The Australian version of our favorite trashy TV show, Real Housewives of Melbourne, has finally arrived. I caught up with two of the wives to chat about the highs and lows of their luxurious lives, love and reality tv.
Janet Roach is recently separated and owns a property development company. She was born in Gympie, Queensland and has two children.
Jackie Gillies is a Psychic with a wait list of three years for appointments at $495 for a half-hour session. She is also the wife of Ben Gillies of rock band Silverchair. They moved from Newcastle, NSW to Melbourne just before filming started on the show.
What attracted you to the show?
Janet: They approached us. One of the production crew called me and said they had been trying to get me for two weeks. They asked a lot of people around Melbourne who would be good for the show and I was on about five lists. I had just left my husband after 17 years and it was a bit messy so I wasn’t sure about doing the show. I was talking about it with my mother and she said to me, ‘darling the only things I regret are the things I haven’t done.’ How many people come up to you and say ‘would you like to have your own reality TV show?’ I mean at my age, 55, I thought to myself ‘I’m going to have a go and have some fun with it.’
Jackie: My best friend is (former Project Runway star) Henry Roth and he put me forward. We were thinking of moving to Melbourne anyway because Ben (husband Ben Gillies of rock band Silverchair) wanted to record a new album for his solo project Bento. We were tossing up between LA and Melbourne and when this came up for me it just made sense.
Newcastle and Melbourne so different and you had to settle in to a new city with the cameras rolling Jackie, what was that like?
Jackie: I was born in Croatia and we still have properties there and Melbourne is so Euro I felt right at home. I love Melbourne, we had spent a lot of time there anyway so we knew it really well.
Janet: The crew were really understanding and experienced and helped us get through the filming so much.
Have you seen the other Real Housewives shows?
Jackie: I LOVE them! My favorite two are Beverly Hills and New York and I LOVE Nene Leakes! In the US they amp it up a lot but here we are a bit more reserved.
Janet: No! I had no idea what Housewives was!
What do you think you bring to the show?
Jackie: Truth, what you see is what you get with me, I’m no BS. Janet and I are like Thelma and Louise we have become best friends!
Janet: We are best friends, we always sit together and want to do things like this promotional tour together. The other girls don’t like that very much! I think the producers liked me because I had just left my husband after 17 years and I went through quite a messy part of my life and it was all being filmed.
Jackie: But it’s all very inspirational, so many women connect with that. So many women stay with their man or are afraid to leave and maybe you will be an inspiration to them?
Janet: My life is so much more fun now! At first you think, it’s going to be terrible, I’m going to be alone. I’m going to be lonely but my life is so great. I was offered the show three months after I left him and he was unhappy about me doing the show.
In the show you are looking for love Janet, do you find it?
Janet: (laughs) I sort of worked out that the idea of looking for a man wasn’t for me – I thought “why do I need a man?” – I can support myself, I had already had a family, I have a great life, I have wonderful friends who are great company. There is one area that there just has to be a man – so … I have found this 35-year-old man I have become friendly with and we are having a non-committal relationship and it really suits me!
How are you finding the dating world?
Janet: When I was last single we didn’t have mobile phones so there is whole new world and there is a way to text and I write these long letters and I get in trouble. It’s all new!
Jackie, how did you build up your business to the point where you have a three-year wait list?
Jackie: I am a massive manifestation. Everything I have to this day I used to put up on boards, from houses to overseas trips and boats and everyone used to laugh at me, even my parents. They would say ‘you are not going have that’ and I’d say ‘just you wait’ so I would be driving around in a car that wasn’t working but I just really believed it! I started doing readings 10 years ago and after my first one I was booked out for a week, then a month and now three years in advance. My whole belief is that it was the universe and if you do everything with the right intent and a pure heart, you will always be looked after.
Fashion is a big part of the show, tell us about your style.
Jackie: I go straight onto Net-a-Porter cause I get bored shopping. I shop online. If I have something coming up I’ll go to Willow or Camilla & Marc and get something but it’s so much easier to shop online. I like mixing high-end with high-street pieces.
Janet: I don’t really do shopping either. I have always worked and I have brought up five children (three step children) and I never had time to go and do a leisurely shop. I go to La Louvre in Melbourne and I get most of the my things from there or I go online and I make all these late-night purchases and forget what I have bought so it’s always a surprise when the packages arrive.
How has the show changed your life?
Janet: You learn so much about yourself when you are exhausted and under pressure from other people and we are running our own businesses and lives and then adding three, four, five days of filming on top of that. You have people you are not getting on with and in your real life you can just give them a wide berth but you are stuck with them through the filming and seeing them almost everyday and that is why it’s very tense. There is one of the housewives that would come hours late to the filming and you’d be thinking, I could be at work. You learn a lot about yourself and what you will and won’t put up with. In your normal life you wouldn’t get tested like that.
Jackie, how are things with you and Gina, you had a run in with her in the first episode of the show?
Jackie: (silence – wide eyes – looks at Janet) I’ll let you answer that.
Janet: Ok, look, you know, I’ve worked it out now. She used to annoy me and everyone but she has these massive attention seeking issues and you know, now that I realize that, it’s sad to be Gina. At first I thought she was being deliberately difficult but now I know, she can’t help it.
Jackie: I have to bless her with love and light and shine, shine, shine!
How will you handle it when people start to watch the show and your fame increases?
Janet: I watch the show and I think ‘I hate those clothes now, I hate that hairstyle,’ it’s almost a year ago since filming.
Jackie: You do start to see people change, I’m lucky enough to be with someone who is really down-to-earth, I’m not the celebrity, my husband is. I’m just doing a show, I’m being myself.