‘Selling Sunset’s’ Christine Quinn, TV’s Most Fabulously Terrifying Villain, Tells All
Christine Quinn, the icy “gothic-dominatrix-Barbie” of Netflix’s “Selling Sunset,” talks to Marlow Stern about why she doesn’t feel “appreciated” and how all is not as it seems.
With all due respect to the Real Housewives, Love Is Blind’s Jessica, and whatever man-whore Bachelor they’re trotting out, the best reality TV villain on television right now is Christine Quinn, the icy glamazon of Selling Sunset.
“People are terrified of me,” Quinn says. “As they should be.”
Netflix’s incredibly addictive reality series—from The Hills co-creator Adam DiVello—trails the statuesque female real estate agents of the Oppenheim Group as they gossip, backstab, and peddle palatial L.A. homes. And while there is plenty of drama to be had in Season 3, from Chrishell’s actor-hubby Justin Hartley (This Is Us) dumping her by text to pissy Romain’s ongoing feud with Davina, it’s Quinn, the show’s reigning chaos queen, who commands every bit of your attention with her scathing barbs and risqué get-ups. She is Spencer Pratt crossed with Cruella de Vil—and a total hoot.
Quinn began her career as a Hollywood actress, with bit parts in Ballers, Shark Night 3D, and Hot Tub Time Machine 2. And, even though she’s got her hands full with million-dollar listings, she hopes to continue the acting thing.
“I fucking love it. I want to be on so many shows. I want to be funny and be myself. I want to be on Dancing with the Stars, to do comedy, to do it all,” she tells me.
In a wide-ranging conversation with The Daily Beast, Quinn spills the tea on her Selling Sunset co-stars, that wild wedding, how the show is “manufactured,” and reveals why she’s tired of being the show’s “scapegoat.”
I saw that you went by “Christine Bently” in some of your early acting gigs. Is that a stage name?
So here’s what happened: I was an actress, and for SAG, you have to be registered under the Screen Actor’s Guild, and Christine Quinn was a New York senator who was registered under the Screen Actor’s Guild, so I couldn’t use my name and had to come up with a last name. I was like, Umm…‘Bently’ sounds cool. That’s the deal with that. And then when I started doing the show, for business purposes I wanted to use my real last name so they could find me.
Oh, that makes sense. What was your Hollywood experience like?
Honestly, I love this. I’m meant for this. I went to school for theater [at KD Studio in Texas]. I have a big emphasis in comedy and my dream is to be on a sitcom. But I noticed that I was getting typecast in the same roles—cheerleader, blonde bitch, cheerleader, blonde bitch—and I just really wanted to do more and was getting a little frustrated, because I knew I had more in me. I took a break from acting and decided to get into real estate because I wanted to be in control. I’m sure you know: I love control. I wanted to be in control of making my own money, dealing with who I wanted to, and not dealing with a casting director who’s had a bad day. Then we got approached for the show because we had a billboard for our office featuring our gorgeous, beautiful girls. And then I thought, This is perfect. I can just be my fabulous, bitchy self. This is all I ever wanted.
OK, so how scripted is Selling Sunset? Because I watched The Hills with its silly series-finale set reveal. Are you given, say, a rundown of your day? Or how does it work?
[Laughs] Well Marlow, I know you’re a very smart, sophisticated young man. I wish I could comment on that without getting fired but I know that you’re really smart. That’s all I can really say in terms of that! I would refer you to an article I did with Nylon before I got fuckin’ bodyslammed and fired from the press tour if you want a little more truth in terms of things that I’ve said that production didn’t necessarily appreciate because I was too honest. It was Done and Done Productions, which is Adam’s [DiVello’s] company. He removed me from the press tour because I speak my mind too much.
There’s a moment during the latter part of Selling Sunset Season 3 where we see you palling around with your friend Karamo [from Queer Eye] while showing him a house. And that struck me as perhaps closer to your actual self. You seem fun, lighthearted. It stood in sharp contrast to your “villain edit” on the show.
I want to thank you so much for realizing that, because I’ve only watched two parts of the show—I watched my wedding, and I watched my scene with Karamo. That was me in my natural element with a friend of mine and a client of mine. That was something that wasn’t…hmm…what would the word be? What’s another word for “manufactured?”
It seemed less artificial.
Yes! It was a chance for me to be my actual fun-loving self and I wasn’t forced to fight. I love that you love that scene, and I love that scene too.
You seem fun to hang out with during that sequence, and that’s something that frankly doesn’t come through so much on the show.
Of course. That’s what makes the show the show. The producers definitely have favorites—you can see it when you watch the show, it’s very apparent—and it’s unfortunate. It is what it is. I do have fun being the villain but I’m thankful that people like you are smart enough to realize that there is more of me, and that this is a television show, capital S-H-O-W.
I find Davina to be more manipulative and villainous, at least on the show, than you.
The funny thing is: Davina got a really bad edit too. In the wedding, you see Davina say something about Chrishell’s divorce, and Maya told Entertainment Tonight, “That’s not how the conversation happened. I said the exact same thing and they didn’t even use my footage of me saying it because they wanted to vilify Davina.” Davina is my best friend and I hang out with her every single day. She’s a very smiley, laughing, funny, bitchy, witty girl like me—which is why we get along so well. But I notice on the show that they cut out every scene of her smiling, every scene of her laughing, and that’s a hundred percent intentional. I feel like Davina and I have been scapegoats for so long, and it’s really frustrating. But there are smart people out there that catch on to it. Just know: reality is just an illusion.
So did your and Mary’s friendship actually fall apart or is that a Selling Sunset flourish?
It did, and it’s so unfortunate because we used to be so close. I was cleaning some stuff the other night and found a framed picture of her and I from when we used to live together, and it really hit home. It was hard. I texted her two weeks ago and said, “Hey babe, I don’t want what happened on the show to bleed into our real lives. I hope we can move on. I love you, you’re like a sister to me, I don’t want the show to affect us, and we can’t let them win.” She agreed and was nice and sweet. I think she’d be open to rekindling our friendship, I really do. And I’ll tell you this: it wasn’t us who were like, Yeah, let’s get into a fight and hate each other! That wasn’t us. I’ve known that bitch for years and years and years. We’ve gotten into plenty of fights and it’s never escalated like that. But it’s hard. I want that friendship back more than anything.
It does seem like many of the women on the show have issues with Mary’s partner, Romain.
Romain is quite a fireball. He’s a little unhinged, I’m just gonna be honest. He’s…an interesting character. I don’t really understand their relationship but I do know that they love each other and are happy. I don’t agree with everything that he does, and the way that he talks to women kind of grosses me out and makes my skin crawl. If my husband ever talked to any woman the way Romain talks to Mary, saying, “I really, really don’t give a fuck about this wedding,” or the way he talks to Davina, I would slap the fucking shit out of my husband. So, I attribute that to his being young—and that’s OK. But you know, he’s 26. He can barely rent a car!
I read that you had coronavirus and it made you skip your bachelorette?
Ugh. That’s exactly what happened. I was super, super sick—but that wasn’t a fun storyline, obviously. Do you remember I was sick at the end of the season? They did a fabulous job of making me look not sick, because there were scenes where I didn’t have a voice and I couldn’t breathe. Me and my husband were traveling through Hong Kong and Dubai in December and I came back the sickest I’ve ever been in my entire life. I was delaying production because there are certain days where I felt OK and the next day I’d be in bed all day. I couldn’t explain it. I was so tired, so exhausted. I was on so many steroids you’d think Michael Jackson’s doctor was my best friend. But I couldn’t even do the glam sometimes. It was really hard for me.
Did anyone else get COVID in the cast or crew?
Um…my wedding dress designer got really sick. She was in the hospital and believes she had it but never did the antibody test. And there was one crewmember who got really, really sick and couldn’t come in to work. He believes he had it too. And then my wedding planner got really, really sick as well...There were maybe four people around me that were down for the count.
You’re a super-spreader! On a happier note, let’s talk about the wedding. The amazing wedding. It looked like quite a scene. The swans were a nice touch.
Thank you. It was no joke. And when I watched what they did with my wedding, they used it as a backdrop to the drama. They didn’t really showcase my wedding, so I look forward to sharing my actual wedding videos so people can see the details and what was actually going on.
It’s edited weirdly. You didn’t even really see the vows or the kiss. It just jumps ahead to the next fight.
It’s edited very weirdly, to say the least.
Would you have actually invited Chrishell to your wedding if you weren’t on Selling Sunset?
I think that I would have taken the wedding guest list a little, um, differently. I think that I would have taken a look at it and edited it a little differently. There would have been a few people that wouldn’t have been there.
You have a very unique style on the show. How would you describe it?
I feel like my style is very gothic-dominatrix-Barbie, mixed with a lot of blacks and pinks. It’s girly and it’s gothic and it’s all these different things, depending on how I’m feeling. It’s just overall extra AF.
There have been Cruella de Vil comparisons.
Oh yeah? I love that for me! I would say I’m more into Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada. She’s an all-encompassing woman that I admire.
As a Hills fan, I was naturally a fan of Spencer Pratt. And he was cast as the villain on The Hills but in the years since, I think people have realized that he actually wasn’t the villain. Do you see yourself occupying that lane, and think that maybe in time people will realize the same about you?
Yeah. It’s unfortunate because I feel like I’m not appreciated. I really feel like I’m not appreciated. I feel like I do bring the most in a lot of circumstances, as far as things I share with my life and the way I carry conversations, so I hope people will see that. That’s why I encourage people to get to know me off the show and on my social media pages. That’s more the real me.
I also read that Brett has since split from Jason and started his own firm. I imagine that’s going to be a pretty big storyline in the next season.
Yeah, it’s going to be very, very interesting, because I think people are going to be forced to pick sides. It’s going to be very juicy. Also you have to understand: Davina is a broker, and me, Maya and Heather have had conversations before about doing something about that. It’s going to be a very interesting transition this time next year to see where we’re all at. But there are three brokers in the kitchen now so…we’ll see what happens.
So you, Maya, Heather and Davina have talked about starting your own firm together?
It’s something we’ve talked about.
Do you guys ever get Brett and Jason mixed up?
[Laughs] No, never. They’re so different to me. I can tell them apart from a mile away. Even facially, I can tell them apart.
I gotta ask: How many of the agents have they dated?
[Laughs] That’s a great fucking question! Hold on—let me do the math. Excluded from this is Davina, Christine and Maya. So I’m going to count real quick…I have three confirmations right now that I’m counting and a halfsie, because we’re not really sure.
And do you think it’s kosher for them to be dating so many of their own employees?
I mean, thank GOD they don’t have any fucking HR on their backs! He’s an independent contractor and he can do what he wants to do. It is…you know…oh God…
Because the people they’ve dated seem to get preferential treatment as far as listings and stuff, no?
Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. I’m not denying that at all.
As far as the addition of Chrishell to the cast, she’s the only one who wasn’t with the Oppenheim Group before the show started and was very much just a casting choice, so were the people who were there like, “What the fuck? This is someone who didn’t ride with us before we were famous and now she’s here on the show.”
Next question! But you’re smart.
Selling Sunset is one of the most popular reality shows on Netflix. Are the cast members compensated fairly?
[Laughs] That’s a great fucking question! I’m trying to think how to answer this for you…
It seems like reality-TV cast members are regularly underpaid but they end up getting good money from doing promotional appearances at nightclubs and stuff like that. But you can’t really do that type of stuff now, so what sort of money are you getting out of being on the show?
A lot of us do paid social media posts and stuff like that—or collaborations with brands. But that’s pretty much all we can do right now, as far as everything that’s going on with corona.
How have you found corona’s affected the real estate game in L.A.?
It’s really made it difficult. I’ve had a few listing appointments and people want to sell and they’re not certain they can get the right dollar for their home, and people want to buy but they’re not sure if the market will keep going down. People are definitely more cautious. Deals are still being made but it’s just a really weird time right now.
You can’t do Botox & Burgers in the age of corona.
Ugh. I know, right?!