Bravo TV, Reality TV, Vanderpump Rules

#PumpRules: Interview with Sur Manager Peter Madrigal (plus his Buttered Pop podcast debut)

My colleagues at the Buttered Pop podcast conducted a fantastic interview with Peter Madrigal from Vanderpump Rules, a measured and commanding presence as compared to his raucous cast mates. As the manager of Sur, Madrigal made a resolution to stop dating coworkers after a turbulent romance with Stassi Schroeder and a hookup with Katie Maloney – all of which went down before there was even this godsend of a show. Iconic American writer, novelist, professor and commentator Roxane Gay has admitted to the show being a favorite of hers, and at age 44, I too enjoy this franchise more than the Real Housewives ones.

A few years ago, I predicted I would outgrow what I jokingly called “Vapid Rules.” I even shared that term with Tom Schwartz, Katie Maloney, Stassi Schroeder and Jax Taylor when I interviewed them for a series of articles in the Huffington Post. Stassi took it in stride and tweeted out “#VapidRules AF!” I recently shared my love of Vanderpump Rules with Alex Baskin of Evolution Media (“It’s the best show on TV now!”), who I was introduced to through Reality of Reality podcast host Aliza Rosen. Evolution is the company that produces all the vapid, wild and touching moments that make for the perfect reality TV ingredients. Commentators agree that Vanderpump Rules is the gift that keeps on giving, with sharp turns and surprises to keep viewers entertained and riveted. It is the small screen favorite of many and amasses new viewers seasonally. Evolution Media also produces E!’s Botched, Bravo’s Real Housewives of Orange County, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and Sweet Home.

Being in the film production business his self, Peter Madrigal knew early on that it made sense to feature his fellow Survers. He saw the ingredients and the blueprints. He recognized that his coworkers antics and complex, interconnected social lives (particularly, hookups) made for great drama, that the men – or boys – had charm (or smarm) and the women, dynamic personalities.

I spoke with Madrigal this past Tuesday to get more insight about him, a man who seems to be the calmest of his crew, and who viewers don’t necessarily know so well. As the restaurant manager, he tries to “keep things professional,” which may be why some of his scenes don’t make the final cut. However, he is always at Sur when the cameras are rolling and in many ways, as he tells Buttered Pop, the crew has come to rely on him.

Following is our discussion:

I’m so excited to speak with you, Peter. I used to be a Contributor to Huffington Post and interviewed Jax, Stassi, Brittany, Katie and Schwartz. I know your style from listening to several interviews that you did, and I do realize that you WON’T give away things that happened on the show.

However, I wanted to start with how Guillermo Zapata approached you when you worked at Club Monaco and said to come work for him. You had a roommate working there who may have put in a good word and you were hired on the spot when you arrived at Sur. It seemed to me that he was scouting you, so I was wondering if there was any talk of a TV show at that time.

No, not at all. That was 10 years ago. I don’t think at the time Lisa was even on Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.  I think he just liked my look and wanted to hire me for me.

It seems like Sur is about the ‘right look’ and the headshot. Then again, the allure of the show is watching so much drama go down between beautiful people.  

In some ways it’s about image, but we’re a diverse group of people. It’s not just image but style and presence. There has to be something about you.  Everyone is really bringing something to the table. I have to keep myself in check as the manager, so despite me being there full time, I heard I was only on for one second of the Season 7 premiere last (Monday) night.

I heard you don’t watch the show and have made it a policy not to watch, since the beginning.

I don’t watch! Tell me what happened in the first episode.

Jax stormed in the room, he was angry about James’s rap and you looked like ‘what the hell is going on?!’

Oh, I remember. I was there for the whole thing and it’s about what they want to use. Despite only being on a little here and there, I’m amazed that I have a large following on social media or when people approach me and say they’re a big fan. I think we all have a presence about each of us.

We don’t really see you get into the chaotic drama, so they don’t focus on you as much as the others. Was that a purposeful decision by you because of your interest in film and directorial vision? Did you see yourself as someone who could help production? Or is it because you’re so cool, calm and collected that they don’t focus on you?

It’s a combination of both. I’m pretty cool until you tick me off – which actually happened to me this morning, by the way.

Oh, too bad they’re not filming next season already.

(Laughs) Someone commented that I remind them of Seinfeld because I don’t get pissed off. That could be a detriment in this medium, but it works for who I am and I’m very true to myself. As the current season progresses, I think you are going to see more of me. I know I’m going to be featured heavily, but let’s see what they decide to show. It’s a combination of deliberate choice on my part, but at the same time it is who I am.

It sounds like you have to take a stand about something in Sur and that will be important to the storyline this season.

You’ll just have to watch!

You seem like the most mature of the crew because you’re so responsible. I know that you’re 35 and that’s the same age as some of the other cast members.  You discussed on Buttered Pop how the producers will ask you to lower the music when there’s a conversation they want to catch. It seems like you are always on hand to make sure the conditions are right for filming.

I’m one of the crew’s favorites to work with. I arrive early and very rarely do I arrive late. I’ll often get there before the crew. I want to make sure I’m miked and ready to go. I am very OCD in case you didn’t hear that…so if I’m late, I’m beating myself up. I’ve never been late to work, but was suspended one time about 9 or 10 years ago for missing a shift. I like to be early.

Of course, many fans wanted to know about the time period – oh so long ago that it’s ancient history for you – that you went out with Stassi. I know there was some overlap with when you hooked up with Katie. I’m curious how they became friends after that.  

It’s funny you mention that because the ‘overlap’ in this place is very predominant. In this group, Jax hooked up with Kristen and Stassi and now he’s with Brittany who is best friends with them. Kristen hooked up with Jax and now Jax and Carter are really good friends. Katie and I were hanging out during a period when Stassi and I weren’t exclusive. We were making out and then passed out on the couch together, head to head – it was an L shaped couch. That was it. I can’t remember when I had made out with Stassi – We became exclusive a short time after and Katie felt rejected. I regret how I handled that. I would never put myself in that type of situation again.

You were your own ‘cautionary tale’ pre Jax.

I was my own cautionary tale! I was and I told a bunch of new bartenders who hook up with each other ‘you’ve got to stop or it’s going to be bad around work.’ There was a situation recently and I said ‘you guys have got to be congenial to each other’ because they had ended it. I said ‘I’ve already been here, I know what this is. There are a lot of women that come through here. You don’t have to be hooking up with your coworkers, just be friends with them.’

Once you get to this environment, this is such a promiscuous place with everyone hooking up all the time.  I understand that it happens when you’re around a bunch of beautiful people. Right when I became a manager, after I dated Stassi, I just became this paragon of professionalism. I was the manager, the leader. I wouldn’t date any of my coworkers.

You talk about being a perpetual bachelor now. Some fans and I were curious: how do you date and what are your thoughts on settling down? I’m just a fan of finding happiness in whatever form, so know that I am specifically asking this question because of the show’s current focus on Jax’s proposal, and with your close friends Katie and Tom being married.

That’s the best question I’ve ever been asked. I think about it a lot because I say I want to live to 100 and then say to myself ‘why do I want to do that?’ I do see my mortality. I guess it’s morbid, but it’s the truth. My 30s are passing by quickly. I remember thinking back during season 2, I’m turning 30. Now, I’m 35 which is four years from 40. I saw this joke story on Instagram from my friend Jonathan. He was going through a book that said ‘sex after 50’ and it was all blank pages. If I can’t go out with the girls and have a relationship, who is going to want to hook up with the old guy Peter? I have to make sure I look good. I’m constantly working out. I’m working on my face, trying not to get wrinkles. I’ve seen guys younger than I am that already look 45. I want to look this way until my 60s.

So have you done ‘Brotox’, you know that term some people use for Botox for men?

I did some Botox just recently, it’s on the show. Not sure you’ll see it because again, I don’t know what they’ll include. I do put a lot of lotions on also. I use a lot of vitamin C and vitamin A. I took a 16 hour trip to Vegas to see a business partner and met Kevin Harrington from Shark Tank. I thought he was in his 40s and he’s like ‘no, I’m 61.’ At that point, I was all like ‘I need to look like you in 30 years.’ I’m very determined to keep myself looking like I’m perpetually 30.

That is a theme and focus on these shows. I’m in the midst of writing a separate piece called Body Image by Bravo.

I don’t want to look like a blow-up doll, but I don’t want to look too weathered. Will I be able to still date when I get to 50? At 40, I should probably start thinking about settling down – even at 36. I’m always looking at that. I think about if I’m going to have kids…and I want to make enough money to raise those kids!. I always thought when I was younger that if I was on a TV show, I could date whoever I wanted to date, but that’s not true. That’s not the way it works. So what if I own my own company? That’s still not the way it works. I don’t know what women want.

You developed a casino app called Casino Scouts, and you have the hair line Myhairo.com. You manage to make time to exercise twice daily and go to Sur pretty much full time. How many days do you actually have to be there? A viewer told me to ask if your shoulders are tired because you’re the only one she sees always working there.

I can’t stop people from giving away their shifts. I’m full time, so that’s typically 4 days a week. I’m full time on the show when we’re filming. I’m at Sur doing 7 hour shifts at a time, so that’s a pretty hefty workload. I have recently brought it down because of my other companies. I’m all about balancing my time and I do that very well. Just today, I decided not to get up at 6 which is my normal time and got up at 7. I got coffee and did my morning routine. I looked at a short film that I had to send to potential funders. At 10 (an hour before this call), I had an appointment, then got on the phone with you. Right after you, I have a 12:00 call. After that I have to hop on the computer and study because I’m going to get my real estate license. Yes, on top of everything. I’m studying for that!

Tomorrow I have a 10:00 appointment and I just got a message about the hair company, so will have to add that to the schedule. I am constantly working.

The viewers and I are curious to know what you think of new people who come to Sur and join the show.  What makes them work within the friend group?

It goes back to what we first started with in this conversation. You have to bring something to the table, have a personality. We’ve tried different people and a lot of people don’t work. Not just the dynamic of the group. ‘Are you charismatic enough?’ I’m not going to toot my own horn, but I have more charisma in my pinky than all of the Summer House crew combined.

I can’t watch it. I think it’s because I have to limit my television time and Vanderpump Rules fills whatever viewing void that Summer House might fill for others. I’m not sure…

I watched a clip when Stassi was introducing these people to the world. These guys got a TV show?! Tom Sandoval and Tom Schwarz have tons of charisma and of course, Jax and James….They are dynamic as are all the women on our show. Someone is going to get left in the back- me in this case – but that doesn’t mean they don’t have an impact on the show.

Since you don’t watch the show yourself, are you always aware of the drama going on, or are you constantly surprised by things?

Sometimes I have surprises. During Season 2 I tried to stay out of the drama and having to manage the restaurant is a lot of responsibility.  You don’t want to get caught up or start taking sides or having favorites. That’s a detriment to leadership. For so many years I was called ‘Switzerland,’ But things do change and sometimes, like I think maybe you’ll see this season, I will speak up a lot more – especially  when you start criticizing my leadership.

When I found out that Jax slept with Kristen, I was totally surprised and didn’t want to believe it. I found out from people watching the show. Like you said, I have made it a policy from the beginning not to watch. I do know – and I think this is when I’m seen more on the show – that when I want something done, I step up and make a stand. You’ll see that.

It’s weird that you don’t want to watch it, but maybe it’s like me not wanting to hear my annoying voice on the podcast episodes I do. Who from the cast are you closest to?

Schwartz and I are super close…

You mentioned being friendly with Lala’s fiancé Randall on Buttered Pop.

I am now friendly with Randall! I saw him at the premiere party and it was good to catch up.

One fan wanted to know, with all the ventures you have going on and your position at Sur, where do you see yourself in 5 to 10 years?

I’ll put it like this: I see myself still cranking away, working hard and doing very well for myself. I am not going to say where I’m going to be. I don’t want to give away my thought process…but I see myself doing well…within the next 2 years actually.

I’ve talked to numerous reality TV people and have seen how the experience can be humbling and also ego inflating. Seeing the negatives has made me realize I could never personally do reality TV! Writing about it can be dramatic or stressful enough! Do you think people have been humbled by this show or that their egos have blown up from it?  

A combination of both. From my experience, I have become more humble. I’m still astonished. I put pants on one leg at a time each morning and people still want to take pictures with me. People call me a ‘legend’ and I haven’t done anything yet! By the same token, there’s some arrogance in the sense that I’ve had to put people in their place.

About a year ago, I met someone at a magazine shoot and she said ‘you don’t know who I am?!’ I was like ‘please tell me who you are’ and she couldn’t believe it. ‘I’m this model who has done this and this…’ It came across as so pompous, so I said ‘that’s awesome. How many followers do you have on Instagram? I’m one of the cast members on a hit show on Bravo, don’t start talking arrogantly.’

My dad would run into you and have no idea who you are. My husband would run the other way because he thinks Bravo is my huge time suck when I could be doing other things, like reading before bed. So, it’s funny to me that people have egos. You have a huge fan base, but stay grounded!!

I had to bring my ego out just a little bit because I had to put someone in their place for stupidity. I try to stay as humble as possible.

You can see Peter Madrigal on Vanderpump Rules, which airs weekly on Monday nights at 9 PM EST on Bravo.

 

 

 

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Bravo TV, Reality TV

Body Image by Bravo

Joining a reality TV show means a lot of things, but a big part of it is toughening one’s skin and buckling up for public scrutiny.

The old adage goes “the camera adds ten pounds,” so a size 6 to 8 woman might appear to be a size 10 or 12 on your screen, according to that saying…if it still applies. With modern technological advances to television and high definition, I’m not sure if this assertion is 100 percent sound today, but I can attest to the fact that I’ve met TV personalities who look smaller in person than they do on my screen.

Emily Moore Simpson never really suffered from any body image related self consciousness, but suddenly she was on a national program, Real Housewives of Orange County, with viewers weighing in on multiple social media platforms. Alarmingly, some were following her in order to tauntingly type “oink” in the comments section of her Instagram photos and add pig snout emojis.

To see Emily in person (which I have) is to note excellent cheekbones, gorgeous green eyes and a well-proportioned figure with enviable curves. While some were excited to see a woman who, like themselves, wasn’t a size 0 or 2 join the crew, others decided to be less kind, going directly to her pages to seek her out and inform her that she was dwarfing her shorter husband Shane – as if that were some sort of a crime.

The real crime here? People weren’t doing the normal thing that viewers do, roasting personalities behind their backs rather than directly to them. In addition: seeking them out deliberately to do so. Emily would proceed to divulge that the nastiest types of emails were sent directly to her, with one woman named Yvett going to the link of an event she posted about in order to share these unsolicited opinions:

You could argue that people get what they signed up for with reality TV, that they scrawled their signatures on the release forms and are making money…but you could also learn from the Bitch Sesh podcast’s “no tagging” rule. The comedy duo Casey Wilson and Danielle Schneider recap Housewives on their popular show and say as much smack and employ as much snark as they desire, but they don’t want the Bravolebrities they’ve discussed informed of the conversations. They perpetually ask audience members not to tag these personalities.

Along the same vein, I used to avoid reading the comments’ sections under my Huffington Post articles. I was fine with readers talking about me, I just didn’t want to focus on some of the highly irrelevant, nastier comments.

Realistically, some of these words will come to our attention and we have to harden ourselves. I remember writing about bullying and receiving an email from a man saying I knew nothing about real bullying and he could definitely show me what bullying was…

But back to the theme of body image…It’s something that comes up a lot with Bravo stars. The Vanderpump Rules cast has been candid about reducing their caloric intake in order to imbibe. Stassi Schroeder spoke about how Adderall worked as an aid for keeping her svelte. Sur manager Peter Madrigal spoke on several podcasts about seeing his stomach on social media and becoming motivated to stop drinking and work out twice daily. He said that rather than take negative comments from trolls and fight them, they inspire him and give him more of an impetus to prove body shamers wrong and get fit. As a result, he recently dropped 30 pounds.

Real Housewives of New Jersey‘s new cast addition Jacqueline Goldschneider opened up on the Oklahoma cast trip about her battle with anorexia and how she ultimately got healthy with the help of a nutritionist and psychologist. Several seasons ago on Real Housewives of New York, Jules Wainstein spoke openly about her own ongoing battle with anorexia. Fans spoke out then about how her frame was still disconcertingly skeletal, but she made no bones about it as she stressed that she was still in recovery – present tense.

For someone like Emily, an attorney who appears to have a tough exterior and seems ready for battle (in the courtroom) when called upon, a major lesson of the season was that people were going to focus on the things she couldn’t have predicted beforehand.

“I was fine with my body,” she said in interviews and on the RHOC reunion. Her cast mate Shannon Beador’s strategy with her own past weight gain was to point it out and poke fun at it. By laughing at or mocking ourselves (and in Shannon’s case, beating up on her self), we get to the punch before others do. It’s a recognizable type of defense mechanism. As for the newer RHOC cast member Emily, she was in tears when discussing her experience at the reunion. She has said that reality TV is not for the faint of heart.

That may be the case, but it would also be a shame to see reality TV become a place for the faint – from too much exercise, exertion, intense caloric restriction or fasting.

Emily is fighting back now by publicizing a new swimsuit partnership. Margaret Josephs of RHONJ amped up her workouts between seasons, but says she is fine and confident with having hips and enjoying splurge-worthy restaurant meals and desserts.

I find it really discouraging when fans, especially women, shame these people for not being the Saks Fifth Avenue mannequin sample size. Most of us cannot relate to gorgeous servers under 35 who blow their paychecks on Botox (Vanderpump Rules) or Housewives who live in opulent mansions in gated communities. It makes no sense to expend hatred, or spew venom directly at these personalities when presented with images that don’t make us feel guilty…

as we sink our teeth into a chocolate chip cookie and enjoy our shows.

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