The first time we talked to Karen Huger, the self-proclaimed “Grand Dame” of The Real Housewives of Potomac, she spoke of the fate that brought her to Bravo, a tale overrunneth with her own special version of humility.
“I was always sitting there ready to be a Housewife on Bravo,” she said, ahead of 2020’s Season 5 of the show. “I wish I was joking, but I’m not. I always said if they came into Potomac I thought I would be someone they would cast. Then lo and behold, they did.”
Thank God and Andy Cohen for that.
It’s now been three years since then, and RHOP, still one of Bravo fans’ favorite franchises, will premiere its eighth season on Sunday night. That happens to fall on the last day of BravoCon in Las Vegas, a fan convention for reality-TV obsessives as versed in the art of table flipping as they are in the ins and outs of a phenomenon known as the #Scandoval.
It turned out to be a fabulous occasion to interact with Huger in her element: The Grand Dame swanning down a red carpet in a press room, waving and smiling for selfies with her admirers, and talking about herself repeatedly and in the third person.
So here, friends and fellow Bravoholics, is a recap of my three-minute audience with Grand Dame Karen Huger.
Just prior to speaking to Huger, her RHOP co-star Ashley Darby, herself incredulous about the news, informed me that the entire cast was planning to watch the Season 8 premiere together at a party in Vegas on Sunday night. Given the carousel of combustion that the cast’s dynamics tend to be, that’s surprising!
“I haven’t heard that, but I guess,” Huger told me, delivering a wily side-eye/smirk combination that suggests mischief. “If Ashley says it, I’m cool. I’ll be there for Ashley.” Oh, to be a fly on the wall at that party, I fantasize, before being brought back down from dreamland by Huger: “We are going to a party to watch it. I’ve seen it. I’ll make an appearance and go home.”
It was only the first day of BravoCon, but that still means a Bravoleb will have roughly 4,000 fan interactions before noon. It must be such a different experience from how fans normally connect with Huger, we suggested. There’s so much ugliness on social media, and it’s hard to feel anything real through curtly tossed-off direct messages. Does an experience like BravoCon change how Huger feels about being a part of this show and what it means?
“Let me be very clear: I have grown to love the fans and the fans have grown to love me,” she said. “It’s reciprocated. I am here for the fans. I can’t wait to meet the fans, hang out with them. This is why I’m here. It’s that moment to say thank you. Because La’ Dame is a brand that’s doing extremely well because of the people who are the fans.” (La’ Dame is Huger’s company that sells a fragrance and four-wick candles.) “I can’t wait to hug them and have fun.”
It’s hard to imagine that RHOP has been on for eight years already. How does Huger think she’s changed over that time?
“Well, we all change,” she said. “If we don’t change, we’re not doing our job called living our lives.”
No argument there.
“I’ve evolved and I’ve matured,” she continued. “I love this version of me better than any year of my life. It is absolutely wonderful, hence I call [being age 60] the Triple 20. I just wouldn’t mess with me.”
Hard pivot! OK!
“I’m no nonsense, but I’m fun. I’m ready to have fun. We’ve been through a lot, a pandemic. I’ve got reason to celebrate, but I will help my friends when I can, to get them through patches. But let’s have a little fun. Can we all have a little fun?”
About those patches to get through on the way to fun: Huger’s RHOP co-star Robyn Dixon is, from what we understand, going to spend a lot of the season dealing with blowback over concealing certain things about her relationship with her now-husband, Juan. Huger and Dixon haven’t always seen eye-to-eye on RHOP. (Read: They never have.) But, the way Huger spoke about it, it seems that, while holding Dixon accountable, there’s actually a lot of empathy there, too.
“My thing about that is, had Robyn had just opened up or maybe called me and gave me a heads up, I would’ve had her back. We’ve got to do it differently. We got to be open, and if you’’e hurting, say you’re hurting. So I would have helped her.”
It’s called growth.
“And let me say this with Robyn: I don’t dislike Robyn. I like fighting with Robin. But I don’t dislike Robyn. I’m actually rooting for her…but not before she comes to me with a little bit of a clean start.”
With that, the Grand Dame takes her leave.