MANHASSET, N.Y. (USA TODAY) - What's in a name? If it's a bottle of nail polish - and you're a Long Island princess - a whole lot.
Bertoncini's long red fingers are clicking over the candy-colored
choices at NuBest Salon and Spa. She's "really into pastels right now,"
but really, her mani monikers are even more important. She homes in the
lilting, lilac You're Such a Budapest, which is great and all, but "I'm
not a pest!"
"Do you have, like, a green?" Bertoncini, 27, asks
one of the technicians as four of her fellow princesses - stars of
Bravo's new Housewives-heir Princesses: Long Island
(premiering Sunday, 9 p.m. ET/PT) - kick up their stilettos and settle
in for some pointed pampering. "I forgot what it's called - like, So
Psyched?" Bertoncini is wearing a leopard-print, maximum-cleavage maxi
dress and towering turquoise heels.
Then, a pale blue polish pops out. The name? Can't Find My Czechbook. "It's perfect," declares Bertoncini, grinning.
There was the WASPy, plummy, Gatsby
Long Island. There's the hedgerow-hemmed, hedge-fund-funded Hamptons,
Long Island. And there's this shiny, suburban, mostly Jewish swath just
east of Queens on the North Shore of Lawn Guyland, known for brassy,
sassy Daddy's girls, aka "princesses."
Or so goes the stereotype.
Like the Jersey Shore
clan before them, who reclaimed "guido" with gusto, this court of six
Princesses say they aren't offended by that ethno-religious slur of an
acronym that starts with J. And yeah, they may work for Dad, carry Louis
Vuitton and Chanel, have aspirations of lip gloss and perfume empires
and live at home in relative luxury, but they don't aim, or claim, to
represent every Jewish person or Long Island resident.
that various Italian-American organizations didn't exactly cozy up to
Snooki's fuzzy slippers. Shari Levine, Bravo's senior vice president of
production, isn't worried about what, say, the Anti-Defamation League
will think of her network's show. "Because you know what? We have shown
these people to be who they are. They're very much themselves and very
self-aware. They are the first ones to laugh at themselves and say,
'This is who I am. This is how I was raised, and I love it.' "
subjecting yet another subculture to the spotlight, "our goal wasn't to
focus on a group and to give it a distorted lens, but to show how a
group has a cultural relationship with each other and see the choices
they make and the influences they have," Levine says.
But push the postmodern philosophizing aside: "We're entertaining," says a freshly spray-tanned Erica Gimbel, 29.
like six Barbie dolls; everyone can relate to one of us," says
Bertoncini, whose boyfriend, Jeff Hoffman, drove her here today because
her outfit wasn't accelerator-friendly. Hoffman, 39, who works in sales,
is wearing a red visor embroidered with her initials in white.
even a Snooki-sized princess: Ashlee White, 30, who stands 4 feet, 9
inches ("that's what I say) and whose size 5 neon orange platform pumps
are "Krazy Glued" to her feet. "If I can't wear stilettos, I don't go."
because we're from a privileged environment doesn't mean we don't go
through issues," says Chanel - nickname: Coco - Omari, 28. She's the
only one who comes close to wearing a tiara: a headpiece fashioned from a
$5 gold necklace. Omari is "a girl on a budget, believe it or not."
wit: She may get biweekly blowouts, but today's buffing and filing
excursion is a treat for Omari; she typically DIYs her hot pink digits,
every week. Bertoncini swears she expertly applied her giraffe-long
"People take that term (princess) and think
we're handed everything on a silver platter, that we only shop and we're
only into material things," says Gimbel. (Indeed, Joey Lauren, 30, says
she grew up with only a "bronze" spoon, which dished out a Honda
Accord, when everyone else was getting a BMW, and a public, vs. private,
Being a Princess isn't all pool parties and
Jelly Apple pedis. Gimbel's hands are getting the hot wax treatment.
"That is some serious sweat," she says, examining her sticky green
blouse. "That is not very princess-like."