"You either love me or you hate me. There is no in between with me." That's what Danielle Staub, one of the "Real Housewives of New Jersey," has to say about herself in each episode's opening credits and judging from the second season opener of the Bravo franchise, Staub is not too far off the mark. After a hugely dramatic finale and reunion at the end of season one, the new season finds the other New Jersey Housewives - Caroline, Teresa, Jacqueline and Dina - having ostracized Staub from their group.
However, if there's one thing viewers can count on it's the moment when Staub inevitably crosses paths with the ladies again there will be the flying of more dramatic sparks (and maybe a table or two, as was the case last season). To get her side of the story, our Jim Halterman chatted with Staub last week where the Jersey housewife addressed how she's now dealing with the other ladies, what she's told her kids about what went down on the show last year as well as her upcoming memoir, The Naked Truth - The Real Story Behind the Real Housewife of New Jersey - In Her Own Words, which comes out later this month.
Jim Halterman: Between your show and MTV's "Jersey Shore," it really seems like New Jersey is the now the place to be or are the rest of us just late to the party?
Danielle Staub: I think you guys are! I think you are really late for the party. It all starts in New Jersey. Everyone else just wants to be here.
JH: A lot went down last season on the show so tell me how does the new season compare?
DS: Holy crap, it's over the top this season and I think people will really see that I'm not the source of it. It wasn't a matter of me proving that at all. People really focused on how much they said I was causing the drama rather than actually seeing whether I was or not. What did I really do to cause the drama and be accused of causing the drama? I did something 25 years ago that these people looked for. I didn't look for it. I didn't bring it up. I was just living my life and getting four women against one who were pointing their fingers at me. Here's the thing, eleven kids between them and yet they can't find anything better to do or talk about than me?
JH: So what are we going to see this season?
DS: You know what you're going to see this season? Me doing a lot of my own thing. Nobody saw it last season because all you saw was my jaw drop to the floor. "Why is it a big deal something I did 25 years ago? Why don't you guys have anything better to do than investigate me?"
JH: What did you learn in the first season that helped you in filming the second season?
DS: Wow! So much! So many lessons and I'm glad you put it that way because if you repeat them then they're mistakes only. The lessons I learned are so broad that I can only outline. Don't talk about anything that you really don't want people to know because if you think it's funny and you're around animals like those four women they're just going to turn it into something to cover up their own past. Don't try to fit in. Don't try to be desperate and definitely stand on your own. And keep in mind that your children will be seeing this, too. I believe it was inappropriate to talk about dating. To me, dating was a foreign thing because for 15 years I was with the father of my children but I don't think it was a good idea for me to talk about the fact that I was meeting people online�and not going out on dates with them. Remember, I had phone sex or something like that. I don't want to talk about that again. I don't think it was a great thing for me to talk about but I was thinking for kids and for everybody it was a form of safe sex instead of what they made it into. I see that you really have to not let people in so quickly. I think it's just important for everyone to be treated equally as well. I don't think there's anything fairness in the way that they treat outsiders, which is how they treated me.
JH: You mentioned your kids. I'm sure they had a lot of questions after the big dinner fiasco last season since they were actually there. What did you say to them after the fact? Did they watch the whole season?
DS: I screen the episodes before they actually air and with each episode I could see there was only little portions my kids were going to be able to see and that's when it involved them. The only thing they were there for with all the other women was the last supper. It took a year to air and now my kids are two years older and I think it's time. They were asking questions and they were mortified and horrified at what they saw and they were even there for it. Their questions are what other children's questions would be - why would human beings treat another human being that way and why would they feel that they are any better than you, Mommy? Those are burning questions out of my children's mouths.
JH: In the first episode of the new season, you're seen going to church and the priest talks to you about forgiveness in terms of your relationships with the other ladies. Did you take his advice?
DS: You know what's amazing? I went on a spiritual journey to correct some of the things in my life and really make important the things that I was missing so I could live a full life rather than worry about what other people are thinking and saying so much. That was the beginning of me asking and reaching out to my faith that I believe in and live by and go to every Sunday for guidance to teach me how to pray for people who have done me so wrong and really mean it. I wanted to mean it. I just didn't want to go through the motions. Now, I think you'll see this season that it's with this conviction because you're going to see a growth in me. I didn't forgive them at that point but I have to at a certain point in order to get on with my life because it can't be important what they've done. It's more important what I'm going to do with my life.
JH: So are there any fences mended through the course of the season?
DS: No. We're divided. I think you're going to see that they infiltrate. They're so curious in my life that they actually send people in. It's kind of disgusting and I think you'll see one of them in episode 1. It doesn't make me look bad.
JH: You have your own book coming out this month. Is this the chance for you to set the record straight?
DS: It's coming out May 25th and it's the launch of my memoir, which is 'The Naked Truth.' It is definitely my journey, my life story starting at birth and keep in mind that those women are a very, very miniscule part of my life-long journey of 47 years. Don't be shocked when I don't put importance on people that have just touched my life. My life story is my life story and I think it was time for me to tell it and how I lived it. I'm really so, so proud to say that not only did I live my life once but I got to relive it through writing it and I can't wait for people to get to know me.
The second season of "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" premieres tonight on Bravo at 10:00/9:00c.