TV's Wildest New Divas Jersey Girls!

updated 06/15/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/15/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

They're the most watchable Garden State characters since the Sopranos—and like a wreck on the Turnpike, they stop traffic: When The Real Housewives of New Jersey's stars did a photo shoot at the Bendix Diner in Hasbrouck Heights May 21, so many drivers stopped to gawk that cars backed up for three miles. But watch the Mafia talk. "We're Jersey, we're Italian," says Caroline. "The similarity stops there." Another stereotype hits closer to home: "Jersey hair!" says Dina, laughing. "We make fun of it too."

Danielle Staub

Who is she? The only single Housewife, the divorced mom of two, 46, dated a 26-year-old guy on the show.

Fans are talking about: She bragged about phone sex. She threw a Botox party. And then came the real scandal: Reports of her past as a stripper with a criminal record surfaced (right, her mug shot ca. 1986), and the other Housewives pushed away. "People have issues," she says. "They're theirs, not mine.... I'm not a fighter, I'm a lover."

Dina Manzo

Who is she? The event planner and interior designer, 37, has a 13-year-old daughter.

Fans are talking about: Her lips. "They're real!" she says. "I take it as a backhanded compliment."

The downside of fame: When a fan said hello as she bought frozen pizzas at the grocery store, "I thought, 'Oh, no! It's gonna show up in the blogs that I can't cook!'"

Jacqueline Laurita

Who is she? Dina and Caroline's sister-in-law, 39, is a former cosmetologist turned stay-at-home mom.

Fans are talking about: She's having a baby! After suffering several miscarriages, she confirmed a third child was on the way just before the series premiere. She's due to give birth to son Nicholas on June 11. After she discussed her pregnancy difficulties on the show, many of her friends opened up. "I had no idea how many women I knew had been through the same thing."

Teresa Giudice

Who is she? A 36-year-old mom of three—and a fourth on the way, due in September.

Best new word: She altered the English language forever when she referred to her breasts as "bubbies."

Fans are talking about: When she appeared to drop $120,000 cash on furniture. "It's reality TV. It's fake! Hello! I don't want people thinking I carry that kind of cash on me," she says. But flipping a table in anger toward the end of the season? "That was real."

Caroline Manzo

Who is she? Dina's big sister, 47, is a mom of three with her own real estate business; her husband, Al, owns banquet facility the Brownstone.

Fans are talking about: Her gruff voice. "It bothers me. That's not what I hear in my head! But how many people get to see themselves from the outside looking in? It's quite an education."

Knew she was famous when: "I was out with Dina, and we heard people calling, 'Dina! Caroline!' We were like, 'Who are they calling?' It is very strange. But it's a great adventure, and I like an adventure."

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