Whether or not you watch “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” chances are you recognize Lisa Vanderpump and her inseparable sidekick Giggy. I first met Lisa in 2008 when she had just opened up Villa Blanca. I’ll never forget sitting outside on the restaurant’s patio and watching her step out of a Rolls Royce (or was it a Bentley?) in a little white sleeveless dress and pair of giant gold platforms. (I even showed her the photo of us from back then.) Six years later, she is a huge reality TV star yet remains the extremely personable and charming woman I first met. And let me tell you, this woman loves to dish. And I’m not talking about food!
We were at SUR Lounge in West Hollywood to kick off the American Humane Association’s “Hero Dog Awards,” an annual national competition that searches out and recognizes heroic dogs who do everything from saving lives on the battlefield to providing therapeutic support to those in need. Everyone is invited to nominate a dog and the show will air November 2 on the Hallmark Channel.
As you might imagine, Lisa was every bit the consummate host and she had no problem talking about whatever subject came up in conversation including her love of dogs, disdain for Housewives drama and need for Steve Edwards to help a sister out.
How did you get involved with the American Humane Association?
Well, you don’t see me out and about that much on red carpets, I have to be honest. There are few things that I really support, but the American Humane Association, particularly the Hero Dog Awards, is something that I do. These animals are so incredible; you see them change people’s lives. These dogs that can predict when people are going to have a stroke or can detect cancer better than any human or machine, or that can detect bombs or die in the line of duty. So the Hero Dog Awards is a really poignant evening, but it’s also a beautiful evening to celebrate these unbelievable animals.
You’re obviously a huge animal lover.
Yes. I mean, I’ve got five dogs. Giggy works with children with alopecia as well, so it’s about drawing attention to these things. I also support the LGBT community and the GLAAD Awards, so there are about four things that I’m really involved in. And that’s really what has happened from being on the Housewives — it’s given me such an opportunity to be involved in things that I really care about.
It gives you a great platform to publicize causes that are really important.
Absolutely. That’s why when I tweet something it’s not a bitch fest. I’m not going to enter that. By the way, you have to tell Steve that they all ganged up on me this year and he needs to go out there with guns blazing!
OK, I definitely will! When you got Giggy, did you know he had alopecia or did that develop later?
No, it just kind of happened after I had him a few months. He had so many allergies they actually suggested I put him to sleep because he was in such a state. He couldn’t even go a few seconds without scratching. Luckily, he’s outgrown all his allergies. We’ve exhausted every avenue of trying to cure the alopecia, but he’s doing very well now.
He’s adorable. I just met him. He’s much cuter in person.
Oh, he’s so cute, isn’t he?
Do you favor one particular breed over another?
Oh my God, I don’t think I’ve met a dog I didn’t like. There are no bad dogs, just bad owners.
Even pit bulls, which happens to be breed of the 2013 Hero Dog winner?
I love everyyyyyyyy dog. I have to be honest, when I even see any of them in cages, I’m so pathetic I have to turn the other way.
When did your love for animals start? Was it a childhood dog?
No, I got my first dog when I was about 20 years old. My parents liked cats but I’ve always been a dog person. And luckily I married somebody who’s as supportive as he could possibly be.
OK, let’s switch gears a little. What’s your beauty routine?
Oh my God. Well, I do everything myself. I get up very early, I normally work on the treadmill, I try to do at least 40 minutes a day on the incline. It’s just a few hundred calories, but it’s something. I wear makeup every day unless I’m at home with my hair in a clip and slobbing around.
What are your beauty must-haves?
My lashes. I do the individuals. If you’re on camera you pretty much need them otherwise your eyes look non-existent. Like that old photo you showed me. I didn’t have any lashes on then. And lip gloss. Even if I’ve got no makeup and my hair in a clip, I always have something on my lips.
Oh wait…. is that Candy Spelling?
I think it is.
So yeah, I always have lip gloss. One sec … Hi darling, how are you?
[There’s an exchange. Lisa and Candy take a few photos and then Lisa sits down with me again.]
Sorry about that. Didn’t mean to interrupt our conversation, but she just walked in and I didn’t want to seem rude.
Not at all. You’re so kind.
My fellow housewives don’t think so.
Speaking of the Real Housewives, the three-part reunion is upon us. Doesn’t it feel like dredging up old stuff that’s already been resolved?
It does, it does, especially since I was a punching bag this season. I mean, I really was. They created lies about me. Brandi said Kyle told her… and then this one would say that thing. They all got a bit tedious to be honest. I’ve been on 120 episodes of reality television and suddenly my integrity’s in question because Brandi says I put a magazine in a bag, which I didn’t. It just made me really sickened by the whole thing.
Does it make you reconsider … like maybe you don’t want to do the show?
Well, I’m not saying I don’t want to do it … it’s still undecided as to what’s going to happen. But it wasn’t a pleasant experience. Watching the last five episodes was horrible for me. They ganged up on me. They did. Whatever the way they cut it, they all got together and they said, ‘Oh, we have things we want to discuss.’ But about what? Kim saying that I didn’t go to her daughter’s graduation? Come on. I was at the National Alopecia Areata Foundation in Missouri. It’s documented.
What do you think accounts for this shift? Do you think it’s part of a script?
Oh not at all. No script. I’ll tell you …
[Lisa puts my phone recorder down and whispers in my ear the real reason she thinks the ladies have all turned on her. Sorry, folks. I have to leave that part out.]
I don’t know. It was a great season for me. I did “Dancing With the Stars.” “Vanderpump Rules” eclipsed Housewives in the ratings, so that did very well. It’s been great having my own show, but it’s also difficult doing two shows at the same time.
But you love it, don’t you? You’ll be back.
Uh … nothing’s been decided. I really couldn’t say that definitely at this point.
So are none of the Housewives your friends right now? What does the future hold?
Joyce and Carlton have been amazing. I have a history with Kyle, but to have to constantly defend yourself about BS that people put out there is exhausting. Nothing has been decided as far as the show, so we’ll see. Just don’t forget to tell Steve what I told you. Make sure he gets the message!
For more info or to nominate a heroic dog: www.herodogawards.org