Lisa Vanderpump Tells Mel Ottenberg the Secrets Behind the Villa

Lisa Vanderpump

Lisa Vanderpump, photographed by Gilles Mingasson.

Vanderpump is back, and this time, the cast of the scandalous hospitality drama is terrorizing the French countryside. In Hulu’s brand new Vanderpump Villa, former Housewives star and L.A. restaurant mogul Lisa Vanderpump and team shack up in a luxe chateau to bring some west coast flavor to Le Midi. Naturally, editor-in-chief and Housewives superfan Mel Ottenberg had some questions about her RHOBH past, the hunks of ‘Pump, and the best drinks to inhale when you’re the boss.



MEL OTTENBERG: I love you, Lisa Vanderpump. You’re so awesome, and I’ve always wanted to interview you.

VANDERPUMP: This is the best interview I’ve ever had already. Keep going.

OTTENBERG: I had never watched Bravo shows. I guess I thought it wasn’t my vibe. But then I was super bummed out during COVID, and lots of fashion people started watching—

VANDERPUMP: Vanderpump Rules?

OTTENBERG: Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. I went from being like, “I’ve never watched a Bravo show,” to watching all of Beverly Hills in six weeks and it was the best thing I’ve ever done.

VANDERPUMP: Well, you know what, Mel? The women so often would be against me, but I believe a lot of that was because I was given Vanderpump Rules [after a couple years] with the same network, so there were a lot of feelings running high. But the audience always stayed with me, however much they attacked me. The audience was always on my side, which made it tolerable. But when you’re in it, you’re thinking, “Oh my god, if everybody believes all this shit, how am I going to survive this?”

OTTENBERG: Exactly. When [RHOBH] did that episode at the dinner party and they went into SUR, I was like, “Everyone’s going to hate Lisa Vanderpump. Off with her head,” because it really worked. Everyone hates you when you’re killing it, Lisa.

VANDERPUMP: Yeah. And also, I was executive producer on Vanderpump Rules. I would be with the execs behind the camera, and sometimes we’d shoot them both at the same time, and yeah, they did want to kill me. Absolutely. You’re right.

OTTENBERG: One time a year and a half ago, I met Lisa Rinna at a fashion show, and—

VANDERPUMP: Hold on one second. This is my grandson and I haven’t seen him for four weeks because I’ve been filming a new show with Gordon Ramsay. Say hello to Mel.

OTTENBERG: Hey, what’s your name?

VANDERPUMP: He’s a boy. He looks like a girl. This is Teddy.


VANDERPUMP: I normally see him every day. I came back from London just for one night. I’m in Vegas to promote Vanderpump Villa and I didn’t think he was here, and he just walked into the room.

OTTENBERG: I’ll make it quick, because family comes first. But when I met Lisa Rinna, I was like, “It’s all about Lisa Vanderpump,” and she was like, “Ach.” I was like, “Well, it is. Sorry.”

VANDERPUMP: Well, she was a witch. But one thing I learned from being on reality television is the audience is smarter than you think. They kind of figured it out. They saw exactly what’s going on. I’m not sure if that was just down to them being so perceptive or if it was really good storytelling on the production company’s part.

OTTENBERG: I think it was both. Teddi Mellencamp is from hell, and Lisa Vanderpump is TV heaven.

VANDERPUMP: Oh, I love it.

OTTENBERG: It’s a fact. Where’s Teddi Mellencamp now, babe?

VANDERPUMP: I heard she’s scratching around on some podcast somewhere.

OTTENBERG: I’m sure she is, but we’re not listening to it. So that was 2020. Then my Bravo friends, of course, which are many, and multiplying, were like, “You have to watch Vanderpump Rules.” I’m like, “No, that’s about normal people. I like the rich people in Beverly Hills.” Then last year I watched when Scandoval started happening.

VANDERPUMP: Everyone was talking about it.

OTTENBERG: And then I watched the entire series, and I just have to say, Lisa Vanderpump, the drama comes to you. You’re not even making it happen.

VANDERPUMP: You probably watched about 400 hours of me in the last—

OTTENBERG: Told you I love you.

VANDERPUMP: Yeah, you probably do. You’re going to put me on the cover of this?

OTTENBERG: Yes, definitely. 

VANDERPUMP: You’re going to love Vanderpump Villa.

OTTENBERG: I just watched Eric do the forbidden dance at the facial feminization party, and now I’m hooked. Wait, what are the rules of good Lisa Vanderpump TV? Booze, bad behavior, and sex? What are they?

VANDERPUMP: Vanderpump Villa has a different energy to it. It’s as delicious, but this time you’ve got 12 people living together. You’ve got great visuals, you’re in the French countryside, so it isn’t really comparable to Vanderpump Rules, which is a little grittier. Vanderpump Villa has an essence of escapism, I would say. Yeah, there’s naughtiness. And Eric, who actually worked for me at Pump—

OTTENBERG: He’s got good arms. He’s got a good body.

VANDERPUMP: He’s got good everything, you’ll see. He gets it all off. Well, not everything. I mean, there’s some things I don’t know about.

OTTENBERG: Yeah, I like the sort of barefoot hillbilly girl. She’s really cute..

VANDERPUMP: Are you talking about Grace?

OTTENBERG: Yeah, she’s a little Christian farm girl.

VANDERPUMP: The housekeeper. It’s great casting, because one thing we had to do was to hit the ground running. We had to make sure every single person in this equation knew their job, because we didn’t have weeks to train them. But we also wanted a complicated melange of characters that would be interesting together, people from all walks of life. Then you put them together in living quarters and Bob’s your uncle.

OTTENBERG: Did you learn anything from this show, or do you just know how everything’s going to go?

VANDERPUMP: Oh, no, I always learn. I’m always surprised. That’s what makes it interesting. I’d never lived with my staff, so to put 12 people together was a lot more intense. In Vanderpump Rules, they can go home if they choose to, because they can’t spend so much time with each other. It was definitely more intense in that respect.

OTTENBERG: Are you filming a reunion for the Villa?

VANDERPUMP: Am I allowed to answer that? I can’t say if I am. I can’t tell you.

OTTENBERG: How many episodes are there?

VANDERPUMP: There’s 10. There’s not enough, but it was a lot. We were there for months and it was a lot of fun.

OTTENBERG: Should I expect some hearts to get broken? I feel like Hannah’s heart is going to get broken. I can’t believe Hannah’s in love with that creep, but we can’t always control who we love.

VANDERPUMP: I don’t want to defend him, but you’re going to see some growth there. There’s some character development, which was very necessary.

OTTENBERG: Wow. People finding themselves at the Villa is good.

VANDERPUMP: Yes, in the French countryside. And poignant stories from the guests, as well.

OTTENBERG: If you could be anywhere right now, besides, of course, with Teddy, where would it be?

VANDERPUMP: There’s nowhere apart from being with Teddy. He’s my life. Maybe not in a Vegas hotel room. 

OTTENBERG: Lisa, what’s the main drink that you guys are drinking at the Villa?

VANDERPUMP: The Chateau Rosabelle cocktail.

OTTENBERG: What’s in it?

VANDERPUMP: It’s champagne, vodka, rose, champagne, and lemon raspberry. It’s really lovely. Very pretty, very light.

OTTENBERG: When you tell everyone not to drink, do you really think they’re not going to drink? I mean, the way they’re doing the bottle thing is insanely—

VANDERPUMP: That was naughty. But I mean, I’m not standing there watching it. I’ve had bars for long enough. Telling your young staff not to drink when they’re making cocktails is never going to happen.

OTTENBERG: Right. You just gotta say it and walk out of the room, basically.

VANDERPUMP: I thought that when there’s cameras there, maybe they’d be a little more cautious, but they threw caution to the wind eventually.

OTTENBERG: What’s your favorite summer cocktail, besides that one? 

VANDERPUMP: Aperol spritz, I like. What else do I like? We have a great cocktail at the Vanderpump Cocktail Garden, the purple tonic. Butterfly pea tea and lavender gin and tonic, which is everything. Yeah, I will inhale that. In fact, I’ll be inhaling one in about the next half an hour.

OTTENBERG: Oh, sick. I’ve never been to a Vanderpump bar or restaurant. When I’m in L.A. next, which one should I go to now that you know my vibe?

VANDERPUMP: I think we could start at SUR and go up and have a cocktail at TomTom. Let me know because I will come and see you.

OTTENBERG: This is a dream come true. Are you wearing a custom blouse right now?

VANDERPUMP: I’m not. I’m actually wearing a sweater because I just flew in, and a little lilac scarf.

OTTENBERG: Who makes your sweater? It’s beautiful.

VANDERPUMP: I think it’s Cavalli.

OTTENBERG: Your hair looks amazing.

VANDERPUMP: Oh my god, I’m like a hot mess.

OTTENBERG: You look beautiful to me. We’re going to SUR, and we’re going to TomTom. This is real. This love is real, Lisa.


OTTENBERG: I’m serious.

VANDERPUMP: Now you’re scaring me.

OTTENBERG: No, it’s chill. Let’s hang out.

VANDERPUMP: I’ll take it. I look forward to it, Mel.