If you don’t know Lisa Vanderpump by now, you should. She’s the philanthropist and businesswoman behind three popular Los Angeles restaurants—PUMP, SUR and Villa Blanca—and the star of two Bravo hit TV shows, Vanderpump Rules (that she also executive produces) and Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. No less impressive than her entrepreneurial achievements is her love of animals.
She is rarely seen without her beloved Pomeranian : and owns a menagerie of pets, including eight dogs, eight swans, six turtles, two miniature horses and one show horse Tardon. Besides the latter who is stabled nearby, all of them live in her Beverly Hills mansion Villa Rosa. Given her affection for animals, it’s no surprise that she started the Vanderpump Dog Foundation, whose mission is the eradication of mistreatment of dogs.
Learn more about Beverly Hills’ LVP and her dog activism in this HudsonMOD exclusive.
Tell us about the Vanderpump Dog Foundation and its efforts.
Lisa: First we started a line of dog accessories called Vanderpump Pets, then we started receiving pictures of what was transpiring in Yulin. So, we were side-tracked, and ended up really putting all of our energy and focus into fighting against Yulin. So far, what the Vanderpump Dog Foundation has done is organize rallies and supply placards all over the world in order to stop Yulin [China’s dog meat festival] forever. We’ve also formed our own Resolution 752 with Congressman Alcee Hastings to stop the Yulin Festival primarily, and we already have 160 members of congress committed to supporting this resolution. We are looking for further support to get this resolution passed. Together with my husband Ken Todd and Dr. John Sessa, I am making a documentary about the Yulin fight to shed some light on the matter.
We are opening the Vanderpump Dog Foundation Rescue Center, where we will be selling our product line Vanderpump Pets with the proceeds helping to finance the rescue center. We will be having dogs from an animal shelter in the center, and will be having grooming facilities so they can get “Vanderpumped up,” and we will be loving every minute of that. We had the Vanderpump Dog Foundation Gala hosted by Mario Lopez. We just saved dogs on the meat truck on the way to the torture festival (Yulin) and the meat house. We’ve brought a few dogs over from there to the United States, but we don’t advocate bringing hundreds of thousands of dogs over from China, because we have a big enough problem domestically. But what we are trying to do is bring them over and let the serve as Yulin ambassadors to show people in America that these are not wild, rabid dogs; they are beautiful creatures and their fate was to be tortured, beaten, skinned alive, and to show them that all of these animals could be somebody’s pet.
Lisa: Most people can contact their local politician or congressperson and encourage them to support Resolution 752. If people join the cause, it helps. It’s not my sole responsibility to do this, but it’s something that resonates deeply with me. I felt compelled to do something. I’m not a politician or animal activist. I’m a normal person, a restaurateur who often eats meat and wears leather. This is about increasing awareness of the torture of these dogs, of their being boiled alive and beaten to death. We’re trying to educate people in other parts of the world that dogs are wonderful creatures that meet our needs and we should be meeting theirs.
You held your first-ever Vanderpump Dog Foundation Gala last November. How did it go?
Lisa: We were lucky to be hosted by the incredibly generous and wonderful Mario Lopez. He and his wife Courtney were so supportive. Diane Warren, an incredible songwriter, wrote us a song that Leona Lewis sang beautifully at the gala, along with Eric Benet. We had a lot of wonderful people involved and raised quite a lot of money. Some of the money is going to fight against Yulin, some of the money is going to support the animal shelter and some of the money is going to support the Vanderpump Dog Rescue Center. You know, it’s all about advocating for the humane treatment of dogs, and we want to do what we can.
You launched Vanderpump Pets, a luxury accessory line for dogs. Which toy or item of clothing do your dogs like the most?
Lisa: Oh, they love all the toys! I mean, we’ve got funny toys like a little pink purse, a shoe, a sangria bottle, hankies, swans. They love them! They love the clothes too. It’s a very affordable line, and it’s all at Petco.
Besides being a dog activist, you also are active in supporter for other organizations including the LGBT community. Why is it so important to lend your voice to these issues?
Lisa: It’s because of my celebrity, and I use that word loosely. I think it gives you a chance to stand up for what you believe in, and I believe the LGBT community benefits from having a straight ally, and I’m happy to work on their behalf. I’ve been involved with the Trevor Project and supporting suicide prevention hotlines serving the LGBT community. I’m really involved in many issues including the Keep Memory Alive and the National Alopecia Areata Foundation. I just believe that you have a responsibility to really support the things that you are passionate about.
You own three of LA’s most well-known restaurants—PUMP, SUR and Villa Blanca. Do you ever think you will expand into the East Coast, perhaps New York City?
Lisa: No, I don’t think so. I’d like to be in Vegas; I would love SUR to be in Vegas. However, it’s a lot of work.
You launched LVP Sangria with your daughter Pandora. Which sangria do you prefer? The red or pink?
Lisa: I like both. I don’t have a favorite. They are for different occasions. It’s like being asked if you prefer red or rosé wine. They are different. I like having the pink first and then the red for dinner.
Lisa’s daughter, Pandora Vanderpump-Sabo, who oversees LVP Sangria with her husband Jason Sabo, also responded with: Well sangria and wine are quite different. We’ve been passionate about sangria, and it’s such a popular drink in England and France where we lived for many years. We thought it would be fun and different to do something in a really beautiful bottle that’s a great tasting drink. It’s such a wonderful cocktail, especially if you entertain – it’s something that can be prepared so easily. You can also combine it with liquor or Champagne, so it’s versatile. Either way, it’s a very visual drink. It has done really well.
Would you want to expand the LVP brand into other markets? If so, which one would you want to enter first?
Pandora Vanderpump-Sabo: We are thrilled that LVP has become so popular and is now available throughout most of the U.S. It’s been so exciting to see the response and how quickly it has grown. As far as other markets, we have recently launched LVP in Australia and can’t wait to see it become as popular there as it is here. On a personal level, I am excited to bring LVP to the U.K.!
What drink do you reach for at the end of a long day? What’s your favorite dish?
Lisa: Well, I like our vodka, our own brand called Vanderpump Vodka. I love Vanderpump Vodka, soda, muddled mint and lime. That’s the drink I like as a cocktail. As for a favorite meal, I have so many! I would say probably fish.
Lisa: Oh no, because it’s given me so many opportunities! We wouldn’t be having this conversation now. I wouldn’t have a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Spring Walk of Stars, I wouldn’t have been voted Woman of the Year by the California State Assembly, I wouldn’t have been able to speak at United Nations and Congress. I have had so many privileges and honors that have all come to me through being in the public forum. It has given me a wonderful kind of stepping stone, really to have access. Also, it’s been good as a business model, it’s a really great way to launch things and create things of your own to market yourself. I’ve also had a wonderful time. I’m very comfortable with my life and sharing my life, and it’s almost like having a really expensive family movie play out.
I’m a producer on Vanderpump Rules, so it’s slightly different. Again I don’t have favorites, the experiences are different. RHOBH has been very difficult at times, but with RHOBH, I’ve had a lot of fun with some of the cast and went on some wonderful trips and had wonderful emotional experiences. You’ve seen Pandora’s wedding, you’ve seen Jason asking for permission to marry her, you’ve seen Ken have surgery, you’ve seen all the things that have been documented in our lives, and it’s actually quite amazing to me.
What does luxury mean to you?
Lisa: Oh, to feel pampered! Luxury is not just about money, but of course money helps, especially when it comes to things like travel. I think we should all spoil ourselves. Even if you can’t afford flowers, even if you just have a couple of fresh roses on your table with lots of greenery, or a beautiful teacup to have your tea at the end of the day, or