If reality show stars have become synonymous with putting it all out there, then the TV executives behind the programs are typically thought of as just as happy to remain outside the spotlight. Not The Real Housewives producer, Watch What Happens Live and Radio Andy host, and bestselling author Andy Cohen. With his refreshing candor about his own life in each of his memoirs, he has set himself up as the star of his own reality show. In reading about his celebrity friendships, glamorous vacations and titillating dating life, we find that the real excitement in Cohen’s life isn’t happening on a Housewives reunion; it’s occurring off-screen. His latest book, Superficial: More Adventures From the Andy Cohen Diaries, is even more eye-opening.
The late-night talk show host will answer questions about the memoir and pretty much everything else when he hits San Francisco for the Commonwealth Club’s Andy Cohen and Anna Sale: Taboo Topics this Wednesday, Nov. 30 at 7 p.m.
“My life is really an open book,” Cohen told SF Weekly in a recent interview. “There is nothing off limits. I will talk about anything.” Cohen also opened up about his insecurities, falling in love again and what he’s learned from his rescue dog, Wacha.
What inspired you to write a follow-up to The Andy Cohen Diaries?
I was in such a groove from writing the first book that that’s why I kept going. I realized that I was very into this. That’s why I picked up a week later. I took a week off and thought, “Screw it, I’m going to keep doing this.” And I didn’t have a deal with my publisher to write a sequel. I was just doing it for myself, and I said, “You know what? I was kind of editing myself the first time, so I’m going to put everything in this. And then if I wind up selling it, I’m sure I’ll pull back and edit stuff down.” But I just wanted to go for it, and I did.
One of the things that kept coming up in Superficial is your self-consciousness around how others perceive you. Have you always felt this way or only since you’ve become a public figure?
It’s funny that you say that. I never was self-conscious till I got my own talk show. Look, when you put yourself out there, you start to wonder how you’re perceived. The truth is that your diary is the place where you write about everything, and some days I feel great and think I’m hilarious, and some days I feel like a piece of shit. Some days I wonder what people think of me and the perception they have of what I’m putting out there on my show or social media. I think that’s real. And that’s why I wanted this to be honest and real.
You mention your weight a lot in the book. Is that an ongoing insecurity?
No, it’s just a running thing. When you’re publishing your diary, you’re publishing your thoughts. But I don’t want it to seem like it’s something I obsess about, because, as you can see, I eat and drink exactly what I want. But when you’re on TV and have to look at your face every night in a monitor, it amplifies your consciousness about your appearance, and so that’s all. I think I was way more obsessed in the first book, and sometime in the middle of this book I stop weighing myself, and that’s that.
You talk about keeping busy to feel less lonely. At the same time, that loneliness keeps creeping in. How do you deal with that?
I think it’s a common feeling, and I think it’s honest of me to share that. Sometimes I get lonely; sometimes everyone gets lonely. Sometimes it’s shocking to read, because you think you know me and see me at my happiest and at my best, which is every night at 11. But yeah, when you’re alone or being quiet, you have these feelings. Those are moments you write about and think about, and they’re profound. What you’ll see is that I have a boyfriend now, so I’m less lonely. But I think it’s just life.
In the book, when you started dating your current boyfriend, you seemed to take things slowly. Was there a moment when it hit you that you only want to focus on him? What was that turning point?
I realized out of the blue one day that I’d been hanging out with him for many months, and I couldn’t think of anything wrong with him!
Last time I interviewed you, you said that falling in love doesn’t happen too often in a person’s lifetime. Are you currently in love?
I don’t want to put a label on it. I want to say that I’m in the middle of something very sweet. It’s cool that it started developing in the book, but I think that one of the reasons I stopped writing when I did is that I wanted to let it develop when I wasn’t reporting on my life.
Are kids something that you think about? If so, are you open to the idea of having them?
You mention your concern in the book that certain people are only around you because of your fame. Do you think that any of your celebrity friends feel the same about you?
I don’t have very many fake friends. I think at this point, my friends who are celebrities are friends for many years, and enduring friendships last because they’re real. There’s no question about the depth and why we’re friends.
You speak extensively in the book about your nervousness around running into people that you dished in the first book. Is there anyone that you’re nervous about running into this month because of things you’ve described about them in the new book?
Yes, plenty of people. But I don’t want to call them out because then they’ll see this!
Your affection for your rescue dog, Wacha seems to deepen in Superficial. How has your relationship with Wacha changed you?
I think that taking care of something just opened my heart in every way. It just made me reprioritize my life and think about my life differently.
Andy Cohen and Anna Sale: Taboo Topics, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 7 p.m., at Castro Theater, 429 Castro St., $15-$70, commonwealthclub.org