The Real Housewives Of Atlanta Returns Oct. 4th
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The Real Housewives Of Orange County Returns Jan.'11

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The RHONJ Talk About Gay Rights

Post from Next Magazine.

By:Christopher Dilley
Even without seasoned villainess Danielle Staub, the Real Housewives of New Jersey can truly pack a dramatic punch. Fortunately for us, all of the table-flipping goodness was staged—and for a great cause—on Wednesday, as the ladies started their first stint of performances in off-Broadway’s My Big Gay Italian Wedding, the gay-marriage comedy produced by former cast member Dina Manzo. The ladies started a 4-day run in the show that ends tonight, but they announced at curtain that they'd be returning once again October 20th–23. (A portion of proceeds benefit Marriage Equality New York, so you'll be laughing and doing a good deed.) “The fact that the production was so hilarious and so heartfelt—and that I believed in what it stood for—made me want to get involved,” said Manzo at a post-show reception at Etcetera Etcetera. “It’s so funny and marriage equality is so dear to my heart that while I still have a voice I’m going to use it to raise awareness for good things like this.” Manzo jumped in to help turn the show from a one-night-only performance in Staten Island with writer-star Anthony Wilkinson and soap hunk Scott Evans to its current home at St. Luke’s Theater, where first Reichen Lehmkuhl, and now Big Gay Musical's Daniel Robinson join Wilkinson on stage.

Flexing her acting chops and turning out one of the best performances for the night was Dina’s sister, Caroline Manzo, who took on a matriarchal role not too far from her own on the Bravo hit. “In our family it is all about acceptance and loving one another for who we are” said a newly svelt-and-slicked-back Caroline. Dina and Caroline’s brother (and co-star Jacqueline Laurita’s brother-in-law) is gay, which has been brought up in Real Housewives first-season reunion after a few slurs were thrown around. “I was amazed at my parents, who are old-school Italian, [welcoming] my brother and his partner with open arms” recalled Manzo. “The first thing my mom and dad said was, ‘Be happy.’ My father was that typical Italian guy that you would be afraid of and think, ‘Oh my god, don’t mess with him’ but when you have children, you love your children. The only thing you want is for them to be happy. They taught us that lesson and in turn our children learned that lesson. Wouldn’t it be nice if everybody was able to follow suit?” mused the straight-talking mother of three. “At the young age of 9 I realized ‘Alright, I get it’” echoed Caroline’s daughter Lauren Manzo who also stars in the production.” I realized there was nothing wrong with it so since then it’s always been a normal thing to me.”
Chatting up Laurita and co-star (and Andy Cohen-shover) Teresa Giudice, we discovered the ladies had their fair share of gays even before their hit Bravo show debuted. “I worked with a guy named Matthew who was so flamboyant and over-the-top then with another guy named Dennis who wasn’t and I loved them both,” Teresa revealed. “We worked at Macy's together in the buying office so I was not surprised by our gay following at all. Why wouldn’t gays like me? I love them!” said the hot-headed but charitable gal. “I’m a cosmetologist myself so I’ve always had gay friends,” revealed Laurita, who stars in Wedding alongside daughter Ashley Holmes, and sports a quite convincing Brooklyn accent for a Las Vegas native. “When the issue of marriage equality came up it was a total non-issue to me. Chris’ family was very open and accepting of me and in fact when we moved to New Jersey we lived in Caroline’s house for 6 months, which was a lot of fun,” she told us of the accepting Manzo clan. While some Housewives might seem to be taking the gay community for a ride of late, these ladies are proving the “Real” part of their series title through action! Just no one release a dance single—please!

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