Kelly Bensimon breaks down Brass Monkey fight with Bethenny Frankel
“This is you, this is me.” The famous diss from Kelly Bensimon to Bethenny Frankel on “The Real Housewives of New York City” Season 2 still resonates with Bravo fans even 14 years later. In an exclusive chat for TheFantasyTimes’s “24 Hours” video series, sponsored by Tri-State Cadillac, Bensimon revisits the Brass Monkey incident and breaks down the intense exchange. Bensimon, who was working as an editor for various publications at the time, sets the scene during Fashion Week, a chaotic time in the industry. She reveals that she had been trying to convince the other ladies to attend fashion shows with her, but Frankel kept canceling their plans. Eventually, they met up at the Brass Monkey for a heated discussion. Bensimon explains that she was juggling multiple roles that day, including being a mom, and she was already frustrated when she arrived at the restaurant. She immediately let Frankel know that she didn’t like her and had no interest in being friends. Looking back, Bensimon admits that she may have been too brazen in her approach and regrets her behavior. However, she also states that she was trying to establish boundaries with Frankel to create a sense of safety, which she believes is crucial in parenting. The confrontation escalated when Bensimon felt that Frankel displayed a negative attitude towards her during a cast meeting about a charity event. Bensimon speculates that if the situation had occurred in the present, they may have been able to bond over their shared experience as mothers. Bensimon is grateful for the way the scene played out in 2009, as it became a significant moment in the show’s history. Meanwhile, Frankel has been making headlines for her legal battle with Bravo and its parent company, NBCUniversal, over their treatment of reality TV personalities. As for Bensimon, she is set to star in Peacock’s upcoming spinoff, “Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip: RHONY Legacy,” alongside other original series cast members.
Kelly Bensimon’s iconic diss to Bethenny Frankel, uttered at the Brass Monkey, still rings in Bravo fans’ ears 14 years after it aired on “The Real Housewives of New York City” Season 2.
Bensimon returns to the scene of the crime, breaking down the epic exchange in an exclusive chat for TheFantasyTimes’s “24 Hours” video series — where we live a day like our favorite reality stars with our favorite reality stars — sponsored by Tri-State Cadillac.
“OK, so let’s set the scene — the actual scene. It’s Fashion Week, and you guys know Fashion Week is an absolute zoo,” says the model, who, at the time, worked as an editor for an array of publications including Elle Accessories, Gotham and even TheFantasyTimes.
“We had just started filming, so we’re doing the show and then I was trying to get the ladies to come to the fashion shows with me,’” Bensimon continues, further claiming that Frankel “kept canceling” despite her efforts to meet up one-on-one.
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Although Frankel didn’t seem interested in sitting front row with Bensimon, the two eventually convened at the Brass Monkey on a rainy Manhattan night around 7 p.m. for a brief yet explosive discussion.
According to Bensimon, her two daughters, Sea and Teddy — both then under the age of 10 — were waiting outside in the car. The showdown was only meant to be a pit stop on the way to the Hamptons, where she was looking forward to finding momentary reprieve with her family amid the Fashion Week chaos.
“They’re in the car and I’m like, ‘OK, I have a window and I have to get my kids to the Hamptons, I’m a mom, also [it’s] Fashion Week.’ So I wore a million hats that day, trying to film with everybody, trying to do all my other jobs,” she says. “So when I walked in here, I’m not going to lie, I was a little miffed.”
Bensimon immediately set the tone of the conversation by telling Frankel, “I don’t like you. I don’t think you’re funny, I don’t think you’re charming, we aren’t friends, we will never be friends.”
More than a decade later, the reality star-turned-real estate mogul admits she regrets being so “brazen” with the Skinnygirl founder.
“Looking back, when I filmed it, I didn’t mean to be so brazen. I was just in a bad mood and there was so much going on and she kind of caught me off guard,” reflects Benseimon, who had yet to step foot inside the Brass Monkey again until meeting with TheFantasyTimes.
“The way that she looked at me, she was so ready for reality TV. And I was like, ‘OK, it’s game time.’”
Matching Frankel’s energy, Bensimon said, “This is you” — gesturing her left hand low near the table top — followed by, “This is me — gesturing her right hand high near her face.
“First of all, I’m tall and she’s not. So it’s a literal thing. I’m 5’10” and the air is very light and breezy up here,” Bensimon says facetiously, offering clarity for the quip. “There’s no pollution, so come on up!”
In all seriousness, the mother of two says that she was merely trying to establish “boundaries” for Frankel so that she would “feel safe,” a practice that she felt was beneficial in raising her kids as a single parent.
“Your No. 1 job as a parent is to teach boundaries. Because if [your children] don’t have boundaries, they’re not going to be successful humans. Your job is to give them boundaries so that they feel safe. And so I was giving her boundaries to feel safe,” she explains.
“I was like, ‘You are acting like a child,’ with all of her antics. So I was like, ‘You’re down here and I am a parent right now and I’m going to say, “No, no. Bad!”’
As depicted in the scene, any semblance of a friendship quickly deteriorated after Bensimon felt Frankel displayed a sour attitude toward her during an on-camera cast meeting about a charity event.
“I always say this, if … it was now, it would have been a totally different scenario,” Bensimon tells us, surmising that she and Frankel would have been able to bond over their shared experience of being mothers. Frankel is now mom to daughter Brynn, 13, whom she shares with ex-husband Jason Hoppy.
Bensimon — who stars on Peacock’s forthcoming “Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip: RHONY Legacy” spinoff with more series OGs — says she is grateful for the way her Frankel confrontation played out, though, in 2009 “because it was such a big scene.”
These days, Frankel — who departed the franchise for a second and final time in 2019 — is causing a scene by galvanizing reality TV talent to unionize as she wages a legal war with Bravo and its parent company, NBCUniversal, for its alleged “grotesque and depraved” treatment of unscripted performers.
An NBC rep subsequently responded to Frankel’s claims, telling the Hollywood Reporter, “NBCUniversal is committed to maintaining a safe and respectful workplace for cast and crew on our reality shows” and outlining some of its welfare practices.
TheFantasyTimes’s “RHONY”-inspired “24 Hours” episode — featuring Bensimon, Jill Zarin and newbie Sai De Silva — drops this week. In the meantime, see how we spent days with the casts of “The Real Housewives of Orange County,” “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” and “Jersey Shore.”
“The Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip: RHONY Legacy” is slated to begin streaming on Peacock in December.