Lisa Vanderpump is a reality TV mainstay: she's the English rose on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and the no-nonsense boss on Vanderpump Rules. We caught up with her and got the gossip on everything from running a successful business to what she thinks of her co-stars ...
What's the secret to creating a successful celeb hangout like SUR on Vanderpump Rules?
There's so many components. PUMP, my new restaurant in West Hollywood, has been in the press a lot this week because Lady Gaga was there. In fact, Liza Minnelli went the next night and last night as well. When Lady Gaga arrived to have dinner with me, there was no press there. She said to me "That says a lot about you”, the fact that the press hadn't been notified at all. It's just I think about making a place that's comfortable, got great ambiance, great lighting. I think that feeling of security, the fact that you can be there and have a nice quiet dinner without being harassed or hassled, the feeling that they can come in and be safe if they want to come and go without any kerfuffle.
You've said quite a few times that you're not so keen on Kristin. Why haven't you sacked her yet?
You have to understand when someone has worked for you for seven years, for the most part they were pretty good, then you feel like you don't want to pile on to their problems. She was having this emotional spiral downwards, I didn't really want to add to it. You do see how the story plays out. I do get very frustrated with her, and you see it come to fruition. I'm not going to tell you exactly what went down but trust me – you won't be disappointed.
SUR has become like a family situation, albeit a dysfunctional family. When they've been there seven years, you do have an attachment to them, and SUR's a bit of a unique animal really because it was always a friend of a friend of a friend who worked there you know? They were always connected. They are young naughty things in Hollywood. We have our servers there that behave perfectly but I think you'd be flipping the channel if you saw [that].
After seeing Jax both on and off screen, and his somewhat tenuous relationship with the truth, do you believe anything that comes out of his mouth anymore?
I take what he says lightly. I think Jax always tries to tell you what serves him best, but he's a great character. He makes great television. I always say to him "Why would you say that? We have it documented." He's that typical loveable rogue that tries to manipulate things to his own advantage. He always does very well with the ladies and he kind of tells them what they want to hear. He's actually honest about the fact that he's a liar.
Stasi is no longer working at SUR. Is she still so heavily involved because she's such a strong character?
She is but she isn't as involved in the dynamics and things tend to run away a bit without her. I've got to say I got a bit tired of her diva attitude. I've always had a soft spot for her, but my attitude to her was justified really.
When you do manage to make it back to the UK for a holiday are you able to walk around and not get noticed too much?
I do get recognised quite a bit here, but not as much [in the UK] obviously. I mean I've done 160 episodes of reality television here. Dancing with the Stars was a big one here for me as well because that's such a big show.
Would you ever like to do Strictly?
I would do it. It's definitely an experience that's for sure. It was very difficult for me doing it here because I was doing Housewives at the same time and Vanderpump Rules and building up my new restaurant. I just was exhausted. I saw today on Twitter that my dance partner Gleb Savchenko, who is lovely, is going to England to do Strictly. He's gorgeous, people are going to love him.
What's the number one question people ask you in the street?
Um, the first thing they always say is "Oh you're so much smaller in real life." Everybody appears bigger on television. A lot of people ask me what's going on at the moment [on Vanderpump Rules], but I always say “Watch the show”. I don't want to preempt it. The audience has been incredible to me I have to say. Even last year when the women beat the crap out of me, the audience supported me and I think you can deal with anything if the audience are on your side.
You've worked incredibly hard to get where you are. What do you think about some British reality TV stars who've become famous for doing very little?
We have those here as well. They just walk down the red carpet and wiggle their arse, and that's all they have to do. I don't feel like I'm doing a reality show per se, I feel that they are documenting my life, and I think Housewives has always been very much about that. You know, I don't really want to watch someone who just signs up to be on a reality show. I want to see what they're doing in their real life. That's much more interesting. I think the 'it girl' very much comes and goes.
Do you feel your status as 'Queen of the Housewives' is well deserved?
Who gave me that title? I like it though. I suppose my profile was raised when I did Dancing with the Stars, and then getting a successful spin-off which everyone has tried to do. If there's a crown going, I'll take it. Hey why not?
Your sense of humour often gets you in trouble with the other Housewives. Do you think that our humour gets lost in translation?
Sometimes it gets lost in translation but for the most part the Americans get it. They've been amazing to me. Amazing. I've had so many opportunities, even in the last few weeks. I went to speak at the United Nations, I got Woman of the Year at the State Assembly in Sacramento, California, and the Queen of Mardi Gras. It's been an amazing experience.
The new season sees brief returns of Adrienne and Camille. Was it nice to have the old group back together or did it give you bad flashbacks?
I always got on well with Camille. It's good to have them back. Camille's been through so much it's good to see her.
What do you think of your new co-stars on Beverly Hills?
Eileen Davidson has had a fantastic career. She's won an Emmy, how can you not admire that? She's one of the best, and I love Lisa Rinna.
If you could help cast the next season of RHOBH who would be your dream co-stars?
I would always rather work with women who I look up to, respect, and admire. Somebody who's going to bring a lot to the table. I don't have this attitude of trying to put down my fellow cast-mates because they might be doing better than me or something. I'm all about women supporting women, so I'd go for somebody who I think is fantastic like Maria Schriver. I'd go for Rita Wilson (Tom Hanks's wife) who I think is an incredible woman. I'd like Lady Gaga actually, she's the person that would read them all! I have such respect for Gaga because of the way she lives her life, she's a big supporter of the LGBT community. She's a fabulous woman.
Which of the Housewives from the other cities are you close to?
I'm not that close to Bethenny [Frankel] but I have admiration for what she's done and how she used Housewives as a vehicle and really capitalised on it. It's good to see her back [on The Real Housewives of New York City] and hopefully thriving. I have a lot of admiration for NeNe. Look at her: she started out as a stripper or something and now she's in Broadway plays and TV series. Anybody that really takes the opportunity and goes with it are the people that I admire.
We've recently seen Real Housewives of New Jersey star Teresa Giudice go to prison. What are your thoughts?
My heart really went out to Teresa. I think if you do the crime you have to do the time. She's always been lovely to me and I was devastated for her, not just for being incarcerated but for being away from her children. To me, that's the biggest penalty. It must be unbelievably difficult for her. Hopefully she'll emerge from it a stronger person and I suppose you have to learn your lesson.
Will you be back on Housewives next year?
I don't know. I've done five years and the jury's out. No decisions have been made. I have no problem working with any of them. People say “How can you work with Brandi or Kim?” If they are on, I'll navigate my way through it like I did this year and be honest. If everyone gets along brilliantly then you're not going to have much of a show.