A Bravo reality show is facing backlash after one of its cast members used a statue of a fallen 9/11 firefighter as a prop in a photo shoot to promote a piece of “beverage couture.” The statue, as well as the entire park in Great Neck, N.Y., is dedicated to Jonathan Ielpi.
On a recent episode of Princess: Long Island, which features six adult women who live with their parents, cast member Amanda Bertoncini asked a friend to drape herself onto the statue while holding Bertoncini’s product, the Drink Hanky, which is essentially a dolled-up beer koozie. “Yeah, feed him the beer! Then act scared!” Bertoncini shouted to her friend at one point. Video of the shoot can be found here.
Ielpi’s sister was watching the episode when she noticed her brother’s statue. “It opens up the wounds and it makes you just want to cry all over again,” she said.
R. J. Moeller at Acculturated provides an interesting take on the self-centeredness of Bertoncini’s actions, which is even evidenced in her apology, where she manages a “plug for her silly swag.”
“I never meant to hurt or offend anyone when I was doing my photo shoot for The Drink Hanky,” Bertoncini said on Facebook. Bravo has also issued an apology and will remove the footage from all future airings of the episode.
This isn’t Princess: Long Island’s first run-in with controversy in its short time on the air (its first episode premiered barely a month ago). One of the show’s other cast members unknowingly called a Hurricane Sandy–ravaged neighborhood a “ghetto” in an earlier episode. Representative Steve Israel, a Democrat who represents the district where the show is shot, penned an op-ed opposing it for helping “fuel anti-Semitic stereotypes.”