On the first episode of Famous Food which premiered last night, Ashley Dupre introduces herself and says “You may know me from a little scandal that happened in New York City.” Cut to the montage of Ashley’s appearances in the press from a few years ago when she was outed as a call girl used by former New York Governor Elliott Spitzer.
Contrary to what you might think, Ashley’s decision to be on a reality show wasn’t to capitalize on her infamy, instead, she explained that she wants to use the new show to prove that she’s moved beyond her controversial past. Ashley is the first to admit that she will always be most famous for what she did with the governor, but if the show portrays her as she was when we chatted, she’ll have a whole new fan base when it’s done.
In our interview, Ashley talks about her plans for the future, how she’s really just a relaxed, low-key “dog-lady,” and how Danielle Staub “ruined” the show for her.
Are you excited for the show?
I am excited! I’m nervous. There’s a lot of drama and you know it’s my first reality show—you’re on camera fourteen hours a day, six days a week for six weeks straight. That’s so crazy. You’re opening up yourself to be really vulnerable. Who knows how they’re going to edit it. You hope their going to do the right thing but you know you don’t know.
We don’t see what happens much away from the restaurant, did you guys all live together?
No, no, no living together. But we were together in a room with white walls—it was our spot for the restaurant and you know it need to be constructed. And when you’re together for that long, we called it the insane asylum. There were seven really strong personalities so of course there is a lot fighting. Heidi Montag has such a great heart, she’s such a great person; I really bonded with her. She is one of my closest friends. Vinny [Pastore] is like my dad-type figure. He looked out for me on the show and he continues to look out for me. And Jake Pavelka is really nice. I feel like it was us against the bad kids, you know. Like bullies. Like Danielle. We just didn’t get along, she was really mean. DJ Paul and I, we had a little falling out but we did overcome it. You see Juicy J is like a goofball. At the core he is a really great person but there are instances where there is this mean side to him. It’s like Jekyll and Hyde. It was challenging because there were seven of us and we were put in a situation where we had to all come together and work but at the same time it’s a competition. It’s like, I don’t understand stabbing each other in the back or being manipulative, it’s just not how I am. It was hard for us all to agree on something—like the menu or the design of the restaurant. That’s where a lot of the fighting came from.
What was it about Danielle’s personality that made things tough?
Danielle is just really controlling and she made it difficult to work together as a team. She will do whatever it takes to win and that wasn’t why I went into the show, that wasn’t my understanding. I thought we all had to come together and come up with something amazing and then someone would win in the end a partnership with the Dolce Group. It was challenging.
What was the competition like? Was there any of that “I got thrown under the bus!” reality show competitiveness?
I’m so naïve. On the first day everyone starts fighting and I’m like, “You guys! Let’s all get along and come together,” like that’s my personality. And then it would get to the point where Danielle would be picking and picking and I’d be like, “Okay! Enough!” It’s really hard to just stay cool and calm. I think I flipped out like one time and then I reeled it back in. I went on this show to show people who I am, not what they think I am.
You know, everyone knows my past. Nothing is going to be bigger than what I’m known for. There is nothing that I can do that will get more media coverage, like it’s something that I have to live with for the rest of my life. I have to tell my kids, my husband, I have to deal with it, I have to continue to deal with it, and I do, I accept it. At the same time I want to show people me. At some points people were mean and I had to step out and leave. But I came back and told them I am not here to be called names, this is not why I am here. I’m glad I stayed because it’s a way of me standing up to all the people that are out there that are like them. As hard as it was for me, I’m glad that I stayed in the end. I do think Danielle ruined the experience of having fun for a lot of people.
So your other job with the New York Post, were you doing that while you were on the show? And by the way, how do you become allies with the Post, after you were such a big headline for them?
I’ve been with them over two years now with the column. And it’s going good, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I had a friend, my old manager was friends with a writer there and we sat down kind of tossed around a few ideas. I told him I wanted to write a column and they asked to send a sample and we came up with this concept—relationships, sex, and for parents, like if they are going through something with their kids, because I have a huge back story, you know trouble with childhood and I would just help them. I would just give my opinions, you know that’s all it is, just my opinions.
Sometimes people are like, well how are you qualified? I’ve been through a lot of things in my life and where I am right now… as hard as it was going through that and as embarrassing and humiliating as it was, it gave me wisdom. And it made me realize your actions have consequences and you have to take responsibility for them. So for me it was just being able to help people with their problems and not letting them make the same mistakes I did.
You said you’ve become close with Heidi… did you ever watch The Hills? Were you always a fan of her?
I saw her on The Hills and I knew she was kind of like the mean person and I met her and I was like, “What a second… What?! You got a pretty bad rap, huh?” And she’s the furthest person from that. She was like, “When you’re on a TV show and you want to keep your part you have to play your part.” If she wasn’t playing the mean girl, then she wouldn’t be on the show, so for her I think she got a really bad rap. But hopefully people will get to see another side of her. We do girls days, and we’ll be drinking wine, and laughing and we just have fun with it.
What do you want to get from the show as far as your image?
People have preconceived notions of me that I’m this crazy, wild, hardcore, ghetto, girl and I’m like the farthest thing from it. So if people can take anything from the show, it’s “Wow, she’s cool, she’s funny.” Like I’m a total goofball, I’m funny, that’s just me. I’m a dork, really, at heart. That’s what I want them to take away.
Would you ever do another reality show?
That’s a really good question! [Laughs] After this one, I don’t know! Right now I’m contemplating going back to school for helping kids… becoming a licensed clinical social worker. For me, it means something to me because of my history and what I’ve been through. Right now that’s what I’m thinking of doing… so if it’s a show with helping young kids, then maybe. If it’s another reality show, I don’t know…It’s a little brutal. I have a boyfriend and three dogs… I’m a dog lady really. I’m just low key and I don’t know if all that’s for me.