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The Gal With the Thorn in Her Side


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.

Have you spoken to Danielle since the first season of the show ended?
Everything's cool. I meant what I said in the reunion. If you wanna say sorry, I forgive you. We wish each other the best, which is all I ever wanted, but I think Danielle needs to see that you don't have to be best friends or enemies. There's a happy medium of just being civil and nice to each other. That's what I think her confusion may have been: Either people are all-accepting or they're out to get you.

Your husband never appeared in the first season. Will we ever see him?
Oh, no, I can tell you that you won't.

Does he really exist?
He does exist; he just wants no part of the show. I love it that way. When he comes home it's all about me and him. We're not talking about the show. I don't get involved in his business, and he doesn't get involved in mine.

Any scandalous moments you're happy we didn't see on the show?
The worst of everything was on that show.

When some of the Jersey housewives were taking a dance class, Teresa's husband used the word "gay" in a questionable fashion. What was your take on it?
I think there was no malice at all in it. Danielle made a bigger deal out of it for the drama's sake of things. She loves that. Nobody loves the gays more than me. I have a gay brother. I wasn't there that night, so I didn't see it go down, but when I was watching I thought it could have been brushed off as nothing. I know it's different coming from a gay man, but I know my gays totally agreed with me. My brother and I say worse things to each other, but it's never done with any kind of malice. I know Teresa and her husband aren't like that. In my opinion, Danielle was looking to make drama.

What's the craziest, gayest thing you've done with your gay brother recently?
You know, I'm so mad at him because I want him to be a little gayer, but he's just not like that. I always have a good time with him, though.

So we won't see him in heels anytime soon?
No. I wish he would wear heels though!

Why do gays love the Housewives so much?

I'm not a gay man, so I can't speak on their behalf, but I do know the gays love the drama.

Did your gay brother like the show?

Oh, yeah.

Was there a particular moment he enjoyed?
When he was on.

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