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Exclusive Interview With Betsey Johnson About Her New Reality Show On Style


Iconic American designer and big personality Betsey Johnson’s reality TV show called XOX Betsey Johnson kicks off this week on the Style Channel. Betsey has been designing unique clothes since the ’60’s hanging with Warhol and dancing at Studio 54. Her memoirs would be a fascinating read and she is perfect reality TV. She is entertaining and you want to know more about her.

In the series it is Betsey with her daughter and muse Lulu Johnson by her side.  Betsey is focused on reinventing her brand under the guidance of Steve Madden, after filing for bankruptcy and closing all her stores of her fashion empire.

Lulu Johnson is looking to step out of her mother’s shadow and create her own fashion line and she is going through a difficult divorce.

After seeing the first episode it immediately struck me as a real life Absolutely Fabulous with Betsey as Edwina and Lulu a funkier version of Saffron as they do have co-dependent relationship.

Betsey who is 70 years-old is fabulous and inspirational to watch not just for her fashion talent but also her zest for life.

Lucky for me I got to interview this pocket rocket and she is the same in real life as she is on screen.

Reality Ravings: I am sure you’ve been told this before Betsey but this is a real life Absolutely Fabulous where you are Edwina and Lulu your daughter is Saffron. Have other people said that to you?

Betsey Johnson: I love that show. I guess Lulu would be the tall blonde glamourous one and I would be the funky wonderful mess. I love that show it is still on re-run. I immediately related me and Lulu to those girls. I wish [the reality show] could have turned more into that. It was an amazing year to have a reality show. My daughter wanted to do something and my agent said what about doing a reality show with your mother? And it was an amazing year to catch. I was going through bankruptcy, turning seventy and Lulu is going through, and still is,  a wicked divorce. It was the fun part of my life that year, it was more painful for Lulu. It could have been funnier. I wish they said lets do Ab Fab and why don’t do this….. It is quite real. You can tell where it isn’t real, but basically the cameras are rolling and you have no script.

RR: How did you find filming the show?

BJ: I loved it. I loved the Magical Elf crew, we’re still friends and we still go out drinking, we party every night after wrap up I would get the vodka out. We made great friendships with the crew. The schedule sometime it gets fun. It was so much fun and I wish we went into another season. I am so amazed it even lasted eight episodes in one season.

RR: How is your fashion label going, now your label is with Steve Madden. Obviously the reality show is great promotion for your new business venture.

BJ: Yes it was thank you. I am learning how to kick ass. I am learning how to be a little stronger. It is different, my own business and working for a public corporation.

RR: How about your daughters fashion line how is that going?

BJ: She is over it. We just filmed a segment for a food show yesterday. She just wants to go more into the yakity yak with the girl talk or the beauty talk or the shop shop talk. She’s a beautiful girl, really wonderful and sweet and funny. It was a sad year for her that had to be documented but I think she is over the fashion bit and she has realised she loves to be on camera and would like to do something more in that category. The kids are big now and she really wants something to do. She worked with me for 20 years then got married and had kids and then to go back into the work place, it is difficult.

RR: What I loved about you was your joie de vivre – your zest for life I found it really inspirational.

BJ: I am just a horse with blinders on. I have my ups and downs like everyone else. I think you have invent the upside of yourself. Sometimes I go to three movies a day. My work is just great for me and the grandkids and my daughter and I hate getting older. I feel like no age. I was always a fighter, very competitive and I am more of an optimist then a pessimist. I have young boyfriends, half my age, they are few and far between. I love my life.

RR: Are we going to see any Betsey romances on the show?

BJ: I get rid of that Bobby? Yes. [muffled noise in the background] Brandon my assistant is going yes!

RR: When does he come into the show?

BJ: You will see me realise that I don’t need to take care of men anymore I have got to that as they only become dependent on you and that is not good.

RR: Would you do another kind of reality show, like something more focussed on your fashion business?

BJ: I would die to do another reality show, but I don’t know what life it would portray other then the same life. My work is you do a spring show you do a fall show you have your ups your downs.

RR: What about host or judge on one a fashion reality tv show as you have been a judge on Project Runway haven’t you?

BJ: I am at home in the fashion world and I can talking about. I love being on camera and on the stage it comes from my cheerleader roots and wanting to be a rockette.

RR: And have you always been that flexible and acrobatic [Ed’s note: Betsey is known for doing cartwheels and splits at the end of her fashion shows]?

BJ: I just promised myself that I should always be able to do a cartwheel and a split. Years ago it used to be a back bend and a walk over then I kind of lost it. I just kind of threw a cartwheel and a split on stage 15 years ago as a kind of “yeh” and all of a sudden it was like that was fun. I don’t work out or practice. Everytime I do a press thing I feel like I want to do a cartwheel and split. The splits are easy but sometimes in the cartwheel my arms bend and I think I am going to crash and hit my head.

XOX Betsey Johnson tune in for the series – premieres on Thursday, November 21 at 8:30pm AEDT only on Style.