The Hot Seat

Lisa Vanderpump Is Still Not Over This Staged Storyline

The reality show mogul opens up about her new show, Scandoval, and her RHOBH run.

Lisa Vanderpump isn’t slowing down after Scandoval. The former Real Housewife of Beverly Hills joins Bustle over Zoom from a hotel room in London, where she’s working as a judge on Gordon Ramsay’s Food Stars, a stint that follows a whirlwind 36 hours in Los Angeles for the Vanderpump Rules Season 11 reunion, which she calls “emotionally very difficult.”

It’s been over a year since Tom Sandoval’s cheating scandal first erupted, which launched Pump Rules into the zeitgeist and garnered the show’s first Emmy nomination after 10 seasons. But coming off the latest reunion, which airs this spring, she suggests they’re still in the middle of the storm.

“It’s almost like one step forward, two steps back,” says Vanderpump, whose breakout role on RHOBH led to a spin-off centered on the (now-former) employees of her West Hollywood hotspot SUR.

But scandals and setbacks aren’t stopping her. Hulu’s Vanderpump Villa — her fifth reality show in the past decade, which premieres on April 1 — sees the restauranteur test-run a new hospitality venture in the French countryside, welcoming guests to a lavish all-inclusive mansion named Chateau Rosabelle.

Vanderpump had the idea to open Chateau Rosabelle before turning it into a TV show, but she hadn’t hired anyone yet. So instead of putting her already dramatic employees on TV a la Pump Rules, she had to search for a staff that would be good at their jobs and on camera.

“We didn't want people that just wanted to be on television,” she says. “We needed authentic housekeepers, bartenders, managers. It wasn't easy.”

The result is a cast who has equal amounts of experience and drama, and she credits executive chef Anthony for holding the whole Chateau together. “If you fall apart, the whole thing falls apart,” Vanderpump recalls telling him. While she says her new employees have the ability to thrive in her world, she admits — in her trademark dry wit — they also have “potential to be a pain in the ass.”

Below, Vanderpump opens up about her RHOBH audition tape, her final scene as a Housewife, and a staged storyline.

Lisa Vanderpump with the Vanderpump Villa cast.Gilles Mingasson / Hulu

Did you live at the villa with the cast?

Oh, I was there. My eyes were everywhere. We had another chateau that my family was living in, but I had this whole [apartment] at the top of the villa. You’ll see me looking out that window and coming down those stairs, spying on them, which I like to do.

Which celebrities would be good guests at Chateau Rosabelle?

Trixie Mattel’s very funny and a very good friend of mine. [She] calls everybody out on everything. And Lance Bass, he’s one of my best friends. I could think of a good half-dozen people who should visit.

Are any of them Housewives?

No. Oh, Garcelle [Beauvais]. I love Garcelle. She joined the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills after I left, unfortunately.

If you had to bring one of your Vanderpump Rules cast members to work at Chateau Rosabelle, who would you choose?

DJ James Kennedy always lights the party up. However naughty he is, he always makes me laugh, and he’s kind of got his life together now. Peter [Madrigal] is always in the background, but he never puts a foot wrong. Lala [Kent] is a hoot.

Lisa Vanderpump on Vanderpump Villa.Gilles Mingasson / Hulu

What do you remember about your first audition tape for RHOBH?

I thought, “I shouldn't be here. I am not really cut out for reality television.” I sat there, and they were like, “OK, what’s your sex life like?” I said, “What do you mean, with my husband or with everybody else?” I remember laughing at myself and thinking, “This is bullsh*t. Who talks like that?” And Andy [Cohen] saw my tape, and he went, “I love her.” I think it was me not caring and not putting pressure on myself, thinking, “I don’t care if I do this.”

Have you gotten an unfair edit across any of your shows?

I’ve never thought [production company] Evolution gave an unfair edit. They said I was probably one of the only people who’s never said “cut [this] out.” I thought, well, if I get it wrong, I must have said it for a reason. I’ll learn from it. But sometimes [the show] was too mean for me. On my last scene in Housewives, I lost my mind and was just like, “Get the f*ck out of my house.”

What do you think was the most staged storyline?

Dorit [Kemsley] decorating a room in Robert Earl’s chain of restaurants [Buca di Beppo], and then Andy asking me how I feel about her as a restaurateur, when I’ve had 37 restaurants and she decorated a room in the back. Yeah, that felt pretty staged. Sorry, Robert Earl, a very good friend of mine, but that was bullsh*t.

That’s a designer, not a restaurateur.

[She’s] not really a designer. Did you see it?

Dorit Kemsley’s “Capri Room” at a Buca di Beppo.Jesse Grant

Oh, that was something. Were there any cut moments you wish viewers could’ve seen?

Oh, hundreds. Reality television will show your worst moments, but they’ll never show your best — when I spoke at Congress, when I opened [Vanderpump Garden] at Caesars Palace, many, many, many things. I’d always go, “Why didn’t you show that?” And I got, “We had something much more interesting.” Tom Schwartz was talking to Katie [Maloney], or Kyle [Richards] was scratching her ass. I’m like, “OK. Thanks, guys.”

This interview was edited and condensed for clarity.