First day of She ExpoThe first day of Chattanooga's annual She Expo sponsored by the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
Reality television ‘It Girl,’ Skinnygirl cocktail creator and author Bethenny Frankel doesn’t mince words — on television or before a roaring crowd of women Saturday at the She Expo sponsored by the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
The star of popular shows “Real Housewives of New York City” and most recently “Bethenny Ever After” told women packing the Chattanooga Convention Center that she likes to walk around in her apartment naked, taste cocktails at 10 a.m. and go to Starbucks in flannel pajamas.
And in an exclusive interview with the Times Free Press, Frankel said she is relieved to put the drama of “Real Houswives” behind her to focus on her business and on being a role model for her daughter and a growing fan base.
“All they want to show is how rich they are,” Frankel said about her former “Housewives” co-stars before speaking to the audience. “It wasn’t good for me. I don’t think it’s a healthy environment. It’s women being rewarded for bad behavior. It’s embarrassing.”
She rarely speaks to the women on the show or watches it, she said.
On the She Expo runway, Frankel imitated former co-star Ramona Singer’s walk. When Singer texted to ask to be in the delivery room when Frankel’s baby was born, “I said when [my baby] sees your eyes she’ll go right back in.”
IF YOU GO
Who: Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart
What: She Expo
Where: Chattanooga Convention Center
When: The expo, with more than 150 vendors, runs from noon to 6 p.m. Martha Stewart speaks from 2 to 3 p.m.
She also said that while other reality shows are scripted and the women on “Real Housewives” “aren’t really friends,” her current show with her husband, Jason, is as real as it gets.
“It’s painfully real,” she said. “I really do put myself out there.”
Women of all ages packed the She Expo on Saturday to shop more than 150 venders offering everything from makeovers and massages to bra fittings and tooth whitening. The event will continue today with lifestyle guru Martha Stewart speaking to crowds.
Some Frankel fans at the expo said they drink her margarita brand and watch her show religiously. Several said they were inspired by Frankel’s message to go after what you want and never take no for an answer.
“I am so proud of you,” one women in the crowd told her.
Another women cried during a meet-and-greet session and called Frankel her inspiration.
“I love her,” said Victoria Smith, 17, who was among many young women snapping pictures of the star. “I love how open she is ... how she opens up to people and isn’t fake.”
Jason Taylor, president of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, said Frankel’s appearance caused a big stir among local women.
“I’ve been surprised at how emotional people were to meet her,” he said. “They identify with her on a personal level.”
Frankel has been on the cover of Forbes magazine, and her Skinnygirl brand recently was sold for more than $120 million. But when she first pitched the idea to mostly male executives in the liquor industry, she said, all she heard was no.
Now the industry is taking female customers seriously, she said.
“I changed the game of the liquor industry,” she said. “You can’t believe other people are smarter than you.”
Frankel has written several books, including “Naturally Thin: Unleash Your SkinnyGirl and Free Yourself from a Lifetime of Dieting.” Her new book, “A Place of Yes,” outlines her rules for life.
Fans should be on the lookout for a new season of her reality show and other television shows to come, she said.
Joan Garrett McClane has been a staff writer for the Times Free Press since August 2007. Before becoming a general assignment writer for the paper, she wrote about business, higher education and the court systems. She grew up the oldest of five sisters near Birmingham, Ala., and graduated with a master's and bachelor's degrees in journalism from the University of Alabama. Before landing her first full-time job as a reporter at the Times Free Press, ...