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The Actual Real Housewives of New York Dish On Their TV Doppelgängers

Illustrations by Laura Collins

There’s been name-calling, skinny-dipping—and, of course, finger-pointing. The Real Housewives of New York City, the Bravo reality series that aired its first season in 2008, has jackhammered through the façade of uptown Manhattan, a milieu once known for its exclusivity and discretion. But what do the real-life women who reside there think about their TV counterparts? Here, the ladies tell all.

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Vicky, Bergdorf Goodman, 754 Fifth Avenue

“I’m drawn to the grungier aspects of the show, like the [Luann de] Lesseps woman going to jail. Is it a good representation of the Upper East Side? No. Is it great television? Yes, it is. Funny enough, my husband and I once rented Ramona Singer’s house in the Hamptons years ago. I will reserve my opinion on the house itself,  but yes, I do see them around.”

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Judith, Zitomer, 969 Madison Avenue

“I’ll be honest, I was asked to be on it years ago. But the thought of people coming into my house and filming was a big ‘No, thank you.’ I do not regret not being on the show, but I enjoy watching. It covers a lot of the drama that happens between real women that normally isn’t talked about.”

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Elizabeth, J’s Cleaners, 957 Park Avenue

“The show just isn’t accurate. The social engagements, the dinners—all of that is put on. Who has the time for that? When you see a real, wealthy New York City woman, she’s usually in her yoga clothes. She’s walking her kids to school. She’s getting a coffee. She’s natural—well, maybe she’s had some work done—but she doesn’t have a glam squad.”

 

Alexandra, Loews Regency New York Hotel, 540 Park Avenue

“Glam squads are real. I would say that they’ve actually become more prevalent since the show. You now need to get a facial. You need to have your hair blown out every day. The show is a perfectly accurate representation of what goes down in this neighborhood. I see the Housewives here all the time. Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen was here earlier tonight. It’s all as real as this ambulance siren going off in the back of our conversation.”

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Marie, Bemelmans Bar, 35 East 76th Street

“Since Bethenny Frankel came back, I don’t watch as much. I mean, there’s everything she did for Puerto Rico—sure, that was generous and you need to see the good in people. But I don’t know. I just feel like the whole reason she was on the show was to launch her Skinnygirl whatever. It’s too much.”

“Crystal”, The Mark Bar, 25 East 77th Street

“Bethenny inspires me as an entrepreneur, as a strong woman, and as a fabulous person. She doesn’t give an eff about what people think. She’s purely in it to win it. She is living her best life, and we are lucky to get even a sliver of it.”

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Kerry, Duane Reade, 1235 Lexington Avenue

“I relate to Dorinda [Medley]. Maybe she drinks a bit too much, but she speaks her mind and seems like a good, well-rounded person. I like people who have redeeming qualities.”

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Sarah, Eli’s Market, 1413 Third Avenue

“I hate that newer one, Dorinda. She’s always screaming. I see all of them around a lot. I guess in the sense that they’re aging rapidly and desperate to stay relevant, you could say that they’re an accurate portrayal of the kind of people you meet around here.”

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Anjeli, Omar at Vaucluse, 100 East 63rd Street

“The show is awful, isn’t it? The irony of it is incredible. Only Andy Cohen could get away with making a show about ‘housewives’ where none of them are married.”

Julie, Bode Yoga, 173 East 83rd Street

“Sonja [Morgan] is definitely my favorite housewife. She has this inspirational ability to stay optimistic in the face of everything difficult that comes her way. Something I love about the show is that there are no villains. Only fascinating, multidimensional women.”

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Siya, Nello, 696 Madison Avenue

“Those women do not give a damn anymore. I’ve never wanted to be on the show, but I’m so curious how much they make. But, no, it’s not for me. America would hate me! And they need to cast younger, actual moms.”

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Andrea, The Mark Restaurant by Jean-Georges, 25 East 77th Street 

“I’ve heard that Ramona hires matchmakers. I know this because a matchmaker came up to my friend and was like, ‘Would you be interested in going out with Ramona?’ And then, of course, my friend was like, ‘No!’”

Jasmina, Central Park

“As a docuseries, Season One was the closest to reality. Like, I knew women like that. Since then, it’s become more of an echo chamber where they all just judge each other as harshly as possible, and you can see how much it cripples them. But that also feels accurate to me. The women in this city are under so much pressure. You see their bodies change from season to season. Their makeup gets more extreme. I can definitely relate.”

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Kay, E.A.T., 1064 Madison Avenue

“The number one thing that the show gets totally wrong about New York ‘society’ is that anyone who is actually important would never be caught dead on reality TV—or call themselves a housewife. They’re working  day jobs.”