He reached out to me to talk about it. I told him it is family stuff and I don't want to know about it. I told them to deal with it behind closed doors.
WCT: I saw on a preview that you hit the gay bars this season.
KD: Hamburger Mary's! I loved it. We were dressed as drag kings. I hang out in West Hollywood a lot, so I am in that scene.
We were playing drag-queen bingo for charity. It is hilarious.
WCT: Was there something you learned from last season that helped this season, Kelly?
KD: I think just trying to get along, to have more patience and balance.
VG: You did a great job this year. I am very proud of you.
KD: I was flying off the handle a lot before. They were trying to get me drunk. I am reactive and impulsive. I looked at myself after and didn't want to be that way. I wanted to make things nice and cohesive. I have to work with these ladies. I don't want it to be in a hostile work environment.
VG: Kelly got along great with everyone this year. There are two girls that hate me, but I can't do anything more about it. I know the truth. I know I am a great person.
WCT: Talk about your new cruelty-free lip gloss.
VG: I love lipstick and lip gloss, and it is all in one. It stays on a long time and I love it. I try to collaborate on things that mean something to me. I just don't put my name on something that is not part of me.
WCT: You are a grandma now, Vicki?
VG: With two babies.
KD: A glam-ma.
VG: I'm a nana. My boys have brightened my life. They are incredible and so fun.
I had one of them, Troy, do work at my office like shred papers for a quarter. He went in my wallet and grabbed a hundred-dollar bill. He said, "I deserve this!" I didn't give him the money but I took him to Target and he picked out whatever he wanted. That is the joy of it. I get to spoil the hell out of him.
When the boys fight, I tell them to leave that up to the Housewives!
WCT: Were you ever approached by Dancing with the Stars?
VG: Yes, twice. Bravo said no because we were in season. I am up for next year. We will see what happens.
WCT: Where can fans follow you online?
VG: I can't keep up with social media. My Instagram and Twitter are cross-referenced but there is so much to do in life already. Who has time to go on all these things?
KD: I am never on Twitter. Ninety percent is mean. When they see us out they are nice to us. They always ask for a picture.
VG: Steve Lodge and I were in a deep conversation at dinner one night. This woman came up and said, "I need to take a picture with you right now because we are leaving." I told her we are in the middle of dinner. She went on social media and said I was arrogant and not kind. Do I not get any time to just stop?
KD: That is the problem. They write about us. We try to be nice to everyone, but it also rude to interrupt somebody.
VG: If we don't take the picture right at that moment then they go on social media. It is not nice!
Watch The Real Housewives of Orange County drama every Monday at 8 p.m. central on Bravo.