Lisa Barlow will travel across the country for Fendi, despite the distance between Salt Lake City’s snow-covered streets and New York Fashion Week. “I do a lot of shopping. In reference to her three seasons and counting as a cast member on The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City, Barlow, 47, says, “I wear a lot of Fendi on the show. Housewives are used to being close to the glitterati, in this case at a Fendi event attended by celebrities like Sarah Jessica Parker and Kim Kardashian. Barlow, however, is quick to reassure me that Fendi had her number before Bravo. She claims, “I have a great network and I was invited to go.” ‘Oh, [you were invited] because you’re a Housewife,’ people say. ‘No, that would probably deter me from coming.’
This statement is practically modest coming from a woman who once called herself “an amazing human being” on national television. Barlow’s Diet Coke-drinking, Taco Bell-loving, New York accented bravado has won her legions of fans and earned her the coveted title of ” ” even though her RHOSLC cast mates have accused her of over-orchestrating plot points to protect her image.center snowflake” in the current opening credits of the program. Barlow didn’t have to publicly admit her own frailty beneath her carefully curated, Fendi-clad exterior until she was caught on a hot mic in Season 2 calling her former best friend Meredith Marks a “garbage whore” who “f*cked half of New York” in a shocking, expletive-laden rant off-camera. But in the world of the Housewives, where being messy and being likeable aren’t mutually exclusive — together, they’re what make you a star — the incident only helped her reputation.
“Authenticity is the quality that draws people to any Housewife. According to Brian Moylan, author of The Housewives: The Real Story Behind the Real Housewives, Lisa is always being “100% herself.” “She looks nice. All she eats is fast food. She almost resembles a cartoon antagonist because she calls people “baby gorgeous,” but you also kind of love her. She’s a bitch but also somewhat of an outsider. She’s also nice, though.
I genuinely believe that my Mormon conversion gave me the life I have today. It changed my course for the better.
Fans were unconvinced by Barlow’s attempts to apologise to Marks’ husband Seth in the first episode of Season 3, which started airing weekly on Bravo September, despite the fact that she had apologized to Marks at the RHOSLC Season 2 reunion in March 2022. 28. The apology tour is officially over when I meet Barlow in New York after she makes an appearance on Watch What Happens Live. She is much more eager to discuss the hurt she was feeling prior to the hot-mic moment than the pain it caused Marks, while sipping a Diet Coke and munching on a fun-sized candy bar. Barlow claims, “I’m more sensitive than people give me credit for. I believe that in trying to defend others, I have injured myself.
One person who will always be on Barlow’s side is her husband John. Bravo producers once winked at him when they questioned him in an early RHOSLC confessional interview about whether Lisa had coached him for it because of his unwavering support of his wife. Regarding the less than flattering aspects of his wife’s TV portrayal, he says, “Some of the other Housewives narrate who Lisa is.” “They portray to the audience what they experience. I’m not sure if Lisa has the chance to truly express who she is.
And who is she? “Lisa’s amazing,” he says.
Barlow, the middle child of five sisters and a brother, grew up on Long Island and close to Albany, New York, and has always been drawn to the high life. She used to take the train into New York City as a teenager to go vintage shopping and look through shops in Greenwich Village and Soho for vintage Levis. At night, she would go clubbing at ’90s hotspots like Palladium and Limelight. No one [in my family] would have known for a few weeks if I had been trafficked or kidnapped, jokes Barlow. Barlow was experiencing a religious awakening while she was frolicking around Manhattan. Years earlier, missionaries had knocked on their door, and the family was becoming more involved in the church when she and her family decided to convert to Mormonism. It “just felt right” for us. I appreciate all religions’ emphasis on family and the teachings of Jesus. The LDS faith really emphasizes it, according to Barlow. “I genuinely believe that my Mormon conversion gave me the life I have today. If we hadn’t become members of the LDS faith, it would have led me down a different path.
Barlow’s growing commitment to her religion prompted her to relocate to Salt Lake City in order to enroll at the largely Mormon Brigham Young University. Barlow describes her time at BYU as challenging but adds, “I absolutely loved it, but after one semester I went home.” Barlow stood out in the homogenous environment of Salt Lake City with her Keratin-straight raven hair, a wardrobe that leans heavily on black, and an I’m walking here way of talking with her hands — and not in a good way. Everyone has blonde hair and blue eyes, my mother said. No one around here finds you attractive,'” she recollects. “Where are you from? was a frequent question people would ask me. Just who are you? I asked, “What do you mean, who or what am I?” I’m from New York.
Despite returning to New York to complete her studies at the State University of New York at Albany, Barlow’s faith ultimately led her to return to Salt Lake, where she has now been living with her husband for more than 20 years. Barlow revealed on RHOSLC that John had dated her sister before they had gotten together, but as is frequently the case on reality TV, the nuance was stripped from the story. The tale of how the two met has become Housewives lore. “My husband and my sister both served in LDS missions. Around the time they returned from their missions, he took her on two dates. She claims that he only gave her one kiss. Years later, after Barlow unexpectedly FedExed her then-fiance the ring back to end their engagement, she reconnected with John. “Personally, I think it’s gross. She claims that [her sister and husband] shared a bed. We’re Mormon, so no. I would be unable to be with him if my sister did.
Although Barlow describes herself as “Mormon 2.0″—she drinks, doesn’t judge people who get divorced, and even co-owns a tequila company with her husband—she takes her faith very seriously. She breaks down in tears while discussing her love for God and says she wants her religion to be highlighted more on RHOSLC during our conversation. However, it was her work in experiential marketing that first caught the attention of the television producers behind The Biggest Loser. In 2014, they filmed a reality TV pilot on Barlow after they saw her producing activations for companies like HBO and CNN at events like the Sundance Film Festival with her company Luxe Marketing. She claims, “I knew in my gut it wasn’t going to get picked up.” Six years later, Barlow felt better in her gut. “I think I’m going to have a TV show this year,” I thought.
We lead very comfortable lives. That can occasionally upset people and make them feel gross.
She was accurate. At the height of the pandemic, in November 2020, The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City made their debut. The show quickly established itself as a fan favorite, whether it was due to its exploration of contemporary Mormonism or the casting of extreme characters like the volatile Jen Shah and Mary Cosby, who is married to her step-grandfather and runs a nationwide telemarketing operation aimed at seniors. Even though it took Barlow a while to settle in during Season 1—many viewers couldn’t tell the difference between Barlow and her fellow brown-haired cast member and former best friend, Meredith Marks—there were memorable Season 2 moments, like when she went to themultiple drive-thru fast food chains in one sitting and consulted six different lawyersaided Jen Shah in locating her appropriate audience following her arrest.
Who among us hasn’t talked shit in a moment of intense frustration? This hot-mic moment only made her more likeable. The New Yorker staff writer and Housewives fan Naomi Fry says, “Instead of making her seem like a snake who says one thing to Meredith and another thing in private, it made her seem real.” Fry claims that Barlow is definitely attempting to regain control this season in ways that are “completely Machiavellian” by uniting with Housewives Whitney Rose and Heather Gay, whom she previously regarded as beneath her. “We’re seeing a similar arc of this kind of impenetrable, self-satisfied person suddenly becoming vulnerable, having a public humiliation, having to pick up the pieces, and having to make amends,” the author said.
Barlow asserts that she is not a con artist and that “deflecting is so 2020.” I’m not in the cover-up game, she declares, but in any case, she continues to produce unforgettable moments. Watch her sobbing while two of her RHOSLC co-stars are arguing, saying,“I’m an empath! I absorb it all!”
Shortly after we first speak, Barlow finds herself at the center of a new, lewd controversy on RHOSLC when Rose and her ex-friend Marks discuss rumors that Barlow performed sexual favors to support Vida Tequila’s marketing efforts and, even more egregiously, that she received NBA tickets as a result. Three weeks later, when we speak on the phone once more, Barlow vehemently refutes both accusations, saying, “It’s like the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.” What makes someone think she might have traded “blowies for Jazz tickets,” in the words of Heather Gay, another cast member? “I believe that the fact that my husband, son, me, and my other son are always able to sit front row for the Jazz definitely triggered some people. We lead a really good lifestyle, after all. That can occasionally upset people and make them feel unclean.
When we end the call, all I can recall is the time a few weeks earlier when Barlow casually asked me for feedback on how she was faring as a Housewife on the show after turning the recorder off at the conclusion of our initial interview. What role did she play this season? Should she alter her behavior in any way? Does she see herself the way I do? I giddily shower her with praise before advising her to keep forcing herself to be more open-minded. She nods in agreement and gives me a wry smile before being led away to resume her really luxurious lifestyle for her photo shoot.
Photographs by Elena Mudd