Happy homemakers? Not quite. Since The Real Housewives of New York City
premiered on Bravo last spring, one of the show's stars, Alex McCord, has dealt with nude photos of herself appearing on the Internet. Another, Bethenny Frankel, saw her (now-ex) boyfriend lose his Wall Street job just for appearing on the show. Now, as the watercooler hit begins its second season, a new woman, Kelly Killoren Bensimon, is about to stir things up. At least one of the outspoken housewives is ready for more fireworks. "I'm very spontaneous in what I say and do," says Ramona Singer. "It can be hurtful." Welcome to New York.
LUANN DE LESSEPS
Best-known for: Being bona fide nobility (since marrying Count Alexandre de Lesseps of France) and loving it.
Hidden Talent: Growing up with four brothers, the countess loved sports. "I'm secretly a jock," she says.
Season 2 preview: The Countess goes surfing! "I put on the wetsuit—which was really gross because it smelled," she says. "It's harder than it looks. But I did catch a few waves."
Best-known for: Her love of juicy gossip—and her distinctive raspy voice.
Job Perk: "I can't get enough of [seeing] myself on a billboard," says the marketing director. "I'll admit it's a little narcissistic, but how lucky am I?"
Season 2 preview: Think Extreme Makeover: Housewife style. "A big part is the renovation of my apartment," she says. "It was like a bomb shelter. I got rid of everything."
Best-known for: Her emotional outbursts.
Job Perk: "Doing the show has added spice to my marriage in a healthy way," says the jewelry-line owner.
Season 2 preview: "You're going to see a deeper friendship [between us]," she says. Fortunately, that means drama! "The more friendly you are, the more you can argue." Plus: Daughter Avery, 13, makes Mom nervous. Why? "She's a mini me!"
Best-known for: Her unwed status and sarcastic quips.
Searching for Mr. Right: Single again since her relationship with beau Jason ended after last season, the natural-food chef is looking for "someone who is powerful. I need a guy who can handle me, otherwise I'll run over someone."
Season 2 preview: Catfight alert! "I raise my fur, and claws come out. Audiences should expect a big meow."
Best-known for: Her omnipresent husband, Simon.
Craziest fan encounter: After an episode in which her older son François, 5, was shown attacking someone's meal, "this big-name celebrity pretended to be François," says McCord. "They reenacted him stabbing the burger at the 21 Club."
The downside of fame: "I had jury duty, and a clerk blogged about what I wrote on my juror questionnaire."