The last time I met reality star Bethenny Frankel at a store, it was Target. Midway. She was a good sport about my request to go beyond the green room, and took the opportunity to stock up on underwear and makeup while chatting about her burgeoning empire, latest book, and love life. At the time, she was in the early throws of romance with her future husband, and now soon to be ex-husband.
“Wow, that was a long time ago,” she recalled when I reminded her of our Target run today, in advance of her Saturday appearance at Mall of America (where she won’t have time to shop with me). Frankel is on a book tour promoting her eighth (!!) title, I Suck at Relationships So You Don’t Have To.
You knew she’d parlay divorce into a book deal.
“It came out of conversations with friends—I was giving some advice and they said, ‘What do you know about relationships?’ and I thought, you know, I do kind of suck at them, but that became an inspiration.”
If you’re hoping for a bunch of sordid details regarding Frankel’s divorce (which is still not final), best read the tabloids. She doesn’t name names in the book. The anecdotes and tips are more general, and filtered through many years in therapy.
But what I’ve always enjoyed about Frankel is her candidness about what she’s doing, even as she’s doing it. Of course divorce was an opportunity to talk to her millions of fans about relationships. Duh. Wouldn’t you take the book deal if you could get it?
“I’m a professional reality star,” she recently told Andy Cohen on Watch What Happens Live, and you can rest assured that the timing of her book release on the same day as her return to Real Housewives of New York was no accident.
“I’m pretty open and honest,” Frankel told me. “Andy Cohen would call me the Greek Chorus. I’m willing to reveal myself and not try to manufacture who I am for the camera.”
Though she didn’t leave Housewives on the best of terms with some of her co-stars, Frankel says the veterans, including Ramona Singer and Luann de Lesseps, welcomed her back.
“I think it’s interesting…they were smart business people,” Frankel says. “They wanted me back for the better of the show, whether they were personally interested in me or not.”
Frankel got a ton of press recently when she declared that she will never legally wed again. She told she was a little surprised by the intense media coverage (but not too surprised), and has no regrets. “It’s how I feel, And I think it brings up an interesting debate about whether legality should be involved in relationships.”