Spotting Michaele Salahi at a recent polo match was no easy task. In that crowd,a waifish striking blonde of a certain ageeven one who stood at 5 foot 11 before slipping into her Louboutin heelswas not exactly an anomaly.
But the cameras were a dead giveaway. There,in front of a small group of photographers,was Mrs Salahi,45hand on thrusting hip,shoulder seductively loweredwearing the well-rehearsed fixed smile of an aspiring beauty queen. Her husband,Tareq,three years younger and one inch taller,stood confidently beside her.
Few people had heard of the Salahis before they maneuvered their way into the White House for President Obamas first state dinner in November 2009 for the Indian Prime Minister,Dr Manmohan Singh,apparently uninvited. But that well-publicised event,along with the couples polarising presence on The Real Housewives of D.C. reality series last year,made them celebrities of sorts.
And though the limelight may have been harsh at times (exposing their financial difficulties,their fractious relationship with Mr Salahis family and their own apparent proclivity for occasionally stretching the truth),they seem determined to extend their fame beyond its proverbial 15 minutes.
Thus,this appearance at the Victory Cup polo match in mid-July.
Not to mention: Mrs Salahis newly recorded single,a dance track called Bump It that includes lyrics like Im so hot and,like,youre so not. (That one made the CNN host Anderson Coopers RidicuList.)
And coming soon: a Playboy magazine pictorial. In an interview,Mrs Salahi said she expected the photos to be published some time in 2012.
Once upon a time,the Salahis were merely a couple,not a brand. Mrs Salahi was the youngest of four siblings,and grew up mostly in Florida. In June 2000,she met Mr Salahi,son of Dirgham and Corinne Salahi. We grew up very differently, Mrs Salahi said recently. Tareq was such a jet-setter,I remember saying,Oh,my gosh,how will I keep up?
Eight months after they met,Mr Salahi proposed to Michaele Holt on a trip to Rio de Janeiro. They married in November 2003.
For the next several years they mingled with international luminaries and raised money for charities; Mrs Salahi modelled occasionally and managed Mr Salahis fund-raising efforts for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
But by the night of the White House dinner,the Salahis fortunes were changing. Disputes over the fate of the business resulted in a string of family lawsuits,and the company filed for bankruptcy in 2009.
The White House dinner changed everything. In its immediate aftermath,the now-infamous photos of the Salahishe in his tuxedo,she in her striking red and gold sari were the stuff Saturday Night Live skits were made of. (Secret Service officials concluded that the Salahis should not have been allowed into the White House; the Salahis have maintained that they were invited.)
Inevitably,the news cycle moved on. But the Salahis insisted on moving on with it,prolonging their newfound fame with one public appearance or misadventure after the next,always camera-ready.
Most of that camera time came,of course,on Real Housewives. Those women were vicious, Mr. Salahi said of the other wives on the show. But it did make for good TV, he added. And frankly,thats what opened up these new doors.
The role landed Mrs Salahi more reality-show prospects and a one-time co-host spot on Today.
But along the way,more scandal: When The Real Housewives of D.C. had its debut in August 2010,Mrs Salahi had a public spat with Whoopi Goldberg on the set of The View. Goldberg said somebody backstage told her that Mrs Salahi claimed that Goldberg had hit her,an accusation Mrs Salahi has denied. In March,VH1 issued a statement confirming that Mrs Salahi had been removed from Celebrity Rehab,its reality show. The network said that,although that producer had been advised before taping that Mrs Salahi fit the bill of a celebrity addict,subsequent assessments concluded she did not meet the criteria. Mrs Salahi maintains she was asked to be on the show because she suffered from multiple sclerosis,underwent several tests to qualify,and was present for 10 days of filming before she was asked to leave and parted ways amicably.
The Salahis say they have been supporting causes like same-sex marriage and helping sufferers of diseases like multiple sclerosis. At the polo match,they volunteered in an interview that Mrs Salahi had been offered roles in two films: one as a news anchor,the other as a villain in a horror film. The couple also said that they have been asked to appear on the Australian version of Dancing With the Stars.
Mr Salahis immediate plans are a bit more modest,but just barely. They include,he said,a reality show on an unnamed network about reality show celebrities.
I dont want to give away the plot, he said,adding with a grin,Its almost like the Real Housewives of reality-TV stars.