Image Credit: Mitchell Haaseth/BravoThe Real Housewives of NYC cast may already be brimming with six divalicious ladies, but make way for one more! A new housewife, socialite Sonja Morgan, joins the cast of ladies in tonight’s new episode. (And in case you’re wondering, she will get full, golden apple-holding privileges in the credits eventually.) Morgan rang up EW to introduce herself, revealing that she’s BFF with Roberto Cavalli, is working on a Candace Busnell-esque screenplay, and knew Ramona back in the ’80s when she “was really crazy” (more so than now?!?). Read on to find out what makes Sonja tick.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Why’d you want to join the cast of The Real Housewives of New York City?
SONJA MORGAN: I don’t know that I wanted to join a reality show — that’s kind of scary for a single mom with a 9-year-old. But, you know, I’ve been working my whole life, started at 14 years old put myself through college, and then I was modeling in Europe, doing the restaurant business, and brokering deals. Then I got married, had a baby. Then I produced a movie, then I produced an art show and produced an art tour. I said, “You know, I think it’s time to highlight my career. We’re in a recession, I’ll be lucky if they even have me.”
Had you considered it before?
Bravo came to me early on with the other ladies, but I chickened out. I was freshly separated and my daughter was much younger. Then I was having lunch with some girlfriends and they were like, “Look at how much fun Ramona is having, look at how much fun LuAnn is having, you should do it.” I was like “Are you kidding me? What would people think?” And they said, “Who cares what people think? You have to run your household and support your daughter and you’re on your own and you’d be really good on the show.” They think I’m really funny.
Was it easy to jump into the mix?
The girls make you very comfortable, they want to have a good time. That’s how it starts out. Then women’s hormones or the busyness of New York or the fight they had that day in the office kicks in.
Weren’t you leery of jumping into the middle of all the catfights the show is famous for?
It’s not my M.O. to have catfights. I love to gossip like anyone else but I definitely don’t want to hurt other people’s feelings. I don’t have a mean bone in my body. I can be very gossipy and fakey like any woman is, and I hope I can keep my composure around the ladies. Basically, I’m on the show to have a good time and commercialize myself. The circle that I run in is very small and very tight.
I’ve been writing my screenplay since the minute my divorce started. It’s very sexy, sort of like a Candace Bushnell society novel.
You’re not writing it as a book first, like Candace did with Sex and the City?
I’m going to do the screenplay, and then I’m going to have someone put it in a book format. They’re calling me a lifestyle expert because I ran a bunch of houses and I had the jet-setting, for real, around-the-world lifestyle. You know, thinking Robin Leech. I’m laughing, because he’s a friend of mine. We’ll see where it takes me.
Were you friends with all the ladies before joining?
I did not know Alex very well. I bumped into her socially on the avenue in South Hampton, but I really didn’t get to meet her until the Virgin Islands. I was surprised, I had a really good time with her laughing and talking about kids and fashion and our favorite gay guys. You can have an actual conversation with her. Ramona, I’ve known for 20 something years, since we were single, starting our businesses, dating, working out at the Vertical Club. The L.A. Sports Club over on 61st Street used to be Vertical. She used to be there working out in her 1980s leotard. If you think she’s crazy now, she was really crazy then. We all were! I know the Countess from the circle, she spent time in Switzerland and so do I. We’re both divorcees, so we see each other sometimes after dinner.
In the promo I saw for you joining the cast, they call you the “straw that stirs the drink.” How does that play out on the show?
I got that line from John Mariani — he’s a restaurant critic. I met him when I was working at a restaurant, ordering the wines, working with the menus, and doing the seating, and that led to me having my own company. He came in and then he said in his book, “Sonja’s the straw that stirs the drink.” So I’m the glue. In a situation, I want to make sure everyone’s having a good time, and that the food is good and the wine is right and the guest list is perfect. Everybody has to be comfortable.
The preview clip also makes it seem like you’ll be on the prowl for men. True?
LuAnn calls me the Sexy Pistol. I’m not afraid to say, “I’m sexy, sassy Sonja.” It’s okay, everybody can laugh at me because I’m on the show to laugh at myself and have a little fun. I was Sadie Sadie Married Lady for so long. I knew my husband for seven years before we were married. It’s not like I’m out looking for men. I’m really not! But boy, there are so many great men out there.
Who’s your ideal man?
I have two ideal men. I’ve always been in long-term relationships, and I’ve always gone for the smart guy. I’m a talker. I like to have breakfast, lunch, and dinner with my husband and garden with him and go riding horses, tennis, travel, talk about current events, not too much politics. I do raise money for different campaigns. I raised money for [John] McCain and also Al Gore. I’m a Republican but also raising money for Democrats. I need an intelligent guy fist. He has to be smart, powerful. Whether he’s a gardener or a banker, he has to be powerful and love what he does, and he has to be smart. I have to say, I do like worldly. Let me put it this way: I can’t be with a man who watches sports all day on Sunday and eats Big Macs.
You’re also friends with lots of bold-faced names. Wanna name drop any of them?
[Designer] Domenico Vacca is a good friend, [designer] Roberto Cavalli’s a good friend, [designer] Valentino’s a friend. I’m very good friends with Ivana [Trump], and I’m very good friends with Baby Jane Holzer, Warhol’s muse. I love that, that she was the muse of Warhol! One of my idols is [former Vogue editor] Diana Vreeland. She lived in a small studio with red locker walls, and she slept on a pullout couch and she entertained royalty, heads of state. I’ve dined with the Duke of Marlborough. One of my favorite socialites is Ann Jones, she was married to Mick Jones from Foreigner, her kids are fabulous, the Ronson kids. She keeps a home the same way I do, very comfortable, down to earth. She knows how to serve that shepherd’s pie. I love Ivana — I think she’s an amazing mother. She also does her charity work. If I called Ivana and tell her I need help, she’s there for me every time.
Will your daughter appear on screen? That’s always controversial.
I’m a little squeamish with my daughter being on TV, so no. But I feel [my] being on the show is good for her future, with some of the more commercial contacts that I’m making.
What is one thing viewers should know about you?
I don’t want to be cliché and say don’t judge a book by its cover, but there are many layers to me. I’m very down to earth and a good mom. I do my own gardening and floral arrangements and cooking. I’m much more down to earth than you would realize.
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