The Huffington Post | By Anthonia Akitunde Posted: 12/16/2012 3:09 pm EST | Updated: 12/17/2012 3:41 pm EST
Golden Sisters Mary, Teresa and Josie have a lot to say, as anyone familiar with the viral videos of their reactions to Kim Kardashian's sex tape and "50 Shades of Grey" can attest.
"We were born like that," Mary said, before her sisters can jump in. "New Yorkers speak their minds."
"We interrupt, we intrude," added Josie.
"My ex-husband used to say, 'You're so intrusive,'" Teresa said.
"Well you are, Terry," Mary agreed, speaking over her younger sister.
The Bronx-born sisters (Mary is 81 and twins Teresa and Josie are 73) want to be "poster old ladies" for the golden years, and they've found the perfect venue for their sassy and blunt observations; their show "Golden Sisters" premieres on OWN with back-to-back episodes airing tonight. The show builds on the following the sisters earned through their Golden Sisters YouTube videos. Production company LMNO Productions videotaped the Golden Sisters' weekly lunch dates where the three would offer not-your-typical-grandmotherly advice to questions submitted via Twitter.
"We have a lot of information that this world has to know," Mary said. "We’ve lived it you know? Whatever we tell you, whatever we’ve learned, we let want everyone to know."
The Huffington Post spoke with Mary, Teresa and Josie as they talked about their bond, the most important lesson they've learned (including tips they picked up from Kim Kardashian's sex tape) and their biggest accomplishments.
The Huffington Post: How did the opportunity to be on OWN present itself?
Teresa: I’m an agent and I was pitching some shows. One show I really liked was "My Son the Plumber." The people I pitched it to (LMNO Productions) loved the mom, and I said I have two sisters. We had lunch every Wednesday so someone would come and film us. While they were filming us, one of the little segments that we did went viral and that was because something happened in my sister Josie’s beauty salon.
Josie: I was reading a magazine and Kim Kardashian was on the cover. I said to one of the hairdressers, “Look at her, isn’t she beautiful?” And her comment was, “She’s a slut!” So I said, “Why would you call her a slut?” She said, "Let me take you to the front desk where I have a computer so I can show you this video." I looked at the video and after one minute, I said, “Oh my God, I can’t believe that!”
One day we had lunch and the subject came up among us, what do you think of Kim Kardashian? And I said “Oh my God, she did a video, you guys didn’t see the video?” And they said “No.”
Mary: We don’t watch porn.
J: So they filmed us watching the video, LMNO put it on the Internet and it went viral. We got 6 million hits on YouTube.
M: I learned something from that porno, let me tell you. It’s unbelievable! Even at my age you can learn something. At 81! I kind of enjoyed it a little bit, it really made us laugh and have a lot of fun.
HP: What’s one thing you know now that you wish you knew when you were younger?
J: Things don’t mean a thing. When you’re younger, you want to buy this thing and that thing and that thing and this thing. And things don’t matter. Family and loving each other and that kind of stuff [matters].
M: But Josie, that’s not reality.
J: Well then, what would you say is something you've learned now that you didn't know when you were younger?
M: I shouldn’t have gotten married at 18, that’s number one. I wish I had more kids, that’s number two. And I wish I hadn’t let my husband get away with everything he got away with. Now that he’s dead — he’s [been] dead a whole year — God, I’m so happy and I don’t even know why! Because I was married for 62 years and all of a sudden I’m a widow and I feel so free. It’s ridiculous. I was happy when I was married too, but I made myself happy.
T: I think when you’re young you live your life a lot for other people, you do what other people think you ought to do. What I’ve learned is do what your heart tells you to do and follow your bliss. Make yourself happy because then the people around you will be happy.
J: Mary always says this: “Happiness is self-inflicted.” Don’t depend on the next person to make you happy.
M: My mother made us believe that a man is the head of the house even though we worked! We worked our whole lives, but then we got home there was dinner, we cooked, we cleaned, we took care of our husbands, we took care of our kids. And the husband was like a king, just sitting there. We had to treat them like a king. That’s what I would never do again. Treat a man like a king.
HP: What’s a rule that you feel like you can break without worrying what others think now that you’re older?
M: Staying out as late as I want! Maybe not coming home for the night, maybe spending the night at my sister’s.
J: No, you know what I love? I love spending everything I make. I love spending all the money my heart desires. I love giving a lot away. The thing I love most is creating a job for someone in my salon.
M: If we go to Vegas and she loses she says “So what? The dealer needed the money.” She’s a very, very happy loser.
T: As I grew older, the thing I like most is having sex and feeling guilty about it.
M: Why would you feel guilty about having sex?
T: When you’re younger, you feel guilty. Unless the relationship would really go further, you would feel really guilty and think, “Oh my God, I shouldn’t have gone to bed with him.” I used to think if you have sex with someone, you should really have a relationship, or get married. And now I think you can do it for fun.
J: At this age, right now, I don’t want anything I don’t have. I have a lot of crap in my house. Even after the earthquake I was so happy a few things broke. I’m so “stuffed” out.
HP: What is your greatest accomplishment?
T: My children are my biggest accomplishment — I look at them and feel really good. I wrote a book and had it published, “How to kiss with confidence.” I discovered Shia LaBeouf, he was very poor and he got very wealthy, and that was fun for me. And now developing the show. It was several different things in my life that pushed me forward and made me happy because of the creative process.
J: The thing I’m most proud of is my salon Michelangelo Hair House in Woodland Hills, California. I’ve been in this shopping center for 40 years. 4-0. I’ve given a lot of hair dressers a start in the business, when nobody else would hire them I did. There are a lot of hairdressers who are hairdressers because of me. I implemented the apprentice program in the salon, otherwise they couldn’t afford to be hairdressers. So I feel like that’s my biggest accomplishment, besides my kids. I have four kids and three are attorneys and one is an insurance adjuster.
M: My biggest accomplishment is raising my grandson. When he was a year old his mother dropped him on my doorstep and I took care of him all these years, and now I’m taking care of his daughter, my great-grandbaby. She’s 8 years old and that’s my greatest accomplishment. I’m having a ball taking care of her.
J: Can I say this? I think Mary’s biggest accomplishment in life was making other people laugh. Because to me, laughter is medicine. She made people who would’ve gotten sick healthy when they sat in her chair and she did their hair. She made them laugh.
T: Another great accomplishment of Mary’s is raising the two of us. (All three sisters laugh.)
HP: How do you stay so vibrant?
J: I think it's genetics. And laughter, laughter is the best medicine.
M: I'm 81 years old. I have polka records and every morning for one hour I dance around my table. That's my exercise, because I can't afford a massage and all this stuff that they get.
HP: Why do you think people have a negative view on aging?
M: I know, isn't that terrible? We want to open their eyes. Every day is a beautiful day as long as you're healthy.
T: I think the big problem is loneliness and health problems.
J: I honestly believe you can laugh yourself to health.
M: Let me tell you something honey, getting old is beautiful! Look at me, look at how I'm going to die. What a finale! My God! Eighty-one-years old and I might be popular? I might be famous? Give me a break.
"The Golden Sisters" sneak peek airs on Sunday, December 16 on OWN at 10/9 CST.
By Bob Strauss, Staff Writer
Posted: 12/15/2012 03:58:02 PM PST
Updated: 12/15/2012 10:08:13 PM PST
Viral videos and reality TV don’t commonly feature folks in their 70s and 80s.
Unless we’re talking about the Golden Sisters, three Bronx-born siblings who have all lived in the West San Fernando Valley since the 1960s.
Mary Bartnicki, 81, and 73-year-old twins Josie Cavalluzzi and Teresa Dahlquist — all nee Conticchio — became Internet sensations this summer when over 3 million viewers hit the YouTube video of them frankly and uproariously discussing Kim Kardashian’s sex tape.
Other vignettes of the sisters’ takes on pop culture topics proved popular, too, and now they’re on real TV.
A one-hour “Golden Sisters” special airs on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN at 10 p.m. Sunday.
In two separate episodes, Josie, Mary and Teresa prepare for Dec. 21’s predicted end of the world and, in case that doesn’t happen, the recently widowed Mary takes a stab at online dating.
“I didn’t do it!” Mary proclaimed regarding the latter during a joint interview this week with her sisters.
“Yes she did,” Teresa instantly corrected in the manner that’s the hallmark of the women’s lovingly contentious give-and-take. “She did! You had lunch with four guys.”
“Well, yeah,” Mary reluctantly admitted. “But that’s it. I mean, we didn’t spend the night or anything. Just lunch.”
Whether criticizing Kim’s apparent lack of erotic enthusiasm (“What is her problem? She’s just laying there,” Mary wonders at one juncture) or reading “Fifty
Shades of Grey” and thinking aloud about how much this or that physical act would hurt, the sisters’ rapid-fire commentary boasts an expert comic balance of shock with prurient fascination and salty worldliness with a sense of grandmotherly propriety. And they express it all with an upfront, New York naturalness that seems totally spontaneous and honest.
They can also cuss like construction workers, meaning their videos are filled with bleeps.
The whole thing is the brainchild
of veteran reality TV producer Eric Schotz, president and CEO of Encino-based LMNO Productions. It was inspired, though, when Teresa — a talent agent whose accomplishments include discovering a kid actor named Shia LaBeouf — showed him a pitch reel for a different idea she’d had.
“She came in and pitched a show called ‘My Son, the Plumber’,” Schotz recalled. “Candidly, the show sucked. What happened was, one of her grandchildren said he just wanted to be famous in it and Teresa said, ‘Your music sucks’ – at which point we turned to her and said, ‘You’re interesting.’ She goes, ‘I’m nothing. I have two sisters and they’re funnier.’ We met with them and signed them the next day.”
For more than a year, Schotz shopped the ladies to every network in town and was uniformly told that no one would watch old people, no matter how funny they were. Then he got the idea to just put their Kardashian commentary up on the Web — on YouTube and several other sites — and see what would happen.
It got two million hits in 24 hours — all by people under the age of 50, Schotz claims, citing Google Analytics. (It’s now well past the 3 million mark on YouTube alone.) The next day, three networks offered deals; Oprah’s, all decided, was the best fit.
“We’re very excited about meeting Oprah,” said Teresa, who has nine grandchildren. “We will eventually. But we met her people, and we have so much fun with them. They laugh at everything we say. Isn’t that fun when you say something and someone just busts out laughing and you don’t know why?”
Rita Mullin, OWN’s executive vice president of programming and development, said it’s actually not hard to understand their appeal.
“The ladies are a web phenomenon with a growing online fan base,” Mullin said in an e-mail. “We think their spirited passion for pop culture and most importantly their love for laughter is something our viewers will find contagious.”
It’s hoped Sunday’s special will garner enough ratings to lead to more episodes.
The sisters have already been flown to New York – first class, they proudly note — to be guests on Anderson Cooper’s talk show. And they’ve just returned from an extended weekend in Vegas, where Mary — who has two sons, four grandsons and one great-granddaughter who lives with her — made a killing in a poker tournament.
Josie has four children and seven grandchildren, and owns the Woodland Hills salon Michelangelo’s Hair House, where Mary also works three days a week.
“In the last year, I have had more fun than my entire life,” said Josie. “I compare it to my freshman year in college, when I was so excited and having so much fun. Here I am, 73 and I can say this was one of the funnest years of my entire life.”
“I hate to say that it’s the most fun I ever had because my husband passed away last year, but this is the best time I’ve had in my life!” the mirthfully matter-of-fact Mary added. “I mean, I’m embarrassed to say that I’m a merry widow, but I have to tell you the truth: I’ve never been happier in my life.
“And to me, when I do die — what a finale,” Mary added. “What a way to go, to leave this Earth famous. I mean, Betty White was an actress her whole life. But me, now, they’re gonna know who I am? I’m ecstatic.”
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