Behind Botched with Dirt Dame Alicia Jenkins

After her experience on Botched Alicia has her confidence back! Who wouldn't be jealous of her great results!

After her experience on Botched Alicia has her confidence back! Who wouldn’t be jealous of her great results!

When your 15 minutes of fame is from the operating table, you are in a fairly vulnerable state. Alicia Jenkins, who many may remember as “uni-boob” from the premiere episode of the hit show Botched, was already dealing with one bad experience when she stepped in front of the cameras. What would make somebody once bitten by plastic surgery able to try again with the world as a witness? For this hard working California mom it was a calling to be an example, and the ability to put her trust in the right doctor…

TBB: Tell those who didn’t watch your episode about your initial plastic surgery experience…

AJ: Here is what I felt the show left out; I had a D cup and after breastfeeding my son my right breast shrunk to a B. I couldn’t even wear a bra because I would have had to stuff one side. All I wanted was to be what I was before I had my son. When I went to look for a plastic surgeon I went to the first one that popped into my mind. I’d seen him in magazines and on billboards. I thought, “If he could afford all this advertising he must be good.” I asked for 500 cc implants because that would fill up the laxity in my skin, I ended up with 600 cc implants. I was in pain immediately. At my 24 hour follow up I noticed I had a double bubble on my left breast, I could see my implant hanging out the bottom. (The surgeon) said with time the implants would settle and I trusted his word. Days later the bubble hadn’t changed so he put me in a compression band to push the implants down. I wore it religiously but going into the second week (post-op) my breasts were getting closer to each other. When the doctor saw them he said, “How long were you wearing that? We need to get you in a compression bra ASAP.” Now I knew that something was wrong. I was really freaked out and in a lot of pain. I started Googling what the results should look like at and started posting photos of my before and after at 4 months. I learned from other surgeons that I had symmastia. I told my doctor, but he wouldn’t acknowledge there was a problem and said that I had picked an implant size that was too big. I hadn’t picked that size. At that point I realized he had no compassion. I felt that he didn’t give a shit about what was happening to me and wanted me to live with those results.

TBB: So here you are with what you now know is plastic surgery gone wrong. How much time has passed when you hear about Botched?

AJ: A couple of months.

TBB: You are still healing and dealing with this awful personal experience, and now enter Reality TV. What is the allure of having something as personal as plastic surgery done on television?

AJ: Honestly, before I saw the casting of the show I had a consult with a symmastia specialist, but he wanted $20,000 and we didn’t have that kind of money, especially since I had just paid $8,100 for the first surgery. Then I saw Tamra (Judge) post the casting for Botched on her Facebook page. At the same time I had been starting to open up to people about what was going on with me. I found out that I was not the only person (my surgeon) had done this too. I knew I needed to share this story. Obviously being so vulnerable on TV is not something I ever imagined for my life. I never wanted to be in the spotlight, but I thought maybe sharing my story would make someone else think a little bit harder about surgery and choosing a doctor than I did. Things happen and we don’t come out perfect every time.

TBB: I just want to clarify something that I’m sure many viewers already suspect; when you are on one of these shows you do not pay for your surgery correct?

AJ: If it wasn’t for the show I may not have gotten this fixed. $20,000 just wasn’t something that could ever make sense for (my family) to spend on this. It’s the trade off for going public with your surgery.

TBB: Plastic surgery centered shows are very different than Reality series like Housewives. Explain the casting process for a show like Botched.

AJ: I sent (the producers) my email and my pictures and then I went to Evolution Media, who does Housewife casting, and had an on camera interview. A couple of months later I got a call from Dr. (Terry) Dubrow‘s office. He wanted to speak to me and find out my medical history to make sure I was healthy enough to go through another surgery. You actually saw the first I met him face to face on the show. I met Dr. Dubrow and Dr. (Paul) Nassif on camera and you saw my actual consultation.

TBB: Did having a camera crew present for exams create any extra anxiety for you as a patient?

AJ: That’s a good question. I’ll say it didn’t because the events you see on camera are often things I’d already discussed with (Dr. Dubrow). We started this process in November so I had my first surgery in December and my second in January. The final filming was in March. This was months of my life condensed into 15 minutes. I had many appointments between the ones you see on the show. The hardest part for me was that most of those appointments were after my first surgery. It was a really really hard surgery and because the two procedures were only 5 weeks apart I was filming in a lot of pain. Every time they filmed I had a migraine. If you go back and watch the episode again knowing that, you can see it in my face. My biggest concern with filming was I did not want to get my IV on camera and start saying all kinds of loopy stuff. I also wanted to be sure they wouldn’t get me after surgery looking like a crazy person (laughs). Every time I woke up (in recovery) there were three camera women standing in front of me.

TBB: What were your initial impressions of Dr. Dubrow and Dr. Nassif?

AJ: I was trying not to get caught up in an initial impression because I’d already been there with my first surgeon. I almost felt like I couldn’t trust my own judgment. As soon as Dr. Dubrow said, “We don’t want to be part of your bad experience, ” I began to trust him. I thought, ‘ He wouldn’t do this on TV if he  didn’t think he could fix it.’

TBB: Your correction had to be performed in not one, but two separate procedures. Was there a point in which you considered not going through with the surgery?

AJ: As a mom and business owner I have to plan for food for my family, a sitter while my husband is at work, and arrangements for my business while I’m recovering. I had planned for 6 weeks, and to get there and have him say it was now two surgeries and 3 months really changed everything. However, at that point I’d already had several appointments with Dr. Dubrow and trusted that he knew best, especially since the rate for these repairs coming apart is common.

TBB: You said before your first surgeon “had no compassion”. What would you say about Dr. Dubrow?

AJ: He’s amazing! I had his cell number and he answered any question I had whenever I needed him. I live two hours from his office yet he would have seen me any time, day or night. He really is that amazing! I was texting him after the first surgery thanking him profusely for what he’d done for me. I could already breathe better after having those implants out. He changed my life.

TBB: After finally experiencing plastic surgery gone right, did you seek legal action against your initial doctor?

AJ: I’m in the process now.

TBB: What is your advice to women who have had children and are now unhappy with their bodies as a result?

AJ: If you don’t like something about yourself that much then change it. Go for it!  You are the one that has to live with yourself, but make a well educated informed decision about it and don’t expect it to be a miracle. Things can (go wrong) as you saw from my story.

TBB: I agree and I’m such an advocate for moms feeling sexy. Speaking of which, tell us about Dirt Dames…

AJ: My husband does off road racing and I go to all of his races so I had the idea, because Housewives is my favorite show, ‘What if we had this little club where the wives can all hang out and have something to do while our husbands raced?’ In the beginning it was a joke to make it like the Real Housewives of Off Road. I made some t shirts but it never really went anywhere. Then there was a bathing suit I wanted to buy but had to buy multiples of so I posted it on my website  and it went like crazy. I’ve always loved swimsuits so I felt maybe this is what I should be doing. After I got my implants I had the problem of tops not fitting so it became my mission to work with designers that make tops that cover my customers and specialize in custom orders for larger breasts.

TBB: Has being on Botched helped your business?

AJ: The show has made a difference. Now I get internet traffic from all over.

TBB: And you are also involved in charitable causes…

AJ: We shot my reveal photo shoot for Botched at our friend’s shop called War Fighter Made. They are retired military and they modify recreational vehicles for our wounded vets. One of the founders, Brian, lost a leg and parts of his arms in Afghanistan. War Fighter Made modified his Harley so he can ride his motorcycle and live a normal life. They have a race team that for each race takes a vet and gives them a little back of their life. We try to help out as often as we can, in whatever way we can. The last event we did was with the guys from The Devil’s Ride on Discovery Network raising money for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation.

TBB: All amazing causes! Thank you for chatting with me and giving us a little behind the scenes of Botched and sharing your story. Is there anything else you would like people to know?

AJ: I definitely owe more thanks than I can ever give to John at E who does PR for the show and of course to Dr. Terry who went above and beyond. He’s still taking care of me as I’m still healing due to my own autoimmune issues that he knew about before taking on my case. I will be under his care for quite a while, but I couldn’t ask for a better situation! I have to thank my hubby for hanging tough through all of this craziness, and everyone at Evolution Media for telling our stories!

*For more from Alicia follow her on twitter @dirtdames 

Primak and Proper- An Interview With The Jersey Belle

Photo: Bravo

Photo: Bravo

There are multi-taskers and then there are what I like to call, mommy-taskers, and when it comes to the latter Jaime Primak Sullivan is a champ. The Jersey Belle star called me from her family vacation while riding bicycles with her three children; her daughter Olivia, needing the occasional “Heads up” to stay focused. I offered to send Jaime the remainder of the interview via email, but the New Jersey native would have none of that. “This is what being a working mom is,” she said as she continued to bravely lead her children around a Florida beach, while promising me they were merely dodging golf carts. As our conversation continued, as nervous as it made me, I realized this was just another day in the life of Jaime. Read on…

TBB: This is a huge deal to headline your own reality show. Your predecessors like Bethenny Frankel and Kim Zolciak had to first prove themselves in ensemble casts. Why do you think Bravo was willing to take a gamble on you?

JP: Oh, wow, it never occurred to me what you just said! So now I feel like I just did a Whippit! (laughs) To be grouped with people like Bethenny who I respect so much, it never occurred to me what you just said and you’re absolutely right! I think they saw my vision. It was extremely clear from day one; let’s do a show rooted in comedy and friendship. Bravo does everything in (the Reality) genre so well that if any network could pull off (this) show it is Bravo. I am outspoken and funny so I think all the ingredients that would work for a show like this were there. I knew Jersey Belle would be an hour of TV that (viewers) could get that voyeuristic element of watching other peoples’ lives, but feel good coming out of it, not like they needed to take a shower after.

TBB: I’ve read that in addition to public relations you are a producer. Did you produce Jersey Belle?

JP: I’m a consulting producer, and really that’s a nice way of them saying, ‘She’s been in this biz a long time’, because I produce film. I have three films sold that I have production credit on so I deserve that consulting producer credit.

TBB: How is Jersey Belle different from other Bravo shows?

JP: For one I came to them with the show, with the whole package. I found the production company and I said, “This is the show, this is the cast…” Usually networks think of a show and then find the company, cast it, and so on. So instead of working our way from the front we worked our away from the back.

Two, (Jersey Belle) shows, in my opinion, the best of both worlds. (I think) New Jersey gets a bad rap as a state and people in the South think they get a bad rap and we show both sides. I mean, there will always be naysayers, but I think I represent the state of New Jersey both well and accurately.

Three, it’s rooted in comedy and we wanted to not make fun, but show the cultural divide in the funniest way possible. (The show) is about women lifting each other up and loving each other despite our differences. It is not easy making friends when you are different, especially as an adult, but we show you can move for love or for work, you can get divorced, you can go through infertility… You can do all these things and have a group of women who are rooting for you!

TBB: There certainly are lots of laughs, but you also hit on some heavy topics like infertility as you just mentioned…

JP: Yes we do because women are heavy and emotional and we have real things going on. We’re all women trying so hard to live so (Jersey Belle) is more of a docu-series because it’s so real. When we prayed about this show together I said, “Nothing can be off limits or it won’t be authentic. If we are going to do this then we need to do it right.” There’s so much that women go through as creatures with real struggles. At the end of the day (I am) a working mother. This is it, I didn’t marry a millionaire, mama has to work! When America watches what Danielle (Yancey) goes through they are going to cry with her. I love my friends and I hope (the viewers) appreciate how brave they are to share these struggles.

TBB: Since they are so proper, was it hard convincing your friends to put it all out there on Reality television?

JP: No, the girls were excited, but the husbands needed convincing because they don’t watch Bravo so they didn’t understand. They thought Jersey Shore, like ‘Is (my wife) going to be fighting and fist pumping her way through Alabama?’ Once the husbands were able to see that I trusted my imagery and my network it took so much off their shoulders. I can’t speak for everything in Reality TV but my network, they believed in the vision that I had for this show from day one and never deviated from it.

TBB: The show centers around the culture shock of being a Jersey girl in the prim and proper Deep South. What about Southern culture frustrates you most?

JP: I don’t know if frustrates is the right word, as much as perplexes. I don’t feel frustrated because I work with people from so many different walks of life, so people don’t frustrate me. Sometimes I am perplexed by how stuck in their ways (Southerners) are. For example, bringing lasagna to a tea party would have been really cool in my opinion. I get Arden (Upton) had a very specific vision and lasagna didn’t fit, but then don’t ask me to bring anything. It just perplexes me, surely you can be open minded to other ways…

TBB: What do you think is the biggest misconception your Alabama friends have about people from the New Jersey/New York area?

JP: That we don’t have manners which is just ridiculous! We absolutely have manners! Maybe we don’t go to etiquette school and I don’t remember my mother teaching me to put a napkin on my lap. We don’t value etiquette like they do, but we have manners!

TBB: What was the biggest misconception you had about them?

JP: Probably that they were all prudes. I just assumed that being proper and being a prude went hand in hand. There’s a saying that, “Men want a lady in the street and a freak in the bed,” I think my best friends are proving that it’s the truth! I guess I’ve been doing it wrong, I’m a freak everywhere!

Another thing I have to emphasize is that I came into these women’s lives with no judgment whatsoever and they have never experienced that before. That’s my gift. I can’t cure cancer, I can’t play basketball, but I can love you without judging you in any capacity.

TBB: What do you want to say to viewers who feel that after 6 years in the South you should be better acclimated than you seem on the show?

JP: I would say if you’re Southern and feel that way then move to Jamaica Queens and let me know how you feel after 6 years, and if you are Northern move to Birmingham, Alabama. If you haven’t walked in another woman’s shoes, how can you understand the cross she has to bare? And I am better acclimated than I was. When I first got here I could not function! Thank God for the Belles, they gave me hope. You know the show Saved By the Bell? I was literally “Saved by the Belles!”

TBB: You work with many big name stars. The teasers show that Wayne Brady and Chris Klein…who I totally have a crush on by the way…will appear on Jersey Belle. Will there be any other celeb surprises?

JP: Yes, and episode two is full of friends and clients galore! I go to LA for work so people will get a glimpse into what it’s like to do the job I do from Birmingham. In my industry even being in LA or NY is hard so doing it from Alabama is really hard. I’m leaving three kids and getting on planes, and there are no direct flights. It’s not easy. I have to allow two days for travel and I’m sitting in airports all the time. When I’m in LA I miss a mandatory four days at home due to the travel. People will see what it’s like for me to go off to LA and what Michael has to do while I’m gone because we don’t have a nanny, though when I first moved here I had a gay manny with a mohawk. My friends didn’t get it; they had to get to know him to realize he was the best care for my children, especially when I was in the hospital for 33 days. These days Scarlett (Simmons) has to save me, and she has so many times.

TBB: You were in the hospital for 33 days?

JP: I had placenta previa. Some days it amazes me that Charlie is here. She was such a fighter, and still is tough!

TBB: So having gone through such a traumatic pregnancy with your third, you want another child, as indicated in the promos?

JP: I pray for it every day.

TBB: You have this fantastic career and a fantastic family. What’s your best advice to other mothers balancing work and home life?

JP: Don’t be scared to ask for help. If you need it, ask for it. It doesn’t make you weak, it makes you smart. They say it takes a village and it really, really does. If we just carve out a little time for ourselves and ask for the help we need we will all be better mothers, wives, daughters, friends, and sisters.

TBB: Thanks for talking to me today. Is there anything else you want the viewers to know?

JP: I love this show very much and I love the people who support the show. I want them to understand that I am so flawed, but despite all of it, if you give (the show) a chance you can find somebody you can relate to and enjoy supporting. It’s nice to be able to show support for another woman. And of course it’s really funny, these girls are really funny.

Debriefing the Knot

TBB and Vikki Ziegler at the RHONJ season 6 premier party.

TBB and Vikki Ziegler at the RHONJ season 6 premier party.

Vikki Ziegler is definitely tough! On Bravo‘s Untying The Knot she had to tell some pretty stubborn personalities just where to stick their stuff. How does one get that tough? Be born and bred in the Gardenstate! We caught up with this no nonsense Jersey Girl at , where else, but Velocity 1 Media‘s Real Housewives of New Jersey premier party for Project Ladybug and the Deborah Hospital Foundation.

TBB: You just finished your first season on Bravo, had you been on Reality TV before?

VZ: I’ve done VH1, but pretty much all the cable networks as a talking head as a legal analyst.

TBB: Your show, a lot like Millionaire Matchmaker, was very structured; the unpredictability being in the couples you mediated. How did you feel about the final product?

VZ: I loved it! I think it was educational. I think people really loved the different types of couples and every week you didn’t know if they were going to stay together or not. I think it was a fresh new type of Reality TV. I got such great feedback. I was really happy with the show and how it turned out!

TBB: How much say did you have in how things all came together?

VZ: I pretty much did everything I normally do in my day to day mediations, so it was all me.

TBB: Did you have any trouble finding couples who were willing to put it all out there for the world to see?

VZ: There were very special couples that came on, for sure. (Laughs)

TBB: Of all of your clients who appeared on Untying The Knot, who left the greatest impression on you?

VZ: Tim and Kelly broke my heart, they were the worst! Krissy and Tina were a lot of fun, though heartbreaking as well, and Jacques and Mira I thought were beautiful people in and out and I really enjoyed them. Those would be my top three!

TBB: Which personalities were the most difficult for you to deal with?

VZ: The last episode, Iret and Stuart because Iret was really addicted to her stuff and Stuart was pretty much done and didn’t want to give in. I really had to come up with a good compromise or I knew they would not listen to my recommendations.

TBB: We know that there’s a lot of footage that ends up on proverbial cutting room floor, what was the real time, real life reaction when Jennifer and Golan found out that their Anwar Sadat passport was no where near the six figure value they had predicted?

VZ: They were so shocked and upset, actually they were pretty pissed off. They had done a business deal and put up collateral for that passport and then found out it was practically worth nothing. These mediations went on for hours, and unfortunately the viewers only got a glimpse of what I was actually doing due to the amount of time TV allotted. There was so much more that I wanted people to see, but again I think they got the gist of what was happening.

TBB: You are here supporting the premiere of the new season of Real Housewives of New Jersey, which once again features your long time friend Dina Manzo. Are you a fan of the show?

VZ: I am and I know other people on it too. I grew up in Wayne and they (Dina and Teresa Giudice) are from Paterson, so it’s the same area. So, yes, I’m a big supporter of (RHONJ) and rooting for everyone from New Jersey always!