A lively crowd has gathered, braving the frigid Northeast temperatures on a Thursday night in Northern New Jersey. The group, gathered at Books and Greetings in Northvale, awaits the arrival of Real Housewives of New York City star Aviva Drescher. Clutching copies of her new memoir Leggy Blonde, they anxiously watch the arrival of each SUV wondering if it contains the statuesque beauty with the very famous last name. Finally somebody spots her entourage which, in addition to her handlers, includes ever present husband Reid. “She’s here,” one fan chirps. Her publicist peeks in and then runs back out, and when he returns Aviva is entering the shop. She’s a whirlwind of apologies, although she is barely tardy, as she removes her coat and reveals a very lithe figure in head to toe black; leather leggings and a sleeveless lace shell.
Almost immediately Drescher captivates the room, but not in the I’m a star, worship me way you would expect from a member of what could arguably be the most popular series of Reality Television shows in the world. Drescher’s way of captivating her live audience is humbler than that. She uses her warm smile and quizzical eyes to connect with each fan on a level of friendship. She is unassuming, welcoming, interested in what is happening around her, regardless of what a final edited episode of RHONY may lead you to think. It’s this quality of her character that quickly remedies any star struck nervousness in the room. When she invites questions, they start rolling in.
Eager to answer, yet not raise any red flags, any Bravoleb will tell you that the network is very strict about spoilers, she does her best to answer each question as thoroughly as she can. Being she’s only seen the first two episodes this is fairly easy for her. The final cut of Season 6, Drescher’s second on the franchise, remains as much a mystery to her as it is to the show’s many fans, but one thing is sure from the get go:
“It really changed from last season and you will see that right off the bat,” she says when asked which cast mates she’s closest with. “Right now I’m pretty close with Lu Ann( De Lesseps), Ramona (Singer), and Sonja (Morgan) and I’m not close with Heather (Thomson) and Carole (Radziwill) and the new cast mate Kristen (Taekman).”
For fans that follow the women on Twitter the last part comes as no surprise. A feud between Drescher and Radziwill has been quite apparent in recent weeks since the first video promo hinting at a tiff aired. “Out of the gates I felt pretty pounced upon and I felt like she was really really un supportive at best and very condescending,” Drescher says regarding the incident with Radziwill, a longtime journalist and author of What Remains and The Widow’s Guide To Dating.
When asked if the animosity stemmed from the fact that Radziwill is an experienced author in a world where anybody who has a name can suddenly write a book, Drescher said “I don’t have my head around yet what caused it. I’m not at all a jealous kind of person, the race for me is against myself. I just am so disappointed in both of us that that’s what aired and that’s what happened. This should have been a relationship of two women celebrating two books being written. You know her second, my first, she’s a writer, I’m not, whatever it is and I’m just sad about it.”
On what we can expect from new Housewife Taekman, Drescher says, “She’s a bit of a follower so she’s kind of latched onto Carole and Heather and I can only tell you when I was six years old and I followed somebody I lost my leg because of it….However…She’s stunning and she’s lovely and she throws a good punch.”
Drescher is not all about throwing shade. Last season she was at odds with Ramona, but the two have made great strides since then. “Ramona is doing amazingly well. I’ve never met anybody with so much strength and a fervor for life ….To go through something like she’s going through now and to just be so incredibly strong and having such a good head on her shoulders it’s amazing…just amazing,” she says referring to the highly publicized breakup of Singer’s longtime marriage to Mario.
Of course Drescher cannot get involved too much in anybody else’s drama. With a new book, four children, and her notoriously outlandish father George, she certainly has enough of her own personal chaos. “After the season I’m leaving for Bali because (my father) is on it and he is worse than ever! He’s absolutely crazy this season, he makes last season look like nothing. He is just so raw and raunchy. Andy Cohen said he had to tone down the show this year, (I’m pretty sure it’s because of my father). I take such a hit for his behavior, which I don’t understand, it’s not like I raised him, but it makes for great TV.”
So why do a show that makes you feel like you want to run and hide? For Drescher it’s simple; “For every nasty comment there’s twenty people calling me and writing me saying; ‘I was in the hospital and I just had my leg amputated and I saw you in a bathing suit and I was able to go on’.”
This has always been Drescher’s motivation for Reality Television. When I first spoke with her over a year ago she was just preparing to write her book, which recounts the accident that took her leg at the tender age of six. Knowing all too well that without a recognizable name writing such a book would be a challenge, she turned to the Housewives to build that recognition, after being introduced to Cohen’s radar by RHONY alum Bethenny Frankel, whom she impressed after meeting in the Hamptons. “That’s what keeps me on the show because it’s such a headache. I know it’s fun to watch because I watch the other shows too, but we take a beating.
When asked how she found the writing process and reopening all those old wounds she says, “It was very heavy and I remember going to Reid; ‘I can’t believe what I lived through.’ My mortality was challenged at such a young age. Most people grow up and in their twenties they’re driving over the speed limit, smoking pot, and having a good time and I never had that luxury. I was always nervous that something was going to happen and if it was going to happen it was going to happen to me.”
Of course writing a memoir is always a risk. There’s the risk of sounding self possessed, being a bore, and of course pissing off some of your nearest and dearest, but Drescher found more support than she imagined. “My father is an avid reader who reads a book or two a day. The first thing he said to me was, ‘It’s a really great book, it’s really quick and you don’t bore your reader.’ So I was really happy, and then about a month later he says; ‘You know you really kicked my ass in this book!’. Harry (Dubin), my ex husband, who I’m with everyday, we’re all great friends, I don’t think he’s ready yet. There was an article in the New York Post which had an excerpt of what I said about Harry and our marriage. He was actually in my house when I was on the phone trying to stop the article and he just said he felt so bad for me, he’s such a compassionate person.”
Drescher has the added responsibility of her very famous married name. Her husband’s first cousin is none other than Fran Drescher who rose to stardom as the well loved title character on the nineties sitcom The Nanny. When asked about her famous cousin, a cancer survivor who is now heavily involved in her charity Cancer Schmancer, she replies “Fran is doing great. She feels great and looks gorgeous. I would think for somebody like Fran who is an iconic actress that somewhere in her subconscious she’s wouldn’t be happy that her first cousin’s wife was doing this ridiculous show. But she has been so selflessly supportive. She filmed with us but it didn’t air. Probably because nobody fought.”
It’s clear to see that regardless of who she is feuding or friending Drescher is much more solid on her feet as a second seasoner. Last year she struggled with all the ups and downs of putting her life on the small screen, but for her the payoff of inspiring other amputees is worth it. Of course she can’t get through a Q & A without being compared to that other Leggy Blonde.
“I’ve never met Heather Mills but I tried on her prosthesis in 1999. It was right before I married (Harry) and the only person who made a cosmetic prosthesis was in London so my parents were kind enough to take me. I saw this leg and it was Heather Mills’s leg so I tried it on to see and for the first time in my life I was able to look down and see what it would look like to have two real legs. It was so exciting for me.”
So does this mean we will also see Aviva Drescher on Dancing With The Stars? She turns to Reid, “Do you think I could do it Reid?” He nods and reassures her. “Physically I could do it… yeah I would do it, I love to dance.”
**For more on Aviva check out Notes On A Housewife .