They don’t agree on much, but the six women starring in Arena’s new series The Real Housewives of Melbourne all concur that what you will see during the show’s Sunday night debut is what you get in real life.
Indeed, watching the first three episodes of the season and chatting to each of the women, it is clear they’re far from faking it. Their glamorous, opulent, jet-setting lifestyles are the real deal.
The show, which has nine editions around the world, follows the lives of the city’s most affluent women, with gossip and cat fights aplenty. Melbourne beat Sydney in the race to host the first Australian version of the popular television franchise, joining the likes of Vancouver, New York and Miami.
Ahead of the show’s scandal-saturated pilot episode, here’s what you can expect from our homegrown housewives.
Andrea Moss, Toorak
Similar to: Adrienne Maloof, the smart, independently wealthy plastic surgeon’s wife from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
Why did you decide to go on the show? “I can never say no to a challenge. Plus every series has to have a plastic surgeon’s wife.”
Were you a fan of the other series? “I never watch television, I don’t have time. I got to watch a couple of episodes from the other cities before signing the contract and enjoyed them. I came home to find my husband watching the Atlanta version one night. He said, ‘You can’t do this! There is a woman almost having sex on camera!’ I assured him we would be more like the New York series!”
What was the last thing you bought? “Three pairs of Dolce & Gabbana earrings from Net-a-Porter.”
What was the last thing you cooked? “Two nights ago we had marinated lamb back strap with three healthy salads.”
Do you have a diet and exercise regime? “I haven’t exercised for 11 years. I’d rather be with my kids than in a gym.”
I would never be caught dead in: “A bikini! I’ve had three kids!”
Biggest fear about the show: “I ended up having a humdinger of a fight that lasts six episodes. I was so disappointed in the person that started it that I can’t even speak to her anymore. I don’t want other people looking at that situation and weighing in on it too much because I was trying to defend myself. Really, you get six women together and you’ve got more twists than a licorice factory.”
Gina Liano, South Yarra
Similar to: Bethenny Frankel, the sharp-witted single mother, chef and entrepreneur from The Real Housewives of New York.
Why did you decide to go on the show? “Being a cancer survivor, you lose some seriousness about you because in comparison to that situation life is a walk in the park. It makes you think ‘Why not?’ I thought I might be able to contribute something to a viewer who is going through the same thing because here I am, 10 years down the track, and my hair has grown back.”
You describe yourself as “the ultimate drag queen”. Have you always had this look? “I’ve been consistent since I was a teenager. I used to wear blue eyeliner to school. My youngest child is blue eyed and neither of his parents have blue eyes. My sister said to me ‘Bloody hell, you’ve worn that blue eyeliner for so long it’s rubbed off on your kids!’ It’s definitely a distinctive look and on camera it comes across as very full on because of the lighting. I watch myself and get a shock. Some people might look at me and say ‘God, she needs to get out of the 80s!’ but I’m comfortable.”
What are your favourite places to eat in Melbourne? “I’ve been going to a café called La Lucciola in Chapel Street since I was 14 years old, it’s like a second kitchen for me. I also like Rosetta at Crown for the venue and the menu.”
What’s your favourite movie? “Moonstruck with Cher and Nicholas Cage. It’s so funny If you come from an Italian background.”
Biggest fear about the show: “I’ll be disappointed if I’m disliked. No one wants that. If I was hated that would hurt my feelings a lot. I got a lot of negative feedback from the girls during filming and I would hate for them to influence the public.”
Chyka Keebaugh, Malvern
Similar to: Yolanda Foster, the peacekeeping homemaker and married mother of three teenagers from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
How did you cope with all the drama between the other women? “I was really surprised at some of the reactions I saw. I don’t deal with friendship problems like that. I am more laid-back because in my industry we are dealing with difficult things all the time and you have to remain cool and calm. I felt a bit like a psychologist. They called me Switzerland because I was always sitting on the fence!”
What’s the last thing you bought? “I’ve just come back from a trip to Dubai – we did an event over there, a royal wedding, and I did some serious shoe damage. When I say a lot, I mean it. About eight pairs that I had to send home with staff who had come across to work at the function.”
What has been your biggest fashion faux pas? “I found a photo the other day of me at my school formal. I thought I looked seriously beautiful at the time. However, the navy blue taffeta with the tulle layered skirt and drop waist perhaps wasn’t the way to go with the big permed curly hair. I make more hair mistakes than anything else. One time I dyed it black. I will never go there again. ”
What was the last thing you cooked? “Greek lamb with pomegranate, fig and quinoa salad and mixed green leaf and avocado salad. ”
Who is your celebrity crush? “I have a girl crush on Beyonce. She’s the coolest woman.”
What are you addicted to? “Homewares. Wherever I go I buy rugs. And flowers. Honestly, I’m like a frustrated Martha Stewart!”
Lydia Schiavello, Malvern
Similar to: Ronnie Seterdahl Negus, the glamorous, shopaholic married mother of five and yacht and private jet owner from The Real Housewives of Vancouver.
You are getting a reputation as the most scandalous housewife, are you ok with that? “I can be cheeky, everyone can be. That’s fine, at least I’m not the ugly, horrible one.”
None of you are! “Well … you say that.”
What’s the last thing you bought? “Two days ago I bought two pairs of Dolce & Gabbana shoes on sale.”
Do you diet or exercise? “I watch what I eat, avoid sugar and salt and I love walking. I get enough exercise while skiing (she and her husband own a house at Thredbo) to last me three months!”
What are you addicted to? “My husband. And Haigh’s peppermint chocolate frogs.”
Who is your celebrity crush? “Monica Bellucci.”
What is your biggest fear about the show? “Nothing. I have dignity and I walk with pride. I have nothing to hide.”
Similar to: Carlton Gebbia, the honest party animal with a passion for all things spiritual from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
Being a psychic, did you see all the drama coming? “I always get vibes about people I just don’t bring it up. Of course I could see where all this was going to end up but I didn’t feel the need to avoid anybody!”
Any secret talents? “I used to breakdance. I’m talking back spins, helicopters. I was out one night with my husband and I started breakdancing with this American dude, we had a dance battle. My husband could not stop laughing, I was wearing heels!”
What’s the last thing you bought? “I’m always online shopping. I recently bought a Balmain jacket, Charlotte Olympia shoes and Jimmy Choo shoes. I believe that what you put out to the universe you get back. Get yourself a vision board, fill it with bags, jackets, houses, jewelry, cars and put it in your bedroom so you see it when you wake up. You will be surprised how the universe responds.”
Who is your celebrity crush? “The Rock – he is a chop! But he’s gotten too big. And Johnny Depp – my husband looks a lot like him.”
What are your favourite places to eat in Melbourne? “Vue de Monde – you don’t have to move your butt for four hours, you can just drink champagne and the food keeps coming! The head chef is a Silverchair fan too.”
Favourite movie? Mary Poppins, The Wizard of Oz and Beaches with Bette Midler. I cried my a**e off.
Favourite holiday destination? “We’ve got some amazing properties in Croatia. They’re very private so if you want to get naked you can!”
Janet Roach, Red Hill
Similar to: Lea Black, the mother, socialite and businesswoman from The Real Housewives of Miami.
How was the filming process for you? “I think I’ve been portrayed really accurately. But I’m doing terrible things like Botox and waxing, they get you in your worst moments! And I hate the way I look, I think I look too old. There were some moments where I went home and was in the foetal position thinking ‘why did I say that?’ but then other moments I skipped home with a tummy full of French champagne having had a great time with the girls.”
Did you watch the other shows before you started filming? “I had never watched the other shows so I went home and I watched Atlanta… In the first episode I saw two women got into a fight where one of them threw the other into the swimming pool! I rang the producers and said ‘I can’t do this.’ But then they sent me the Beverly Hills episodes and they were much better.”
Do you feel pressure being the only blonde on the show and representing an entire hair group? (Laughs) “They call me the blonde bombshell! I think the other girls get a bit jealous. They say ‘What about the brunette bombshells?’ I noticed Chyka and Jackie have gone blonder since we finished filming so I said to them, ‘Listen guys, back off!'”
What’s the last thing you bought? “A brand new kitchen for my flat at Mount Buller. It’s a little gem. I haven’t been there for five years because my ex-husband hated the cold. Now that I’m single I don’t have some old fart asking me to come in, so I can stay out on the slopes all day!”
Who is your celebrity crush? “Javier Bardem! I’m mad on him at the moment, what can I do? He’s so gorgeous! And nearly in my age group, so he’s attainable. No use having a crush on Justin Bieber when you’re my age!”
What is your biggest fear about the show? “I had two really big meltdowns on the show but I know they’re coming. I went home and said to my sons ‘Oh my God, I said the F-word about ten times!’ They said ‘Muummm!’”
The Real Housewives of Melbourne will air on Foxtel’s Arena channel from Sunday February 23 at 8:30pm EDT.