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Gretchen Rossi: Reality show stardom not easy

Gretchen Rossi says people should “run” from the idea that it’s an American dream to be famous on TV, because it’s no “bowl of cherries.”

It all started with a simple question. I asked Rossi how many more TV seasons she wants to star on “The Real Housewives of Orange County.”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Rossi, 34, says. “I struggle with it every single year. I just take it day by day.”

Rossi says the show is “draining.”

“It’s tough. You feel like they don’t always show the full story. You’re only getting 5 percent of what’s really happening, and that’s definitely hard.”

Wait, what comprises the 95 percent of “Housewives” filming that we don’t see?

“Well, that’s probably the good part,” she says with a laugh. “They only show the most salacious, over-the-top part.”

She says you should think of reality TV this way: Imagine if you went to a three-hour dinner party where everyone got along — but for a few minutes, there was heated debate over religion or politics.

“They’re going to show that fight” on TV, she says. “They’re not going to show the three hours of everybody hugging and kissing and getting along.”

But I half-joked that she can’t leave the show, because for many people, it’s the American dream to be famous on a reality TV show.

“That’s the misconception about these shows,” Rossi responds. “Everybody nowadays thinks it’s a bowl of cherries, and ‘I want to be on a TV show.’ But the fact of the matter is, there are some really tough things.

“I mean, anybody can go on TV and say anything they want about you, whether it’s true or false,” Rossi says.

“People have accused me of some pretty horrific things.”

Rossi says it gets draining, defending herself.

“It’s like: ‘Why do I want to keep being around people who continue to question my integrity and my character?’ It’s not fun.”

For instance, she defends her fiance Slade Smiley when people call him a deadbeat dad.

“Slade will always have debt in regards to his son, because he is a brain cancer patient. He just spent five months in the hospital — and those five months cost $1.8 million. So does everybody have $1.8 million laying around? Probably not,” Rossi says.

“It’s really sad how ugly it can get.”

She says her takeaway from being on TV is this: “Anybody who wants to get on a reality show to be famous — I say run. You should really have some other reason or motive to come on a show like this.”

Rossi says she went on “Housewives” to build her business dream.

“I did a really good job of building the Gretchen Christine brand (of swimwear, handbags and cosmetics at GretchenChristine.com), and putting out really good quality products, and having connectivity with my fans and my customers.”

Having said all this, Rossi is still grateful for “Housewives.”

“The fame side of things has been fun, because it has given me some amazing opportunities.”

One of those opportunities: Rossi and Kendra Wilkinson-Baskett will host “The World’s Largest Bachelorette Party” with Chippendales strippers and pole-dancing classes on Friday and July 20 at Tao Beach dayclub and Tao nightclub.

“I feel like I have more story to tell” on “Housewives,” Rossi says. “I love telling that story to viewers that have been watching me and supporting me for so long.

“They have seen me go through difficult times, and I have come out of it. I’m obviously in a good place now with Slade. We’re talking about starting a family. There’s more story to be told.”

Doug Elfman’s column appears Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. He also writes for Neon on Fridays. Email him at delfman@reviewjournal.com. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.

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