Back in January of this year, I wrote an article for Gawker about Selling Sunset and its star Christine Quinn. Hours after it was published, Christine herself commented on my Instagram post about the piece: “I thought your article was impeccable. Your tone and humor, spot on… I have no shame in understanding the assignment and I am happy to deliver.”
We began to correspond, and when it came to my attention that she would be briefly visiting New York for the launch of her new book, How to be a Boss Bitch, I texted her asking if she’d be open to an interview. She was going to have a packed day: an 11 a.m. visit to the Empire State Building followed by a 5 p.m. book signing at The Strand. Her PR team insisted it wouldn’t be possible, but at Christine’s request, it was decided that I would join them in the car ride from their hotel to The Strand.
I arrived at Trump International Hotel a bit early and sat on a bench outside, staring up at the obsidian and bronze monolith that protected me from the beautiful spring sun. (Quinn said she was put up at the hotel by a travel company that managed her book tour.) Earlier that morning, she had been posing in the furry palm of a King Kong hand replica atop the most iconic building in the Big Apple, and now I wondered which inky glass panel she was being held in until her next outing. A man in his fifties walked past the hotel with his middle finger extended towards the structure — I assumed he was a fan of Chrishell’s. People get awfully passionate about reality TV.
In the lobby, a gay man (I am frequently able to recognize another member of the tribe) with a tall pompadour, silk cream blouse unbuttonned to his solar plexus, and legging-tight black jeans, began filming the unremarkable chandelier and plucking stray pieces of lint off the rug. Painful elevator music filled the lobby, and I thought about how elevator-themed this lobby was. We briefly met eyes, the gayman and I, and probably thought the same thing: “No.”
When the elevators opened Christine performed a grand entrance for the gayman’s camera. We were shuffled by Christine’s team into a black SUV. I climbed into the back next to a photographer, and Christine sat directly in front of me, alongside her handler, as we headed downtown.
This interview has been condensed for clarity and fabulosity.
Gawker: Hi. I’m Max. Nice to finally meet you.
CQ: Max, you have no idea to begin to even have an idea, to begin to even an idea…
Gawker: Haha. How’s it going?
CQ: Oh, it’s fucking going, and it doesn’t stop. That’s the problem. (holding a tissue to her eye) I’m holding my eye because it’s watering.
Gawker: Important question up top: how many suitcases did you bring?
CQ: Well, I brought seven, but I came back with six.
Gawker: What happened?
CQ: One of them got lost… But then my stylist came with another four.
Gawker: Full of your stuff or hers?
CQ: Well, things from fashion brands.
Gawker: You don’t get to keep all that stuff, right?
CQ: No, I do. I mean, YO… WO. YOWO.
Gawker: You only wear it once?
CQ: Yeah, exactly.
Gawker: Nice. So, you’re here for the book. There are people who are just learning to read English for the first time, so I’m wondering if you could take a moment to define the words “boss,” “bitch,” and the term “boss bitch” for those people.
CQ: I would consider myself to not be fully versed in the English language. I am no thesaurus, no dictionary. However, my interpretation of a boss bitch is someone who steps into their own power, or is comfortable in who they are. Someone who is able to set boundaries, who is able to say, “No,” to things— Oh my god, I’m going to barf.
Gawker: Did you eat something crazy?
CQ: No, no.
Gawker: You just barf a lot?
CQ: I just get a little carsick.
Gawker: I’ve been known to do that too. Could you describe the opposite of a Boss Bitch?
CQ: A basic bitch!
Gawker: What qualities does a basic bitch have?
Gawker: You can interpret it however you like.
CQ: The definition of a boss is just having your own style. Unoriginality is antithetical to being a boss bitch.
Gawker: Who is the bossiest bitch?
CQ: The bossiest bitch is hard to say — everyone has the potential to become a bossy bitch, and there are too many bossy bitches for me to name, so I’m just going to say myself.
Gawker: Well then who is the bitchiest boss?
CQ: Well that would be me, too.
Gawker: Can you describe the last time you didn’t feel like a boss bitch and how you got out of it?
CQ: I’ll be honest with you. It’s sometimes hard to assess yourself. To see yourself. To be authoritative and also be nice to everyone. So sometimes it’s about pushing past that discomfort and crossing the lines, pushing past that boundary to get what you want. I don’t like to hurt people’s feelings, but I will fucking fire a bitch.
Gawker: Right. If you could fire anyone in the world right now who would it be and please don’t say me?
CQ: I would never fire you. Hmmm. Who would I fire? That’s a hard one.
Gawker: It could be Putin, you know?
CQ: I mean, I would fire so many people. But I don’t want to get a hit put on me. That’s why I’m so afraid of saying things. So, I have to say someone who won’t get a hit put on me.
Gawker: Fair enough. It could be a fictional character.
CQ: If I could kill anyone, it would be—
Gawker: Not kill, not kill. Just fire. They don’t have to die, just lose their job.
CQ: Oh, ok. If I could fire anyone I would fire myself, from the Oppenheim Group, which I did. I would fire my character. Let’s be very specific here: it was a character. I would fire the character Christine Quinn from Selling Sunset. Yeah. That’s a good one.
Gawker: Does anything make you nervous?
CQ: I would normally have said heights, but earlier today I was at the top of the Empire State Building and it was so beautiful, that now I just want to say no.
Gawker: So you tested your one fear and it turned out to be nothing?
CQ: It was nothing. I was worried I might get scared, but then I did a photo shoot and it was fine.
Gawker: So would you say that photo shoots tend to dispel all nerves for you?
CQ: I wouldn’t say that, no. But it was just the most breathtaking view I’ve ever seen.
Gawker: It’s funny how facing a monster in the face can reveal its true beauty. Something poetic there. What do you think is the most boss bitch way to die?
CQ: To haunt someone in the afterlife. Like my flowers did last season, on Selling Sunset. Even if I’m not there, you will fucking feel my presence.
Gawker: Continuing to be a boss in the afterlife. This is interesting to me because you previously had a very goth streak to you.
CQ: Yes, I mean my wedding dress was black.
Gawker: Exactly. I’ve noticed that your style (which I always think is a reflection of some internal values) hasn’t been as gothy lately. I’m curious to know when that shifted and why?
CQ: It’s the butterfly effect, really. It’s about evolving. Rebranding, revolutionizing, recapitalizing. And that’s kind of what I’ve been doing. Everything is a construct, and so as I do some reconstruction on myself, that translates to my image, too. You’re born naked and the rest is Drag. RuPaul.
Gawker: Speaking of being born, you have a beautiful baby boy.
CQ: Just turned one year old!
Gawker: Do you want him to grow up to be a boss bitch?
CQ: Absolutely. It’s applicable to everyone. It’s a general term.
Gawker: There’s already a Boss Baby franchise. Do you think there could be a Boss Bitch Baby franchise? Possibly even starring Christian Jr., your kid?
CQ: I love that. I mean anything is possible.
Gawker: Do you think I’m a boss bitch?
CQ: Are you kidding me? I think you’re an absolute boss bitch. The reason we met and you stood out is because you had the most powerful, iconic, descriptive, narrative writing. You stood out to me. Amongst all the articles written about me, your talent just radiated.
Gawker: I really appreciate that, and I only asked that question because I wanted to be complimented. Between the self-administered titles Dominatrix Barbie and Boss Bitch, I’m noticing a through-line. You’re applying a role of control to something of low status, or something inert. Barbies are dolls, and bitches are usually looked down upon. What draws you towards control?
CQ: Control is freedom. It’s all relative. I’m drawn to freedom, and the independence. Sorry — my eye, one second.
Gawker: It’s okay.
CQ: It comes down to freedom, which comes down to confidence. It doesn’t come down to control.
Gawker: Embedded in being a dominatrix or a boss is a sense of freedom, but also a lot of responsibility. A dominatrix has a lot of expectation around performance, and a boss’s authority means there’s more on her shoulders. What is your relationship to responsibility?
CQ: I do feel very responsible. I used to just sit back and allow things to happen, and I don’t do that anymore. Now I have this amazing platform and I use it and feel responsible to find transparency, whether that be plastic surgery, everything. It’s about being transparent—so many people are misleading us.
Gawker: Okay rapid fire time. Fiction or non-fiction?
CQ: That’s not an easy question. Give me number 2.
Gawker: Books or botox?
Gawker: Empire State Building, or building an estate empire?
CQ: Empire State Building.
Gawker: Signing your book, or designing your look?
CQ: Designing my look. Because I’ve already signed the books.
Gawker: Going to New York City, or going from, “Ew, dork” to pretty?
CQ: I’m dead. This is fucking hilarious.
Gawker: Reading before bed, or summoning the dead?
CQ: Reading before bed—the dead are walking amongst us. Look at all these zombies on the street. We’re all living zombies right now.
Gawker: Doing promotion or applying lotion?
CQ: I’m going to apply lotion while I’m doing a promotion—that’s what I did yesterday. I was lotioning while promotioning.
Gawker: That’s your next party.
CQ: You’re iconic.
Gawker: Bosses or bitches?
CQ: That’s a loaded question.
It begins to rain.
CQ: It’s difficult because it’s about evolving. You can’t have one without the other. It’s like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Gawker: Right, it’s sort of like me asking, “dominatrix or Barbie.” The existence of one implies the existence of the other.
Gawker: We’re approaching The Strand, so I’m going to ask one more question. What does perfection mean to you?
CQ: Perfection does not exist. Do not ever strive for perfection, because you’ll never succeed. It’s all an illusion.
Gawker: I really appreciate that, because I’ve been talking about that in therapy, and actually had to cancel my session to make this interview happen today.
CQ: Everything is a lesson.
After remarking that “this rain sucks dick, and not in a good way,” Christine kicked her ivory stilettos out the door and was whisked into The Strand. I said my goodbyes to her team, and they disappeared behind yet another elevator. Standing in the rain, I thought about what Christine had first said to me: “I have no shame in understanding the assignment and I am happy to deliver.” I wondered if I had understood the assignment, and whether I should feel shame about that. And, of course, whether I could deliver.
Max Wittert is a comedian and illustrator from Los Angeles.