Former 'Real Housewives' star Kristen Taekman talks life after Bravo as a lifestyle blogger (Exclusive)


It's been four years since Kristen Taekman left "The Real Housewives of New York City" after a memorable two-season stint in the Bravo hit, but she still feels very much a part of the Bravo family.

Taekman recently tagged along with longtime pal Brandi Glanville, herself a "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" alum, during her appearance on "Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen" alongside "Real Housewives of Orange County" star Kelly Dodd. Fans were thrilled to see the unlikely crew having a ball backstage at "WWHL," and it was just as fun for Taekman.

"The best best best part of me going to 'Watch What Happens Live' was that that’s how this whole thing started for me: A year before I was even asked to be a Housewife, my best girlfriend Brandi comes into New York City, she’s on a TV show, I’m her best girlfriend in the city, so she invites me to go out with her friends," Taekman told AOL's Gibson Johns during a recent phone interview. "I always knew that my experience on 'Housewives' was going to come full circle, and it has. It’s sort of ending how it started, which is true to who I am."

While she had fun dipping her toes back into the Bravo world, Taekman revealed to AOL that she actually turned down several invitations from Bethenny Frankel to come to events that were being filmed for "RHONY." Being around reality TV cameras just isn't something that she's interested in right now.

"I knew what was going on, but I didn’t go. I didn’t want to," Taekman explained. "I was like, 'I don’t really need to do this right now.' I’d love to come… if there are no cameras!"

Instead, the model is focused on her lifestyle blog, Last Night's Look, as well as being an InterContinental Ambassador. For more on what Kristen Taekman is up to now, her experience going back to "WWHL" and what she thought of Bethenny Frankel's decision to leave "The Real Housewives of New York City," read our her full interview with AOL below:

You recently got back from a trip to Europe, where you took advantage of the InterContinental Ambassador extension benefit. Talk to me about your trip -- the photos looked amazing!

A couple weeks ago I went to Paris and stayed at the InterContinental Le Grand, which was heavenly. That’s all I can say. Then I went to Edinburgh and stayed at The George. It’s really cool, because I feel like whenever anybody talks about Scotland, it’s on their bucket list, and it’s one of those places that wouldn’t be my first choice, but I’m so happy that I went. It was an epic experience.

I used to live in Paris, though, and I was a model, which was like my second of three or four lives. [Laughs] The area I was in was an awesome, central area with all the shopping right there. The hotel was unbelievable. I could go on and on, but part of the extension program was getting all of these awesome perks like the guaranteed room upgrade, so I had an unbelievable suite with a gorgeous balcony. There are all these other things that went along with the program, too, like the complimentary weekend night and late checkout. It’s silly to say that that’s a big deal, but it is. The biggest part of the program is the extension benefit, though. Everybody has these crazy life events that can come up, like starting a new job or having a baby, forcing your trip to change, but with the extension benefit program, they let you change your plans no questions asked. You can also put the whole thing on hold, which is huge, because everybody has things that can come up.

You mentioned having all of these different lives: Modeling, having kids, being on "Real Housewives," all of which involve such different types of traveling. I'm curious what the constant in traveling has been for you over the years? Are there things you abide by regardless of who you’re with or where you’re going?

Well, I consistently overpack! [Laughs] It’s a real problem, seriously. It’s absolutely ridiculous. I also always want to keep certain little things that always make me feel comfortable. I like unpacking and then repacking. I always have my bag of goodies ready to go, like toiletries, my passport, and this one pashmina that gets dry-cleaned and then gets put right back into my bag for the next trip. The amazing thing about traveling as part of the InterContinental Ambassador program is that they have everything there for you, so I’m not worried about forgetting anything.

Since leaving "Real Housewives," you're leaned into your career as a lifestyle blogger, which has brought you a ton of amazing experiences and you post truly amazing photos. But lifestyle bloggers and influencers can also get criticism online, too. Have you experienced any negative conversation around what you do? If so, how do you react to it?

I’m really true to what I do, and all of my different lives, so to speak, fall under the umbrella of Last Night’s Look, which is my blog. That’s the best thing about having it: My family and my children can fit into Last Night’s Look. My first and original life was modeling, and I’m circling back to doing quite a bit of that lately, too. I think that it’s just really true to who I am, and there are also different kinds of influencers: There are a handful of girls that started right when blogs became a thing, and you kind of want to bow down to them. They’re kind of like the "Real Housewives of Orange County." Those girls are Vicki [Gunvalson]. They paved the way for all of us, like Vicki and Ramona [Singer]. There’s plenty of room for everybody, and everyone’s got their little corner of the market, whatever that may be. There are micro-influencers, there are bigger ones and then there are the girls who are in the middle, and I think it’s kind of cool because I’ve had all of these different lives, and I’m older, so people kind of look to me for things like that. I’ve had just enough experience with all of it to really be able to brand myself as an influencer, because I’ve lived and breathed it. It’s just a matter of being true to what you’re doing.

It was such a pleasant surprise when I saw you pop up on the "Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen" social media accounts a few weeks ago, hanging out with with Kelly Dodd and Brandi Glanville backstage. What was the genesis of your friendship with Brandi?

It’s so funny, because I get that question all the time, and the best best best part of me going to “Watch What Happens Live” was that that’s how this whole thing started for me: A year before I was even asked to be a Housewife, my best girlfriend Brandi comes into New York City, she’s on a TV show, I’m her best girlfriend in the city, so she invites me to go out with her friends. I always knew that my experience on "Housewives" was going to come full circle, and it has. It’s sort of ending how it started, which is true to who I am. It’s like, "This is my friend, I’m going to support her," no matter what has happened in between all of that. Brandi was a bridesmaid in my wedding, and I’ve known her longer than I’ve known my husband, and I’ve known Josh for 18 years! Brandi and I go back 20 years. I was at her wedding, but we met when she was planning her wedding, so I went as my friend’s guest. She was a bridesmaid. I always like to say that [Brandi] was a bridesmaid in my wedding, because it tells you all that you need to know.

Instagram has helped a lot of former Housewives maintain their presence in the Bravo universe or the de facto sorority of Real Housewives alums. Have you felt that you've continued to be included in that club? You hear from Bravo fans in comments all the time.

It’s an awesome group, and it’s what you make of it. I definitely made the lemonade, so to speak. I don’t really think about it day-to-day, obviously, and you get the good with the bad on social media, but being back at "Watch What Happens Live," that’s when I really felt like I was part of the family. Andy [Cohen] came right up to me and it was so sweet. Out of the blue he was like, "Kristen Taekman had the best first season ever." I was thinking, "That’s a big deal, because there are a lot of big first seasons that have been had, and if he puts that on record saying that I was portrayed as my best in my first season, that’s kind of nice." It made me realize how cool this has been.

How much are you tapped into what’s happening on "RHONY" these days? Do you still watch?

Not so much. They must be filming now, but I don’t really know what’s going on now. There was one person they mentioned who had been filming this year, but I don’t remember who it was, so it went in one ear and out the other, but I’m not [tuned in] as much anymore. When Carole [Radziwill] was on it, I kind of got stuff from her, and last season I was invited to a couple of things, so I knew what was going on, but I didn’t go. I didn’t want to.

Was that a conscious decision, that you didn’t want to be featured on the show anymore?

I bumped into Bethenny [Frankel] a few times, and she had invited me to a few things, but I was like, "I don’t really need to do this right now." I’d love to come… if there are no cameras!

Her leaving the show kind of rocked the Bravo world earlier this year. A lot of people had feelings about her decision. What did you think about it? Do you think it was the right decision for her?

As a viewer and a fan of the show, I was like, "No!" Now there’s no Carole, no Bethenny, and I liked that sort of youthful vibe they had. Bethenny’s got a killer personality, and you need that hip downtown vibe again, so hopefully whoever they find new is similar. I could understand, though. She’s so busy, and I kind of feel like she just needs her own show again. I don’t think we’re done seeing her.

This interview has been edited and condensed.