desperate no more

How Danny Pellegrino turned his “Housewives” obsession into a full-time career

Danny Pellegrino, Tom Sandoval, and Ariana Madix at the book signing for “Fancy AF Cocktails.”

When Bravo put on its first fan convention in New York City last November, lines wrapped around the block as hopeful viewers tried to catch a glimpse of Lisa Vanderpump in the flesh or to see Ramona Singer get into a tiff with a co-star live and in person.

But through all the excitement of potential Bravolebrity sightings, there was another name on everybody’s lips: Danny Pellegrino, a podcaster with a penchant for pop culture and an obsession with the housewives who often dominate it.  

Pellegrino was simply a fellow Bravo-holic who started creating social media content around his favorite TV shows in 2015, which parlayed into his own pop culture podcast: Everything Iconic with Danny Pellegrino. His witty commentary and relatable observations instantly connected with like-minded fans online, who began tuning into his show as devoutly as they did for Housewives. As his brand continued to grow, so did his legion of fans and eventually even the access to the Bravolebrities themselves. Danny ended 2019 with the release of Fancy AF Cocktails, the book he co-wrote with Vanderpump Rules’ stars Ariana Madix and Tom Sandoval.  

But how does a boy from Ohio who is obsessed with Jennifer Love Hewitt end up talking to her in his living room, simply because he is obsessed with the Housewives franchise? We sat down with the budding superstar to find out how he turned being a Bravo fan into Bravo fame, his craziest interview stories, and why he may be responsible for the rumor that “pasta” was code for “cocaine” on Vanderpump Rules

On How It All Began
Danny: I had been making a lot of Housewives memes on Instagram and started to get a very specific following: people who watch Bravo and love reality TV. That kind of led to the podcast, when I realized I had a little, tiny audience, and it became a way for me to perform without leaving the house. Because I used to perform quite a bit and then I fell into a depression, so when I became clinically depressed, I thought I would never perform again. But the idea of being able to perform from my house was less scary than going on a stage. So when I got the following, I thought I could start a podcast and do my stupid bits from home, and then it just snowballed from there. People started listening and then, oddly enough, it has now led to live shows where I’m performing on stage again, which is not something I anticipated. It’s been sort of a full circle kind of thing that I didn’t expect.

Why His Fans Are So Die-Hard
I think people like gathering with other like-minded people and I feel like with the Facebook groups and the live shows or with BravoCon, it’s an opportunity for fans of these shows to get together in the same way that people like going to live sporting events. I think Bravo fans want an outlet and so the most fun part of these live shows is just being in an audience with people who have the same reference points as you do, who watch the same TV shows as you do and who laugh at the same kind of jokes. The most fun part about being at Countess Luann’s live show is that you’re in an audience with people who get it.

The Moment He Realized His Reach
On Vanderpump Rules there was a scene a couple of seasons ago with the now infamous line “It’s not about the pasta.” That catchphrase. I had been getting a lot of messages from listeners saying that pasta was code for “cocaine.” It was just a silly rumor but enough people had DM’ed me about it that I decided to take to Twitter and say, “Look, I don’t know if there’s anything factual about this but a lot of people are saying that pasta is code for cocaine and it gives that scene a whole new context.” I kind of just thought it was a funny tweet and then it was picked up by Newsweek and other big sources and in those articles they said ‘podcaster Danny Pellegrino’ and then all of a sudden any time the cast was being interviewed, the reporter would ask “is pasta code for cocaine?” So that was the first time I really noticed there being an impact. 

His First Celebrity Interview
The first housewife was Margaret Josephs (from Real Housewives of New Jersey) and she was kind enough to do the show really early on — especially because I didn’t really have an audience at that time. And Bonnie Hunt was the first one who was really exciting for me. She’s not in the Bravo world, but she was kind enough to do the show and it was really exciting because I just grew up loving her and watching her. 

His Most Successful Interview

I thought the Bonnie Hunt one went really well and then also Jennifer Love Hewitt, who is also not in the Bravo space. I got some good gossip stuff out of her, but then I thought we just had a really nice conversation. But she opened up about her relationship with John Mayer, which was interesting to me cause she hasn’t really talked much about it. There was a rumor that she was the inspiration behind “Your Body is a Wonderland” so I asked her about that. I can’t quite remember but I think she said it wasn’t that song but that “Daughters” was actually written about her or her relationship with her father or something. I can’t remember the exact details but she had been in a lot of high profile relationships with people so I was surprised she was opening up a bit. 

In terms of Housewives or Bravo, I think Kelly Dodd (Real Housewives of Orange County) was a juicy interview. She talked about running into Heather Dubrow at the gym, which had appeared on social media but she went more in-depth. She was trying to go into a workout class and Heather showed up and she didn’t want to get out of the car cause she saw Heather go into the class. She just went into detail with me about how she runs into Heather all the time and she hates her. Or… she dislikes her, I don’t know if hate is the right word. She’s really good at throwing shade. She said something about Tamra’s husband Eddie being “just a spin instructor” that made me laugh. Some housewives are better at throwing shade than others and she is really great. 

His Least Successful Interview

I had Alyson Hannigan on the show and I don’t think she was aware of me and I don’t think she really got it. So I think it was a tough interview for me just because I don’t know that she was really on board with my style, which is very tongue in cheek and playful. She was very sweet otherwise, but I just don’t know that she got it because she wasn’t really aware of the show. 

Most Intimidating Interview

Oh, I was very nervous about Kelly Dodd and I had told her that right when I met her. Also, Kate Chastain from Below Deck, who I ended up leaving the interview just loving. I already loved watching her on TV, but I was scared thinking what if she doesn’t like me or something. And then James Kennedy from Vanderpump Rules. I interviewed him a couple times and he’s very unpredictable, so that is a little nerve-wracking. 

Bravolebrity Blowback

Kristen Doute from Vanderpump Rules, she hasn’t actually been on, but I talk very kindly about her on my show, saying that I think she brought a lot of the drama and storylines we needed. I think she thought I was being sarcastic though or didn’t listen so she didn’t realize I was actually being genuinely complimentary to her. But I heard through the grapevine and then when I did interview her at BravoCon for another outlet I was able to explain to her, “No! I really think you’re great for the show! ” So I think she thought I was maybe being too hard on her. The same thing happened with Scheana Shay. I went on her show and I think she similarly thought I was maybe being mean-spirited towards her or crossing a line and I think when she met me she maybe realized I wasn’t trying to be too mean to any of them. I think they do so many interviews that a lot of times can end up very mean-spirited, so I think a lot of the Bravo people are always rightfully a little skeptical when they’re doing an interview, particularly with something like a podcast because they just don’t know how it’s gonna turn out or if you’re trying to make it into something salacious. But I always think the salaciousness will come out naturally, I don’t need to push too hard for it. 

Witnessing Housewife Drama in the Wild

We once went to Orange County to do this ropes course that had appeared on the Real Housewives of Orange County and afterward, we went to the restaurant The Quiet Woman, which is also frequently seen on the show. I was interviewing Emily and Gina there during their very first season, so we didn’t know much about them. But then as I was interviewing Emily, Shannon Beador had just happened to come in with friends for the night and she had gotten upset that these two other housewives were there. I don’t remember too many of the details, but I just remember Shannon not wanting to see these two women. She wanted to be kept far away from them. Shannon was not happy and it was clear that they had a very contentious relationship at the time. 

His Dream Interview

A lot of actresses and people I’ve admired in the world of pop culture, like Jessica Simpson, Mariah Carey, Nancy Meyers, Meg Ryan — those are the people who I would kill to chat with. In terms of Bravo, I’ve been lucky enough to chat with a bunch but I’ve never talked to Kandi [Burruss from Real Housewives of Atlanta], who I’d love to talk to just because I’ve always been a fan of her music even before Housewives. I’d also love to talk to Bethenny Frankel. 

What’s Next For Danny 

I’d love to do a TV show. I’ve been talking with different networks and taking meetings, and I’d love to do something like a talk show. I also have scripted projects: I have a movie that’s in development with a great actress attached and I’m hopeful that it will get made in the next year or so, and then I have some other scripted things that would be for me to act in that I hope to get to do. I look at people like Daniel Levy, who created Schitt’s Creek, and he’s the kind of person I look up to in terms of career because he’s been so successful at hosting and writing and acting and doing it all.

Follow Danny and listen to Everything Iconic weekly on podcast platforms. Fancy AF Cocktails is avialable wherever books are sold, and check out for tickets to his upcoming live shows