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Housewives Institute Newsletter: Growing Pains at BravoCon

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More fans, more money, more problems.

Photo: Ralph Bavaro/Bravo via Getty Images

The melee wasn’t even over before I started getting texts about it. “Is it really that bad?” Sitting in the front row on a Friday afternoon, a friend asked The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills panel. until then one tweet showing stampede (to use the term loosely) she’s getting on the panel and making BravoCon look like the Fyre Festival was starting to circulate among Housewives’ chatter classes. At that point, yes, it was that bad.

Around 13:15, RHOBH As the panel was about to begin, I took my press credentials and got in the front row. The problem was that security didn’t vacate the hall – one in three at the event – and people remained on the previous panel. Due to the lack of security at the gate and a line stretching halfway to the Javits Center, the participants began to attack the hall. Inside was a free place for everyone: those who paid extra for VIP (about $1,000 for a three-day weekend) and SVIP tickets (about $2,500) had no and almost non-existent front seats reserved for themselves. enough chairs for everyone, so the rest took over the aisles and essentially staged a sit-in in front of the stage. The atmosphere was borderline brutal, with attendees shouting at inadequate security and not everyone being sure how the situation would develop. I’m sitting in my chair, camera ready, because at any moment it looked like a riot might break out that should be preserved for Instagram history.

This was the first big indication that BravoCon was perhaps getting a little too big. The first was made in 2019, just before our lives were changed forever, thanks to a tiny microbe with a very prickly bark. In Midtown Manhattan, there were about 10,000 people spread across the many venues, often surrounding the Hammerstein Ballroom, which hosted the largest panels. Now Bravo estimated that it would serve 35,000 people over the three-day weekend, take over the city’s cave convention center, and the Hammerstein Ballroom would be reserved for live recordings. Watch What’s Happening Livewill be released this week and is the first Legends Ballwhich has already been published.

Finally Beverly Hills panel calms down. The guest services chief got on the mic and cleared the aisles very efficiently, putting the crowd behind barriers on either side of the stage. The curtains separating the room from the hall have been pulled back so everyone can stand outside the “room” and watch. SVIPs were allowed to sit in front of the stage. It just started 30 minutes late.

However, this did not completely suppress the chaos. A woman standing next to me smelled drunk by 2am, finished at least two drinks during the panel and giggled the entire time. Lisa Rinna took the stage to boo loudly and responded by turning everyone into birds. Security surrounded the stage and the participants at all times. The moderator of the panel, Brad Goreski, looked agitated and struggled to keep the conversation going, especially as the crowd shouted orders at him. “Switch to Rinna!” Someone asked while Kristal Kung was asking Minkoff questions.

Weekend problems were not limited to these. RHOBH panel. The queues were long and the bathrooms scant – so few even Real Housewives of Miami Larsa Pippen had to wait, but she spent her time taking selfies as everyone lined up for the toilet. A bartender told me that by Friday most bars are out of booze and by Saturday morning they’re out of rosé and vodka, which may explain why things seem calmer and more orderly for the rest of the weekend.

In fact, I’d say it almost calmed down on a Sunday afternoon. Did they really run out of drinks, or was it just another stab at crowd control? After Friday’s mishap, Saturday saw dozens of new security guards in blue shirts be summoned overnight to open the doors of the rooms hosting the panels. In addition, rooms were cleaned after each event and identity checks were made to ensure that people were seated in appropriate sections. These SVIPs would get their money’s worth.

Speaking of which, the distinction between rich and poor at BravoCon seemed sharper than in the first iteration. Two women I spoke with (who I met earlier when we went on vacation with Vicki, as detailed in my book) said they bought general admission tickets because they skipped through all the panels they wanted last time. This year, however, they have been excluded from many of them. Getting a seat with a GA wristband often meant getting in line and eating most of the day an hour before an event’s advertised start time. A couple I chatted with in line likened it to waiting four hours to get on a roller coaster. When I asked if both sets would receive VIP or SVIP badges next year, they said yes without hesitation.

One of my favorite things about the opening BravoCon was that you had to walk the streets of New York City to get from venue to venue. That made Manhattan fifth Sex and the City character and unofficial seventh Housewife RHONYis part of the experience. But the Javits Center is full of character in Cincinnati or St. Louis or Los Angeles. Why is this happening in the city and you’re putting everyone in a concrete cave? Also, since there were so many venues last time, attendees might stumble upon Sonja Morgan walking down the street or catch Kyle Richards getting out of the car. Here, the Bravolebs were all held backstage so no one could see their favourites.

Unless of course they paid. There was a hall for the SVIPs, which also served as a green room for talent. While I was hanging out I saw Kenya Moore, Luke Gulbranson, Shep Rose, Heather Gay, Ciara Miller, Austen Kroll and a few others who were happy to chat and take pictures with their fans. If any of these people walked unaccompanied in the meeting room, they would be dismembered like a moldy scarecrow. The SVIP room also had plenty of drinks, lots of water, tons of food, and more Lays potato chips than you’d find in the 20 stone pantry. (Lays was a sponsor.) The other way to see some Bravolebs was to pay extra for one of the “Bravopolooza” events. Each day, limited to 100 people, each event offered a bag of Bravolebs and the chance to interact with them without prior knowledge of who would be there or whether you were watching their show. Costing about $100, these were sold out before the weekend started.

But for those who didn’t buy tickets or SVIP, the only way to get a photo was to wait in line for one of the photo shoots. Many fans waited two and a half hours for the Sonja Morgan and Luann de Lesseps photo shoot, where the stars were over an hour late. According to one person in line, Luann came for about five minutes and then left. She is finally back, but the duo went to their next event before the lineup closed.

But while upselling, incorporation, and lines are unfortunate, they’re also the kind of stuff cooked in any convention experience. Bravo is here to make money, not lose, and if these strategies allow them to deliver a quality event for fans in the process, so be it. And it’s hard to deny that this year’s experiences – like the giant carousel in the middle of the convention floor, different themed opportunities to take pictures – are a step up from last time, such as the Housewives Museum and the rigging of the stages. (Although one of the stages was very cavernous, the sound echoed and was nearly impossible to hear unless there was a smack in the middle.)

Also stepped up is Bravo Bazaar, where you can buy everything from She by Shereé runners to Onyi Home Essential candles. (Unfortunately, they only had one wick.) The staff had underwear. Family Mix, Gina Kirschenheiter’s CaraGala skincare and bandless Kenya Moore Hair Care. There must have been around 50 booths, many boasting of the photo shoots Bravoleb paid for them. (Lisa Rinna opted for a Rinna Beauty truck parked next to Javits Center instead of taking a booth, a move I’m surprised there wasn’t much more.) Unfortunately, none of the liquor brands were able to sell them and had to offer free samples instead. Sorry, no Loveboy for you. Personally, I bought two Karen Huger three wicks and a pair of She by Shereé socks in the spirit of BravoCon, which were 30 percent off but 20 percent off in the spirit of BravoCon.

Like everything else, the stands didn’t come cheap. I spoke to the owner of Royce & Rocket, a new brand of suitcases with built-in racks and retails for about $700, and he said he paid about $10,000 for his stand. Sales were slightly lower than he expected, but he appreciated that hiss was a bigger ticket, which may explain why not everyone is dropping their Capital One cards. She said she didn’t know anything about Housewives before signing up, but she knew this would be the perfect event to build brand awareness with a group of women who have money to burn and love to travel. Don O’Connell, CEO of lab-grown diamond jewelry brand Charles & Colvard, handed out free gifts to some of the network’s biggest stars over the weekend, which he also said was mostly about building brand awareness. “We knew they would bring in the crowd,” he said of BravoCon. “Now it’s just about getting the crowd together.”

To me, this gets to the heart of everything that went wrong over the weekend, including the Great Beverly Hills Melee in 2022. Fans of housewives are always underestimated – our intelligence, taste, thirst (especially for liquor), devotion. something we know is completely ridiculous – but it was surprising that Bravo himself underestimated us. He underestimated how many people would be there, how drunk they would be, how much they would have to pee, and how rabid they would be to take a shitty picture of Andy Cohen over 400 other crowds. (They knew I would be an excellent moderator, and I had the pleasure of hosting a panel Friday morning featuring a collection of stars from non-Housewives shows.)

This disdain can and hopefully will be corrected in future installments, which seems like an annual (and highly lucrative) event. Then all that’s left is the goodness – and despite my complaints, many of which were shared by the dozens of attendees I chatted with over the weekend, there was a lot of good and we’re all glad we went. . As long as DJ James Kennedy stood in the middle of a panel and asked to take a bath while his mic was still warm, the rumors flowed, the friendship was heartwarming, and people’s dreams came true.

The weekend reminded me of many things. First of all, these Lay’s are delicious. (Reminder, Housewives Institute will consider all corporate sponsorship opportunities.) But for the most part, Housewives fans are the best fans in the world, as Andy Cohen says. No one is as busy as he is and no one is as passionate as him. One of the bartenders told me they had been working at ComicCon the previous week, and the biggest difference was how much Housewives fans drank. But the second biggest difference is how much they love it. all of these. ComicCon fans should go to Marvel or Harry Potter or anime; Bravo fans have each to show, each personality, each the stray thing that has nothing to do with his greatest passions. This event will therefore continue to attract crowds year after year. Now all we have to do is put them in order.