She’s posed for M&M’s and Depend undergarments. She’s acted in the soap operas of daytime (Days of Our Lives) and prime time (Melrose Place). But it wasn’t until Lisa Rinna reached her 50s that she became a cult figure, appearing on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills as a feisty, wine-glass-tossing pot stirrer. Like any self-respecting Housewife, she capitalized on the moment by launching Rinna Beauty, emphasis on lips, and Rinna Wines, emphasis on sparkling. Now, seemingly out of nowhere, the fashion world has embraced her with magazine covers and front-row seats at the Paris couture shows. Through it all, Rinna’s look has been both campy—the frequent wig changes—and remarkably consistent. “You learn moderation when you’ve been cuckoo-bird crazy,” she says. “That’s wisdom for you!”
I’m the one with the iconic hair and the mouth. If you see me, it’s because of the hair and the lips. Big lips and short, shaggy hair. I’ve had them for more than 25 years.
I was in acting class and had just broken up with my boyfriend of three and a half years. This girl sitting next to me in class had just cut off all her hair, and I thought it was the greatest thing. It struck me as what I needed to do. I had the guy who cut her hair come over to my little apartment in Brentwood and cut my hair off. And it was really one of the most freeing moments in my life.
I grew it out one time after I had [daughter] Delilah, because Harry [Hamlin, her husband of 26 years] was missing the long hair. And once I grew it out, he said, “I think I like your hair better short.” I was like, Hallelujah! I’ve never gone back.
When I tested for Days of Our Lives, I’d just gotten my hair cut. They’d probably seen 200-and-some-odd girls for the role of Billie [Reed], but I came in feeling sassy with my hair, and I think that helped me get the part.
I had silicone put in my top lip when I was 24 years old. I thought it was the smartest, coolest thing ever. My girlfriend and I had just seen the movie Beaches. Remember Barbara Hershey and the collagen in her lips? We first got collagen like her, and—me and my smart ideas—I thought, Wouldn’t it be great if we could do it permanently?
It’s not a great thing to do, and I did it. I had to take the silicone out at one point. They got out as much as they could, but there’s still scar tissue and such. Most of it’s gone, and I’m happy with it these days.
Luckily, I’ve been able to survive it and use it to my advantage. I turned it into a positive. My lips have had their own career.
When I became a Housewife, I didn’t look like a typical Housewife, and I used that to my advantage as much as they used me for theirs. It served a great purpose for me: to get hot again, to be relevant and have real estate. And the real estate was really good. It made me a pretty darn big star, and I’m able to launch brands off it. I was on the show for eight years, and I got out in the nick of time. I think reality television is coming to an end, or it’s going to change drastically.
My lips have had their own career.
The first time I posted a dance video, I did a little “Hot Honey Rag,” from Chicago, in my bathroom. I always loved to dance. That unleashed the monster right there. I continue to do it because it seems to make people laugh. I really like to make people laugh, so there you go.
Who knew I would go from Housewife into this fashion mode? I’m shooting covers of magazines, fashion magazines. The designers are loaning me the clothes I always wanted to wear for the last 30-some-odd years of my career. Too bad it didn’t happen to me in my 30s, but, oh well, it’s happening now. I mean, who would have ever imagined that?
I’m having a ball.
I go to the dermatologist, Dr. Jessica Wu, and to Nurse Jamie, who has every laser known to man. I keep myself looking fresh as a daisy. I use Retin-A, and I swear by it. That and sunscreen are the two most important products. I get my hair cut by Sally Hershberger, Cervando Maldonado, or Matthew Shields, depending on scheduling. I find that consistency and moderation are the best things you can do. You learn moderation when you’ve been cuckoo-bird crazy.
[Turning 60], it’s a freaky number. It’s part of my job to show people that you can turn that number and not have to be put out to pasture. You can still be a vital woman.
There’s so much shame—I don’t like that word, but I’m going to use it. There’s shame around aging as women in this business. It’s your prerogative to age however you want. I think aging gracefully—I don’t like that term. I don’t know if it’s going to be graceful. I don’t know if it’s going to be raucous. I don’t know if it’s going to be fierce. I want it to be more than graceful.
Lisa Rinna is an actress, television personality, and model