The newest official addition to the Real Housewives' clan, Sonja Morgan, is happy to be part of New York's famously catty bunch. "You know, I got the apple, I was Photoshopped into the credits! I'm very proud of that," she told us on the phone. Morgan, divorced from John Adams Morgan, heir to the JP Morgan fortune, is a flighty, endearing addition to the group. In a few short episodes, she's introduced us to her plastic surgeon and psychic, told us about her problems with anti-depressants, and generally stayed above the fray as the other Housewives duked it out. We spoke with Morgan about finally saying yes to the show, keeping her daughter's life private, and who she really thinks Jill Zarin is.
Have you been getting good feedback since your debut?
What I explained to my daughter is that there are always people out there that will say something negative, because they’re in their own situation and their own pain, and it’s sort of like how I read the New York Post every day and say, "Oh, goodness, at least I’m not going through that." When friends talk about it, they’ve been very supportive, and they like that I’m being myself. The moms at school are going crazy; they just think it’s great.
I read that you have a toaster-oven recipe book in the works?
People are digging my toaster-oven recipes; they’ve picked up on it. For years, the au pairs would go back to Europe and ask, "Oh, Mrs. Morgan, can I take your recipes?" And they just think it’s hilarious, because in Europe, who the hell has a toaster oven? And so that’s the kind of thing I’m very happy to share with other housewives who are struggling to get things done during the day. It’s quick, everything’s under twenty minutes and $20.
Do you have other side projects?
For years I’ve been writing a screenplay, now it turns out to be better to start it as a book, but it’s a very sexy novel. And I have 700 Facebook friends, but that’s not going to cut it to sell this book! I need to reach more people, so that's how I’m going to commercialize myself with this show. And I’m in awe of Bethenny and how she’s shared her wisdom through the show — she’s helping people to eat healthy and exercise and lose weight, and to feel good about themselves. If you can have a cocktail, why not have a healthy one? Considering alcohol isn’t healthy at all, but you know what I mean.
So is your daughter ever going to appear on the show?
No, she's not on, which is hard, 'cause she’s a girl and she wants to be with her mom and be part of everything. But I have to see how it goes. I don’t know, I really shouldn’t talk about it. She already feels left out of stuff, but I think it’s the right thing to do.
What are you actually getting out of appearing on a reality show? You don't need to do it, I assume.
I’m on the show to share my daily routine, my gardening secrets, whatever! Botox, liposuction, dating during divorce, but the bottom line is that it’s about taking care of my daughter and me. And when she’s old enough to be mature about the bloggers, then maybe I'll let her be on the show. But if someone can relate to me and I can take their pain away for five minutes — you know, like, "Yeah, it is hard to date after divorce. I also hate my little pooch — why shouldn’t I take it off?" — then it's worth it to me.
Have you been having fun watching yourself on TV?
Well, I really don’t like watching myself at all. Seeing myself on there makes me self-conscious. I could look better, but I’m not on there to be a movie star, I’m on there to be a reality star! So I think the fans think I look great, because I probably look like a lot of people they know.
You're quite honest about your beauty routine and plastic-surgery maintenance.
That’s what the moms at school love — they want to know all about that, like, "Do you really know that surgeon, does he do good work? He doesn’t put you under anesthesia? 'Cause my husband doesn’t want me to do that,” and they love that.
It was interesting to see you and your psychic have a session.
Many more people than you realize see psychics, okay? Serious people go to psychics. You pay your therapist $250, right? And you express your feelings, and the person isn’t judgmental and is uplifting! She’s saying to me, "Oh, you’re going to get married in two years," and I’m like, "What?!" But when she puts that idea in my head, it’s sort of like the secret — if you envision it, it will happen. So she’s got me thinking! Maybe some psychic told LuAnn she should be a singer, and then she went out there and did it. Oh, God, she sang it on the show, and it was so much fun, and we were dancing like we were in the South of France. I was getting down.
I know that when they were first casting the show, Bravo approached you and you turned them down. Why did you change your mind?
The fact that LuAnn was having such a nice time. And it opens doors, it doesn’t close doors. But I did think, Ugh, what would my friends think? So I was having dinner with some very important people, and I don’t want to drop names, but very well-known, talk-show people and ambassadors and that kind of thing, and they’re like, "Are you crazy? Have you not heard the news? Reality TV is it for the last three years!"
And so you went for it. Are you worried about getting involved with the existing drama?
All this bickering comes from jealousy. We all feel it, it’s natural. And people have fears that they won’t make the cut. There are rumors that Alex is leaving the show, who’s Sonja replacing, and all that. And on the show it gets intensified when everyone’s fighting for airtime and screaming over the top of one another. I just hope I don’t turn into that what do they say? Frankenstein? Something about creating a monster? I hope I don’t develop into that.
You seem comfortable onscreen.
Most times I feel pretty secure, but tonight you’ll see I show my insecurities. I’m a little jet-lagged, a little PMS-y, and Kelly and Bethenny are just fighting away, and I’m like, "Hey, I’m feeling like I’m not so beautiful anymore!" Or something like that, who the hell knows, I’d had so many tequila that I don’t know what I was saying.
Last week you said that you don't take anti-depressants anymore. How do you cope?
I take trips, and I go to rustic places, whether it’s camping or a run-down spa. I center myself with yoga and remember what’s important to me. Family, friends, and health. I do see the good in everyone and the whole thing that’s going on with Jill bothers me. I don’t know her that well, and I’m halfway through her book, and it rings true to me. I think she’s the girl in that book, I don’t think she’s the girl that’s reacting on camera in a not nice way. Not everyone is going to love you all the time. That’s why my attitude is to not get caught up in other people’s things.
I must say, you are a funny presence on the show.
Everybody keeps saying I’m funny! One time, the cameraman was shaking the camera, and he goes, "Oh, you have to do it again, because I’m laughing too hard!" And I’m like, "What did I say?" I was saying, "Oh, I have these sheets, but everyone gets these monogrammed sheets, but I don’t get them from Frette, I get them from a nice Jewish family who makes them from the same factory in Italy!" He was cracking up. I thought I was sharing the biggest bargain secret of the century, so I said, "Why is that so funny?" And he says, "Because I get my sheets at Target, that's why."