An Intimate Evening with Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen
‘Deep Talk and Shallow Tales’
12 N. Eutaw St., Baltimore
Friday, April 28
Some celebs are witty and fabulous enough, they don’t need a script. They can just get on stage and start gabbing and people eat it up.
Such is the case with gay pals Anderson Cooper (of CNN fame) and Andy Cohen, who almost gives Ryan Seacrest a run for his money in terms of having his hand in the most pop culture pots, with their show “AC2: Deep Talk and Shallow Tales.”
Cohen is an Emmy-winning host of “Watch What Happens: Live” on Bravo late night, executive producer of the “Real Housewives” franchise and a New York Times bestselling author.
The pair were last here in 2015 at the Warner Theatre in Washington. This is the first AC2 show in Baltimore. Cohen spoke to the Blade last week by phone from his home in New York.
WASHINGTON BLADE: What’s your favorite on-stage conversation you’ve ever had with Anderson?
ANDY COHEN: It’s really like going out to a bar with us and just hanging out. Just a night of storytelling and fun conversation. There’s a story in the show that kind of just stayed in the show and we don’t really tell it outside of the show which involves a near-death experience that Anderson had that I was involved in that’s quite shocking and terrifying. I don’t know that that’s my favorite, but it’s certainly one of the more shocking ones.
BLADE: What’s the most outrageous audience question you ever got during one of these?
COHEN: Oh my God, I’ve had someone ask how hung we are. I’ve had people ask if we’re tops or bottoms. We’ve gotten everything.
BLADE: Do you playfully deflect?
COHEN: Well I try to answer everything. Anderson has a little more decorum than I do.
BLADE: Are you ever offended? Nobody would have asked that 30 years ago.
COHEN: Yeah, I know. No, because I like it and think it’s fun. I think people expect me to be open about anything, so I’m OK with it.
BLADE: Do you ever have to steer the tone to keep it from getting to heavy or serious or silly or whatever?
COHEN: We’re pretty good. We vibe it out pretty well with each other. We really just talk to each other and then we open it up towards the last half hour. We keep it on track pretty well.
BLADE: You’re both well versed in both hard news and pop culture. Is that partially why it works?
COHEN: Yeah, I totally think so.
BLADE: How do you coordinate your schedules. You’re both crazy busy.
COHEN: We just book it far, far in advance and pray for the best.
BLADE: Your career path is so unusual from going behind the scenes to being a host and celeb. That would seem like such a different skill set. Is it as unusual as you’d think?
COHEN: It is unusual but it’s been kind of organic and I think that’s why it’s worked. One thing has led to the next, so I don’t question how it happened. I’m thrilled about it.
BLADE: By the time you did get in front of the camera, you were pretty high up. Was it ever scary not getting to make your rookie mistakes on a smaller stage?
COHEN: Not really, no. I think it all happened for a reason.
BLADE: Trump has brought narcissism into the national dialogue in a way we haven’t seen before. Does everyone who signs up for a reality show like “Real Housewives” have some narcissism issues in your experience?
COHEN: Yes, I think absolutely. I think anybody who opens themselves up to that kind of moment, you know, open up their lives in that way in that way I think, for sure. I think all of us who decide to go in front of the camera have some level of narcissism. I don’t know if it’s a bad thing or what.
BLADE: Dealing with a whole cast of those types sounds like a nightmare. Is it?
COHEN: Oh absolutely. That’s why these shows are so successful still. People ask that and it’s because of the casting. People ask if they’re real or not and they’re definitely real. We cast people who are dramatic by nature and I think that’s why the shows are still going.
BLADE: You and Teresa Giudice from “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” were friends at the time she and her husband were sentenced to jail. Was it hard being friends but also covering it for the show?
COHEN: Not really. I think we have good relationships, so yeah.
BLADE: What’s been your favorite moment from one of the reunions?
COHEN: Oh wow. There’s a moment involving a bunny that’s coming up in the Beverly Hills reunion. That was pretty kind of hilarious. That’s coming up in the next couple of weeks.
BLADE: You’ve said Kellyanne Conway would make a great housewife. What would her opening tagline be?
COHEN: (pauses) I think it would be about alternative facts. I think hers would be the only truth that matters are my alternative facts.
BLADE: Are you cool with it if it turns out “Real Housewives” is your legacy?
COHEN: Yeah, I would be OK with that. I was always a big soap opera fan and I think it has replaced the soap opera. I think it’s today’s modern-day version of a soap opera so I think that’s an absolutely fine thing.
BLADE: Does it ever surprise you which cast members end up becoming huge in pop culture?
COHEN: Sometimes. It used to surprise me more but now kind of nothing surprises me. You know, because we’ve been through it so many times.
BLADE: Pop culture is so instant gratification, like junk food. Not to be all Oprah or anything, but you’re so immersed in it, is it a soul drain over time? Do you meditate or anything?
COHEN: Well, I think in the last few years my social life has actually — I’m probably working much more than I was, but I used to go out almost every night after the show so I don’t anymore. I’m still obviously a very social person, but I’m much less so than I was before and I think there’s something — I’m a little more calm now.
BLADE: There must be moments where you just wish everybody would go away.
COHEN: It’s all right. It’s all fun, you know what I mean? I consider myself very blessed. I know it sounds trite or lame or whatever, but it’s good problems to have. I’m sure, by the way, that in a couple years there will be a lot less demand for my services or interest in me and then I’ll have more time.
BLADE: You and Anderson like to egg each other on. Are you ever afraid you’ll say something on TV or stage and suddenly be in really hot water? Like some Natalie Maines moment or something?
COHEN: Yeah, I worry about that all the time and it was a theme in my last book actually. It was just me kind of always wondering if this would be the moment that I would wind up blowing it all.
BLADE: Why did you open “Superficial,” your last book, with the death of Joan Rivers?
COHEN: Because the last book ended right around the time. I took a couple weeks off from writing and it was just the day that I decided to start writing again.
BLADE: You were a little nervous when that book first came out that it would piss people off. How did it play out?
COHEN: It turned out OK. Whoever’s mad at me hasn’t told me they’re mad at me. I’m sure there are people.
BLADE: Any truth to the rumor that Caitlyn Jenner might join the “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”?
COHEN: Totally not true.
BLADE: Who’s somebody famous whose house you’ve been to that was totally not what you expected?
COHEN: (pauses) I don’t know. Everybody kind of seems to live how I expect them to. If it’s someone rich and fancy, they usually have a rich and fancy house. When I went to Anderson’s many years ago, I was surprised it wasn’t nicer. But now he has a really nice house. But the first apartment of his that I went to, I was like, “This is not —,” you know.
BLADE: He officially came out pretty late but you’ve known him for ages. Did he ever talk to you about if he should come out or not come out?
COHEN: We had some — he was out to all his friends so it didn’t really seem like a big thing.
BLADE: Who’s the most different when the camera’s rolling vs. not?
COHEN: Oh, many people. Well, not really. I don’t want to sell anybody out.
BLADE: But it’s not uncommon for some people to just come alive when it’s on?
COHEN: Well, now that I think about it, no, it’s not really that much different.
BLADE: There was some almost scoffing when Barry Manilow finally made it official that he’s gay a couple weeks ago. Do you think with some celebrities it gets to the point that it’s so long and so widely assumed that it just gets almost ridiculous?
COHEN: Well look, I’m all for everybody coming out. Look, he did it in his own time and he had his own reasons and so, you know, I can’t speculate on someone else’s reasons and what they may be.