On the first season of Bravo’s The Real Housewives of New Jersey, table-flipping breakout star Teresa Giudice was shown blissfully acquiring loads of extravagant furnishings for her new mansion, (including what were possibly the largest doorknobs ever seen on American TV), quite often, and in cash. In 2009, after accruing $11 million in debt, Teresa and her husband, Joe, filed for bankruptcy, narrowly avoiding a public auction of their belongings (on which one of her rivals openly threatened to bid).
In Season 3, Teresa’s patience was further tested by the surprise addition to the cast of two of her vaguely estranged family members: her cousin Kathy and her younger, richer, and, some would argue, more personable sister-in-law, Melissa (who’s been taking up a lot of Teresa’s screen time to launch her singing career). Along the way, Teresa’s loose tongue and self-described fiery nature have regularly angered her fellow castmates. Rifts deepened when, in the introduction to her second cookbook, Fabulicious!: Teresa’s Italian Family Cookbook, she called into question Caroline Manzo’s Italian-ess and, according to Caroline’s interpretation, was judgmental of her son Christopher. But when Teresa developed a knack for selling inflammatory stories to the tabloids, (which she maintains she does only for the free pictures), Teresa lost her long-suffering best friend, Jacqueline Laurita, who has perhaps left the show to get away from her.
Now, with another new cookbook, Fabulicious!: Fast and Fit, and a just-launched “adult beverage,” Fabellini, Teresa Giudice seems to be emerging victorious. Not even the possibility of jail for Joe for allegedly attempting to obtain a driver’s license with his brother’s identification seems to trouble her too much. (Though she prefers the phrase “going away” to the word “jail,” which sent her into hysterics in a recent episode.) Having come off a run on Celebrity Apprentice, she is in various stages of development with, so far, a cookware line, a hair-care line, and a tooth-whitening product, and, as long as she remains a hydra of controversy, she will doubtlessly continue to develop her particular brand of chaos.
Why is everybody always picking on you?
That’s something that I would love to get the answer to. I wish that you would ask each person what I’ve done to them. ‘Cause I haven’t done anything.
I’ve watched the show very carefully–
I mean, here you have my sister-in-law and cousin that came on the show behind my back. [Melissa] came on the show with a very strategic, very calculated, very planned-out agenda. She’s playing it really cool. It’s sick! Melissa says that she hated me at the time—that’s news to me! What did she hate? That I was on TV and she was dying to be on TV? ‘Cause I did nothing to her. She can’t pinpoint anything that I specifically did to her.
What about the sprinkle cookies?
Okay, she came over for Christmas, she brought sprinkle cookies. We’re an Italian family! We don’t do sprinkle cookies! What’s wrong with her? She’s been around the family long enough to know what to bring. She’s playing that kind of role, like, “Oh, yeah, my shit don’t stink,” so then, bring the right dessert to someone’s house!
Were there other problems with her in the beginning?
In the beginning I accepted her with open arms. All I wanted my brother to do was be happy. Melissa was his third fiancée. She met him the middle of October; she moved into his house December 1; they got engaged, March; they got married, August. Like, very quick. Very, very quick.
Are you speaking to her now?
Her story changes all the time, first she says we weren’t speaking, then she said she hated me, we were at a bad place. Then she said she was pre-menopausal --
I mean, wait, not pre-menopausal, sorry–that’s Caroline–she was hormonal ‘cause she was pregnant. She was pre-hormonal.
Do you think she came on the show to take attention away from you? I mean, that was your show.
It’s took me a while to get used to the whole idea, and I’m fine with it now, and God bless her. Same thing with Kathy. I mean, me and Kathy were so close, she used to tell me all the time, “I could never do the show, I could never do what you do. I could never put my life on TV or do what you do.” She’s such a private person, and blah blah blah. That’s all I kept hearing from Kathy, and I kept saying, “Who would even want you for the show?” Because she didn’t fit the Housewife criteria, do you know what I mean?
I mean, her house is not, you know… [The producers] were looking for big homes and Kathy’s house is very small. You had to live in a big home, you had to have an extravagant lifestyle, let’s put it that way. I used to be like, “Really? Who would even want you?” I used to think to myself like that. It was so funny to me.
Are you speaking to anyone right now?
I’m not speaking to any of them. I wish Caroline could actually say what I did to her, ‘cause I’ve done nothing to her. If I didn’t like her, I would’ve never put her in my book. It’s so funny to me how people are so calculated. I never say anything about any of them and all they do is speak about me. It’s like, really?
Why do they do that?
I don’t know, is it because I have cookbooks?
Maybe. So you’re not speaking to Melissa, your brother, Caroline, Jacqueline, who else? Kathy?
That’s it, those are the only people on the show.
You don’t speak to a single person on the show.
Correct. You know, we live in a crazy world, I have to say, Hopefully, God’ll just, you know, look after me, and hopefully protect me from these evil people,
Who are your friends now?
I have a lot of friends. I mean, you follow me on Twitter, you’ll see I have a lot, a lot of friends. I’m the type that’s always happy, I let things roll of my shoulder. I’m just a happy-go person, but I do have that Italian fiery temper which you only saw when someone’s trying to attack me and saying lies.
Who do you think is the worst person overall?
I would say Caroline. She’s a bully. Now, watching the show, I feel like such an idiot. I can’t believe that every time I left the room I was being talked about. It’s just so hurtful to me, and I feel like I was a fool. I was raised in a very sheltered home, my first language is Italian. I’m not good with all the American sayings. Everyone’s making fun of me, [because] I said “Jekyll and Hyde.” [Note: She actually said “Heckle and Jyde.”] I know all the Italian sayings. My parents, that’s all they spoke at home was Italian. My parents didn’t say “Don’t through stones at glass houses.”
What else bothers you?
They’re painting this picture like I’ve changed. They’re trying to make America believe that I’ve changed. How have I changed? Maybe because now I am a New York Times best-selling author, but that’s it. I’m still the same Teresa, and maybe that’s what they can’t get a grip on. Like, wow, she is the same Teresa.
How do you account for that?
I’m humble–I’ll always be humble. I’ll never change, that’s just not me. I’ve learned from my mistakes. I’ll never flip another table. I can’t believe I allowed someone to push my buttons like that. I worry about my life. I mean, I launched an adult beverage, Fabellini, we’re trying to get that nationally out everywhere. They want it everywhere. They want it in all the states, you know, Chicago, they want us to get it there. We can’t get it out fast enough.
Tell me about Fabellini.
Oh, Fabellini. I’ve always loved bellinis. My husband makes his own homemade wine, so I came out with my own sparkling wine, it’s called Fabellini, in peach and in raspberry. Joe helped me through the journey.
What other products are you developing?
I want to do a cookware line. My husband and I, we’re involved with the teeth whitening, I’m also working on a hair product line that we’re about to launch the name of it.
How is Joe?
Joe’s great, he’s actually at a seminar with Pearl Bright teeth whitening in Florida. It’s a huge seminar.
I understand he’s due in court in a couple of days.
No, he’s not going to court, ‘cause he’s away on business. And I can’t discuss any legal matters.
What do you want everyone to know?
I always heard stories that fame could ruin families, and I never thought it could happen to me and it has happened to me. It’s really sad that my family came on this show to try to put me down, but now I have to say, I just keep getting stronger and stronger and stronger. Maybe they think they’re trying to knock me down, knock me down, knock me down, but all I keep doing is climbing the ladder even higher. If anything, like my husband said, I feel sorry for them, like, all they’re doing is talking about me, and it’s like, really? Get a life!