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August 26, 2013

A Chat with Alexis Bellino of Real Housewives of OC

http://www.jewishjournal.com/blog/item/alexis_bellino_of_real_housewives_of_orange_county/

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I was recently invited to an event with Alexis Bellino, by the publicist handling her clothing company.  I thought it odd they reached out to me because I don’t often write positively about Alexis.  I think she is essentially harmless, but in terms of the Real Housewives of Orange County, she is not interesting, portraying a fake life, and not bringing anything of interest to the show.  I have actually found her and her husband to be annoying.

There is no reality in reality TV, so while I have not been a fan of Alexis, it is based on what I see on the show not real life. They could be perfectly lovely people living the exact life they want me to believe they lead. Probably not, but who am I to say?  I am not a gossip writer, or a TV critic.  I am a fan of reality TV and a writer who shares my view and opinion. When it came to the event, I agreed to go if I could get an interview with Alexis.

It was not about the show as much as it was about her.  I am a woman with deep faith and I am attracted to people of faith.  I thought it would be interesting to talk to Alexis about her belief in God and how it came to be that she was working with a Jewish woman who describes herself as very religious.  I told the publicist that I was interested in talking about faith and they told me I could interview both Tal, her design partner, and Alexis if I came.

I made it very clear to the publicist, as well as Alexis and Tal, that I wanted to talk about faith.  I did not come to them, they came to me, so I assumed they were comfortable with my style of writing and I thought that perhaps they felt if I related to Alexis through faith, maybe I would take it easier on her.  That’s not how I roll.  I will always write my honest opinion and again, I write about the show, not the people.  They were taking a leap of faith.

I arrived to the event and was surprised.  It was a fashion show for Alexis’s line with designer Tal, and it was in a hair blow out shop.  It was very tiny, the runway was silly, there were balloons outside as decoration.  There was no valet parking, no food being served, and a guy pouring wine.  There were a lot of people there, mostly young women dressed like streetwalkers and old Orange County ladies trying to look young.  It was a fire hazard.

I interviewed Tal first. She is a pretty girl, with unfortunate facial injections.  She is pregnant and has the glow of a woman about to have a child.  She is very sweet and approachable.  She is Israeli with a thick accent, but I am also Israeli and my mother’s accent is thicker than Tal’s, so there was no miscommunication.  We spoke for about 20 minutes and understood each other. To be very clear, there was no language barrier.

Tal was not particularly kind to her business partner Alexis.  In fact, she was mean.  She told many things about Alexis that I thought should be kept to herself.  When I mentioned in my RHOC recap blog that she was not kind, she, along with her publicist, began to email me.  They said I was causing distress to her pregnancy. They said I misunderstood Tal because of her accent. They said Tal was not articulate due to being pregnant.

I got a couple of threatening emails from Tal saying in part: “I don't understand why you would attack me this way in print when everything you wrote is incorrect and offensive to me and my business.  You kept harassing me about why I am working with Alexis since she is Christian. I repeatedly answered you politely. Call before this becomes a nightmare. Call me before we take matters in our own hand and pursue other avenue by tomorrow.”

When I first started to interview Tal I was taking notes.  When she started to speak badly about Alexis, I began to record our conversation.  I knew she was going down a slippery slope and I wanted to make sure I was hearing her correctly. In listening to the conversation now, I can tell you with no hesitation, that Tal was unprofessional about her partner.  She said Alexis has nothing to with the line and made no design decisions.

She said she uses Alexis for fame and to make money.  She said that Alexis claims to be a woman of God but she never congratulated Tal on her wedding or her pregnancy.  Tal said she was kosher, and Alexis brought her kids to a meeting and fed them bacon cheeseburgers in front of her. She made fun of Alexis, in both English and Hebrew. I was surprised by her answers and you can hear me laughing at many of her answers in disbelief.

She is free to have her opinion of course, and I was not surprised about what she said about Alexis, but raher that she was telling me these things.  I am friendly and make people comfortable, but I am also press and this was for an article, so for her to make these choices, and for her publicist to leave her alone with a writer, particularly if they are going to say she is "not fluid" due to pregnancy, was silly.  They are now doing damage control.

When we finished speaking it was time for me to talk to Alexis.  She is very tiny and soft spoken.  A very beautiful woman and she seemed to have no idea who I was or what I had written about her for years, as she did not mention it.  Important to note that I have interviewed many housewives and they have all said they know my blog and know I am brutally honest. Alexis said nothing, and stood with her husband as I began asking questions.

We spoke about faith and if it was hard to keep so connected when so many people judge.  She spoke beautifully about faith and God.  I relayed a message I got from one of her fans speaking of how Jews were the chosen people and she was touched by it.  She said her faith is personal and that she admired all faiths and felt people of faith were blessed no matter what the faith.  We shared many of the same views on God and religion.

Alexis also spoke highly of Tal.  She said they had a great relationship and partnership.  Jim said he was proud of his wife and stepped aside as my teenage guest asked for a picture.  We spoke for about five minutes and I felt bad because she had no idea that Tal has spoken so unkindly about her. When I started to get emails from Tal and her people I told them that I had not decided whether or not I would post a blog about the visit at all.

It has been over a week since I was in Orange County and I have not written about the interview until now.  I am only writing about it after I was contacted by Tal and her team and called a liar. You can say I am harsh, mean, sarcastic, or opinionated, but you cannot say I am a liar.  I felt bad for Alexis.  For someone close to her, who is in business with her and using her to make money, to speak so unfavorably about her hurt my feelings for her.

I write honestly and without fear because I know it is the truth.  I share my opinions and stand by them.  I am funny and uncensored, harsh and kind, open and unguarded.  I write this way in both of my daily columns.  I am known for having an opinion and my decision to write this article is based on the perception by Tal and her team that I am not telling the truth. The truth is that there was no misunderstanding Tal’s unprofessionalism.

My goal is not to hurt anyone, only to defend myself. I am not comfortable with the thought of these people thinking I have lied, made things up, or written something sensational.  I am a writer of my truth, and in this case, of Tal’s truth. I don’t want to cause problems and I would not have written at all had my professionalism not been called into question. Should there be continuing issue I will simply play the audiotape of the interview.

I am not a fan of Alexis on The Real Housewives of Orange County.  I am a fan of the way she holds her faith close and is not afraid to talk about it.  I went to meet these women to talk about whether faith plays a role in their partnership, but I never got that question answered. I did learn that Alexis is lovely and her husband loves her. I also got clarity that when it comes to my voice, writing, and ethics, I can only rely on myself to keep it real.

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