One On One With Kelly Curtone: "Kell On Earth"

Feb. 22 2010, Published 6:50 a.m. ET

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If you’re a fan of Bravo’s Kell on Earth, than you know Kelly Cutrone as the no-nonsense, tough as nails owner of the fashion PR firm People’s Revolution. We first met her as boss to Lauren Conrad and Whitney Port on The Hills and of course The City too. She stirs up fear in the hearts of interns everywhere with her strict “no crying” policy in the office and isn’t afraid to fire anyone that doesn’t work hard from her employees to clients. But, when got the chance to chat with her—we were pleasantly surprised to find out that this high powered diva is actually down to earth, warm and funny! Within two seconds, she admitted to us that she was in her “nightgown and eating a pear” and that her flamboyant assistant Andrew and ace account executive Stefanie Skinner were just in her bed after working till 6am. Needless to say, we couldn’t wait to find out more!

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RADARONLINE.COM: How have your clients and colleagues in the industry reacted to Kell On Earth?

KELLY CUTRONE: To be honest with you, I’m surprised how nice people in my industry have been about it.  I really thought, ‘Oh, God.  Everybody’s going to come out with pitchforks for this.’ I knew that there were some pretty high level people in the industry that were like anti-Hills and City because they would call me up and tell me. But I was really, really surprised at how nice the press has been. And so many publicists have called me to say, ‘Oh, my God. I’m so glad you’re doing this show because nobody ever even knew what I did for a living and now I can just tell them to watch your show.’

RADARONLINE.COM: And your employees have really good back stories and things to say which makes it so interesting.

KELLY CUTRONE: Yes. I think it’s a good story for the chicks and the gay guys, too, isn’t it?  There aren’t that many television shows that have gay men that are just allowed to be themselves. Everything is so caricatured, you know? I’ve never seen another television show with a goth, glam, grunge Andrew on it.  He wore a skirt yesterday to the fashion shows.  He pulled it off.  It doesn’t even look out of place.  He pulls it off perfectly. He breaks one of the rules in my book though which is don’t dress nicer than your boss! (laughs)

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RADARONLINE.COM: How has your family reacted to your fame?

KELLY CUTRONE: My mom’s been really awesome.  She’s busy policing the Bravo website and making sure that that Tabatha Coffey and Bethenny Frankel aren’t getting more support from the network than me. My mom’s now part of our watch dog media crew. She’s our Big Brother keeping in line everything for us.

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RADARONLINE.COM: So, how did you develop your business style—did anyone teach you to be so blunt?

KELLY CUTRONE: It’s a mixed bag because I don’t think a lot of people in the industry are doing it the Kelly Cutrone way, you know?  But, I think that, first of all, it’s one of the few industries where women actually dominate and make a lot of money. But my style developed when I worked for Susan Blond.  I was her assistant.  My job was to go to China Town and get her medicine from some Chinese medicine doctor, book her tables at The Russian Tea Room and go wherever she went all night long. And being in the music industry, it was pretty much a 9:00 AM until 2:00 or 3:00 AM job.  And one day, I don’t know, we got really busy and somebody couldn’t do something and all of a sudden I was promoted to PR person just because no one wanted to work on this project.  It was an awful new age music album and no one had heard of new age music yet.  I don’t even think Cat Stevens had changed his name yet. So all of a sudden, I’m like, ‘Oh, God. This the worst record ever.’ And I had to call people and try to convince them to come to this show. I just started calling people and I was like, ‘Listen, I’m an assistant at Susan Blond and they’ve just made me into a PR person and I have no idea what I’m doing.  The music is not very good but it’s supposed to be this new type of music and I would really appreciate it if you could just come and listen to it.’  And people came!

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RADARONLUNE.COM: Wow, so what did you learn from that?

KELLY CUTRONE: I learned really early on to not put yourself in a position of having to work on things that you don’t like. 

RADARONLINE: So then how did you end up working on that show for that arrogant designer Nicolas Petrou?

KELLY CUTRONE: Oh, my God.  Nicolas Petrou.  I saw him out last night.  I made a beeline for the opposite side of the room. I mean, I didn’t even know him.  That was somebody that Emily brought in.  I don’t know why or who we were doing a favor for, but it was somebody and it was very eleventh hour and it kind of is really against all of our rules.  We normally only do shows for people that we represent throughout the year. 

RADARONLINE.COM:  Talk to us about your interns because so many of them seem to fall under your wrath.

KELLY CUTRONE: If you see me yelling at people in the office, most of those kids are interns.  I’m actually trying to teach them how to do something.  It’s really insane.  I’ve learned a lot from watching the show.  In a weird way, when I was watching the show, I was like, ‘Why am I even bothering?  Who cares?’ Most people that run a PR company don’t even speak to their interns. But, if you notice, I kind of treat them like a very angry mom.  I’m just like, ‘That’s it! All of you, just get out of here!’ It’s like I gave them a time out.  What kind of management school is that?  Like, you give your employees a time out? But, while I was watching the show, I was like, ‘You know, maybe I shouldn’t have so many interns in the office,’ because it really was a mess. 

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RADARONLINE.COM: Now, you know we need the scoop on Stephanie Voorhees. Why do you think she just couldn’t get it together?

KELLY CUTRONE: Voorhees had done PR before. How do you like that?  Voorhees was making like 50 Gs.  She wasn’t like off the boat.  This is a girl who’s like 26 years-old or something.  She commands a $50,000 salary, had done PR before for two or three years.  I mean, in her interviews, she makes it seem like she just got out of college and she just joined the work force.  And it’s just not fair. She couldn’t address an envelope. You have to understand, I didn’t even see half of that because, first of all, they staff knows that I’ll have a heart attack.  So, a lot of it’s like, ‘Oh, God.  Just don’t tell mom.  She’ll go nuts if she finds this out.’

RADARONLINE.COM: Why do you sit with everyone at that communal table instead of in your own office?

KELLY CUTRONE: I know.  It’s another psychotic management move.  Yeah, I sit out there.  For about a year, I didn’t sit out there. I think when the recession hit, I was like, ‘Oh, I better not think I’m all high and mighty.  I better get out there and keep an eye on my team.’ But, it’s a really interesting dynamic at that table.  That’s what makes People’s Revolution so weird and so hard for some people.  You have people from the ages of 18 to 44 sitting at that table.  And you have women at different stages and different economic brackets and they’re all from different places, and one or two gay guys. The things that are discussed at that table, the intimacy that we have with each other and listening from a sociological perspective too--just all different kinds of things that just happen at that table. People who are dating, breaking up, problems in people’s families, people get sick.  It’s like a quilting circle.  We’re sitting there all day talking and sharing everything in our lives together.  It’s very interesting.

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RADARONLINE.COM: You have a strict “no crying” rule in the office. Do you ever cry?

KELLY CUTRONE: I was crying in the office the other day.  We all cry in the office at some point which is why we have to make the rule not to cry (laughs).  We all cry at some point.  But, we try not to.  You can’t have it all day long.  And it can be a very emotional job at the beginning because it’s very fiery, and it’s very creative.  You can feel the pressure. The thing that’s really hard to communicate – and I don’t think that you can really see it on the show—is everything that goes into that job. So, in a weird way, I understand when some of the critiques are like, ‘Well, what is it?  It’s just people putting envelopes together.’ It’s a hard thing to demonstrate. I guess when you see the fashion shows, you can understand that the things you see us doing in our office lead to them manifesting those shows. 

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RADARONLINE: The world really first met you as Lauren Conrad and Whitney Port’s boss on The Hills and The City. Do you keep in touch with them?        

KELLY CUTRONE: I see Whitney all the time. And I’m still shooting The City anyway.  I don’t know how that happened, but somehow I’m allowed to do both of those things. I was never really close to Lauren.  I mean, I like her very, very much.  But, I don’t know.  I think she’s Twittered about my book which is good.

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RADARONLINE.COM: What else is coming up on Kell On Earth that we should look out for?

KELLY CUTRONE: Well, you’ll meet my baby’s daddy Ilario Calvo and what you guys don’t know is Ilario was a television star in France. I remember when I met him, I thought he was the photographer for Italian Vogue and it turns out, he was a TV star. 

RADARONLINE.COM: We can’t wait to see—the promos for each episode get us so excited each week!

KELLY CUTRONE: I’m dying to know who that guy is that does the voiceovers for the Kell On Earth commercials. I was in my house eating dinner with my daughter one night and all of a sudden, they were like, ‘Some people call her the queen of mean.  One person calls her mommy.’  I was like, ‘Oh, no.  That guy has got to be stopped immediately.’ (laughing)

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