LISA VANDERPUMP | Exclusive Interview
Ms. V on White Party, Sangria and Gays
by Herb Sosa
WHO IS LISA VANDERPUMP?
If you have to ask yourself this question, you either don't own a
T.V., don't enjoy reality show voyeurism, or simply live in a far off,
remote cave - again with NO CABLE.
AMBIENTE had the privilege of an Exclusive interview with the
Gande Dame of Beverly Hills, Ms. Lisa Vanderpump, just before
her trip to South Florida to reign over the White Party kingdom.
Hailing from London, restaurateur, designer, author,
philanthropist, producer and television personality, Lisa
Vanderpump moved to the U.S. eight years ago. Lisa is best
known for The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, the cast of
which she joined in 2010. Emerging as a breakout star on Bravo,
2013 saw the premiere of Lisa's new reality television show,
Vanderpump Rules, exploring the intricacies of owning SUR, a
sexy, unique restaurant in West Hollywood. Vanderpump Rules
follows Lisa as she balances her motherly instincts with a
shrewd business sense while keeping the passionate and
volatile staff at her West Hollywood restaurant in line.
As a restaurateur, Lisa and her husband, Ken Todd, to whom
she has been married for over 30 years, own the renowned
celebrity hotspot Villa Blanca in Beverly Hills in addition to SUR.
Throughout the years, the couple have owned 26 bars and
restaurants in Europe, most of which were designed by Lisa.
Lisa's enthusiasm for interiors also led her to design various
homes, many of which have been featured in magazines and
television shows worldwide. After years as a restaurateur, Lisa is
delighted to showcase her passion for food, decor and lifestyle in
her bestselling book, Simply Divine: A Guide to Easy, Elegant and
Affordable Entertaining. A prolific writer, Lisa also serves as a
Contributor for Beverly Hills Lifestyle magazine. More recently,
Lisa is helping her daughter Pandora launch LVP Sangria, a new
line of sangria based on her recipes.
Lisa is committed to helping others through her work with
various charities and organizations including GLAAD, The Keep
Memory Alive Foundation, and The Children’s Burn Foundation,
among others. Lisa has also recently joined the board of the American Humane Association. Alongside her Pomeranian Giggy, who
suffers from Alopecia, Lisa works with NAAF, helping children with Alopecia Areata.
Lisa lives in Beverly Hills with her husband Ken Todd and their 4 dogs. They have two children, Pandora, 27, and Maxfield, 21.
However, family aside, the love of Lisa's life is her Gigolo, Giggy, a 3 year old Pomeranian.
How did you get involved in reality TV? Has it been everything you expected? Good? Bad?
LVP: Funny enough, I think it was at the time when reality television was really coming to the forefront four years ago. I was approached to
do two or three different things, and then I decided to sign up with Bravo. I wanted to be portrayed accurately. It’s certainly been an
adventure and some of the seasons have been tough. I wasn’t prepared for the aggressiveness of the other women.
Tell us about running a real business in front of a camera. How much time does it take and how disruptive is it?
LVP: Well, of course on Real Housewives you don’t see that much of me involved in the business, and with Vanderpump Rules a lot of it
is to do with the shenanigans of what the kids get up to when they’re not at the restaurant. Most of the naughtiness is outside of the
restaurant but, of course, in every restaurant you get the different dynamics.
Your charity work is admirable. How did you get involved with
CareResource and the White Party?
LVP: I was Queen of White Party in Palm Springs so I couldn't wait
to come to Miami to support the world's largest HIV/AIDS fundraiser
benefiting Care Resource.
You are very supportive of the LGBT community. Did you/do you
have any influences in your life that led you to this sensitivity?
LVP: I just feel close to the community; I have a lot of gay friends
and I am a huge supporter. I don’t quite understand what
difference it makes to anyone else what people do and if they
want to proclaim their love. If you love somebody, gay or straight,
what difference does it make to somebody else if you want to
legalize that and if you want to solidify that? It doesn’t make sense
to me, so I’ve been ordained as well.
Do you come to Miami a lot and what do you think of South
LVP: No, not as often as I want to. I haven’t been for a few years so
I’m excited to go.
Tell me about your new venture into the Sangria world? How is
this one special/different?
LVP: Bottling the sangria was really Pandora and Jason’s idea.
We’ve served sangria in the restaurants and served it at home and
they said “Well why don’t we take it to the market?” I said, “Oh
goodness! That’s a lot of work!” They came to me with the idea
and I said okay, but if you are using my recipe then I want to have
a lot of input! I wanted to make sure everything looks exactly the
way I serve it and the taste of it is the same, so we worked for ages
on bottling a product that lived up to that. It was a lot of work, but I
am really proud of their product. I totally stand behind this product.
Describe your personal style.
LVP: I like to be very classic. I always think you should dress for
your silhouette rather than go with fashions. Anybody that knows me knows I love the old
kind of glamour. I like style icons – Jackie Onassis in her day and Audrey Hepburn. I love
that – the jewelry, the heels, the dresses, I just love that look. I also have quite a masculine
side to me as well. I wear a lot of jackets and suits and tailored shirts so I like both. All my
clothing is always very tailored. You will rarely see me in anything bohemian, but I do love
What are 3 things you will never leave the house without?
LVP: My underwear, my lip gloss, because I’m addicted to it, and heels. I am always in heels
unless I’m walking the dogs.
What are the 3 things one must have for a successful party – other than you and your
LVP: Great music, as you know, my restaurants are so ambiance driven. We play music in
our house even when we’re not entertaining, all the time, that’s very important. I think lighting
is imperative always. It depends what party you’re throwing but if it’s in the evening lighting is
absolutely key. It actually can totally ruin a party if you get the lighting wrong. I think food is very
important, but don’t stress over it. It’s very much how you feel about throwing your party that
reflects on the way your guests feel. We’ve all been to a party where somebody is frantic and
stressed and it’s not an enjoyable experience. I would say do less rather than more. Do your
preparation and make everything as beautiful as you can, but don’t stress when your guests
are there because it just ripples over and it ruins the atmosphere.
What’s next for the Vanderpump empire? More TV? Skin products?
LVP: I have really enjoyed being a producer on Vanderpump Rules and I just love that. I am
very proud of Vanderpump Rules, things like the titles, the transitions, the music, the feeling
of it and the way it’s lit. To me that was very exciting and I love to sit in production meetings
and say “I want it to be like this, I want it to feel sexier.” So many reality shows to me are over
lit and they feel sterile. I said, “No you have to accurately portray how SUR is.” I want you to
almost feel like you are in the shadows, so they’ve done a good job with that.
Photos & bio Courtesy of LVP sangria
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I just feel close to the
community; I have a
lot of gay friends
and I am a huge
supporter. I don’t quite
difference it makes to
anyone else what
people do and if they
want to proclaim their
love. If you love
somebody, gay or
difference does it make
to somebody else if you
legalize that and if you
want to solidify that? It
doesn’t make sense
to me, so I’ve been
ordained as well.