Alison Berkley: The Princess’s Palate
I was watching “Secrets of Aspen” on VH1 the other day and thinking it’s probably time for me to move.I get it that a reality TV show is about as real as my cleavage when I wear one of those prosthesis-style padded bras from Victoria’s Secret that maintains its shape even when I take it off. I understand what makes Aspen special is the community of liberal-minded, forward-thinking, sporty folks who found a utopia here in the mountains. I also realize I’m one to talk: I’ve been divulging my own little Secrets of Aspen for seven years now that aren’t altogether different from what I saw on that show.Still, while “Secrets of Aspen” has nothing to do with Aspen, it has everything to do with what I hate about Aspen.Sure there are things you can do to avoid it. Like, you can choose the Eagle’s Club over the Caribou Club. You can choose Burnt Mountain over Red Mountain. If you really know how to do it right, you can spend a lot less and live a lot more and have even more access than the people who are paying for it.But there are also times when it’s impossible to ignore.Like just the other day, Ryan and I went to the Pine Creek Cookhouse. Despite our effort to avoid the crowds on New Year’s Day, we were seated next to a very large, very obnoxious table. One of my favorite things to do is to try to guess where people are from. I can usually tell just by the way they’re dressed. This table was an easy one: They were all wearing sunglasses inside. The women all had very long hair (extensions), gigantic boobs (fake), and were with men who were at least a decade older then them (second marriage, maybe third). My guess is they were so totally from LA.”Is anyone Jewish at this table?” one of the guys asks. They’re on their fourth or fifth round of drinks and the volume is going up. I lean over the way my mom taught me, to maximize my eavesdropping without being obvious and turning my head.I assume they all shake their heads “no” because the next thing the guy says is, “What’s with all the Jews in this town? It’s like Hollywood! They’re everywhere.”I have my back to them but Ryan is facing them and has a full view. “Jesus, look at that girl’s fake boobs,” he says. “They’re huge!”So it wasn’t all that surprising when the big-fake-boob-girl turns out to be Shana, one of the cast members on the show.”Fake boob girl! Fake boob girl!” Ryan says, pointing at the TV and grunting and pounding his chest like a gorilla. Okay maybe I’m exaggerating, but that’s the type of response that’s elicited from watching this kind of programming.Don’t get me wrong. We watch stuff like this all the time. We are huge fans of “Tough Love” and even “Daisy of Love” and “Rock of Love” even though I sort of hate it. But I get it. It’s mind-numbing, lowest-common-denominator kind of stuff. It’s sort of like being asleep while you’re awake or getting a lobotomy without having to go through surgery. There is absolutely no thinking involved.But when said reality show is about your reality, it’s a little uncomfortable. It’s too close for comfort. It’s like over-hearing your parents have sex or catching your little brother jacking off in the bathroom because he forgot to lock the door. It makes you shudder. It’s creepy and weird. Like, I do know a couple of these people. They’re more acquaintances than friends, but I know them. As the show would suggest, I’m one of those people who works for them as one of my three jobs. I don’t know them well enough to say, “What does your ex-husband think of this?” or “What do your teenage daughters think of this?” But I gotta wonder: Did they know what they were getting themselves into, or are they shocked and humiliated by the way this thing was edited?I did request an interview with one of the cast members. I told her we could do a Q&A so it could be in her own words, so she could have a chance to respond to some of the criticism, but she declined. “I’m under a confidentiality contract not to, so my official statement is ‘no comment.’ I’m sorry bella …” she wrote.So we know the show is heavily edited and probably scripted. But like any stereotype, there’s some truth to it, it’s just been exaggerated. Like, not only do I know some of these women, I know a few women who are like the ones I don’t know. And that’s the part of Aspen I don’t like.It’s not that I’m judging them. It’s that I’ve often thought I would become one of them, if only I could afford it.You know what I’m talking about, these women who are designer dressed and well groomed and enhanced with every cosmetic procedure available. And I think to myself, maybe money can’t buy you love but it sure as hell can buy you appearances. So what if you’re divorced only to find yourself having to face the singles party scene in your mid 40s? As long as you spent all this time and money to look hot, you might as well try to be the center of attention. If that means having a camera crew from VH1 follow you around and then make a mockery of your behavior on national TV, so be it. These women must have known what they were getting themselves into when they signed up to do this show.I’ll let you in on my little Aspen Secret: I’m just bitter I wasn’t cast on the show.
The Princess admits she has thought about getting a nose job. E-mail your love to firstname.lastname@example.org
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From behind the scenes, the sights and sounds of horse and cattle, and the raucous lifestyle of rodeo culture hasn’t changed all that much since the Snowmass Rodeo arena opened here in the summer of 1973.