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Jennifer Gimenez: Back For ‘Sober’ Maternity

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Jennifer Gimenez | Photo by David Jakie / used with permission
Back for the second season of VH1’s “Sober House With. Dr. Drew” is its matriarch, Jennifer Gimenez. Last year’s debut season, featuring Gimenez and a host of celebrities trying to clean up their act, was one of reality TV’s most dynamic in memory.

Somehow this season (VH1, Thursdays/tonight, 10 p.m.) makes its predecessor seem like the PG version.

This year’s cast combines recent graduates of the much more structured drug and alcohol program, “Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew,” along with those from the inaugural season of “Sex Rehab With Dr. Drew.” Both were filmed at the Pasadena Recovery Center.

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Some of the cast members are: Tom Sizemore, Heidi Fleiss, Dennis Rodman, Jennifer “Penny Flame” Ketcham, and Kari Ann Peniche. The results have been dynamic television full of punched-out cameramen, relapse, and no shortage of bleeped f-bombs.

Since LAist last visited Gimenez a year ago, the former covermodel has had quite the year. She’s continued to grow yet lost a hundred pounds, has a growing career, and is over four years sober from drugs and alcohol herself. LAist had a chance to chat with Jennifer about just that.

LAist: What was the difference between the first and second season of Sober House?

Jennifer Gimenez: This season they were all hardcore, street-smart addicts except Dennis Rodman. Last year you had more of a mixture. This year, they were a rough group. Who would have ever thought that I’d be saying I'd take eight Steven Adler’s over the season two group?

I am so grateful I did Sober House the second season. I’m also lucky I didn’t get hurt from this experience. It was a really rough group.

Did the first season prepare you for this one?

Season One taught me a lot. Coming into Season Two, I felt stronger about myself. I also learned to have more love and tolerance, and that I’m not here to be friends with these people. The season before, I was trying so hard to be make them like me.

People in my life, and especially people in the recovery community that I come from, don’t tip-toe around my sobriety. People call me out on my stuff: shut up, sit your ass down, and listen. I felt like, coming into this season, I needed to be the same way people were with me in my program. This disease is deadly, so I’m here to help other people.

What has the public reaction been to the show?

I’ve never been more blown away by the response of people. Yeah, there’s that three percent that’s always going to say some negative stuff, but I get thousands of positive emails and people come up to me and say “thank you for doing what you’re doing.”

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Are there any misconceptions as to your role in recovery?

I definitely want to clear up that I do not work in recovery except for the show. You don’t have to work in recovery to run a sober house. Dr. Drew and the producers brought me in because of my recovery.

A lot of people come to me with their problems and they start opening up. I know sometimes we just need someone to listen, but I can’t give “doctor advice.” I’m not a doctor. I’m just a drunk helping another drunk.

Since Sober House Season One, you’ve lost 100 pounds....

After Season One, after being called a ‘fat’-every word possible, I started dropping weight. I went from going on the treadmill, to going to the nutritionist, to weight training. Last May, I was doing another job somewhere else and I started training with Jai Rodriguez from “Queer Eye For The Straight Guy.”
He was like “hey girl, you need to lift weights.” I had this whole philosophy that my body was going to get big from gaining muscle. Instead, I feel great.

Did you have time to exercise on Sober House Two?

Yes. Dennis Rodman and I were training every day. By that point I had lost about 80 pounds. Since the show finished, I’ve lost that last 20. I’m now officially down 100 pounds. I went from a size 16 back down to a six.

What are your eating habits like these days?

For me, I had to divorce salt and not drink so many sodas. I don’t eat french fries. I eat wheat bread, lots of multi grains, and chicken, and chicken and chicken until it’s coming out of my ears.

What was it like when Kari Ann called you “fat” on Season Two?

It was so “last season.” When I came into the show, obviously I looked much more different than the first season and I was well-seasoned by Steven Adler and that whole group. It didn’t bother me, though, sure, I don’t want to be called on that on a normal basis in my life.

What was it like to live in the show’s Hollywood Hills mansion?

The house was unbelievable. I got to wake up to Downtown LA, and I’d look over to the left, and there was Griffith Park and the ocean straight ahead. It was really beautiful. However, there was many, many stairs. I’d be running up and down them all day long. I was pretty exhausted just from going up the stairs.

Who would win in an arm-wrestling match: Dr. Drew or Barack Obama?

Dr Drew by far. Did you see those arms? Every now and then he’ll wear a t-shirt and you’ll be like “what?”

What’s coming up for you?

Sober House One was nominated for a PRISM Award. Dr. Drew and I will be there presenting at the end of the month. Work-wise, there’s a lot of things in the mix right now that I’m not allowed to talk about because nothing’s finalized. I’m getting back into acting and hosting. I hope a vacation in the near future.

Follow Caleb Bacon on Twitter @thecalebbacon.