It was difficult to get Tom Sandoval on the phone for an interview.
This was both unexpected and extremely on-brand. Tom Sandoval is a bartender who stars on Vanderpump Rules, a reality show that follows the young (ish) and deeply unprofessional employees of SUR, one of Beverly Hills Housewife Lisa Vanderpump’s restaurants. Sandoval, 33, is known for his metrosexual self-care habits and the occasional screaming outburst, usually aimed at his ex-girlfriend Kristen (who I have also interviewed). In a cast choked with emotional criminals, Tom Sandoval is generally the victim rather than the perpetrator—although he is known to commit crimes of a different nature, such as this, or this, or this.
On Monday, I published a short article about a music video Sandoval starred in titled “I Do Coke.” I reached out to him over Twitter to ask if he did coke, like the name of the song says. He gave me his publicist’s email, and we set up an interview for 4 p.m. EST on Wednesday. His publicist declined multiple requests to give me Sandoval’s number, perhaps thinking that I would publish it, or send him nude pics, or give it to a serial killer. However, when 4 p.m. rolled around, Tom did not call.
At 4:40 p.m., his publicist finally got back to me. “I’m so sorry—I have been trying to reach him. I don’t know what happened yet...” he wrote. At 5:30 p.m., with no warning, I received a phone call from an unlisted number. “Hey...it’s Tom,” he said slowly. “Can you call me back right at 6 p.m., or give me a number that I can reach you at?” I asked. He paused. “Sure, I can call you back.”
At 6:14 p.m., Sandoval called again. He never explained what happened. But although he appeared to have forgotten about our interview twice in a row—and despite the fact that his girlfriend/fellow cast member Ariana kept interjecting inaudibly in the background of the phone call—I immediately warmed up to Tom, and enjoyed his thoughts on dealing with producers, how to reduce face shine, and “science and theoretical physics.”
I also really don’t think he does coke.
(This interview has been edited for length and clarity.)
Can you tell me about how you ended up in the video for “I Do Coke”? Did the subject matter speak to you?
The director of photography for my Charles McMansion T.I.P. video was the DP for this video. He was like, yo, I’m doing this video with this really good director Brandon Dermer, it’s for Kill the Noise. And the funny thing was, actually, the date we shot it was my friend Katie’s birthday—I’m on that show Vanderpump Rules, I don’t know if you watch that…
Yeah, I’m aware. [Note: Tom was not joking; both he and his publicist appeared to be unaware of our previous coverage.]
So it was Katie’s birthday, but I told them if you push it a day, I’ll do it. I was a little apprehensive at first because of the subject matter, but I kinda was like, as long as it doesn’t come off like glorifying [cocaine] too much, then I’ll do it. And another reason why I wanted to do it was all the crazy effects. It just seemed really over-the-top.
I get shit all the time from people that watch Vanderpump Rules about being on drugs or whatever, and the funny thing is that I’ve never done coke before in my life. I’ve never even tried it, neither has the director [of “I Do Coke”].
Do you feel like the message of the video was misunderstood?
No, I think it comes across. I mean, that’s the thing about coke—obviously, you being in New York, me being in LA, you’re around it. We all have friends that do it. I have some friends who can’t seem to go out and have a good time unless they have coke. They’re always real secretive about it, it’s this cool kid’s club.
Yeah, the covert migration to the “coke room” at the house party...
Exactly. And when they first get it, they want to share it with everyone, and then when it runs out they’re like, “Well what the fuck happened to it?” And then there’s the cracked-out person who loses their coke bag, looking around like “Fuck, where did I put it?” It’s something I was always a little bit afraid of. But at this point in my life if I’ve never done it, so there’s no point in doing it ever.
It does seem that at certain points members of the cast are consuming more than just alcohol. Is there stuff going on that we don’t see on TV?
Um, I’ll neither confirm nor deny. [laughs] But I can tell you that if it is going on, it can be really annoying sometimes. The whole night becomes about doing coke. They just do blow and then talk about absolutely nothing till like 6 in the morning. And then, you know, hate themselves the next day.
[Ariana says something in the background; Tom laughs, gets distracted for a moment.]
So, I’ve seen people who do it because they drink way too much, but I also know people who drink way too much because they do coke. Somebody does blow and then they need like 10 drinks to calm them down, but then they’re shitfaced and have to do blow to keep going. And when they do it they’re like “Yeah, I’m so fuckin’ cool!”My character [in the video] could have gone into this club and had a great time. But he went into the bathroom and did so much fuckin’ blow that his whole night ended up being spent in the bathroom. He did absolutely nothing. He could have just stayed home.
I think at a certain point in the lifespan of your going-out years, most people hit that moment when they’re like, “Whoa, this is so stupid.”
Oh yeah. I was a club promoter in Miami for a while, and I definitely got to the point where I was like, dude, bottle service fucking sucks.
The last reunion episode of Vanderpump Rules season 4 aired this week. How do you feel about the season?
I feel pretty good about it. In some ways, it’s annoying. Somebody like Jax, or James, they’re asking for all this heat to come down on them, and I’m not asking for that. But this season for some reason I feel like me and Ariana had a big target painted on us, anything we did or said got used against us.
You mean within the cast?
Yeah, within the cast. I felt like there was a lot of manipulation, lying, I don’t know. I’ve been getting a lot of shit about being a whiny brat, or being a baby or whatever on the reunion, but here’s the thing: we were sitting in those chairs for 9 ½ hours. We were there for 12 hours. The first 4 hours Jax literally said 2 fucking words. Katie, Scheana, and Stassi, in that 9 ½ hours never had a disagreement, it was this super brushed-over type of, you know, “we’re friends now.” And there was all this shit that happened that I felt needed to be talked about, and I was kind of the only one who would do it.
And even when I’m like, sticking up for Katie to Stassi, Katie doesn’t say a fucking word, she just sits there quietly. Everybody sits quietly. They just kind of, what’s the word, agree with each other…?
...Pat each other on the back, and you know, if that would have been the case, it probably would have been a one-episode reunion. There was a lot of shit people did, and that’s one of the reasons why nobody wanted to talk—the girls didn’t want to talk because they didn’t want to get called out.
What do you think about Lala? Do you think she’s going to stick around?
I think she’s cool, I think she would stick around unless something came up. I know the girls don’t care for her. I read this interview where Stassi said the whole cast agreed that Lala got the best edit. I never said that.
One thing that [producers] do that trolls us, and it sucks—if someone is a total complete asshole, and they have beef with someone who is not, at all, they’ll kind of edit to even the playing field. To get viewers to want to take both sides.
Are you referring to your ongoing beef with Kristen?
Uh...sometimes, yeah. And just in general, with other people as well. I mean, I think Katie probably got the best edit out of anyone.
You think? I don’t think Katie came off that well this season.
Well, then she came off a lot better than she would have. That girl yelled at me three times about why I wouldn’t bring my ex-girlfriend on my birthday trip. Three times! She and Schwartz argued on the reunion too, for a while. They didn’t even show that.
I mean, she doesn’t seem to allow her Schwartz to disagree with her ever, and they also talk about how they never have sex, which doesn’t seem like the best way to start a marriage. Do you think that’s a healthy relationship?
I mean, I feel like in long-term relationships you go through those droughts. But, I dunno, Schwartz is not huge into sex. I remember when he first moved here, he didn’t leave his room for like 2 or 3 months, he just stayed in his room with the door closed [laughs]. Normally when somebody first gets to LA, they’re like “Yeah!” especially if they’re single. “Let’s go out and meet girls!”
But one of my biggest beefs is the hive mind. I think that’s the problem that me and Ariana both have with the group. Jax will even say, like, “Well what do we think about her?” It’s a sort of “we decided” type thing, and it’s really weird. It’s not my thing.
If it was up to you—and I know you’re going to say Kristen, so I’m not letting you count Kristen—who would you cut from the show?
Hm. I wouldn’t cut anybody, actually.
Not even DJ James Kennedy?
No. My god, no! He’s fucking hilarious—and I’m not saying I’m laughing with him, I’m laughing at him. The shit that comes out of that guy’s mouth, it’s stuff that I would never say in a fucking million years. I don’t even know if I would say it if I had a gun to my head.
Do you think he’s playing it up for the camera, or is he just really like that?
He’s just like that. If you say something to James, like—
[Ariana says something in the background]
—yeah, exactly, good point: if you told him you didn’t like his shoes, he’d be like, “Well you’re fat and gross and your daddy never loved you.”
Before this season, if you had asked me who I wouldn’t want back, I would have definitely said Stassi. In season 3, while we’re all sort of putting ourselves out there—that’s the thing, me and Kristen might not get along but she at least puts herself out there, allows you into her life—Stassi was like, I’m not gonna film with this person, I’m not going to film with this person. She wouldn’t let anybody into her life, and to me that’s not fair.
Here’s the thing about our show. If I say something about somebody, the producers will pursue it. This season, people kind of took advantage of that.
Can you be more specific?
The whole season, Scheana was trying to act like I’m somebody that I’m not, that Ariana’s somebody that she’s not. She would just constantly plant these seeds. I don’t know why she did that. I mean, you’d be surprised, there was a lot of shit edited out that she tried to do as well.
I personally never liked Scheana, at least the version of Scheana that’s on television, but I think this season was especially...tough for her.
I’ve just seen a whole shady, shady side to her that I didn’t know existed, and it kind of freaked me out.
Do you think that being on a reality television show brings that shadiness out in people?
I don’t know. Everybody has their biggest fears when it comes to being on a reality show—like, “No matter what happens, I’m never going to do this.” For some people it’s just aesthetics, like, “I’m never gonna look shitty on camera.” Some people are like, “I’m never gonna yell.” Mine is like, I’m never going to do anything bad.
One of my biggest things in life is that I’m a good person, you know? And when somebody tries to attack that, then most of the time, they’re fucking lying. I don’t do anything maliciously. So when somebody tries to say that I’m somebody that I’m not, I get really, really heated about it. You can say that I’m a douchebag, that I’m cheesy, vain, whatever, you can say all that stuff, I don’t care. But if you say I’m not a good person, that’s where I get really pissed.
I know a few of you have been friends and coworkers for a while, long before the show first aired—were people being manipulative with each other before there were cameras around?
So you don’t think being on TV exacerbated it?
No, it’s always been like that. The difference is that now we talk more about stuff face-to-face. It’s one of those things where you can’t just text somebody and be like “Hey, sorry for being an a-hole last night,” you gotta talk about why you were an a-hole last night, in person. If it was up to me, I would love to get drunk and talk about science and theoretical physics, ‘cause that’s like something I love to do.
Did you study that in school?
No, I didn’t. Maybe that’s why I think it’s so cool now. But that’s not what our show’s about. It’s not interesting enough to our audience, so we talk about what we talk about.
Do you wear makeup when you’re filming? What’s your regimen?
I have a concealer that I’ll wear sometimes, just if I have any dark circles. And sometimes if it’s hot, I’ll throw on some powder to keep me from looking like Jax. Jax is always so sweaty and greasy looking.
Jax’s look in general has really evolved in an alarming way, I would say.
He said he likes to look dewy [laughs].
The goatee is also pretty bad. Really just all of it. He’s changed a lot.
[Laughs] Yeah, he has. So, I don’t wear “guyliner,” I don’t get my eyebrows waxed. That time they showed me [getting my eyebrows tweezed] on the show was probably the first time that had happened in like 3 years. Or 2 years.
Do you get spray tans regularly? Or go to actual tanning beds?
I do get spray tans sometimes, yeah. Every once in a while [I’ll go to a tanning bed], but normally I do spray tans. The funny thing is, anything that I do or wear on our show, everybody else does the same fucking thing.
Everybody shaves their forehead?
Uh, I know they have...but maybe not that.
What’s your natural hair texture?
[Pauses] Um, it’s slightly wavy. I’ll straighten it when I get out of the shower, but I don’t wash my hair every day, so I actually prefer when I sleep on it and it gets a little wave to it. My hair’s so thick when I get out of the shower, I have to calm it down, but it kind of sucks because then it’s too straight.
Yeah, I mean, that’s what a blow dryer is for. But that’s a lot harder to figure out, I feel.
Yeah, I hate doing that.
It’s logistically difficult. What kind of razor do you use on your forehead?
A Gillette Fusion vibrating razor.
It’s a vibrating razor?
Damn. Have you ever cut your forehead with it?
Never. That’s why the vibrating one is so good, cause it makes it safer. It really does exfoliate dead skin off your face.
Okay, one last question—who are you voting for for president?
Uh, I don’t wanna say. Well, I don’t know yet, actually. Just not Trump.
Are you leaning towards a Democratic candidate or a Republican candidate?
Democratic, probably. I don’t like to talk about politics. [Sighs]
Are there any Trump supporters hidden in the Vanderpump Rules cast?
If there are, I don’t know. But who knows, maybe.
Image via screenshot/Bravo.