This episode starts where all things should start, with a down-tempo rendition of “Money Can’t Buy You Class” the “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” of the post-Kardashian era. It is the Countess rehearsing with legendary music director Billy Stritch for her upcoming cabaret, “I Thought I Would Need a Story Line This Season Until I Got Arrested and Went to Rehab: The Luann Story.” I don’t know if people outside of New York understand that Billy Stritch is like major, especially in the small world of cabaret. This is sort of like having LeBron James as your basketball coach or Rihanna showing you how to leave a restaurant with a full glass of red wine.
Then, of course, in the background is Luann’s director Ben Rimalower, the Real Housewives Institute’s Vice-President for Gift Shop Sales. It looks like he is ignoring Luann while sitting on the couch and texting. That’s not what he was doing. He was sending me all the details about the rehearsal so that I could one day use them in a novel that I’m writing about the Real Housewives of New York. Not really, but I wish he was doing that. Ben, why the hell weren’t you texting me?
Then Sonja Tremont Morgan of the Doc Johnson’s Sex Toys Morgans shows up to rehearsal. Sonja says, “It’s good to be back in my element … on the stage.” It’s as if when she said stage she created a new jazz hands emoji with her eyes. Sonja says a lot of ridiculous things, but this is among the most ridiculous. Sure, Sonja has performed her caburlesque and did a stint in that sex-tips play, but it’s not like she’s some model thespian. I’ve been a casino before, but that doesn’t mean every time someone deals me a hand of cards I say, “It’s good to be back in my element.”
This entire episode, however, reminds me of how much I love my favorite floozy Sonja T. Morgan. Just look at the scene where she goes over to Bethenny’s house to talk about her online-dating profile and Bethenny reads off all of her ridiculous professions, from “model/actress” and “toaster over gourmet” to “creator of a global luxury and lifestyle brand” to “Nigerian football team owner.” As Bethenny reads the never-ending list, they both start cackling at the ridiculousness of it all until Sonja rolls over on the couch and bares her rear end, as if an Instagram-safe flashing is the natural result of being totally bonkers. That’s the thing about Sonja, though. You just need to laugh at how ridiculous and stupid it all is, because she does as well. It’s the people who try to fix her that go mad.
This all leads me to the trouble with the rehearsal. Sonja T. Morgan cannot be directed by anyone. The only person on Earth with a harder job than Sonja’s director is Ramona Singer’s personal trainer. Luann tells Carole that Sonja is doing what Luann tells her, but Sonja only does what the voices in her head tell her and the voices in Sonja’s head are really just a butt dial she called an hour ago and it’s someone on the other end shouting, “Sonja! Hang up already!” What I mean to say is that Sonja is not listening to anyone, even twin legends like Billy Stritch and Ben Rimalower.
Sonja has gotten through her life by winging it. She has made a life philosophy — nay, a religion — out of winging it and if anyone around that piano thinks that her performance at 54 Below is going to be anything less than winging it, then there is a Hello Dolly! revival starring Ethel Merman I’d like you to invest in.
Speaking of Luann’s cabaret, Dorinda takes Luann to Jovani to get a few dresses for the big event. I don’t know, Jovani sounds more like someone who would sell you some gowns that fell off a truck than someone who would actually design a real gown. Luann looks amazing in them though, like Jessica Rabbit came to life and put on a statement necklace. They also go to Dorinda’s church and they film …inside … a … church, question mark. That was weird. What church wants these sinners walking their stations of the cross? I don’t think that any of these shows have ever taken us inside a church unless it’s some like bootleg megachurch that Jesus Jugs Bellino took us to back in the good old Orange County.
Tinsley has her gay friend Michael over to help her move from one floor of her hotel to the penthouse because Scott is moving in with her. Isn’t that what bellhops are for? Why are you even bothering to live in a hotel if they can’t take care of every whim that comes into your Tinsulated head? Now she and Scott are shelling out $30,000 a month for that suite. Coupon Cabin or Savings Shed or whatever the hell Scott runs must be really doing well.
Tinsley also goes over the Carole’s and we get to see Lee Radziwill’s couch finally getting the second life it deserves reupholstered in a chic and very expensive-looking blue-and-gold fabric. Carole’s apartment is looking better than ever, actually. It looks so good that Adam won’t leave her alone and is kind of stalking her. He sent her five dozen tulips as a way to get back into her heart and other parts. Um, this is getting creepy.
Carole also gets some roses from some woman who wants her and the Housewives to come speed dating at one of her events. Speed dating? What year is it? I mean, Sex and the City just had its 20th anniversary. Speed dating is old enough to have graduated from medical school and started practicing as an Upper East Side dermatologist by now.
The speed-dating event ended up being the highlight of the entire episode though. It seems like there were hardly any other women there, as if they billed it as, like, Housewives Speed Dating event. Why would anyone want to date one of these women? Carole shows up to the party and tells Rori (of course her name is Rori with an “i”) that two of her friends came to watch because they’re in relationships and four of her friends are there to participate because, “They’re in various states of …” At this point Carole took a long pause and it was a bit like Real Housewives Mad Libs. “Various states of decline.” “Various states of confusion.” “Various states of perimenopause.” “Various states of undress.” I mean, I could go on for the next week.
The one who really showed up to speed dating was Ramona. Watching Ramona flirt is like watching one of those 1950s filmstrips about fast girls who might end up in a home run by nuns if they don’t clean up their acts. It’s like an abnormal mimicry of everything that she shouldn’t be doing, but she’s doing it anyway. She sets her focus on this guy Brian who is wearing a red scarf and is apparently a successful lawyer. Other than one guy who was 44 with curly gray hair who thought Ramona was also in her 40s (which won him a kiss on the lips), Brian was the hottest guy there. Ramona is not stupid. She goes right for the best room on vacation and she goes right for the hottest guy at speed dating.
Turns out that Brian and Bethenny had been on a sort of lunch date a few years previously. While Ramona and Brian hit it off both before the event and on their “date,” he confesses to Bethenny that the only reason he showed up was because he thought she might be there and he wanted to see her again. Also Rori had Carole come to this event to meet Brian because Rori thought they would really hit it off. I mean, is Brian the only eligible, attractive, successful heterosexual in Manhattan who is over the age of 40? Why are all of these girls clamoring for the same man?
After the event, Brian is talking to Bethenny again to try to seal that deal (even though Bethenny said she’s not interested). Ramona comes over with a drink for him and is like, “You bought me a drink so I bought you one in return. Cheers,” and then she walks away. That is fucking baller. That is the gutsiest, sexiest, craziest move that I have ever seen a woman perpetrate in pursuit of a man and that alone makes me want to propose to Ramona Singer.
All of the women have found suitable, attractive men and Sonja is over in a corner cuddling up to some schmo named Morty who has a stain on his shirt and she’s like “Ah, he’s good enough.” Then she starts talking to him about spanking and this perv tells her that he’s going to tie her up and spank the hell out of her so that she has red hand marks on her ass the next day. Sonja picked up her drink and swallowed it in one gulp, shouted “check please!” to the waiter, and immediately walked out of the room with her boa trailing on the ground behind her. Well, that didn’t exactly happen, but in my mind it did.
The other best part of speed dating is that Tinsley invited all of the women to Colombia. She tells them that it’s totally safe and that she’s been down there like ten times. She was even a bridesmaid for a friend’s wedding down there. What she doesn’t mention is that wedding was Lauren Santo Domingo’s and that Lauren is a former editor at Vogue and she married a Colombian billionaire. Yeah, I would be spending a lot of time up in Colombia if those were my friends too. More importantly this means that the Boat Ride from Hell can only be a few episodes away and I have never been more excited about anything in my life and that includes the prospect of Madonna one day doing a Vegas residency.
This big trip announcement happened at the speed dating and Rori called up a friend of hers after she heard the news. “Why aren’t you here?” she asked leaving a voicemail. “They’re all here and I have some major news for you. I know where the trip is going to be. It’s going to be …” but before she could finish her sentence she heard on the other line, “Jill Zarin’s mailbox is full.”