Emerging from an annus horriblus—which saw her fellow Housewives turn on her and a slough of lawsuits—reality TV’s classiest act celebrates a new deal with Bravo and the WeHo lounge she hopes will be an upscale HQ for gays
Photography by Ryan Forbes, @ryanforbesphotography; Photo Assistant: Rollence Patugan
Once upon a time there was a woman named Lisa who lived in a crystal palace nestled in the hills above Rodeo Drive. In her kingdom, called Villa Rosa, no one argued, all was peaceful and idyllic, and she spent her days surrounded by animals, eating pink chocolates, in a sea of pink flowers.
“This is Hanky,” Lisa Vanderpump says as she greets me, leaning over to stroke the neck of one of her pet swans floating in the pond in front of her house. She is dressed casually in jeans and a white, see-through shirt, revealing a bright orange tank top beneath. Her bare feet are adorned with pink polish. Her hair is blown-out and she’s wearing false eyelashes, but as if that’s how she’d woken up this and every morning. She rubs the swan’s neck and kisses him lovingly on the head, leaving a ring of lipstick—her signature color, pink—stamped on his crown.
“And this is Panky.” She crosses the glass-topped bridge that divides the pond to the other side, dropping more brown pellets into the water. Is it dog food? Do they make swan food? For Lisa Vanderpump—the restaurant magnate, Dancing with the Stars contestant, and star of two Bravo shows, Vanderpump Rules and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills—I think they would. “You see, I can pet them, and it’s very rare to be able to do that,” she says. “It’s because I raised them since they were little.”
The swans are there to greet you as you enter the house, which has no front door but instead a wall of glass with a polished metal handle, like a chic Robertson Boulevard boutique. It’s all part of the fantasy—the magical experience Lisa has set up for you, like the huge wooden gates with “Villa Blanca” written in pink across them as you enter her drive, or the same logo custom-printed into a rich entry carpet.
She starts me on a tour of her house before she sits down to tell me about her troubles on the set of Real Housewives, her new West Hollywood restaurant PUMP and her work to help increase acceptance of the gay community. A veritable greatest hits of classical music is playing from her Pandora account on invisible speakers throughout. The main sitting room greets the house’s guests with an enormous urn filled with what is no doubt thousands of dollars of flowers, reaching up over a story in height. On our way through the kitchen we pass through an anteroom, closed off by glass doors, where Lisa keeps her six dogs.
“This is Daddio,” Lisa coos in a baby voice to a small Pomeranian panting at her feet. “He is Giggy’s father, and we adopted him recently, but he has bad legs so he’s on medication. Aren’t you, my handsome man?” She scoops the dog into her arms, flips him on his back and shoves her face into him, showering him with kisses. “You hate this, don’t you, but I just love you so much.”
The now-infamous Giggy, Lisa’s alopecia-stricken, permanent accessory, who has his own Twitter account and makes regular appearances at events like the GLAAD Awards, looks on unimpressed from his bed, clad in blue pajamas. We settle in the main sitting room where Lisa lounges informally on a giant white sofa. The house has a museum-like quality, somehow both austere and opulent. Clean, white walls and glass dominate, juxtaposed with dramatic moments of pink and purple, oversized furniture and accessories. She moves around a lot during our time together, running her fingers through her hair like a school girl, switching from all manner of cross-legged positions, and by the end of our talk, laying flat on her back as if I were her analyst.
“I had a nice childhood,” she tells me of life with her parents in Kent, just outside of London. “My father’s side of the family was wealthy. They were the main importers of Fyffes Bananas, which is a huge company in England. It was a nice upbringing. Nice house. We went to nice schools. But we weren’t spoiled in terms of material things. And I left home at 18 without a penny from my parents.”