News & Politics

Man Rules and Real Househusbands

As the men take the couches in tonight's Real Housewives reunion show, The Washingtonian catches up with Rich Amons

Image courtesy NBC Universal

Last week's Real Housewives of Washington, DC ended with as close to a bang as happened anywhere in the series: Lynda Erkiletian accused Tareq Salahi (who tossed a glass of red wine on her while they were promoting the show) of violating "man rules" and refused to let him onto the set unless she got to bring her boyfriend Ebong with her. But what are "man rules"? And what's it like to be the husband to a Real Housewife? caught up with Rich Amons, he of the brightly-colored pants and the sensible approach to parenting adult children, in advance of tonight's finale.

Do you want to do a second season?

I don’t want to speak for Mary, I think she’s on the record as saying yes she would do it. I think she felt like the show kind of got hijacked. For me, it was a total no-brainer. They really made it easy. It was show up at this time, 'here’s what we’re talking about Rich, we need you for a half-hour.' The production was very easy on me as a house-husband. The hard work was done by Mary and the other Housewives.

What was it like being on the periphery of the show, and getting to know the other men involved?

I am an acquired taste from a humor level. I enjoyed meeting Jason. I’d known Ebong prior to the filming. We talked sports, he’s also a card player. We’ve never actually been on a table across from each other. . . .Charles, I only got to meet him once, before he was sort of exiting the scene. And Tareq, I wish it was only once, but it became twice. You’ve gotta have the salt with the pepper. I appreciate them sort of taking the brunt of the critique. I don’t know what else to say about it. They really are made-for-reality television characters. I’ve always referred to them as Boris and Natasha [in reference to the cartoon Russian spies]. Huge stress off me to have someone put on their asshats and go it at like they did.

Would you be willing to work with the Salahis again?

At the end of the day, it’s Andy Cohen and Bravo. It’s their parade. . . .Maybe [the Salahis] drop into the Pentagon into a helicopter, a Michael Bay Transformers kind of thing, because I would love to see what they do next.

Now, speaking of the Salahis, Lynda said Tareq violated "man rules" because he treats women badly when their husbands or partners are around. But what are "man rules," really? 

It’s just kind of a tongue-in-cheek way of saying there is a code out there that a lot of us as guys have learned from our fathers and other mentors in our life. Those things sort of reflect in how we deal with people. There’s a lot of people that don’t get that experience and haven’t had it. That’s a shame, in my opinion, that they’re not called out by their friends. My friends call me out in a second’s notice. They’ll tell me I’m full of shit. . . .I run with a tough crowd. You better bring your A-game if you're going to hang around with me and my friends. I think steel sharpens steel. That’s my view of relationships. I love that I have friends who disagree with me on just about everything.

Now, are Washington's "man rules" different than those of other cities? 

I think DC has very specific man codes. You have a lot of very educated people, over educated in some cases. They come from other places to be here. They come to be part of the government, to be part of the administration. It brings together a lot of people with a purpose, and that’s one of the interesting things about living in DC. They want to be here because they bring a zeal and an enthusiasm for bringing the country better. That’s a great magnet for some amazing people, both unsung and elected.

Do you think critics and watchers were right to be disappointed that the show didn't feature more of those people in public service or positions of power? 

I think there’s always expectations about a specific area. Most recent example is Beverly Hills, and you think about the movie business. . . .Are we going to get an Ari Emanuel? Of course not. Nobody’s going to sign up for that. It’s an insular business, it’s a small world, everything’s built on trust and how you deal with people. Washingotn’s very much the same. It’s a closed-door situation in politics. I can’t imagine anyone in a million years agreeing on the show who is in the business of politics.

I remember sitting down with a couple who were seriously considering it, they’d called Mary and said can we have dinner? We sat down, and I said what do you do for a living. She said I’m a fundraiser for political action this. The husband says I provide counsel for fundraising and all kinds of high end political things. And I said if you two are considering this, you are insane. In my business, everyone knows who I am, it has no affect on what I do. They already know who I am. I’m not trying to get elected and I’m not trying to help anyone get elected. Perception is everything. For someone who lives on the fickle finger of fate of public perception, you should not even be thinking about this. You have no control. You hve no editing capability. I wans’t surprised. I was a ltitle surprised at the local press reaction of “Oh, my gosh, we don’t have Senator Carry The Water from Oklahoma and his wife on the show!” Are you serious? That’s insulting your readers' intelligence.

Was there anything about the show that surprised you? 

Jason and I have talked about this. Like, dude, did you see this racial thing coming? Personally, I was blown away that that was where it went. I thought we have an African-American president and maybe this is naive, but I think the issue of race should be on its downward trend, to use Twitter talk. I didn’t realize that I was wrong. People are still very, very sensitive and maybe this is an issue we could discuss as rational men, maybe have a Man Rules view of this. I always give him crap. He’s like, "You want to meet for lunch?" I joke that I have to get my passport stamped to go into the Chocolate City from McLean. He’s got a great sense of humor but not everybody does. I’d like to drill down with him more, the way men do, versus the way women do.

It’s called Housewives for a reason. Guys get off easy. It’s easy to pop in, make a couple of quick comments, try to be funny. But the real interaction they showcase tends to be women and it tends to be drama mama situations. I don’t know if that’s going to be overplayed and jump the shark. I think men and women treat each other very, very differently. They interact differently with each other. I can get pissed off and set my hair on fire and jump around like a fish on a dock when I’m arguing with someone, but when we’re done, we’re done.

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