Known as much for her “bubbies” as she is her bling, perfectly tanned Barbie doll Dina Manzo is about as close to a high-class drag queen as you’re gonna get in Jersey -- and she’d accept that designation as the ultimate compliment. We went behind the scenes of The Advocate’s cover story photo shoot to catch up with the Real Housewives of New Jersey star, who chatted with us about her gay brother, her elusive hubby, and, of course, her drama with Housewife Danielle Staub.

Most fans of the Housewives franchise prefer The Real Housewives of New Jersey. Why is that?
I don’t know. It’s crazy! I think we’re very relatable. We’re not walking around parties every night, always so fabulous, so I guess a lot of people in Middle America can relate to us.

Do you think the fact that some of you are family contributed to this relatability?
It played a big part. We’re the first of the franchise to have cast members related, and the family component paints more realistic scenarios. We’re not forced to hang out with each other. We’re naturally dealing with our family members.

You’ve said your friends were surprised how dramatic and how frustrated you seemed in the series. Do you think the camera showed a different side of you?

I think the camera showed how I am when I’m really annoyed, and I was thoroughly annoyed. I’m very laid-back. People who know me know that anything goes, whatever, but I was under a different situation. My good friends came up to me [after the show] and said, “This is not the Dina I know.” But they’d never seen me annoyed. I generally have positive energy and positive people around me, so if I ever feel any negativity or nastiness, I like to distance myself from it.

Why were so annoyed?
Well, I have to say, there was a thorn in my side -- a thorn named Danielle. To me, it was constantly The Danielle Show. I was trying to go about my life, and that thorn just wouldn’t go away. It was frustrating.

Tags: television