By David Perloff / Photography by Brevin Blach
Styled by Ali & Isabelle for Wear It My Way (wearitmyway.com)
Hair by Robert Steinken for Bumble and Bumble
Makeup by Rosie Johnston for SoloArtists.com and Marc Jacobs Beauty
Nails by Angel for Re:vive Salon & Spa
Stylist's Assistant: Alexus Shefts
Photographer's Assistants: Greg Ronlov and Heidi Rote
Shot on location at Schubach Aviation, San Diego's Jet Charter Company, schubachaviation.com
Luxury ground transportation provided by Epic Limo, epiclimo.com
Catering courtesy of Bring it to Me, bringittome.com
New York Times writer Gina Bellafante describes MTV's mega-hit The Hills (2006 to 2010) as "pseudo-improvised," but she admits being one of millions of viewers who regarded the popular reality series as a guilty pleasure.
It mocks our hearts; it plays with our allegiances and we welcome the abuse," Bellafante says.
Famous for blurring the lines between actual drama and scripted soap opera, The Hills fanned the flames of Lauren Conrad's star power (ignited by the show's predecessor, Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County), gave Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt a chance to soak in (and grope for) the limelight, and is now pushing another cast member's career sky high.
"It's a dream job; I get to travel all over the country," says Audrina Patridge of her new gig as host of LXTV's 1st Look, the next season of which airs on NBC beginning in January. "Maybe it will go international one day."
Patridge, who was BFFs with Conrad during at least some of The Hills' six seasons (TMZ reports Patridge has yet to be invited to Conrad's upcoming wedding), steps into a hosting role previously held by Ali Fedotowsky, who appeared on ABC's The Bachelor: On the Wings of Love and starred on the sixth season of the network's Bachelorette (2010).
"Basically, you're giving everyone the first look into all these new, fun, exciting restaurants and activities and cool bars around the country," Patridge says. "It's so much fun taking the audience with me, so they're experiencing all these new things vicariously, through the lens."
"It was a little scary; I don't really like being upside down." In New York, she jumped into a pool to burn calories Aqua Cycling before heading out on the town after sunset.
"It's basically underwater cycling, and it's huge in France and Italy right now," she says. "On the show, we do exercise segments, so you get a fair share of working out, and lots of eating and drinking and indulging."
During her three days taping the San Diego chapter of 1st Look, Patridge hung 10 with Surf Divas founders (and twin sisters) Coco and Izzy Tihanyi in Pacific Beach, and rocketed in and out of the water while Flyboarding near Shelter Island.
"I face planted and belly-flopped so hard," she says of the latter activity.
All that exertion requires a lot of refueling, so she filled up at restaurants and bars that will soon catch national TV airtime:
Cowboy Star in the Gaslamp
"I got to help the chef cook in the back, and then we got to sit and talk about the restaurant and what it's known for. It's literally the best steak I've ever had."
Noble Experiment in East Village
"It was actually kind of hard to find because it's hidden. They have great, bold, beautiful drinks, mostly with bourbon, tequila and gin - no vodka."
Hash House a Go Go in Hillcrest
"They have huge, decadent, beautiful big portions, and I got to make fried chicken with corn flakes and sage on top of waffles with bacon inside... and homemade syrup."
In the coming months, Patridge will travel to Florida, Louisiana and Utah, among many other locales. And when the ostensibly down-to-earth O.C. denizen boards her next flight, always with her dog Lady in tow, it won't be on a private plane.
"We fly commercial, and then I use Uber a lot for transportation," she says. "I wish I had one of those fancy jets; they would come in handy."
[Editor's note: quoting any line from the 1973 Led Zeppelin song "Over the Hills and Far Away" seems apropos, so how about this one - "I live for my dream and a pocketful of gold."]
Patridge, who aspires to launch her own line of swimwear and lingerie someday, cites Heidi Klum as a hero in the fashion world.
"She has that whole global, glamorous, Hollywood feeling about her, even though she's from Germany," she says. "As a supermodel, she can still pull off TV and also being a model and a businesswoman and a mother."
For now, however, starting a fashion brand, not to mention becoming a mother, will take a back seat to 1st Look.
"After that, in the next five to 10 years, I'd love to get married and settle down and start a family," Patridge says.
With current boyfriend Corey Bohan?
"Possibly," Patridge says with a laugh. "We've been together for so long now, everyone asks us, 'Everyone's getting married; when are you guys?' Right now I'm a mommy of two: my little dogs. But one day..."
Buckle up for the 1st Look ridealong with Audrina Patridge as she shows NBC viewers her new reality - or something close to it - Saturday nights after Saturday Night Live beginning January 4.