Catching Up With Alex McCord and Simon van Kampen
From ‘Real Housewives’ to ‘Real’ Life: New York’s Alex & Simon Tell All!
Reporter David Kleinman has shared another great interview with us! This time he catches up with two reality show stars:
For Alex McCord and Simon van Kampen, taking the plunge and signing a four-year contract to put their family’s life on reality television may have been a roller coaster of highs and lows but Alex admits it was certainly a “wild ride.”
When the pair first signed onto ‘Manhattan Moms’, later re-titled ‘The Real Housewives of New York City’, neither of the Brooklynites could have expected the cultural juggernaut that became of Bravo’s ‘Housewives’ franchise during their tenure, and the cost of being cast as the couple viewers love to hate.
Through a stifled laugh Alex confessed “The Housewives was at best stressful and at worst? Soul-destroying.”
Simon too has dismay for the way he and his wife were portrayed, as the ‘wanna-be fall guys’. His shared love of all things fashion with his wife led to rumors running rampant of closeted homosexuality and cross-dressing among fellow cast members and the blogosphere.
“I didn’t realize at the time, and I still struggle understanding it now, that reality television producers have no soul. To make a show like ‘Housewives’ you actually have to be be able to sleep at night knowing you’ve lied to people, you have no regard for their existence outside the celluloid of the 42″ TV screen.”
Appearing on ‘Housewives’ may have left the two with a bad taste in their mouth but they remain relatively unscathed by the experience, comparatively so.
From the recent 39-count indictment of Teresa and Joe Guidice of New Jersey’s Housewives to the suicide two years ago of Beverly Hills housewife Taylor Armstrong’s husband Russell the New York pair have carved a better life from their time in the spotlight and, unlike so many of their contemporaries, are still together and going strong.
Fame afforded Alex and Simon the opportunity to work from their home in Cobble Hill, a luxury that allows them to spend more time with their sons Francois and Johan, now ages 8 and 10. Along with fashion-blogging for Sulia.com and Aluxe, a line of kitchen gadgets available online and at D’Agostinos, Alex video-recaps episodes of their former reality show on The Stir. Alex’s first-hand experience allows viewers a peek behind the scenes of the so-called reality, and the public’s interest allotted Alex to go beyond New York and recap all things housewives.
The rumor mill reports that queen bee of the New York Housewives Ramona Singer’s husband Mario impregnated his mistress. Although it’s bound to be a plot line on the upcoming sixth season Alex seriously doubts the accusations against her friend Ramona’s husband, with whom she is closest to of all her former cast mates.
“That’s always been the way [Mario's] cast and painted on the show as some guy with a roving eye. My reality of him is he’s no more of a flirt than anybody else. Everybody’s husband flirts and everybody’s wife flirts too, it’s just cocktail party banter. It’s no different than producers showing [Ramona] always sipping a drink or always showing my husband getting in somebody’s face when we were on the show, defending himself.”
Simon now runs bravoratings.com, a website that catalogs all the viewership of Bravo TV shows. As a ratings man he has a unique perspective on the lagging numbers of his former co-star Bethenny Frankel’s talk show.
“Bethenny was the every-woman of the ‘Housewives’ franchise, she was a master at being seen to be the every-girl. Things started to go wrong with season one of her spin-off when she belittled [her fiance Jason's] parents, she belittled the small town they live in in PA. When she belittled Jason over divorce and he was seen as a really cool, level-headed guy Bethenny started losing fans hand over fist. Bethenny the nice girl who everyone could relate to was no longer. That then spiraled into bad ratings.”
Bad ratings, Simon explained, led to guests of a lower caliber including failed mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner’s sexting buddy Sydney Leathers, ‘Backdoor Teen Mom’ star Farrah Abraham and an invitation to hold a mini-’Housewives’ reunion on her show with Jill Zarin and Alex McCord, which both ladies swiftly rejected.
Whether Alex and Simon find themselves in the middle of the drama or providing sideline commentary they both agree their lives have been improved by the experience of being put under the microscope and neither of them would have it any other way.
“I try to live life without regrets, meaning if you think you’re going to regret something don’t do it. Which is why I never call Jill Zarin,” zinged Alex.