The reality-TV “Queen of Mean” isn’t as scary as you think.
If you’re one of the million-plus Canadians who tuned into The Real Housewives of Vancouver, you know Jody Claman as the show’s “Queen of Mean,” whose blunt opinions often put her at odds with the other women. You probably know she’s a mother of three and owns a successful catering business, fine-food shop and clothing boutique in chi-chi West Vancouver, but you may not know that she’s the niece of Dolores Claman, famed for writing the iconic Hockey Night in Canada theme song, and is actively involved in her Larry Lunchbucket charity organization, through which she cooks and delivers meals to the homeless Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
I met Jody in her Glass House boutique in West Vancouver, where we chatted about becoming an overnight celebrity, her thoughts on the show’s success and how she’s handling being a reality-show “villain.”
You’re in a unique position among the other women on the show in that you’re usually here in your store, kind of on display for anyone who wants to come find you.
Yes, and it’s so interesting because of the dynamics. People come in and go, “Ooh, there she is — the corporate barracuda! But she’s so nice.” Well, no shit, Sherlock. Obviously I’m nice! I’ve been in business almost 30 years. I’ve made a lot of money from my clients because I’m kind to them, and they trust me. I think the reason I’m successful is because I’m honest. You have to be honorable in life, and be honest and not delusional.
But in terms of the show, your honesty seems to have given you a certain reputation. When I mentioned to someone in my office that I was going to interview you, she said, “Aren’t you scared?” How are you dealing with that perception that’s out there?
I’m not a mean person by any regard. Do I have a different perspective than the other girls? For sure. They have their lives, they’re all part of a community like myself, but I’m a businessperson, so time is money. I don’t have a lot of time to sit around and talk about how my husband has cheated on me 23 times, and if he did I certainly wouldn’t air it. It’s a reaction to information I’ve been given and that’s how I reacted; they just forgot to put in the other four hours of what happened leading up to it. Look, I’m very concerned about the word “bullying,” because I’ve never bullied anyone, and I have three children and we’ve all had struggles in our lives. I really am cross that word is being used, because I’ve never been a bully and I’m not bossy. Yes, I’m very bright and I’m opinionated, 150 per cent. But we have these five different characters. We have the gold digger, we have the sweet, sweet, dumb, delusional pop star, we have the terminator mob wife, we have the wealthy, superstar glorious Ronnie, and then we have me, the businessperson.
When your friends and family found out you were going to do this, what were their reactions.
They were appalled. My husband said, “Absolutely not, no hope in hell are you to do that.” So I signed the documents, came home and told him. He was not very pleased.
What about now that the show’s been on?
I don’t think his reaction has changed.
Have you given any thought to why the show has taken off the way it has?
I think the dynamics of the five women are so unique, and it’s real. I mean, Christina really is that girl. Mary really is that girl, and Jody is that girl. Since doing this show, I’ve watched some of the other Real Housewives shows, and they don’t have the same kind of cast. This cast is crazy!
When people do approach you, is there one question you’re commonly asked?
The question that I get asked most is, “I know that’s not real.” Excuse me? I don’t know about the other girls, but I was 150-per-cent myself. I cry, I laugh, it’s incredible highs and extreme lows. I broke out in hives, I got pneumonia, my best friend was killed in a plane crash in Russia. My life did not miss a beat. But yes, it’s real on my end. Everything I said was real. It’s me.
When you’re on a show like this, to a certain extent you set yourself up to be judged by people.
I love haters, because haters have made me really exposed. Because every time they tweet something negative about me, or something negative about the other girls, it all pops up – Jody Claman, the villain, the villain. I’m not offended by it. I think when people get to know me they see that I’m a good person. I sit on boards, I’m involved in charities, I have three kids. The community knows me.
The show premiered to huge ratings, so what has it been like for you to be an instant celebrity. Has it felt like zero to 60?
More like zero to 2,000! I’m overwhelmed, I’ll be really frank. I never wanted to be famous, and certainly nobody in my family wanted to be famous. But now I see tweets like, “Omigod, Jody Claman is driving next to me!” We have people come into the store, and stand in the doorway and just stare at me . . . I genuinely was told by my producer, “Your life wont change much, this is Canada, not much is going to be different, people are going to leave you alone.” Then, after the craziness of the first week, they said, “Oh, don’t worry, it’ll die down.” But it’s only getting worse [laughing].
You may not want to be famous, but at this point that may not be up to you. If this is the way things are going to be, how do you plan to handle it?
Look at me – I have a pen in my hair! I don’t know, I guess I’ll have to get another therapist [laughing]. Today I got a call asking about my agent, my manager, and I’m like, “No, it’s me, Jody.” You know, I wanted to wait six months and see what happens, because I am a businessperson. My attitude is, let’s enjoy this short little window and see where it leads, but each week it just seems to grow, and get a little weirder. I’m like, “Wow, do I really need a manager?” Shocking!