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Kelly Cutrone: Burning in Kell Fire


Kelly Cutrone is many things: a mentor to young women and many a young gay man in the cutthroat world of fashion; boss lady of fashion-forward PR firm Peoples Revolution; reality TV pro; purveyor of tough love, rapid fire F-bombs, and her own brand of Kell-bent wisdom. Cutone got her start in PR while she was homeless and crashing on raconteur/socialite Anthony Haden-Guests couch. He hooked her up with PR wiz Susan Blond who broke her in and broke her down. She has a 7-year-old daughter, Ava, with actor Ilario Calvo. Cutrones new book If you have to Cry, Go Outside: And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You is a raw, no bullshit, drama and drugfilled autobiographical joy ride that preaches spiritual self-empowerment over self-sabotage. And now shes the star of her own Bravo reality show, Kell On Earth. We caught up with Cutrone to chat about the cutthroat fashion world, anal dilators, and why being Cruella de Vil isnt always such a bad thing. Youre a regular on The Hills and The City and your own reality show on Bravo, Kell on Earth, is about to debut. Are you a fame junkie? An exhibitionist? Whats your deal? Kelly Cutrone: Im a communicator. I want to communicate to people. In my life Ive been a tarot card reader, a nursing student, a spoken word artist signed to Atlantic records, a public relations executive, and now a television person. All of those things are about wanting to touch and communicate. I want to talk about what I find interesting. I want to bring that to America -- sideways, forward, upside down -- anyway that I want. Bravo calls you one of the coolest, scariest and New York-iest people ever. How do you pull off the sexy, threatening, abrasive thing? [Laughs] Im not sure abrasive and threatening are sexy. Its all part of the package. We all are given opportunities to find out what we are by figuring out who and what were not. Most of those prototypes for the feminine really didnt interest me and it was a great loss as I went through that. I was taught [I should be] this girly, cheerleader, feminine, sexy, typical booby and legs [type girl] revealing -- what we call a Cavalli girl or a Dolce girl in the fashion world. I didnt know any better. Im from Syracuse. My role model was you get married, you have three kids, your husband works, and you stay at home. So I went through all of those things that were all fads only to find out none of those shoes fit me very well. I found out the ancient feminine interested me, truth interested me, and partnership and equality interested me, in the same gender and the opposite sex. And not making myself less than so somebody else could feel better. Its a struggle because people all want us to stay in our place. I see now that doing PR, being on TV, and having a book come out, people are like Well, are you going to give up PR? Im like Why? Did Donny Deutsch have to give up his company? Did Donald Trump have to stop doing real estate deals? No, but Im a chick and Im supposed to fucking give up doing PR to make other people comfortable. Thats insane. What makes you go off about the fashion world? [Laughs] My God -- thats like a theater show that we could do together. I think the fact that its so judgmental toward others based on what it is that it does. I always harken back to the whole Ashley Dupre thing that happened with me and Yigal Azroul. I got fired for letting someone who gets paid for sleeping with men into a fashion show when we work in an industry that creates images of 18-year-old girls getting gang-banged to get a Vuitton bag. The insanity of that is like youve got to be kidding me! At the same time, the thing I love about the fashion world is people are seriously committed to pursuing, wanting, and demanding that they bring beauty into the world. When youre in the pursuit of beauty, you sometimes have to meet ugliness. Youre intelligent, astute, and articulate, which is not what we often see on reality TV. Do you think thats part of your appeal? I think that people havent seen somebody real -- like Rosie ODonnell, Roseanne Barr, and Ellen -- on television for a while. There arent that many women who dont wear makeup who are powerful working on TV. Its easy for me to be in TV. These girls are PYTs and Im like the Cruella. Im the crone in the show but I think more people remember Joan Collins from Dynasty than J.R. or Linda Evans. Your new book, If you have to Cry, Go Outside: And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You, drops this month. What makes you an expert on what young women need? Im think Im an expert because I was somebody who was programmed the same way most women are -- to believe in this thing thats really a crime against women and it starts with their mothers. They preach things like first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage. Who the hell says that? From the time we were born our own mothers are singing these songs to us. Now my mom says, We used to think you were crazy but youre the only sane one, living alone with your daughter and dating who you want -- its amazing. For me, I figured I was that girl from a suburban neighborhood. I married Ronnie Cutrone at 21. I kind of married into the Warhol family. I tried all these things that society says you should do and youre going to live happily ever after. It didnt work for me and Im not resentful about it. I realized Im not that kind of person who can make those kind of commitments because to me theyre really outdated. I went searching for what it means to be feminine and those answers I found much more interesting in, oddly enough, in places like India where women are still in the backwoods. I discovered goddesses like Durga and Kali and what it was that they had to offer and how they were on lions and had scepters and discuses in their hands and were killing buffalo demons. I thought what happened to this image in religion and society and how did we as a group allow this to happen to us? If were the life-bringers how can we favor this? Were not even represented. I started searching for things internally and externally and recreating a life that held something more than the patriarchy. I cant believe the crap women put up with from their boyfriends. Do you think women are conditioned to have low self-esteem? I think if youre going to live with anybody -- regardless if its another woman, or two guys living together, or a man and a woman or even if youre by yourself -- there are going to be times when you just cant stand it. Its the human condition. I think that women have been taught to not take as much food, to let other people eat before them, to not ask for themselves, and to sit back, which I think is sad. Why do women need to find their inner goddess and know how to shop for a muscle car? Theres nothing better than 20 minutes of chanting in a ride up the coast in a GTO. I think that girls should be able to get whatever they want. I took great pleasure the first time I bought a muscle car. I couldnt even believe it. I was living in L.A. and I bought -- well, some muscle cars enthusiasts would question whether this is a muscle car but -- I bought a 67 Plymouth Barracuda that was turquoise with a white and black interior and a slant 6 engine. Im actually gearing up to buy a fucking racked out GTO if I sell enough copies of the book. Was I hallucinating when I heard you mention something about giving instructions on how to use an anal dilator in your book? I dont actually give instructions. This whole concept came about because I have a friend, designer Bethany Vernon, who makes very advanced sexual devices and also from representing [lingerie company] Agent Provocateur. We all find ourselves in situations where were really unprepared. I dont think your mom is going to sit you down and be like This is an anal dilator and its silver and really nice and you can get it at Barneys. I didnt really get to that in my book. I want to but I dont think Im a sex vixen. That would be something in my next book that I would bring Bethany in to talk about. We do talk about the fact that were not prepared to put together the team of people were going to need in our lives. I have a daughter and I want to be able to sit down and say to her if youre going to have a lover it doesnt have to be a wham bam thank you maam situation. This is the Karma Sutra. People dedicate days out the month to having love rituals together. Your body is a beautiful thing. Why dont women have that information? Why dont we know the difference between a demi bra, a full-cup bra, half-cup bra, a corset, and crotchless underwear? Any of that stuff that you want to get into. What are you going to do? Go to Kiki De Montparnasse or Toys in Babeland and have some chick that you dont know tell you [what to do]? Wouldnt it be lovely if we had women in our community to share this information with us? When I moved to New York, Diane Brill scooped me under her wing and brought me to Patricia Field and said, Were going to get you a push-up bra. It was nice. I didnt know what was going on. Girls are taught about birth control. Theyre not taught how about how to have great sex. What goes into branding somebody? The ultimate goal in branding is you have to make the brand bigger than what they make but to still make them known for that one thing and focus on that one thing until it really pops. If you look at a Ralph Lauren situation, hes known for the polo shirt but hes so much bigger than that. There are all these things that exist in and around it but at the end of the day its the polo shirt. Steven Spielberg is known for a certain type of filmmaking. If he has a couple of movies that dont do so well it doesnt really touch him. You want to take these points of differentiation, which are unique, or create them whether its an icon or a box like Tiffany. You dont see Tiffany saying Its Valentines Day, were going to have a red box. When you see that color blue you always think of them. Its about trying to create as many visual moments as you can and drive them home and focus them so you become synonymous with that thing. What inspires you? Paying my bills inspires me. I hear you. I do think its interesting to explore the concept of what it means to be a human being and its frailties and how long the evolution has taken to actually progress. I think a lot of the concepts were dealing with are now 10,000 years old. I see it within myself -- just how addicted we are to repetition. Its interesting from a soul perspective. What is this thing? What are we doing here? I kind of feel Ive done enough, like who Ive met, where Ive worked, having a baby, and all these terrestrial experiences. For me by the time I was 28 I was like Peggy Lee. Is that all there is? So whats the next frontier? To thine own self be true. How can you be true if you dont know yourself? Why am I into my own imperfections? Life is such an easy thing, but we make it so difficult. If you want to get all radical feminist, dont you think its all about male control? Even time is a form of control. I believe that there is only one moment and we experience things in a linear way. Its hard to explain but I had this epiphany that there is just one day and one night but that we experience it as life. That might have been when I was living with Debbie Harry up in Topanga on methamphetamines in 1991. I think it goes beyond that. I think that there are these dances of forces that are for and against each other. I definitely think theres been a huge, brutal attack on the feminine. I think theres also been a brutal attack, especially in the United States, on the masculine. [Men] dont even understand their own power. Theyre totally terrified. I work with a lot of gay guys and straight guys, and men dont know what to do anymore. Do we open the door? Do we not open the door? Do we take you to dinner? Theyre like Were out. Call when us you get it together. Were going to do our best. I think the feminine has to return to the sacred because its mother earth Im down with. We have to bring that back. On the way here I ran into these rainbow chicks trying to raise money for charity. Im walking away and they yell, Hey youre our favorite lesbian on TV! Im like, Alright. Thank you very much. There are all these concepts about sexuality and who people are and what their orientation is. Its like to be feminine is to be feminine. Sometimes when you are truly feminine people confuse that with you wanting to be masculine. They dont realize that these are actually feminine traits. Theyve been given over to being seen as male. To be aggressive, like if you see a mother wolf or bear. Exactly. What about the Amazon women? Or Egypt. In this culture we all made an agreement. I think it was because we couldnt physically defend ourselves. I think that the enslavement happened when people were going to look for God. Their vital and sexual desire was so strong they couldnt it control it so they had to blame the vaginas and the boobs. They had to get rid of it, cover it up, move it away. Dont let it in the church. There was a big change when we started to having that type of organization and Islam and Christianity. If you look at what happened to Mary Magdalene -- she was fucking run out of town! Then the games began. I cant believe women would go to a Catholic church. I grew up Italian and didnt baptize my daughter and that was a scandal in our family. I was like, I cant bring my daughter to where women dont have the power to speak. I went to Notre Dame cathedral and made out with a chick. That was my statement. Thats beautiful. Thats really beautiful. And the priests were all probably having sex in the back. Kell on Earth premieres on Bravo on Monday, February 1 at 10 P.M. ET/PT. Cutrone's new book, If you have to Cry, Go Outside: And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You, hits stores on Tuesday, February 2. To read our interview with Andrew Mukamal, Cutrone's assistant, click here.Send a letter to the editor about this article.

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