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POP INTERVIEW: Frank Polito Makes LGBT Characters Realistic for Teens

Frank Antonio Polito, has written several young adult novels and plays, blogged, written for Instinct Magazine and acted. He works hard to portray LGBT characters in normal, though dramatic, culturally acceptable “straight” settings like you might imagine on mainstream shows like Pretty Little Liars, The Carrie Diaries, Hannah Montana or Gossip Girl. As a fan of young adult series, despite being an adult [*blush*…*hide Vampire Diaries from my iPad viewing history*], I really had to talk to him about his awesome work!

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Frank Antonio Polito, has written several young adult novels and plays, blogged, written for Instinct Magazine and acted. He works hard to portray LGBT characters in normal, though dramatic, culturally acceptable “straight” settings like you might imagine on mainstream shows like Pretty Little Liars, The Carrie DiariesHannah Montana or Gossip Girl. As a fan of young adult series, despite being an adult [*blush*…*hide Vampire Diaries from my iPad viewing history*], I really had to talk to him about his awesome work!

Frank Polito

How does New York, the city which can be a big character itself in shows like Law & Order and Sex and the City, play a part in your work, whether the stories are set there or about people who might fit in around Manhattan?
All the novels I’ve written are set in the Detroit area, where I grew up. But the protagonist in DRAMA QUEERS!, Bradley Dayton, is an aspiring actor with the dream of getting out of his tiny hometown of “Hazeltucky” and moving to New York City to become famous. In DQs there’s a chapter where Brad travels to NYC to audition for the Juilliard School of Drama. I based this scene on my first visit to New York City when I was 19 years old, and tried to capture that feeling of being in big, new, wonderful world filled with so much possibility – and other gay people – and knowing you belong there.

Apologies if this comparison is bad. When I saw the description about “Band Fags,” your book, I thought of “The Carrie Diaries” because both are set int he 1980’s and seem to cover young people coming of age and caring obsessively like teens do, about love. Do you see a similarity at all too?
Not a bad comparison at all! When first I heard about THE CARRIE DIARIES and it being set in the ‘80s, I knew that I had to watch. There is definitely a similarity with BAND FAGS! as both rely heavily on pop culture – particularly music – to set the tone. In BFs every chapter is titled after a popular ‘80s song, and the story itself is chock-full of ‘80s references. When you’re a teenager pop culture is your life. Especially in the ‘80s when there was no Internet or Facebook or Twitter to occupy your time. And love – so important to a teen of any time period! But in the ‘80s, you had to pick up the phone if you wanted to talk to someone. You couldn’t text, email, or instant message them when you were lying in bed, under the covers, late at night.

Can the word “fag” ever be used positively? People differ a lot on this answer so nothing you might say is ever wrong.
When I chose the title of my first book, I didn’t even consider that it might be an issue. To me, a “Band Fag” is someone who plays in the school band. It’s a compound word and has nothing to do with being gay. But the word “fag” by itself, I realize, is a different story. Kids today will use words like “fag” and “gay” to mean “stupid.” In a way I think it’s great that these words have taken on a new meaning – but why can’t saying “That’s so gay!” mean “That’s so cool!”? I hear young African-American guys calling each other the N-word all the time. But I don’t know if they’d appreciate a white dude calling them that. Me, I won’t even spell out the N-word, let alone say it. And yet I have no trouble writing the word F-A-G. Maybe it’s because, after so many years, I’m finally proud to be one?

Do you base your work on your real experiences or do you hate doing that, opting for taking on fiction or other people’s life experiences?
When I began writing, I did base my work on my own personal experiences. I would just change the names – “to protect the guilty,” and liven things up a bit at the boring parts. But more and more, I’ve taken to writing totally original stories – though there is still a part of ME in the characters and the events that take place. For example, in my first Young Adult novel LOST IN THE ‘90s, the protagonist is a teenage boy who’s the singer in a ‘90s cover band, and he travels back in time to 1994 on the eve of Kurt Cobain’s suicide. I’ve never been in a band, nor have I ever traveled back in time. BUT… I lived through 1994. I will say that writing about your own experience is easy, but making things up is a lot more fun.

Why do you think if there are so many good LGBT themed teen screenplays and books to turn into great TV movies that so few are made? ABC Family, Disney and The CW could seriously benefit from this kind of work!
This is a GREAT question! When BFs first came out, I was contacted by a producer who wanted to pitch it as a TV series. He said that ABC Family was open to doing a show with a gay teen protagonist. Unfortunately they passed, deciding they were only developing shows about teen girls. However, 5 years later we still don’t have a TV show with a gay teen protagonist. I honestly think it’s because being gay is based on sexual identity. If you take away the SEX element, what do you have? To me, this is a ridiculous way of thinking. Why can’t we have a show about JUST being a teenager– and the main teen character just happens to be gay? I think it’s because being gay is still so much of an “issue” in itself. Once it no longer is, then maybe things will change.

What have you learned from your real life work that you never learned from getting a master’s degree in writing?
My MFA is in Dramatic Writing. I didn’t study novel-writing in school, so I was never taught how to write prose, ie “narrative.” But I usually write in first person, so I consider everything in the story as “dialogue.” The narrator is telling the story, much in a way that an actor would perform a one-person show. What I have learned from “life” is that it’s all about WHO you know. It’s an old cliché, but so true. I always advise aspiring writers to get out there and meet people – like editors and agents, and other writers who can recommend them to agents and editors. But I’m terrible at following my own advice. I hate so-called networking.

How did you identify yourself differently when you performed in drag for “One Angry Man” versus your daily life as a man in male dress?
When I was hired to play the role of Iris, I was told that the character was a “transvestite.” But when I read the script, I didn’t see her that way. I believed she was “transgendered” and this is how I played her: as a WOMAN. Yes, the film is a comedy. But I couldn’t consciously go for the laughs. I couldn’t play Iris as “a man in a dress.” On set, there were a few other actors, straight males, who I could tell were uncomfortable around me. I don’t know if it’s because they were homophobic, or they thought I dressed in drag on a daily basis, or they found me attractive! I never went as far as using the ladies room – but to be honest, I didn’t feel right using the men’s. I imagine this is how most transgendered people feel all the time.

People joke meanly about drama and theater being part of the gay world, but there is no denying that while many people in films are straight, many more are gay. What are the positives, rather than the negatives people want to see, about the LGBT presence in cinema and on the stage? And in your case, the stage and literature?
What I want to see, personally, is a gay character who is NOT a stereotype being played by an openly gay actor. It’s fine to cast someone like Rob James-Collier as the gay footman on DOWNTON ABBEY, I love him! But why did the part have to go to a straight actor? Out of all the gay actors in the business, they couldn’t find one who could play the role just as well? I think this comes down to homophobia on the part of casting directors – most of whom are gay themselves. It’s as if they get off on having “power” over the straight men. In terms of literature, I think a lot of gay writers just want to write stories about gay people – and not stories about people being gay.

On the other hand, what helped you prepare for your work that you did learn in college?
Again, I studied Dramatic Writing – plays and screenplays – which relies heavily on dialogue. And I’ve gotten a lot of praise for the dialogue in my novels because of the training I received. I also studied Acting for many years, so I’m able to read my dialogue aloud and get a good sense as to whether it sounds “real” or not. I also learned a lot about dramatic structure in graduate school. This has helped a great deal when plotting out a new novel. I never used to write from an outline. Now I always do.

Frank’s personal blog is viewable here: http://frankanthonypolito.blogspot.com

Celebrities

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.”

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