Catching Up With The Real Housewives of New Jersey
By Joseph Hassan
If you've watched Bravo's The Real Housewives of New Jersey, you may have come to characterize cast member Teresa Giudice, the mother of four who has been put through the ringer recently for her money problems, as a stage mom. You can throw that particular label aside as Giudice, along with fellow Jersey housewives Caroline Manzo and Jacqueline Laurita (and their daughters Lauren and Ashley) kick off a one-week engagement starring in Anthony Wilkinson's very funny off-Broadway production of My Big Gay Italian Wedding, a Bay Ridge, Brooklyn-centered parody of marriage inequality in the United States.
The show is coproduced by glamorous former cast-member -- and proud owner of the oddly endearing Sphynx cat Grandma Wrinkles -- Dina Manzo. Part of the proceeds from the four sold-out performances will benefit Marriage Equality New York. Out caught up with the budding starlets, playwright Anthony Wilkinson, and producer Manzo during a short rehearsal of the show to get straight to the point about their thoughts on gay marriage in America.
Out:: Can you talk a little bit about Marriage Equality New York and how the idea came about to get the New Jersey housewives involved?
Anthony Wilkinson, playwright and lead actor: The main thing we support is marriage equality in New York. It just seems to be a really long fight and we have a long battle ahead and the girls are very supportive of equal rights for us and we just basically joined forces and said wouldn't this be a great way to raise money for our cause. And Dina and Caroline supported it a thousand percent, and they got the rest of the girls on board and it's going to help us raise a lot of money [for the cause].
What's it like working with Dina on the production side?
She's part of the reason why we're here because when I previewed it in Staten Island, she was there. And she said, This belongs in New York City. So she was able to get a lot of investors involved.
Had you met Dina beforehand?
We met on an airplane. There was a lot of turbulence and I was freaking out -- having a panic attack on the plane -- and she came over and comforted me. And we kept in touch.
So Lauren, Ashley, what do you think about marriage equality and what does it mean to you?
Ashley: I think it's a really great cause. My whole view on gay marriage is I don't think it matters who you marry. If a guy likes a guy or a girl likes a girl -- if they love each other, you should let it happen. It shouldn't matter. You can't choose who you love and it's stupid for someone to try to stop them.
Lauren: It's something we're very passionate about. We have gay family members, gay friends.
Ashley: My best, best, best friend is gay. I don't see the big deal in it at all.
Lauren: You can't help who you love. My mom [Caroline] always told me you can't help how your heart feels. So if your heart feels something for someone who happens to be the same sex, there's nothing wrong with that.