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Marlo Hampton wants you to know there is more to her than designer labels! Atlanta’s most contested and derided housewife is speaking out about who she really is, and defending herself to the critics.

To start out, Marlo says she never cared that her then-boyfriend Charles Grant allegedly dated co-star (and now friend) NeNe Leakes, and she came on the show with an open-mind. “The girls wanted it to be something major,” she insists. But she does care about how she is portrayed on the Real Housewives of Atlanta!

She is also happy she was able to participate in the trip to South Africa, despite the unsavory taste it left in most viewer’s mouths. Marlo calls the trip to Africa “a life experience,” save for the argument she had with Sheree Whitfield. “I hate that that happened,” she muses to The Hollywood Reporter.

“I would not have cared about her inviting me to the party, because I know that Sheree doesn’t really care for me too much, whatever. But, after we sat on the boat and we’re all like ‘Hey, we’re going to bond, at least when we see each other we’re going to speak, we’re going to be cordial,’ I’m like, OK, we’re starting off on a new foot, we’re connecting,” Marlo explains.

“So as soon as we get back to the room, you call Cynthia [Bailey] over and invite Cynthia and not me, really? Sheree, seriously? Where we just left 30 minutes ago saying ‘Oh, we’re going to try to get along,’ so that really just shocked me. And then we started the argument, I guess the part that blew me was when she was like, ‘Oh don’t go there, you’re dating an 80-year-old white man.’ I just lost it.”

She does regret using the word “faggot” during the course of her rage. “I feel absolutely awful,” she admits. “When I said the ‘f-word,’ this wasn’t on camera, but I was crying, I was so pissed off and frustrated.”

Marlo says her sister is gay, along with her assistant and she is deeply involved in the community. “I called home to Daniel, my assistant who’s gay. I just told him about the whole thing about Sheree, I mean, I just felt awful, I mean, I was upset like that whole night.”

And she wants you to know using the word isn’t as bad as one might think! “But the only thing about it, when I talked to Lawrence [Washington] about it, he told me a ‘faggot’ was a gay messy male. And I did know that guy was being messy, but he’s like ‘Marlo, you cannot say that, though, you’re not gay. It’s like a man calling you the B-word.’”

“I did apologize, my friends love me and they know I was just talking, and I’m just trying to build that relationship back with the gay community, because, I mean that was awful, I really feel bad about that.”

As for how she earns the money to pay for all that Lu-wee VooTAWN, Marlo insists she used to work and she’s really good at investing! “ I mean, from work, and I did own and found the Red Carpet Boutique at Perimeter Mall in Atlanta for three years, which I just closed when I started taping with Bravo.”

“Of course, I have been spoiled by my boyfriends,” she adds. “The main part is that I invested my money.”

“I wasn’t crazy, I didn’t have to spend on everything. My home is paid for, my vehicles are paid for… I came from nothing to where I never want to go back to being a foster child, being homeless, or being in the projects, and just struggling, and not knowing where my next meal was going to come from. I don’t want to go back to that.”

Marlo admits she was “puzzled” by Kandi Burruss asking her about the source of her income. She believs Kandi is so concerned about her cash flow because she’s jealous! “It’s jealousy and envy, that’s what it was. I mean, it’s got to be jealousy and envy, something, Lord — women with low self-esteem only,” she insists.

“The gay men love me, men love me, and strong-minded women love me, who have high self-esteem. Only the low self-esteem women have a problem with me, and it’s like, ‘Why? What is your problem?’ Just because I love fashion, my story is different from yours, my occupation is different from yours, what is the problem?”

And speaking of boyfriends who take care of you, Marlo insists she actually likes Kim Zolciak and wasn’t trying to “jab” her with all the Big Poppa talk during Cynthia’s modeling school opening. “When I originally met Kim, she was so nice and sweet and talking to me, but I wasn’t trying to pull a jab. It came off like one though, but I really wasn’t.”

“I said I had a Big Poppa,” Marlo clarifies. “I feel like, it wasn’t even about you Kim. And she has a past herself, and her comments about me have been inappropriate, but it is what it is. But it wasn’t targeted towards her. But her comments about me are inappropriate, that’s what’s crazy.”

Finally, Sheree is speaking out about why she decided to tell Kim about Kandi and Cynthia’s comments in Africa! And she is defending her decision to spill the beans, claiming it was all about loyalty! “I believe in friendship, I believe in loyalty. If you say something, you need to own it.”

Sheree admits that she initially misspoke about who made the comment. “I stand corrected: Cynthia did make the initial comment about Kim, but Kandi immediately agreed with her.”

“Only that wasn’t shown. No one watching at home realized that Kandi had agreed with Cynthia. Hopefully, they’ll air the entire conversation during the reunion.”

As for Kandi’s accusations that Sheree threw her under the bus, Sheree dismisses that as ridiculous. ” I told Kim about the incident while Kandi was standing right there next to me — so I wasn’t throwing anyone under the bus. I just strongly believe that if you say something behind someone’s back, you should be able to say it to their face.”

Sheree tells Wetpaint she was more angry that Kandi agreed with Cynthia’s comment – particularly since Cynthia isn’t close with any of the ladies involved. “Cynthia and Kim aren’t close. There’s no loyalty there — they’re not friends,” Sheree reveals. “But Kandi is supposed to be Kim’s friend — and I thought it was strange that she was agreeing with Cynthia on a sentiment that was basically insulting Kim and implying she could possibly be racist.”

The decision to call Kim was made by the producers, according to Sheree, but she decided to tell Kim what was discussed in the jeep. “After the jeep ride, the producers asked us to call Kim, so we did,” she claims she didn’t mention Cynthia’s involvement in the conversation because she and Kim “aren’t close,” but Kandi and Kim are ‘close friends.’” After Tardy For The Party? I beg to differ!

“Kim was thankful that I mentioned it,” Sheree explains. “She knows I’m not messy person. Most real friends would appreciate that.” As for her relationship with Kandi, the two are good now, but things were tense for a while.

The conversation continues next episode when Kim confronts Kandi and a blow-out fight happens!

THOUGHTS ON MARLO’S INTERVIEW? DO YOU BELIEVE SHE WORKED HARD AND SAVED HER MONEY? DO YOU BELIEVE SHEREE TOLD KIM ABOUT KANDI’S COMMENTS OUT OF LOYALTY? WAS SHEREE IN THE WRONG TO DO SO?

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