Andy Cohen put himself in the hot seat for a high-octane start to BravoCon 2023.
The face and central nervous system of the Bravo network and its many reality franchises kicked off a weekend of panels, cocktail parties and a bedazzled trade show on Friday in Las Vegas. Held at the Caesars Forum just off the strip, Cohen sat with longtime friend and ex-Bravo talent Jeff Lewis to field questions from devout fans. Not all were softballs.
More from Variety
An attendee named Alexandra felt the line of questioning Cohen was receiving wasn’t “messy” enough, so she raised the issue of “the reality reckoning” — a concept introduced by rogue former “Real Housewives of New York” cast member Bethenny Frankel. This so-called reckoning seeks not only to unionize reality television stars, but also to call out alleged problematic behavior perpetrated by cast members, individual show producers and Bravo itself. Many of these issues were outlined in a recent Vanity Fair story in which former cast members (including Frankel) discussed drinking to excess with no intervention from production, as well as alleged unchecked aggressions against people of color.
While the exposé landed with a bit of the thud, Cohen was nonetheless asked how he felt about it.
“My thoughts are that Bravo and the shows … bring millions of people so much joy and so much happiness. Which is why we’re all here. I live in the joy that thee shows bring people, and that’s the place that I’m at,” said Cohen. Variety caught up with Cohen backstage following his opener, where he called the piece “a factually inaccurate rehash.” He did not elaborate on what elements of the story he found to be inaccurate.
Curbing Cohen’s cheerful outlook with corrosive cynicism was Lewis, who took cheap shots at cast members like Monica Garcia of “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City,” a mom of four who is open about her financial struggles. Lewis was incredulous that Garcia belonged on a show that typically showcases affluent women and their excesses, saying Garcia was on “food stamps” and likely delinquent on her car payments. Not even Cohen was safe, as Lewis brought up June scandal in which Cohen was secretly filmed at a club during New York City’s Pride celebration getting intimate with another man. Fans quickly rallied around Cohen, saying it was a violation of his privacy.
“With all due respect, it was gay pride weekend. I was out, I’m a single man. Someone took a video of me, it was really not cool,” Cohen said, adding that Lewis was “shaming him.” He added that the man he was filmed with, who rocked nipple piercings, still keeps in touch via text.
The first BravoCon was mounted in 2019, inviting fans from across the U.S. to worship at the altar of reality television. After a memorably hectic 2022 convention at New York’s Javits Center, BravoCon has moved to Las Vegas, where women and gay men of all stripes will destroy the pristine new convention center Caesars Forum.
Best of Variety