Nicole ‘Snooki’ Polizzi may swear by pickles, but her season 3 Jersey Shore costar Deena Cortese says her must-have at all times is CVS-purchased lip gloss. Despite a difference in favorite things, Cortese says she and her pint-sized partner-in-crime are “two peas in a pod.” PEOPLE caught up with MTV’s newest reality vixen at the Beverly Hilton for MTV’s Television Critics Association panel to ask her about clubbing, being sorry for using a racial slur in a MySpace video and her “sexy” housemate Ronnie Magro. –Dahvi Shira
You knew Snooki from before the show, so how did you end up finally becoming a cast member?
Snooki basically needed a partner-in-crime in the house, and me and her are exactly alike … It kind of scares me. She was like, “Deena, get your ‘a’ down here to Seaside. We’re going to party.”
How did the two of you meet?
We knew each other through her ex-boyfriend. She used to date one of my friends … and as soon as we met, it was just like heaven. We’ve known each other for about two years now.
Have you guys consistently been best friends or has it been on and off?
She lives in Poughkeepsie and I live in New Jersey. Me and her would always go to the clubs and see each other or just talk through Facebook and stuff. During the summer, we always just saw each other down the shore and stuff.
You said that you and Snooki are two peas in a pod, but how would you say your role on the show is different?
The difference between me and Nicole is she’s looking for love and I just don’t give a f— what guys think. Basically I’m the one just going out there, trying to have a good time. We’re all having a good time, but I’m just there for a freakin’ blast.
What about the guys on the show? You have to think at least one of them is hot, if not more?
All the guys are good-looking on the show. I think Pauly D is adorable. Mike, his personality just makes him cute because he’s awesome. And Vinny‘s Vinny. He’s a cutie. All the guys are cute. And Ronnie‘s just — Ronnie’s sexy.
There was some controversy with you using the N-word in a MySpace video. What was that all about?
In that video I was not trying to disrespect anyone. It was more of a slang. I wasn’t trying to come off that way at all, and I apologize if I offended anyone. I’m not like that at all, and if I disrespected anyone, I apologize. I would never do something like that again. That shouldn’t have happened in the first place.
What’s a typical night out for you and Snooki?
A lot of shots, dancing on bars, meeting boys and being loud and obnoxious.
Who gets more attention from guys?We definitely get equal amounts of attention. We’re like two little meatballs running around the club.
Are you close with your family?
My parents are very protective of me. They enjoy that I did take this opportunity to go and do this, and they are my backbone. I wouldn’t be able to do anything without them. You will probably definitely see them on the show, because I want them to come and visit me because I miss them. I have an older sister. She’s 35. She’s good-looking. She kind of looks like me.
Who do you not get along with in the cast?
I get along with everybody in the cast. I went in there with an open mind and it was good.