Danielle Staub faces reality
While the Eastern Seaboard prepared itself for Hurricane Earl -- I prepared myself for another tempestuous storm. On the BRAVO reality series The Housewives of New Jersey, Danielle Staub has been portrayed as the show's most volatile natural disaster. If you're a fan of the guilty pleasure then you are completely tuned in to the damage Danielle has allegedly left in her wake. There's been table tossing, hair-pulling, accusations of illegal drug use and serious cat fights that have even led to some rough housing of show producer and host Andy Cohen. Easily earning Ms. Staub comparisons to a developing category 4 tropical depression.
But even though Earl had ruined her Hamptons weekend plans, "I think Earl's gonna top Storm Danielle!" she jokes. Hurricane Danielle couldn't have been in a better mood when we chatted.
Surprisingly, uncomfortable with the word "celebrity", Danielle will be the guest host and bartender at an upcoming fundraiser at the #1 gay sports bar Boxers NYC in the Chelsea on Tuesday, September 14, 2010 at 10pm.
"I'm really excited about the event," she explains enthusiastically, "it's a gay nightclub! WooHoo!"
Part of the gay community
I asked her if she’s an experienced mixologist, after all the clientele at Boxers have certain expectations from their bar staff. Danielle admits, "I don’t know if Cosmos are an obsolete drink! So everyone is going to be drinking whatever I had the last time I actually had an alcoholic beverage -- they’ll have Cosmos, Rum Runners and maybe some Sex on the Beaches."
Undoubtedly the boys will just be thrilled to participate, support the cause and perhaps have the opportunity to snap a pic of the now most infamous of the Housewives. "I just hope everyone gets happy really fast, so that they will over tip -- it’ll make me look really good!" And it certainly will all go to benefit a very good cause.
The event is meant to draw attention to one of the many charities that Danielle helps to support: Strengthen Our Sisters which assists women affected by domestic violence. "These are the true survivors and to give them support and make them feel beautiful -- it’s important to bring awareness to the cause," she says. "I’m always amazed at how much I get out of volunteering. You don’t need to say anything accept that I’m here for you. We’re gonna help stop the violence!"
Staub was particularly candid in sharing her own vulnerability and how she herself had once been a victim, but found support among her gay circle of friends. "I’ve been a part of the gay community for over 30 years," she continued to share. "It was the only place that I found that I fit in without having to acknowledge anything that I had been going through." She had experienced abuse of her own when she was younger, and is preparing to reveal the details in her memoir entitled The Naked Truth. (For more information on her book, visit her website.
But it was in the gay community that I found strength and support without having to worry about anyone taking anything from me without my permission."
Strengthen Our Sisters is dedicated to giving the victims of domestic violence, the women and the children, who often find themselves in difficult an hopeless situations the tools to find their own empowerment. Whether it be providing a safe shelter, a boost to their self-esteem with a make over or something as serious as a self defense lesson, which Danielle has been a part of.
"I participated in a self-defense class with an Olympian Judo martial artist -- and I flipped him over!" It doesn’t escape me that those skills would have been put to excellent use on the latest season of her reality series.
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Watch this interview with Danielle Staub where she discusses leaving The Housewives of New Jersey:
Center of controversy
In the recent reunion episode, Staub found herself at the embattled center of the controversy when the shows co-stars including Teresa Giudice and Caroline Manzo came at her from both sides. Choosing to not participate in the chaos, Staub walked off the set, and apparently off the show as well. She soon thereafter blogged with all due diligence:
"To all who do not know me, never cared to, and do not relate to me or my journey, thank you for taking so much time out of your life to let me know. Proves me right - love me or hate me, you’re still paying attention." - Danielle
With a life and a celebrity that has come under heavy scrutiny and fire from the media and all angles, I asked Danielle how her daughters are handling all of the attention both positive and negative.
"They don’t read about it or watch it -- they don’t even have televisions, but they know when I’ve been affected by ’The Others’." The Others is how Staub takes to calling her often conflicting cast mates, and is not a reference to the duplicitous nature of the villains of the ABC series LOST -- although make whatever inference you like.
Danielle does admit that her daughters do worry about her. "I tell the girls this is a job, but the few times that I’ve gotten hurt, that’s affected them. I ask them to stay positive and we’ll get through it." And as any ordinary over-adulating mom she goes on to rave about her girls, "I am so proud -- I did something right."
Keeping her kids safe from the manic impressions of the reality show environment, led me to ask Danielle about just how real the world of the housewives was, and how it compared to other reality show dramas like MTV’s The Hills. She admits that there is some truth to what the camera captures. "Even though we all have our characters we’re not at all scripted. But the show isn’t The Sopranos and the others shouldn’t always be out to get me -- come on, let’s be real here."
The Susan Lucci of reality television?
And she accepts that the experience has given her a platform in which to balance the other aspects of her creative life. "I would love to have a platform that will support and affect people -- I will always speak loudly!" And if her legacy is to become the persona as presented on the Housewives, she also accepts, "I may forever be considered the Susan Lucci of reality television, and I’m gonna own it... and I’m gonna love it, honey!"
After the events of the Housewives finale continue to unravel, of all the ladies of the Garden State cast, Danielle has certainly been the most prominent caught in the media crosshairs... and one would expect that’s much given to her own design. "Scrutinize me all you want, but boy have I gotten the nation’s attention."
There was the finale throw-down and then the recent live performance of her new dance single "Real Close" on local station WPIX Channel 11 which has been making the rounds all over YouTube and even Access Hollywood’s Billy Bush has chimed in.
She collaborated on the track with the notably out pop artist/producer Lori Michaels and ignited a fireworks of speculation of her relationship with Michaels. "She’s a great talent -- and I have a tremendous connection with her; we’re close... really close."
Just as the song would imply. "It’s a girl on girl duet -- it’s a love song; two girls singing a love song to one another." I asked her about how they met: "We met at Gay Pride over a year ago -- I was out walking one of my 11 miles in stilettos!" After I LMAO (Laughed My Ass Off), I took the courtesy to apologize to Danielle for making her march in heels to which she replied, ’Are you kidding me -- I’d do it again! If you’re going to march on about equality you have to get out there and get close to people -- give them hugs!’" Comments such as these continue to lend credence to the blossoming romance the Internet is all a twitter with regarding both ladies.
For their next collaboration Staub and Michaels are releasing a track that Michaels wrote entitled "Cry" and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to defeating domestic violence. "People can overcome anything so long as you find that one positive thing. Just go to the place within you that says I deserve better than this and you will manifest that."
Although Danielle was wonderfully coy about revealing too much about her friendship with Michaels she did admit that only time will tell. "The important thing right now for me is to keep my private life private, but Helen Keller could see what Lori means to me, and if I make any announcements in regards to our relationship of course the gay community will be among the first to know. I’m a very happy girl!"
As the less-than-tumultuous Earl flew by New York, I point out just how often the media tends to blow things (especially the weather) out of proportion, which led Danielle to reflect on her experiences with the media and how she copes.
"The only thing that troubles me is that people get really caught up in it... I wouldn’t want anyone to believe anything other than what they’ve experienced of me," Danielle says. "And that is that I believe that if you stay calm even in the midst of confrontation that you will come out victorious. And everyone should realize that no matter what -- gay, straight, black, white, we’re all equals -- we were born that way. We should start treating each other that way."
Hurricane Danielle has left the room, not a single table tossed or court order announced -- I think it’s safe to come out.
For those in New York City, come and meet Danielle Staub on Tuesday, September 14, 2010 @ 10pm at Boxers NYC Sportsbar located at 37 West 20th Street. She’ll be joined by comedian Oscar Aydin. Order a drink from the celebrity bartender and help break the chain of domestic violence by supporting Strengthen Our Sisters. For more information on this group visit the Strengthen Our Sisters. To learn more about Danielle Staub, visit her website.
Watch Danielle Staub on The Wendy Williams Show: