When Khloe Kardashian Odom signed on as a host of The X Factor, she thought it would be a walk in the park. But she didn’t anticipate a few things. One, the sobbing contestants make her verklempt. Two, the live audience is so loud, she feels like she’s yelling. Three, a producer is always barking into her earpiece. And four, her vision is so bad, the teleprompter looks blurry. This last setback is a potentially terrifying discovery to make 48 hours before your live TV debut, but Kardashian Odom found a solution (more on that later). Now she’s getting comfortable as the co-emcee on Fox’s singing Olympics, with judges Simon Cowell, L.A. Reid, Demi Lovato, and Britney Spears, and co-host Mario Lopez. Kardashian Odom spoke to Ramin Setoodeh about all things X Factor, from Ryan Seacrest’s tips on making Simon uncomfortable to the scene backstage.
I read on Twitter you went to the basketball game last night.
Yeah. There’s a basketball game every Wednesday, pretty much. Our show ends at 7 p.m. The game starts at 7:30. So I change and jet out of here. I made it by 7:41, so I’m pretty proud of myself.
Isn’t there traffic?
No. I take Olympic all the way down.
Had you always been a fan of singing competitions?
I’m definitely a fan. American Idol was the first big one. You get glued to the stories, and you do become very emotionally invested. My mom is this way with The Bachelor. Like, she cries at every episode. I’m like, “Mom, you don’t even know these people!” But I will say, being the host, I know these people. When Beatrice [Miller] got voted off and she was sobbing onstage, I wanted to cry. I’m much more invested.
Do you vote?
I don’t vote. And I’m not allowed to.
What about your family?
My little sisters vote. They’ve very into it. They love this stuff. Kim came to the show with Kanye [West], and it was so cute. At Thanksgiving, when I met them all for dinner, they were like, “Oh, my God, who got voted off?’
Does Kanye West really watch X Factor?
He has seen the show. He’ll send me an email and say how good I’m doing, which is really sweet.
I think people don't realize how hard it is to host, because Ryan Seacrest makes it look easy.
It’s much harder. I didn’t know until I did my first show. First of all, people’s futures are on the line, so it’s not like every show is some party. Every time I talk, someone is in your ear, because you have an IFB, literally counting down the seconds—“29, 28, 27”—while I’m speaking. Wait, stop yelling at me! I want to take my earpiece out. Mario [Lopez] does it so well. When they were counting down last night during one of his parts, I was getting anxiety, and I wasn’t even talking.
What about the teleprompter?
There’s a huge stage and standing audience between me and the teleprompter. I swear—it’s like 20 feet away. During our first rehearsal, I was kind of squinting and leaning forward. I didn’t realize I was doing that. The producers were like, “Is something wrong?” They let it go; I kept doing it. Why are you squinting like that? Are you having trouble reading? I seriously could not see the words. This is on a Monday. We started our first live show on a Wednesday. The producers are frantic. I’m thinking, What the hell did I just do? How did I not know I needed glasses or contacts before this? We found a doctor on Tuesday morning. I got a prescription for contacts. The doctor was like, “It might take two or three days for your eyes to adjust. I was like, “I don’t have two or three days!” On the first live show, there are so many lights and everything. Now my eyes feel so much better.
That sounds so scary. Couldn’t you have worn glasses?
I like my contacts. I don’t wear my glasses in front of people. I wear them at home sometimes.
Were you nervous about doing the first show live?
It was nerve-racking. The very first show, once you’re in there and you hear the screaming people, the energy is phenomenal, but it makes you more nervous. And then you yell. You scream because you want everyone to hear you in the arena. But you don’t need them to because you have a mic. I want to not disappoint. I want to do a good job. I’m not a professional host. That’s also why they hired me. They wanted me to bring out my personality and be fun.
Did you watch the show back?
I had to watch the first and second episodes back. It was kind of a wakeup call. I am talking a little too loud. I do look kind of stiff. If I say the word “amazing” one more time, I might kill myself. There’s little stuff you don’t realize when you’re up there. I cringe when I hear my own voice.
It’s like nails on a chalkboard. You know how if you ever recorded a voicemail and play it back—that doesn’t bother you?
I think everybody hates listening to their own voice played back, because it sounds so different in your head.
The weird thing is, when I watch our reality shows, it doesn’t bother me. My laugh does sometimes. But that’s how I laugh. There’s nothing I can do. For me, X Factor is still something that’s out of the box. I’m still learning. But I love that I’m learning. I have miles to go, but that doesn’t bother me. I’d rather be getting better than worse.
Has Seacrest offered to help?
Yeah, Ryan checks in with me all the time. He’s like, “You’re doing better every single week. Your personality is coming out.” He has offered, “If you ever need help, let me know.” It’s been so crazy doing the X Factor, and he has one or two jobs of his own, so it hasn’t worked out where we’ve been able to meet and do that. But his emails, to just know that he’s watching. Like, he did tell me, “If you want to make Simon really uncomfortable, talk really close to him.” I sat on Simon’s lap one show. And he was, like, “That was phenomenal.”
People online freak out about you touching Simon.
I think no matter what, people have something to say about anything. I’m affectionate. I like to push people’s buttons. Simon loved it. I’m going to listen to my boss and not to the people on Twitter.
Why has Simon gotten so nice?
Do you think he’s nice?
I think he’s too nice. This is a different Simon than the one we saw on American Idol.
See, I think he comes and goes. I think he picks on Demi a lot. I will say I think he’ll get more vicious now that we’re going to be in the top six. This is a $5 million deal, and he’s not just going to hand it over to a likable person. He needs to see a real star.
What’s Britney like backstage?
She’s supersweet. Her family is always there supporting her. I love that, because my family is always there. We’re like wild and dancing in my dressing room. She’s always blasting music, too, which is fun. She just got a new puppy. She always has it on the show—not at the judges’ table. It’s a little Yorkie.
And you’re friends with Demi?
Demi is the best. I’ve known her for years.
Do you know who is going to be voted off in advance?
No. We find out when all you guys find out. They won’t tell us.
The judges don’t know either?
None of them know. The producers, they feed it into our ear. They’re like, “Going home tonight is…” We’re waiting and waiting and waiting. Wait. Wait. Say it!
Do you think you’ll come back next season?
I would love to. I really am having a fun time.
Is it true that you put off fertility treatments for this job?
That is so not true. Lamar and I are a happily married, intimate couple. I’m not putting anything off. I definitely want to have kids. I have the most phenomenal life and I love it. I know when I have kids it will be even greater. When it happens, it happens. I haven’t started fertility treatments either.
Oops. Sorry! I got confused.
There are so many stories out there, I get confused, too. Someone asked me the other day, “How are your parents doing?” I’m like, “Great, how are your parents doing?” They were like, “Oh, there were divorce rumors about them.” Who knew? I don’t ever like to clarify things by releasing a statement. That’s a little too extreme. But if someone asks, I’ll tell.