South Beach was sizzling with sexiness this weekend when TV stars Guiliana Rancic, Karina Smirnoff and Kelly Killoren Bensimon attended the Spiegel Swim and Travel Launch Party at the Rooftop at the Gansevoort on Sunday.
Bensimon, a former Spiegel model, chatted with us while she soaked up some rays. Stunning in a black one-piece swimsuit, Bensimon is prettier in person than she is on TV. But looks aside, she’s also got a what you see is what you get attitude, which of course is what makes her so fun to watch on The Real Housewives of New York City. “I’m always the same,” she said. “People are like, ‘You have not changed since you were a kid.’ ” Something that did change her was a recent trip to Haiti where she helped build wells with the folks from Generosity Water. She called the trip an “incredibly humbling experience” because of the country’s “sense of hope.” “I saw children who had no water, barely any food and no shoes,” but they were “smiling and laughing and having a really great time with the life they had.” She doesn’t take her role on Housewives that seriously. To her it’s fun, even last season’s fights with former cast mate Bethenny Frankel. “If we never had those altercations then the show wouldn’t have been what it is. People wouldn’t be interested.” She says viewers saw “Bethenny as an underdog” but that she’s “very strategic and has a strong agenda about what she wants. But I’m just having a good time.” Being a Housewife has paid off for the model/writer. Currently she’s working on relaunching American Style mag and In the Spirit of the Hamptons. “I would definitely like to write more, and I have ideas of writing a book, but I’m not sure what I want to do yet,” she said. “I just don’t want it to be, ‘I’m on reality TV so let me write a book.’ ”When asked about the ladies from Real Housewives of Miami, Bensimon smiled. “I saw one scene where they were wearing jewelry while cooking, and I was like, jewelry looks really good with food!” As for Karina Smirnoff, Bensimon admires her dance moves. “Karina taught me how to chair dance; we do it on the show.” Smirnoff says the hit show has taken ballroom dancing to a new level. “It’s helped dancers cross over into the general public,” she said. “People come up in the street and recognize us. They love the show, and they love what what we do.” Life’s been crazy for the dancing champ. She’s planning a wedding (to fiance Brad Penny) and promoting a shoe and makeup line and fitness DVD. But her main focus is winning the mirror ball trophy. This season she’s partnered with The Karate Kid’s Ralph Macchio. “I get to dance with iconic legend, Daniel LeRusso. How cool is that?” So what can we expect this season? “It’s going to be one of the better ones, especially with Kirstie Alley,” she said. “I love that she decided to do the show. She’s got such a big personality, and I can’t wait to see her dance.” Micaela Hood