Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photos: Abrams Image
When Christine Quinn — the polarizing but indisputable beating heart of Netflix’s Selling Sunset — set out to write her first book, she didn’t want it to be a “vanity project” or another humdrum celebrity memoir. (It so happens that her co-star, Chrishell Stause, released a celebrity memoir in February).
Instead, Quinn, whose brutal honesty and stalwart commitment to drama have made her a breakout star, wanted to create something that would help anyone who walked into a bookstore, whether they were a fan or a troll or a stranger. “I went into the show wanting to be myself, showcase my personality, and to be the most organic, real version of me, an unapologetic bitch. I thought people were going to ask me about beauty secrets or fashion tips, but the No. 1 DM I was receiving was about confidence: how to talk to people, how to set boundaries, how to say yes, how to say no,” Quinn tells me on the phone as she washes off her makeup in her New York hotel room. “Confidence was not something I was born with. I acquired it through years and years of noes and trials and tribulations and figuring myself out.”
How to Be a Boss B*tch is her self-help–memoir hybrid that “reclaims” the word bitch as empowering while walking you through the snippets of Quinn’s life, from dropping out of high school to drinking flutes of Dom with a too-controlling sugar daddy. Peppered with financial advice, a few co-worker digs, and Quinn’s signature sharp (too sharp?!) humor, the book is also an effort to bring you closer to the real Christine — a woman who says she’s more three-dimensional than her shit-stirring-villain edit.
Why reclaim bitch?
I think for way too long, there’s been a negative connotation around the word. Why is it that a woman who is outspoken — who has an opinion, who can set boundaries, who can say yes and no — is labeled a bitch? I felt like it was time for me to reclaim that word. If you’re being called a bitch, you’re doing something right because quiet, amenable women never make history. That’s Eleanor Roosevelt, by the way. Don’t quote me on that.
You wrote the book after season three of Selling Sunset wrapped — there’s been a lot of drama over the past two seasons. What’s it like for the book to come out now?
I started on a show that I wasn’t in control of the narrative, and that’s why it was important for me to tell my story. If I don’t do it, someone else will. So yes, a lot changed, and a lot of time went by, and I didn’t get to talk about current events from the show because we already had everything written. That was difficult. I’m not in control of the editing room, but I am in control of the book and what I say. We didn’t know when the book was going to be released, so it actually worked out quite serendipitously.
You write about how you’re living your full truth these days and how for so long you’d lived in “the blank space of the Christine that the writers and producers of the show wanted me to be.” You say that’s where your disappointment with the show took root — producers didn’t show you as a full person, and people came at you thinking the Selling Sunset Christine was the real Christine. Can you talk more about that?
The most important takeaway is that you have to understand we’re three-dimensional creatures, as human beings and individuals, and producers were pinning me in a very one-dimensional box. That’s where my frustrations lie because you’re only seeing one side of me. I do have a heart, I do laugh, I do cry, I am vulnerable. There’s so many different facets to people’s personalities, and you weren’t seeing that. That was on the editing floor. That was in the trash can.
How do you approach writing about your relationships with co-workers (there were a few mentions of Chrishell, for instance) and sugar daddies? Were you ever nervous of what they would think reading it?
No. God, no! The process for me was just telling my story. There’s a call to action in each chapter, and there’s a reason I’m telling each story; I’m not just filling space. It was all very intentional. Writing about my relationships set a foundation for writing about my freedom, which for me came through financial independence and job security. I realized that’s what I valued most, so writing about the relationships that brought me there was necessary to telling the story as a whole.
I was interested in the character of Svetlana, the alter ego you put on at work. How is the real Christine different from Svetlana?
Svetlana: Yes, we love her. We love Svetlana. She is just the definition of an absolute boss. She never wavers. She never quivers. She never thinks twice. She is an assassin in the confidence realm, and she is what I channeled. She is who I became. I feel like I’m at the point where I’m comfortable in my own self, which is where I encourage everyone to be in the novel — to where you don’t have to fake it, to where you made it. That’s where I’m at. I’ve stepped into my power, and I don’t need her anymore, but I used her as a tool when I needed her. My dad and my mom were the ones who gave me the advice “Fake it till you make it.” In my own way, I just want everyone to get to the point where they don’t have to fake it anymore; they’ve made it. It really is a journey of manifestation all around.
How did you pick her name?
Something about it felt really powerful, I don’t know. I had a Siamese cat named Samantha when I grew up. It was a play off Samantha from Sex and the City. I said, Well, she’s gotta be international, right? She’s gotta be well traveled and worldly. So that’s how Svetlana came to be.
Will we get to see you next season on Selling Sunset?
Absolutely. I am not going anywhere when it comes to television, that is for sure. Will I be promoting another company? Absolutely not. Will I be promoting my own company? Absolutely. It’s up to the production companies’ discretion to get “creative” with story lines, which is what they do for a living. So I just have to do what’s best for my business and myself, but I’m not going anywhere. It’s in the hands of network gods right now.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.