Not So Cute: Kelly From The Real Housewives of New York City

by anna on March 27, 2009

[singlepic=527,320,240,,right]Do you watch The Real Houswives of New York City? I do. Oh yes. And this season is so much better than last season, since we actually get to see more of the Countess being a snobby bitch, and Ramona is starting to seem like one of the more reasonable members of the clan, despite her indisputably CRAZY EYES? But most importantly, there is the addition this season of the character, Kelly, who is a former model divorcee who divides her time between a house in The Hamptons and a loft in Soho? And oh wow is this character a boondoggle. For one thing, she fits into the same demographic, roughly, as the beloved Countess, except for the fact that she is divorced, an advantage that the Countess acknowledged by saying, “You don’t have to deal with this kind of stuff anymore, you lucky bitch.” Bet the Count was really pleased by that line.

[singlepic=526,320,240,,left]The first time I ever encountered the confusing cipher that is Kelly Killoren Bensimon was when I bought a pair of jeans at Bloomingdales a few years back, and they gave me a free book with my purchase. That book? The Bikini Book by Kelly Killoren Bensimon, and if you haven’t seen the cover, let me be the one to expose it to you.

That kind of vaguely uncomfortable and embarrassed feeling you have right now? That is kind of what Kelly makes me feel when I watch her on The Real Housewives of New York City. All the time. A clip from the show depicts Kelly explaining the cover to her book by saying that she wanted people to think, “Now this is something.” Well, in that sense she succeeded, because even if I got it for free, and even if I have fairly liberal reading practices, my response to this book was, “This is something I want out of my house.” So I tried to sell it on Amazon, but nobody wanted it.

That was before I could possibly have known that Kelly’s book is just an encapsulation of her character. Because she has some kind of disorder, but I cannot figure out what it is precisely. She flirts with and gets piggy-back rides from boy-toys in front of her traumatized ‘tween daughters, talks about how everybody hopes that she’ll show up at their party, claims to be a “private person,” even whilst engaged in the confessional interview of a nationally televised reality show, and has skin that changes from sunburn pink to spray-tan orange over the course of an episode. But these kinds of narcissistic disorders are the pixie dust upon which the Bravo network has built itself.

No. What I am talking about has more to do with situations where Kelly seems to be from another planet–a planet where everyone has legs the length of a giraffe’s and where they think they speak English, but in reality their giraffe-legged language is just different enough from English to cause confusion when attempting to communicate with a legitimate English speaker. For example, Kelly claims to not have enough time to work with all of the charities she wants to work with. OK. So the Countess, social-climber that she is, asks Kelly, “Oh, what charities are you involved with?” Which seems like a reasonable, if transparent, question to ask. But Kelly, not understanding? states, “Oh, I’m not involved with any charities.” Wha?

And her problems with language also lead to uncomfortable social situations for Kelly. Like, sure, she’s beautiful and everything, but something is wrong. First there was the episode where she was riding horses, and invited Ramona to come and watch her ride. While Ramona waited patiently by the dressing room, Kelly snubbed her on the way out and–lest you think this was a mistake, she then answered Ramona’s greeting by saying, “Can I just have a second?” impatiently. So, this would be rude no matter what, right? But I figure, she’s doing some kind of equestrian trial in the Hamptons, she must be doing something very very difficult. Right. So she gets out there, and the little things that she has to jump over? Are like a foot tall. The Countess’ 17 year-old-daughter was jumping over things twice as high and wasn’t acting like a bitch.

But the most disturbing thing for me, about this Kelly woman, is her use of the phrase, “That’s cute.” Now I’ll be willing to admit that I’ve said, “that’s cute,” on occasion. Maybe even directed at an article of clothing. I admit it. And it’s a kind of throw away phrase to begin with. But usually it’s the kind of throwaway phrase you use when you greet somebody and like their shoes. Well, Kelly, apparently, feels the phrase hasn’t met its full potential. Because in last week’s episode, she first used the phrase, “that’s cute,” to describe Bethenny’s friendship with the designer John Varvatos and his wife. Their odd exchange went a little something like this:

Bethenny: Yeah, I know John. I know John and Joyce.
Kelly: Oh, that’s cute.
Bethenny: . . .

Now this usage, standing alone, would be bad enough. Because in this situation, it comes across as being just really patronizing. Like, “How cute, Bethenny thinks she knows a designer! Oh good for her!” Which would be bitchy enough in any language. But worse than this was when there was a meeting of the Housewives to discuss a charity event View definition in a new window for Pediatric Arthritis. After showing up late, Kelly explained that she had “lots of charities” that she didn’t have time to work with, and that no, she wouldn’t be lending her name to this event View definition in a new window. When it was explained that the particular interest in this charity stemmed from Jill’s daughter, Ally, who actually has arthritis, and who was sitting at the same table, Kelly says what? You guessed it. “That’s cute.”


It’s cute to have arthritis? Wha?

Now, just to make sure this was not some kind of new phrase with which I am unfamiliar, I did my homework. According to Urban Dictionary, there are three definitions for “aww that’s cute,” viz.:

  1. Said when you have no response to something such as “I love you.” ex. “I love you” “Aww that’s cute”
  2. A phrase (said in a long drawn out way) to say when you are not sure what to say tosomeone who has admitted feelings to you; When someone has said or done something similar to being cute, this is what you say. ex.Person: So, I basically, pretty much like you hella alot.
    You: aww that’s cute.
    Person: *Goes to kiss you and misses*.
    You: aww that’s cute.

  3. Said sarcasticly [sic.] after one or more people say or do something they believe is cool, but was really just gay.

Now, admittedly, I’m even more confused. Did Kelly think that they were telling her they were in love with her? Could be. Still, her response is, “That’s cute,” and though I’m confused, and Mr. Right-Click (who I force to watch this show with me) is confused, everyone on the TV is looking at each other like, “Oh yeah, isn’t it cute?” Wha? Are the giraffes taking over?

To add fuel to the fire, recently, Kelly was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor assault after punching her boyfriend (Nick Stefanov). Apparently, Stefanov sustained a black eye and a cut cheek after Kelly hit him with a closed fist. I have to assume this was serious, if the boyfriend was willing to go down and trade in his masculinity in order to file a complaint. He did note that Kelly had the humanity to take off her engagement ring first, before punching him in the eye. Now, that is cute.


jenni March 27, 2009 at 5:27 am

i totally agree! there is something wrong with that woman. but apparently she can throw a punch.

jenni´s last blog post..He’s a Booooooob Man!

Jennie March 27, 2009 at 6:27 am


There is something off about her, but the whole @ the horse show scene was totally normal – for that kind of horse show, anyway. Trainers get pissed when you talk to people when they’re giving you instructions about the course, and trainers are terrifying people. Terrifying.

Kerry March 27, 2009 at 6:40 am

Omigawd. I thought it was just me.

I think she’s actually on drugs of some sort. Having invoked a few Reasonable Suspicion drug tests in my day, I can tell you if she worked for me, she’d be on her way to the clinic.

I am liking this season much better too. I’m glad they’ve lightened up on Alex and Simon, and also Ramona, all of whom are make such easy targets that it’s not fun. LuAnn is the real villain on this show, and they’re finally giving her the bad edit she deserves.

I’m an episode behind, but I have been watching Alex and Simon’s remodeling, and wondering if they ended up done before February, when Alex lost her job. It would suck to have just spent that much money and then get a pink slip.

Laurin March 27, 2009 at 7:01 am

Watching this show, I’ve always had that same feeling, that something is “wrong” with Kelly. That whole charity discussion exchange was painful. Where is the mug shot, by the way? I followed that link and found this: Something else to add to the reader. Sigh.

Laurin´s last blog post..Cars Need Purses Too

Dana March 27, 2009 at 7:01 am

I love the Real Housewives. I’m addicted. But I agree, Kelly is insane. I cannot stand her. She’s almost socially awkward in so many ways. Last weeks episode drove me crazy. If I was Jill I would have let her have it.

I heart Jill. She is just too darn awesome. And Bethenny is my favorite. I was hoping she would have smacked Kelly. Can’t wait for this Tuesday’s episode! Looks like a good one.

Dana´s last blog post..Morning Sickness

Juliet March 27, 2009 at 7:46 am

This is weird. I watch the show about 75% of the time but have never, ever seen this woman and didn’t know she was one of “the housewives” until reading this post. I think I totally missed her. How strange. (Or should I say, “how cute!”?)

Why do they call even the ones who work at paid jobs “housewives”? Isn’t a housewife someone who doesn’t work outside the house – i.e. the house is their work? But I digress…

I’m sure you watched the Atlanta version. Now *that* was entertainment.

Juliet´s last blog post..My Favorite Lawyer

Laurie March 27, 2009 at 8:32 am

I was surprised to see that as a literary person, you didn’t also mention the fact that this far-from-articulate person makes a living writing books and society columns. Ramona too! How did that nonsensical train wreck ever get a gig writing for Cosmo???

eliz March 27, 2009 at 9:03 am

@Anna – But, did the giraffe-legged language speakers carry giraffe purses?

@Juliet – I watched a number of the episodes of the Atlanta version, and it scared the shit out of me. It was the first time I ever watched, so I’ve never seen any of the NY series. ATL was, just, shudder.

@Laurie – This woman gets paid to write??

anna March 27, 2009 at 1:47 pm

@eliz, no giraffe purses! I told you, that is a southern thing.

anna March 27, 2009 at 9:15 am

Well she sort of gets paid to write–she wrote for Page Six Magazine, which doesn’t exist anymore.

@Juliet she’s new this season

J. March 27, 2009 at 10:15 am

Holy shit! Now I’m really, really glad I haven’t watched this show. The commercials are enough to make me nuts.

J.´s last blog post..Reasons I’m Glad I’m Going To Alaska

rebecca March 27, 2009 at 10:17 am

I’m embarrassed that I have an opinion about Kelly and I’m even more embarrassed that my husband and I don’t share the same opinion. Perhaps that’s how Kelly gets by in the world.

rebecca´s last blog post..Excessive Misery

anna March 27, 2009 at 1:46 pm

@rebecca, are you pro- or con- Kelly? My husband thought she was weird too. I do think that head injury (as @AKD suggested) or drug abuse (as @Kerry suggested) could explain some of these issues. Question is, what drug? She never eats, so it could easily be cocaine or meth. The assault of her ex-boyfriend could go with either of those drugs, too.

AKD March 27, 2009 at 10:25 am

Have never seen the show, but the way you describe this woman reminds me of someone I used to work with. Same kind of weird, snooty, socially tone-deaf personality. I eventually found out that this former co-worker of mine had been in a severe car accident (the person she was in the car with drove ON to the OFF ramp, so they ended up going the wrong way on the freeway). She had severe head injuries and had to go through a year of rehab, but as she told me, “it really doesn’t affect her now.”
I wouldn’t be surprised to find out this Kelly person had a metal plate in her head.

eliz March 27, 2009 at 1:59 pm

@anna – Someone commented and told me they saw them on Canal St. You think this Kelly buys knockoffs on the street in Chinatown? I do know you can get meth in that ‘hood.

I think I have to start watching RHofNYC now.

anna March 27, 2009 at 2:26 pm

Hmm, maybe it’s not a southern thing, then. Maybe it’s an East Coast thing. I doubt Kelly buys knockoffs, she’s all about getting freebies from designers, etc. But she might be a meth head. She is conspicuous about never eating on the show.

Kerry March 27, 2009 at 2:41 pm

Which drug makes your ass a funny shape? Because that’s the one she’s taking.

Seriously, she’s skinny and more power to her for that, but her ass is not a normal shape. It’s like her hips are wider than her ass, and also a little too high, and it doesn’t work.

You call cannot see my ass, but I know you’ll take my word for it when I tell you that it is freakin’ perfect, and that I am therefore totally qualified to spew judgment at the asses of the rich and famous.

Kerry´s last blog post..How to Completely Screw Yourself in a Job Interview

anna March 27, 2009 at 2:52 pm

Oh, me too, Kerry, my ass is like so cute. That’s why I feel totally comfortable making fun of people.

LY /PauvrePlume March 27, 2009 at 2:56 pm

Holy sh*t, I f*cking LOVE this show. Actually, I pretty much love ALL the various locations of “Housewives,” even though I remain eternally perplexed as to why Bethenny landed the gig considering she is neither a wife, nor a homeowner. Nor does she have kids, which seems to be the usual prerequisite. She does, however, have a dog, which functions as her husband/child whenever it’s “Bethenny in the spotlight” time (which is usually my favorite part of the show — Ramona telling Simon he’s gay notwithstanding).

Bethenny commented on Kelly’s ill-timed/warranted “that’s cute” line in reference to Ally’s arthritis, right? But I think it was just in her little “confessional” thing — not actually in front of Kelly and the others.

And yeah, Kelly’s dermatological issues remind me of the stomach ache I had for Tim Gunn during the last season of Project Runway, when suddenly he showed up with rosacea — for, like, the whole season.

LY /PauvrePlume´s last blog post..Is that a book on your finger, or are you just happy to see me?

anna March 27, 2009 at 3:18 pm

Oh Bethenny did say that? good, at least somebody else commented. It was still SO BIZARRE.

J. March 27, 2009 at 4:14 pm

“…spew judgment at the asses of the rich and famous.” OMG, Kerry, I think I just fell in love with you. ;)

J.´s last blog post..Desperately Seeking Dynamo

anna March 27, 2009 at 7:05 pm


The Lawyer Mom March 27, 2009 at 7:31 pm

I was just so blinded by all the white teeth I wasn’t able to comprehend much else.

The Lawyer Mom´s last blog post..Going Without Day

Kelly March 27, 2009 at 7:56 pm

Awesome. I am guiltily addicted to these awful shows. You nailed it.

rebecca March 27, 2009 at 9:26 pm

There’s a Kelly or two in every social circle in every state in which I’ve lived or operated. She’s easily spotted from a trillion miles away and her motives are embarrassingly transparent. I’m not an insider, but rather a person who has worked in non-profit. When you have a mission worth pursuing, you figure out quickly the real deal movers and shakers vs. the fake it until you make it folks.

The Hubster finds her refreshingly “normal” and “natural” and that just makes me laugh because she counts on the generosity of goofballs like him who are easily dazzled by her inappropriate twirling. In my eyes, she’s just a shiny penny. The truly wealthy understand time, talent, and treasure (or “work, wisdom, and wealth” depending on your alliterate preference). Kelly sadly lacks all three.

In all this it didn’t escape my notice that the countess claims to “give back” to the homeless. What did she take? What is she returning?

rebecca´s last blog post..Excessive Misery

Juliet March 28, 2009 at 9:21 am

Hi Anna! I just tagged you to write “Six Random Things” –

Yup, it’s not limited to facebook anymore. Please do it, pretty please!!!???

Juliet´s last blog post..Tag! You’re IT.

maggie March 28, 2009 at 9:26 am

I have watched that show, and that woman gives me a queasy stomach. This was very well written and with incredible detail!

anna March 28, 2009 at 2:43 pm

@Juliet, OK, I’ll put it on tab for next week.

Vickie March 29, 2009 at 10:20 pm

Ok. I knew we were in for a laugh this season when on the first episode, I saw a deadpan serious-faced Kelly spew something like this,”I encounter SO many men, ALL the time….so many men ….. Gay men, straight men, fat men, skinny men, rich men, poor men, SO many men….ALL the time…”. Ok. I am sort of paraphrasing, sort of exaggerating, but you get it. Hey. Guess what Kelly? I encounter them too, as they are half the friggin population!!!!! And I encounter SO many WOMEN too…ALL the time, you dumb stupid whore!!! The thing that really bothers me about Kelly, is her collegiate obsession with wasp-Dom. I mean. C’mon! Puleeeeeze. You can’t even ride a horse Kelly. And you are painfully obviously uneducated….you try to come across as American waspy royalty and you can’t even speak, let alone, hold a conversation. Yes, you are tall and attractive, but you come across as so desperate and so lonely, really. You need to get off the back of collegiate-looking older men who are trying to look like they are on j-crew magazines. Leave that behaviour to the 20 year olds.

Kerry March 31, 2009 at 11:08 am

I came back and put myself through the trauma of scrolling past the cover of Kelly’s book again just to say: did you see the new tabloid news about the Countess? Apparently the Count has left her for another woman. He lived in Europe and she lived here, but she “never thought this would happen.”

I wonder what sort of etiquette is called for in this situation. Will she still be “the Countess?” Or will she have to endure the humilation of having the limo driver call her “LuAnn?”

Kerry´s last blog post..Maybe There’s a Silver Lining in This Recession

anna March 31, 2009 at 1:08 pm

@Kerry, OMG OMG! She won’t be the Countess anymore! The humanity.

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