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Claudia Lonow

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The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills: Could I Be One Too?

Posted: 01/25/11 04:55 PM ET

I have a confession: I'm fascinated with The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. I think it's because of all the housewives programs in all the land this is the first incarnation that made me wonder: "Could I be on this show?" While I don't actually live in Beverly Hills, it is close, especially if I take Sunset. And once upon a time, (the 80's), I was a child actress. I played Diana Fairgate, Michele Lee's chubby, loud-mouthed teenage daughter on Knots Landing -- a domestic-themed nighttime soap opera set in a cul-de-sac, (French for dead end). I mean, RHOBH cast member Kim Richards was a child star and while I wasn't exactly a child star, I was successful enough to have developed a pretty impressive cocaine addiction. (We all have our accomplishments).

My first impediment to being on the show, besides not having auditioned or been asked, is that I'm not a housewife. Also, not a wife. But then again, neither is Kim Richards, so yay, I'm in! Anyway, that shouldn't matter. Bravo's usage of the word "housewife" is so deconstructed in this series that it loses all meaning. Though an unpaid position, being a housewife traditionally implies housework, of which the housewives do none. Seriously, they might as well call it The Real Desk Lamps of Beverly Hills. I have yet to see cast member Lisa Vanderpump so much as heat a cup 'a' soup in her microwave. On Knots Landing Michele Lee pantomimed cooking a chicken now and then and Joan Van Ark forgot her many troubles by pretend gardening. In fact, I think Russell would be nicer to Taylor if she fake loaded the dishwasher once or twice. Maybe my role in RHOBH could be making useful suggestions like that. I'd be the friend who says, "let's share secrets while we vacuum."

My second roadblock is my lack of plastic surgery. The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills ladies' faces have been lasered down to the nubbin, after which those nubbins have been expanded. (Again, except for Kim Richards, who I'm kind of hoping doesn't want dermatological procedures as opposed to the other option -- she can't afford it). My resistance to surgery is two fold. First, my aging goal is to stay recognizable so that when I bump into people I haven't seen in a long time, they say, "Hi, Claudia," as opposed to, "And you are...?" And when I was on Knots, back in the schmeighties, all the women looked very gorgeous even though it was pre-collagen and botox old timey days. Instead, the cameramen used lenses labeled in ascending gauziness: "A through D." (One of the Dallas cameramen told me he called the "D" lens the "Barbara Bel Geddes." Is there anyone alive who knows what I'm talking about?) But maybe Kim Richards and me could be the two former child stars on RHOBH who go au naturale. Like, that'd be our hook. I'd be like, "Oh Kim, let's you and me move our faces while we polish wood furniture."

I think I'd be most helpful though with the RHOBH villain du jour: Camille Grammer. This is where my Knots Landing analogy picks up steam because Camille is pure Donna "Abby Cunningham" Mills. In real life, Donna was an extremely sweet, ridiculously beautiful woman whose character would never "wear the same outfit twice." (Though mine would, according to our costumer designer). Donna's character, Abby, was pure blond evil. Criticize-your-haircut evil. Make-snide-remarks-about-your-kitchen-remodel evil. Fuck-your-husband-in-your-own-hot tub-evil. By the time Knots got into our fourth season, she'd slept with so many husbands; they needed to rehabilitate her character. So they gave my character, Diana Fairgate, kidney failure. (This was a big arc for me, by the way. I even hired an acting coach to prepare. Oh well). My TV mom's kidney didn't match. Neither did my two fake brothers'. But my Aunt Abby, Donna Mills, tested compatible, and in a tearful scene, she told me: "Anything I have is yours. Even my kidney." Since Camille is possibly coming back to RHOBH next season, but is sick of being a villain, maybe she should give me a kidney. I'm very good at getting a kidney. Although now we couldn't do it because it's out there and again, I have not been asked to be on the show.

Next week is the reunion. According to the coming attractions, everyone is going to confront Kim about her drinking problem. Man, let me tell you, I've been there and it is a drag even when it's not being filmed. I wish I could hold Kim's hand and tell her it's going to be all right. That I know what it's like to be a former child star, or at least former child star adjacent, having grown out of whatever it was that made you bankable. That one day you learn how to actually vacuum instead of just pretend, and you're grateful that your friends can still recognize you. On second thought, I don't think I could be on this show. After all, Sunset is iffy during rush hour.

 
 
 

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