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POP Profile: Get Inside The Head Of Robi Ludwig.

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The psychotherapist you’ve seen everywhere on TV talks about marrying a shrink, anchors who need therapy, one fateful Grateful Dead concert, and her new passion project.

Psychotherapist Dr. Robi Ludwig is one busy woman. One look at her facebook page and you wonder if she ever goes to sleep. Bouncing from one TV apperance to the next, tackling a full day of patients, and now, introducing a new jewelry line. I got her to stop everything for a few minutes (that wasn’t easy!) and tell me how she keeps it all comes together.

I’m very lucky, Robi, I’ve gotten to work with you behind the scenes as a television producer and onscreen when we’ve paired up to talk about social trends and relationships… I have very good reason to believe that there is not a single TV show that you haven’t appeared on. If you had to guess, now many different shows have you been on?

Since I started this part of my career, I would guesstimate about 20 shows; I’m not so fabulous with numbers. Some of those shows have faded away, don’t exist anymore! That’s the nature of the business.

Which one was your first? Was it an instant fit or were you terrified?

The first TV show I did was “Good Day New York,” it was an interview about how to get in touch with your dreams (meaning goals). I was interviewed by celebrity reporter Tony Potts, who was a local reporter at the time. And yeah, I was quite nervous. I wanted to come off as an expert, to sound smart, confident and competent.

I ‘m sure you were! But there ‘s kind of a unique twist to the story, right?

I realized when I sent in a resume tape to the local fox 5 news,  to get a job as a local reporter and got rejected almost as fast as I sent off the tape, only to get a call for an interview at that very same station, a few days later, (for my first live interview) I realized I was going into a very crazy business where there were no rules and even less predictability. This is a reality that is as true for me today as it was for me on the very first day I started on this TV journey.

Yeah, that TV life is nuts. I think that’s what you’re trying to say. But yours has been an upward trajectory ever since!

When I started to pursue this type of reporting, it didn’t exist at the time, and was groundbreaking in a sense.  It required a lot of persistence and creativity on my part, and never giving up.

Was there ever one show that you were surprised to be on? One where you were saying to yourself “I can’t believe I’m here” and perhaps another where you thought “this is one crazy show” but sure, I’ll play along!

Larry King was a very exciting moment for me. When I arrived on set, I truly felt I had arrived. We discussed the Scott Peterson case. This was an early catalyst of sorts for the book I wrote, “Till Death Do Us Part: Love, Marriage, and the Mind of the Killer Spouse.”

I am tempted to ask you if he hit on you he does love blondes, but I ‘ll resist! Okay what about one of your more surreal TV experiences…

The show I felt was “wow, this is a little out there!” was when I was on Ricki Lake (1993-2004). She was always so much smarter than her show. She was very analytically aware and the show itself was not, and she knew it; but that’s what it was. The show was relationship-driven to a bit of an extreme.

“I have occasionally thought that some hosts have needed treatment, and some of these hosts have even admitted they could benefit from therapy”

Have you ever thought that a host or anchor could use some therapy?

I have occasionally thought that some hosts have needed treatment, and some of these hosts have even admitted they could benefit from therapy. Having said that, I think most people can benefit from treatment. Those who need it and refuse to get it generally have the most “issues.”

That is a very polite response, Robi. I knew you wouldn ‘t name names but I ‘m hoping you ‘ll whisper one in my ear…but I ‘m guessing even that ‘s no use. What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about your TV life…

One of things people don’t know is that TV can be a very social profession. I have nice relationships and friendships I developed with other TV therapists and expert commentators. Viewers tend to see us as more isolated, because they see us one at a time.

Yes, I have seen all the photos of you on your facebook page! You are a psychotherapist slash lady about town!!!

Okay, I know the answer to this question but I ‘m guessing this is a popular query – are you a gazillionaire from being on all these shows?

One of the most common questions is how much I get paid. My response is that it varies, depending on what the contract is. I’m always a little struck, taken aback when asked this!! I mean, this is a question I would never ask anyone about! That said, I do understand that people are curious and I understand that some individuals are inclined to be direct.

You’re helping New Yorkers with their personal problems (that sounds ominous!) – not just onscreen, but also off – you still have a practice, don’t you? How do you balance all that?

I have 19 years in private practice. The balance first comes from wanting to fulfill my life, accepting the responsibility that fulfilling my goals necessitates putting myself out there — taking care of my patients in my practice, taking care of my TV career, which educates people, taking care of fulfilling my long-held desire to create my jewelry line. And — also, of course, most important, taking care of my family and home life. Where there is a will, there is a way! Through the years, I have learned, through discipline and passion, to make it all work. And yes, I do find time to take care of myself. I had learned through the years to figure out how to balance it all — and it keeps me happy. Each aspect synergizes with the other. Some days are better than others, but that is true for everyone.

Again, I have to go back to your Facebook page people literally put some of their most personal problems on your WALL. Your WALL, for God’s sake! Do you think they’re doing it on purpose or are they unaware of the whole facebook way of doing things?

For the most part, my FB friends don’t reveal very personal information on my wall. It does happen occasionally, and I’m ok with that. People see me as a therapist and quite often this leads to them feeling comfortable asking me some very personal questions. If someone wants therapy or treatment, I don’t do this via email or my FB wall, but will forward them to my office manager, who will let them know how my consultations/sessions work. I feel that’s the most ethical way to handle these types of situations.

How do you keep from being the world’s therapist?

I think the best way to not be a therapist 24/7 is to set boundaries. When a therapist gets trained, this is part of what he or she learns how to do. It’s not uncommon for young therapists to get sucked in and want to save the world — all of the time. But you quickly learn it’s not possible, not realistic and will quickly lead to burn out. The best way to stay an effective therapist is to be able to separate your work life from your personal life. Having said that, once you’re trained as a therapist, you do see the world from a very distinct perspective, but that’s a good thing.

Not only are you a psychotherapist. but you somehow have managed to branch out into jewelry design. But you’re not just making a necklace or two you’ve gone big time already and are selling them on ShopNBC! How on earth did you make something this huge happen??

I’ve been obsessed with jewelry for a very long time. I remember going to a Grateful Dead concert and stopping by one of the booths to design a necklace. Who does that at a concert? Geez!!! So I’ve been designing my own jewelry and collecting jewelry for a long time now. Because I love doing TV and shopping channels are a great way to reach a large group of people, I thought combining the two mediums I love (TV and Jewelry), would be a great way to go. I just asked a lot of questions and one contact led to another, and that’s how I ended up at ShopNBC.

“I remember going to a Grateful Dead concert and stopping by one of the booths to design a necklace. Who does that at a concert?”

The whole Grateful Dead part of this story could take this interview into a whole other direction. But really from the Grateful Dead to a ‘talking head ‘! So you loved jewelry and just kind of made it happen Is there a motivational message to be gotten from that story? Kind of a ‘keep at it don’t take no for an answer’ thing?

I think the motivational message here is to follow what you love doing and find a way to make it all work together. Listen, it’s not always easy and there are times when I wonder why I’ve chosen such a challenging profession. But in some ways, I had no choice. I felt unbelievably driven and compelled to pursue this path that I’ve carved out for myself. It’s important to follow the path that you know is meant for you to follow. It’s the only way to live a rewarding and fulfilling life.

Tell me about the line – what inspires it – explain the connection between you and the jewelry.

The line was inspired by some of the pieces in my personal collection. They have a somewhat modern, vintage, worldly feel. I know how it feels to put on a fabulous piece of jewelry. It can make your day. As a therapist, I wanted lots of different options for people to feel good about themselves in life. Not everyone is going to want to go to therapy, but everyone wants to feel good about themselves. So, my line was a way to hopefully offer that. The universal symbols represent, good luck, protection and success. They are little reminders to go out and live the life you want and were always meant to live.

I’ve noticed you do love to play with fashion and style when you’re on television outside of your own personal line – what’s the most high end and low end piece of jewelry you love to wear?

I do love fashion. Fashion is fun and it’s a great way to make both yourself and others feel good. My favorite low-end pieces of jewelry are some costume vintage pieces I’ve collected over the years and hoop earrings that I got downtown. My favorite high-end pieces that I love to wear are my wedding rings and some other pieces I’ve picked up over the years while traveling.

Jewelry seems to take a deep meaning with women. Some pieces are passed on for generations – why do you think it creates such an emotional connection? Why jewelry?

Some people believe the wearer of a piece of jewelry will leave his or her imprint and personality on the piece. Jewelry can become a person’s signature. It’s a link with memories and history. It can link us to and with the person who gives it to us. That’s what makes jewelry so special, it can connect us with the people we love, to a special moment, or help us connect to an important message or idea. That’s quite a lot, don’t you think? These are just some of the reasons why I love jewelry so much!

Okay – so now we’ve uncovered your hidden talent for design any other hidden talents I should be aware of tell me something that no one knows – or simply hasn’t asked you – about you?

Well I can tell you that my hidden talents don’t include singing or cooking. I wish they did! Hmmmm….what does no one know about me? I love taking photos! I’d love to perhaps have a vintage clothing line one day? Who knows……..the future is filled with lots of artistic possibilities! I promise to keep you in the loop (wink-wink!).

You help people with relationships – now I may be on shaky territory here, and I know that you’re happily married – but first you have to tell me – have you ever dated another psychotherapist back during your single days? I feel like that would be an analytical nightmare! The arguments would take hours with all the reflective listening and point by point acknowledgement of the other’s feelings.

When I was single, yes I did date someone in the field. A psychiatrist. I also married a psychiatrist, so clearly I am drawn to people in my field. Are you more likely to get analyzed if you date someone in the field, yeah…..you probably are, but what’s great about dating a fellow shrink is they have a deeper understanding of the world around them than most, and that’s pretty sexy — at least I think so.

Okay, I ‘m glad you said shrink because I was going to ask you if that made you crazy. But I wanna get back to the Grateful Dead girl ‘s former dating life! Have you ever dated someone and early on determined that this guy was a big heaping cup of crazy?

I’m sure I’ve dated my share of loonies in the past. Sometimes I realized it early on and sometimes not that fast. Love can be blinding, even for therapists. Plus, crazy can be fun sometimes. Don’t you think?! Maybe that’s just me!

Crazy is fun until just before the restraining order! Okay – give us one thing that most of us don’t know we do that we should STOP doing. What do a lot of people do that end up killing a relationship, friendship, or simply make us look insecure or just ridiculous?

The one thing people do that really destroys their relationships is to expect too much from their partners and to take each other for granted. Both tendencies are huge relationship killers.

Have you been reading my diary?!? Where were you when I was in college?!! But I digress. I ‘m going out on a limb here and saying that it would NOT be asking too much to check out your jewelry line, which I encourage everyone to do! What woman doesn ‘t like a little bling as a surprise gift! (Even to herself!) Thank you Robi! I ‘m looking forward to your next project! When you put out a dance single and need a backup singer, I will be ready.

Robi’s ShopNBC segment airs live JAN 20 at 3pm ET and is available online everyday at ShopNBC.com

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POP INTERVIEW: Jackie Collins Hits Up Chicago for “Confessions of a Wild Child,” Her Riveting New Novel

The Jackie Collins phenomenon circles around all that glitters.

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The Jackie Collins phenomenon circles around all that glitters. Two icebound Chicago days shy of Valentine’s Day, the Hollywood living legend and icon to the gay community and straight women alike is, in true luminary fashion, at my favorite downtown haunt. It’s a place I called a part time childhood home away from home and wish I could reveal, overlooking Michigan Avenue’s grandeur.

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She can’t wait to talk about how good the local fare is. She is Jackie Collins, the effervescent megastar…and a foodie inside her soul. “We arrived yesterday. We immediately went out, and I had the most fantastic pizza I’ve ever had!” she raves in her English rose intonation on partaking in authentic deep dish pizza, the first time in her 76 years on this earth. And dinner. “Last night, I went to Michael Jordan’s steakhouse.”

Since rolling into town, Collins visited with television actress Sydney T. Poitier. “I call her ‘Little Sidney Poitier.’ She’s his daughter,” she tells me. “She’s currently filming Chicago PD here, so yeah. I’m going to be on The Steve Harvey Show tomorrow. I love Chicago.”

Aside from good cuisine and friendships, the bestselling novelist says she loves good, or at the very least, “good” guilty pleasure television. “I’m a TV junkie too,” she divulges. “I like The Following, The Blacklist, Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, Scandal, Veep. I like documentaries too. I’d love to have six more hours everyday. Wouldn’t you?”

Collins fans will crave six extra hours daily to read her newest selection, Confessions of a Wild Child. The book is so sure to be a wildfire hit in sales numbers, it procured a movie rights contract with Romeo and Juliet production company Amber Entertainment.

“I think we are going to make it as a theatrical movie,” Collins says, not a made for TV film, “and I would love to do a nationwide search for Lucky. Once the script is done, I’ll have a space on my website. I want to have girls send in audition tapes for ages 15 to 19.”

Differing from her previous books, the novel is marketed to young women, aka. the Snooki & JWOWW generation. “I wrote Confessions of a Wild Child as a young adult book,” she says. “When I took it to my publisher, they said, ‘Oh, no. This is your most popular character. You’ve written seven books about her. We have to put this out for everyone.’ I’ve found that adults are loving it too.”

For her new batch of teen and college age readers, she says, “I think they should be prepared for a trip. I think they should take away the fact that they can be strong. Lucky is street smart at a very young age. She is an old soul. Also, she kind of sees life in a way that women see life. She wants to do something. She wants to have a career. Her father wants her to do ‘X,’ and she says, ‘No, I want to take over the family business.’ Women should aspire to something else, even if it’s making cupcakes, recording music or a yoga class. They should have something else they want to achieve.”

In 1968, before haters, Instagram and modern day nuisances, Collins’ first book was banned in Australia. 46 years into the future, she hasn’t bypassed the Debbie Downer brigade. “The biggest critics are people who’ve never read my books,” she confesses.

One read converts the critics into fans. “Journalists will come to interview me, and they’ll plop down, say, ‘I’ve never read any of them, but my editor had me talk to you, and I loved it.’”

Whereas with regular people, “The only negative comments I’ve had on Twitter was when I said, ‘Jay-Z was fully dressed, and Beyoncé not so much.’” She adds, “But I love them!”

I weigh her parallels against those of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer scribe Mark Twain, a gentleman panned by the literary elite yet more famous today than any of his conspicuous contemporaries. “My books are like water; those of the great geniuses are wine. Fortunately, everybody drinks water,” Twain is allegedly quoted.

“The literary elite are never going to embrace commercial fiction,” Collins answers. “You don’t need the literary elite when you have so many readers, and I appreciate my readers’ opinions, not what some critic is going to say about my books. If I give people pleasure, that gives me pleasure. I get wonderful notes from people. ‘I broke up with my boyfriend. I was lying on the floor crying. I thought about Lucky. What would she do? And I faced life.’ My books help people too.”

She links her success with the Lucky character to how fans “like to get away to a different place. I think they like the Santangelo family because it’s a family saga that goes on and on and on, with brothers, sisters and the love. The fact that I’ve created this very strong character. Most young women say, ‘I want to be famous,’ which is pretty sad.”

Confessions of a Wild Child “was a step back in time a little bit, but I tried not to say what time period it was. I didn’t do any popular culture references. I wanted girls to feel it wasn’t now because we didn’t have cell phones and selfies. It’s just growing up. Questions. Do you go all the way? Do you not go all the way? Is it right? I wanted them to think about it.”

Sex, drama and materialism will always be in style because people “see it on television. I don’t think they [young people] watch Real Housewives or Shahs of Sunset or Rich Kids of Beverly Hills for the characters. They see the swimming pools, the handbags, the table settings, and that’s what they aspire to have, and then, they think to themselves the only way to get that is to be famous. Because the people are famous, in fact, for nothing. When you look at the Housewives, there are 50 of them, and they all aspire to be famous.”

“When I was still in school, she”—Collins remembers, the “she” being her famous Dynasty sister Joan Collins—“was off making movies with Paul Newman. Our teen years were very different. After she was 19, she was off in Hollywood, and I was being expelled from school. I think we had those experiences at different times.”

I compare her novel, which I read last night in one sitting, my first foray into a Jackie Collins storyline, to my favorite young adult tales: Pretty Little Liars, practically anything on The CW, The Sisterhood of The Traveling Pants and, yes, my beloved television adaptation of The Carries Diaries. Breaking away from my serious professionalism, I declare it “awesome!” for its accuracy with coming of age. I was a bit of her “wild child” myself. She agrees. “Most teen girls will go through this horror of your first kiss and first sexual awakening.”

As it turns out, there is a lot of teenage Jackie in Lucky. “I had an older friend who was kind of like Olympia,” she says. “It’s not my story. It’s Lucky’s story. But there are certain aspects of this story that are mine because I did spend a lot of time as a teen in the south of France.”

Next, I bring up her recent interview with The Advocate and her masses of gay fans. Will she ever have a main character who happens to be gay: the lesbian Hollywood femme fatale or an openly gay Bradley Cooper type? “I would definitely do that in the future. I have so many ideas of books I want to write,” she assures me (and her astonishingly large gay fan base). “I’m thinking about bringing back Flynn from The Power Trip, who’s a very dynamic male character. I never know what I want to do until I sit down and write it. I never say, ‘I might write a lesbian main character.’ My pen takes me on the trip. I’ve had several lesbian characters in my books.”

In the new book, Lucky makes a momentous decision at the end. Collins wants fans to understand it was representative of the character’s clout. “The reason she did it was because she is a strong person, and she had a choice. The whole pattern would happen again, or she would have more power. It was about giving herself power. It was a stepping stone for her. She thought about it carefully: ‘Am I going to be a kid forever?’”

Before she leaves, off to another interview, I ask her what her fans would be surprised to learn if only they chatted her up. “I think they know more or less everything about me,” she replies. “That I’m a TV junkie and chocaholic. Combine the two. There’s nothing like watching TV on your bed eating chocolate.”

To me, and to every person wanting a dosage of her sass and career gold, she warns, “It’s not so glamorous when you’re writing. You’re shut up for hours on end.”

“But,” she says, “if you want to be a writer, my advice to everybody out there is don’t talk about it. Do it. If you wrote a page a day, every day for a year, you’d have a book. Write. Do it. Follow your dreams.”

GIVE ME MORE!

Want to buy Jackie Collins’ new book, Confessions of a Wild Child? It’s available in the USA, UK and Australia at retailers like Amazon and your local bookstore.

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POP INTERVIEW: Jim Beard On Winning a Grammy, Performing with John Mayer and Producing Incredible Jazz

A lot of music world hoopla was made this week when Britney Spears left her standby producers, Dr. Luke and Max Martin. Metallica. The Beatles. When any artist leaves behind an old sound onto a new one, the stakes are costly. But what people don’t know is this is an artist is only as good as his or her producer. The same is true of jazz.

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A lot of music world hoopla was made this week when Britney Spears left her standby producers, Dr. Luke and Max Martin. Metallica. The Beatles. When any artist leaves behind an old sound onto a new one, the stakes are costly. But what people don’t know is this is an artist is only as good as his or her producer. The same is true of jazz.

Jim’s newly recorded solo piano CD, “Show Of Hands”, is available on ITunes and Amazon.com

 Grammy winning producer and musician Jim Beard has been lucky enough to tour with his early musical influence, Steely Dan. On stage, he has worked with John Mayer, Larry Carlton, Victor Bailey and many other legendary performers.

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When people learn that you toured with Steely Dan, is it intimidating that you might need to live up to those expectations? Not that you are any worse or better, but that you would sound different and leave Steely Dan fans confused?

I would guess that most, if not all of my current fans have been following my music since before I joined Steely Dan. And I think those same fans wouldn’t expect a Jim Beard concert to sound like a Steely Dan concert simply because I’ve toured with them. I also think it’s probably pretty difficult to confuse a Steely Dan fan. So there is no intimidation going on in that regard. I also didn’t discover high expectations or standards after joining Steely Dan. I’d like to think that they called me because I had high standards in place already.

What is your favorite thing about traveling the world?
Food. I love all things food. I love to cook and find great restaurants. And I love experiencing what is indigenous about cuisines around the world. Also, getting back to New York at the end of a tour is one of my favorite things about traveling.

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Are you finding more younger fans at your concerts now that jazz is widely available on iTunes?
No. But I do think younger audiences are becoming more aware of all types of music and art through the internet in general. I think Youtube is playing a greater role in that than iTunes is.

“Those who can’t do teach.” True or false? When you teach classes, is that because you are taking a break from creating new material…and you may need to be inspired?
False. There are many great teachers who are fantastic performers, just as there are many commercially successful performers who have no business being on a stage or at the front of a classroom. I’ve always known that saying to go: “If you’re not good enough to be a performer, become a teacher. If you’re not good enough to be a teacher, become a critic”. As a rule, I take up teaching on the breaks between tours. Quite often, months of touring are followed by months at home. Teaching at a reputable music institution is something I enjoy. If I need to get into the creative mode to write, that happens at home on my own time.

Are you harder on students than you would be critiquing other musicians?
First of all, I’m hardest on myself. Next would be musicians. But ‘critiquing’ might be the wrong word. As a producer, it falls within my job responsibilities to guide, encourage, correct or reject performances by the musicians in the studio. And I can find myself being ‘hard’ on musicians who I feel have misplaced priorities such as appearance, attitude or antics. Poser is the word that comes to mind here. I always try to be encouraging with students. I also try to teach them to be self critical because that is how they really improve. I am asked on occasion to be on juries for students who are transitioning from undergraduate to graduate or graduate to doctoral level and it is a job requirement to be ‘critical’ in those situations.

Show Of Hands

Another thought is someone has made it once he or she wins a Grammy. You have won a Grammy. Do you feel like you still have work left to do in your career?
Well, since there is no huge (or any) cash prize that comes with a Grammy, I most certainly have a lot more work left to do in my career. I view having a Grammy as a feather in my cap, not as something that defines me.

What is the most surprising thing that has ever happened in your professional career?
jim beard3I remember the first big high profile world tour of my career in 1986 with John McLaughlin’s Mahavishnu Orchestra. It was our first concert somewhere in Italy. When we arrived at the venue, there were swarms of people lined up at the artist’s entrance waving and pushing and screaming. It was quite a shock for the kid just out of college. I guess you could say it felt like a rock star moment. That tour had a few surprises. At another concert in Italy, the power went out and there was nearly a riot. The police had to be called in to get us out safely.

www.jimbeard.com 

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POP INTERVIEW: Lydia McLaughlin as She Exits “Real Housewives of Orange County”

Yesterday, Lydia McLaughlin announced she was leaving The Real Housewives of Orange County…by choice. According to Us Weekly, she wanted to grow her brand, consisting of a jewelry line at the present, and possibly pursue a reality show about her entrepreneurial spirit. During our interview last weekend, she gave no obvious clues about leaving the show but the reason for the chat–branding herself with her beautiful, yet affordable jewelry pieces–could have been the first sign.

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Yesterday, Lydia McLaughlin announced she was leaving The Real Housewives of Orange County…by choice. According to Us Weekly, she wanted to grow her brand, consisting of a jewelry line at the present, and possibly pursue a reality show about her entrepreneurial spirit. During our interview last weekend, she gave no obvious clues about leaving the show but the reason for the chat–branding herself with her beautiful, yet affordable jewelry pieces–could have been the first sign. Bethenny Frankel broke away from the catty Housewives storylines similarly to now become a popular daytime talk show host, diet cocktail inventor and an estimated $100 million net worth.

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People love talking for the sake of gossip, and rumors are bound to conflict with McLaughlin’s statement that producers asked her back though she declined. In April, Star reported that Gretchen Rossi and Alexis Bellino were kicked off the series. Of course, all talk about Lydia being forced away will be false. Her answer, when I couldn’t resist asking about the king of Real Housewives, Cohen himself, was genuinely sweet. “He’s exactly what he seems like when he’s not on TV. If you were to have a conversation with him, it’s just like you see.”

Is he cute in person? “He’s actually better looking!” she confirms. “He’s a big sweetheart. If I called him right now, he would answer the phone. He’s really accessible. He’s a good producer. He’s a good person. He’s handsome. I only have nice things to say about Mr. Cohen.”

Presented with an opportunity to join a reality show on a major network where catfights are the ratings selling point, many would say no. Anyone could argue how reality TV producers pull you in every direction, chop and edit unfairly, make you act out artificial storylines as The Hills did and stick words in your mouth to provoke drama. McLaughlin took the risk, which couldn’t have been a better advertisement for her jewelry collection she was about to launch. She didn’t want to be famous, nor did she desire to be infamous. She wanted to move Lydia M. Jewelry product sales.

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“If you watch the show, pretty much in any scene, I’m wearing one of my own pieces. It’s a commercial for my stuff. A lot of times, I post it on my Instagram. I do it a couple times a month. On my website, they can ask me different questions. I wear it on a daily basis, anyway. If you saw me at the park, I’d be wearing my bracelet. In particular with my jewelry, I wanted to be doing pieces I knew I would wear,” the OC Housewife says.

“My husband has gotten me Chanel necklaces and said, ‘Wait! These aren’t even real pearls? Oh my gosh.’ You can see that for me, it was like I know that I am not Chanel, and I don’t have that name brand recognition. You are buying those types of jewelry for the name brand and logo on it. If it’s a lipstick, people are buying Tom Ford, whereas M.A.C. makes beautiful lipsticks. Branding is not a new concept. I knew I wanted to focus on the materials. At the end of the day, if I’m wearing earrings, if it doesn’t have a Chanel logo on it, you can’t tell where it came from.”

She says her pieces are for people like her with high sensitivity to typical cheaper wares. “I have sensitive skin, so you need to have good quality of things. It is costume jewelry; it’s not real diamonds or anything like that. But it’s the finest, and you’ll see that reflected in the cost a little bit. I’m particular about the materials. I use the gold, not gold plated. It’s gold filled. So there is gold throughout the braided bracelets I use. That was a big deal for me.”

Going through the checkboxes of Housewives cast member stereotypes, McLaughlin already stands out from the pack by working on her public image and brand and also, in one area Frankel did not: her Christian faith is a big percentage of who she is. “I’m a role model through the way I live my life, having integrity and being authentic to who I am, being confident in who I am and who God made me to be, and giving back,” she says.

McLaughlin surprised herself, saying this fact or how she saved herself for marriage wasn’t something she would “normally admit” to strangers, but it felt right tearing down the misconception that all reality TV starlets must act promiscuous on television. “That was one reason why I decided to do the show. I wanted to give a different voice. I wanted to project a light and positivity. I think the Housewives franchise gives me a power. It’s flattering that girls watch you and see themselves in you. You can use that power for good or bad,” McLaughlin says. “To us, my husband and I, it was cool that we were both virgins when we got married. I thought that would be a cool thing to share. Other people could say, ‘I’m not a freak because I don’t sleep around.’”

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Projecting yourself as a Christian or otherwise is definitely hard when anything you might say with humor or a slip of the tongue gets taken apart in the editing room, and later, by TV critics and viewers, she tells us. “Filming, just that you film your real life, that adds a little bit of stress to you, and the crew of people following you around, you’re being nervous. I said, ‘I can’t believe that I said that.’ Instead of embarrassing yourself, you embarrassed yourself in front of all of America, who loves to judge you.”

And her gratitude extends to who she is off camera. “The coolest moment for me was one of my fans at the mall saw me and came up, and she was wearing my earrings. She wanted a picture, but I wanted a picture with her as well. Of course, you want to see it on the red carpet. You want to see it on the movie stars. I want to see my fans wearing it. It was an everyday person, and we were both wearing my earrings.”

“I design my stuff for me,” she says, meaning normal women doing all kinds of things in their weekly schedules. “I’ll go on a play date, and then, I’ll go out to dinner. I wanted to be able to design bracelets and necklaces for my daily life, but at the same time, my mother and all of her friends in their 60s love my jewelry, and we’ve sold it to some people who are 16. It depends on your taste. You can wear it with a ball gown at night or to a PTA meeting in the morning. It’s beautiful, timeless and for all occasions. It’s for a woman who wants a little bit of sparkle, which is everybody out there. It is all handmade in Orange County.”

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As she seeks to end up on the list of designers sold at Bloomingdale’s, Lydia’s surprise decision leaves a hole in the OC Housewives lineup. I nominated Brian, the PopGoestheWeek.com owner you see photographed up top, as a new castmate. He may have a shot now!

“First of all, he’d have to become a woman. We have never had a man! That would be his first step. I think there isn’t really a mold. I was nervous when they asked me to be on the show.” So far, so good. All Brian needs is a sex change. Continuing…

“I don’t think I am a typical Housewife,” McLaughlin, who is not native to Orange County but Canadian-born, says. “I like being with joyful people. This show was a lot of drama. The producers were big on me saying they wanted me to be myself. You don’t have to pretend to be something you aren’t. As long as he’s a strong, opinionated woman, has his views and isn’t afraid to say what they are, he’d be a perfect Housewife.”

The last step is Brian needs to move within the filming vicinity. “You’re recommended by a friend or someone you know. I knew Alexis. I think for me, particularly, the casting directors and our company are the same producers for The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Lisa from Beverly Hills has worked with our magazine. They just heard from the beginning that I was at Beverly Hills Lifestyle Magazine, and I moved across the street from Alexis, so it was two worlds colliding.”

While Brian works on getting cast in the lineup, women who want to start a new business can work on building a brand. “I think that you need to have a good business model. It depends on the business you want to start. My whole family is entrepreneurial, so I have a lot of good mentors. I have people in my life I can ask questions to if I need it. We always had that mind frame. Google ‘business models!’” she advises. McLaughlin’s father founded Canada’s first 24-hour network, NTV. With her husband, Lydia created the magazine and SKYLAB Media, a digital marketing/design company. All of this existed before the show ever made her known to the rest of the country.

On what fans love most about her, she replies, “You’d have to ask my fans. I know just from experience, I’ve gotten to go back to my old youth group. I’ve gotten to give my testimony there. Some girls broke into tears just from seeing me. That was a really crazy experience. The fans are really great, even on Instagram. I know on my account, if I post something, and someone say something mean, my fans defend me.”

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Plenty of fans are dealing with bullying in high school or college. Others face adult world bullying at the workplace or elsewhere. McLaughlin understands what it is like to be mocked for invalid reasons and says the only solution is to ignore haters and focus on positivity. “You get a lot more love than you do get hate. You have to take everything with a grain of salt, and you have to be a strong person. To step into a role like this, you can choose to focus on giving them that power or focus on the great things you want to do. I think I’m really a great mom, and I do my best. It doesn’t mean you’re immune to that if you’re famous, but I have really good roots, and your head’s on straight…”

“When you watch Sex and the City, you say, ‘Are you a Charlotte or a Carrie?’ It’s the same type of thing like Housewives,” she explained the series’ phenomenon. “I’m young. I’m a Christian. I’m quirky. I beat to my own drum. Maybe, there’s something about me they see in themselves. They’ll gravitate towards me. I was on this show for one season, and I have over 250,000 social media fans. To me, that is so humbling and flattering.”

WANT TO SEE LYDIA’S JEWELRY FOR YOURSELF OR A SPECIAL SOMEONE’S HOLIDAY GIFT? Head on over to LydiaMJewelry.com.

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