You know her as the tall blonde who looks amazing in a bikini and puts Ramona Singer in her place, but there is more to Aviva Drescher’s Real Housewives story than cafe lunches and cat fights. On a mission to help others with disabilities Aviva took to the airwaves to inspire, and that she does. In this interview she addresses her mission, her father, oh, and that argument in St. Barth’s.
TBB: How did you end up on The Real Housewives of New York City?
AD: I ended up on Real Housewives because two years ago a mutal friend of mine and Bethenny (Frankel)’s, Jake Spitz, begged me to have Bravo come and interview me. I said, “Absolutely not! I would NEVER do that show with those ladies.” I was 9 months pregnant at the time, and Bravo did interview me and they didn’t choose me, thank God, they chose Cindy Barshop. I was about to give birth and I would never do a show with a newborn in tow. A year passed and I always wondered, “What if?” Then, by coincidence they called me again in August of 2011 and handed me a contract because Bethenny insisted that Andy (Cohen) watch my tape. It was one of most difficult decisions I’ve ever made. After weighing out the possibilities with (my husband) Reid I felt the positives outweighed the negatives. I knew I’d be able to weather the storm and ultimately help other amputees on a much larger scale than I was
TBB:In the show’s intro you mention you are New York City born and bred. What was it like growing up in Manhattan?
AD: Growing up in Manhattan was one of the most phenomenal experiences, in my opinion, that anyone can have, despite the lack of a backyard. At a very young age you get exposure to different races, cultures, religions. This a melting pot and you really get to see the whole world microcosm into one city. As a youngster you are able to hop on a bus without depending on your parents and go to museums, exhibits, movies, etc. I believe that New York City’s culture can keep kids out of trouble because there is so much to do. On the flipside there are lots of affluent people and money can lead to spoiled behavior, access to drugs, and excess. Overall, though, it really was phenomenal.
TBB: Your father, George, is the controversial breakout star this season. Did you have any reservations about bringing him on the show?
AD: Yes…(laughs) yes! I think that my father is wildly inappropriate but very funny and it seems he elicited very strong reactions, both positive and negative from people, which makes for great TV. I was completely embarrassed but I was mortified with or without the cameras anyway. But he is my father and he and my mother were wonderful parents, he still is a wonderful parent. Just please don’t hold me accountable for his behavior. Unless you find him funny. Then I will take the credit!
TBB: How is he enjoying all the extra attention?
AD: I think that he likes it, especially from the ladies.
TBB: I cringe everytime the other women make references to your ex-husband Harry Dubin. Did that bother you at all while filming?
AD: It did not bother me at all while filming until the end. Towards the end I felt like it got annoying. Afterall he is my ex and people are our exes for a reason. After a hundred times hearing about my ex it got annoying. He is the father of my son, so let’s leave it at that.
TBB: Which castmate are you closest friends with and had you met prior to the show?
AD: I was closest with Carole (Radziwell) while filming. Since filming I am closest with Carole and Heather (Thomson). We were in a unique position being thrown into a very new and strange situation at the same time, but I did not know them before. I knew Luann(De Lesseps) before the show.
TBB: You have four children, they must be aware of the show. As a parent how do you balance their desire to watch while censoring what is not appropriate for them to see?
AD: Before I signed the contracts I asked my older children and they were very excited about it. I was very clear that we may get made fun of. Harrison didn’t care at all, even after I explained why some of his friends and their mothers might say things, he looked me straight in the eye and said “screw them”. As far as watching TV they only watch what we want them to watch and they have no desire to watch the Housewives anyway. Really, they are not interested at all. Even when we want them to watch a clip that they are in, they would rather run back to whatever they were already doing.
I do always think about what they will think when they get older and Google the show. I think of any of the mistakes I’ve made on the show that one day I will have to explain like when I name called. Here I am telling them never to use names, and the punishment is severe, and I go and call someone “white trash”. I will have to one day explain that I slipped. With that said we all make mistakes and in my house I emphasize that. Everyone makes mistakes…(laughs) except for Ramona, she is perfect.
TBB: Would you like to say anything here about that event in St. Barth’s?
AD: This was not my finest moment. My feelings were very hurt and I was very upset. I got caught in the heat of the moment and something just slipped out of my mouth. I really have a much richer vocabulary than that. I hope that those very real feelings of hurt that I had will not be blunted by my poor choice of words. No one should get pushed to name calling.
TBB: How has the exposure on RHONY helped you further your efforts with your foundation One Step Ahead?
AD: Well this is the crux of my entire decision to do the show. I have always wanted to do something and reach out to people. Since my twenties I had reached out to amputees one on one. In 2007 I joined with Amy Palmero Winters who started One Step Ahead. I started to meet with more children who needed a support system. I felt I needed a larger audience. So I thought about writing a book. Then I thought- who wants to read my book? Unless you are Heather Mills and marry Paul McCartney or an actor no one really notices. People don’t pay much attention to regular people. I saw I could reach a lot of people with my story and be an inspiration to not just amputees but all people with disabilities. This show has been incredible to that end. Through my website, Twitter, and Facebook I’ve been speaking to so many people. I’m reaching people personally four times as much as I was before. All the people that I’m reaching through the platform of television makes the headache of doing the show really worth it. I read emails everyday with tears in my eyes. One beautiful 17 year old girl lost her leg in a boating accident a couple of months ago. I text her several times a week. The other day she had a problem and together we fixed it! It’s tremendous and that’s why I did the show. It has made living a life as a well adjusted amputee not in vain.
TBB:What has been the biggest adjustment to being on reality TV?
AD: Umm (pauses)let me think about that… The biggest adjustment is probably the workload, it is incredible. It’s not just the filming, it’s the social media, press, and responding to everyone which I feel very obligated to do. The other thing is that now when I meet new people I feel like I need to legitimize myself. Initially I felt like being on this show was a step down and so I feel like I need to prove myself. People I knew before are supportive but some people I meet today are skeptical because of the company I keep. I have to go the extra mile to prove that I’m a normal person or at least normal with a lot of faults (laughs).
TBB: I’ve read you have a law degree and you are related, through marriage, to the actress Fran Drescher. What other interesting things would you like us to know about you?
AD: Let’s see…ummm I guess in terms of the Fran Drescher name thing, I grew up with my father being the accountant for the Beatles, Woody Allen, Stevie Wonder…a lot of heavy hitters. At a very young age I was taught not to be in awe of people who are in the spotlight. I was made very well aware that everyone’s poop stinks. You know who taught me that one!
Also I’m very into health. I take vitamins and supplements,I believe in exercising, no food coloring, no pesticides. I feel there is a cancer epidemic in our country. I’m on the board of Cancer Schmancer, Fran’s very important charity. I think we need to focus more on prevention and catching it early. I believe that putting less junk in your body is one way to decrease your chances.
One thing that people don’t know about me is that I can stand on one leg in the shower and get the job done probably faster than someone with two legs. (laughs)
Watch Aviva Drescher and the rest of the Real Housewives of New York cast on Monday nights 9/8CST on Bravo Network.