'Close Your Legs to Married Men': A Brief History of Kim Zolciak-Biermann & NeNe Leakes' Rocky Friendship
It's been one heck of a ride for the Real Housewives of Atlanta frenemies
Before filming began on the Real Housewives of Atlanta, which first aired in 2008, Kim Zolciak and NeNe Leakes were tighter than ever. But as most reality TV relationships go, the pair's friendship hit a rough patch — and then some (we'll get to that later) — when NeNe began sharing her disapproval of Kim dating a man she referred to as "Big Poppa," who was rumored to be married. This caused a rift between the pair for the duration of the season.
'CLOSE YOUR LEGS TO MARRIED MEN'
During the season 1 reunion of RHOA, Kim told host Andy Cohen that "Big Poppa," with whom she had an on-again, off-again relationship, was still legally married to his wife, but in the process of getting a divorce. NeNe reacted to Kim's admission with a now-infamous Housewives one-liner: "Close your legs to married men."
During NeNe's 2009 appearance on Watch What Happens Live, host Andy Cohen read an excerpt from the Real Housewife's book, Never Make the Same Mistake Twice. "Kim wouldn't know how to make a dime if you slapped her with a bucket of change," read the excerpt. "Every dollar that chick has is somebody else's husband's money." At the end of the show, Kim called in to defend herself. What ensued was a seven-minute screaming match that included insults ("trash box" and "hooker" were among them) and cheating allegations.
At the end of season 2, Kim debuted her song "Tardy for the Party," which would go on to become one of the most successful singles released by a Real Housewife — but there was major drama going on behind the scenes. "Tardy for the Party" was originally supposed to be a duet with NeNe, but Kim decided to forgo the additional vocals on the track, adding even more strain on the pair's relationship. But during a 2014 joint Watch What Happens Live appearance, NeNe only had nice things to say about the song. "I thought it was fun, Kim, honestly," NeNe admitted. "When I heard it, I clapped and tapped my toe in the club."
THE TOUR BUS DEBACLE
It was the tour bus fight heard 'round the (reality TV) world! What started off as an argument about not being able to incorporate a girls' trip into Kim's tour turned physical when NeNe began accusing Kim of mistreating her assistant, Sweetie, which led Kim to say NeNe was jealous all the attention she was getting. "You're second best and you know it," said NeNe on the tour bus. Kim responded: "You're an intern at [local news station] 11 Alive." Things escalated when NeNe got off her seat to get inches away from Kim's face. "As soon as she got up off that seat, I knew our friendship was done," the "Tardy for the Party" star said in her season 3 RHOA interview.
In season 4, NeNe was left off the guest list for Kim's baby shower (she was expecting her first child with husband Kroy Biermann at the time). "I was not shocked to find out I was not invited to Kim's baby shower," NeNe said during her RHOA interview. "Had I been invited, I would have never in a million years gone. I couldn't be happier that I didn't get an invite."
During season 5 of RHOA, a pregnant Kim stormed off the show after she pulled out of a girls' trip her castmates were planning. In her Bravo blog, Kim stated the reason she didn't go on the trip to Anguilla was due to doctor's orders. "Traveling 32 weeks pregnant is such a scary risk and for the women to think that I was willing to take that risk FOR THEM is absurd," she wrote, adding: "What I find so hilarious is NeNe calling me a liar! NeNe, tell me one thing I have EVER lied about? I would love to hear that!"
Kim and NeNe's rough patch didn't last for very long that time, however: They hugged and made up on the season's reunion. Kim even attended NeNe's June 2013 wedding to husband Gregg.
A MAJOR REGRET
Fans curious about Kim and NeNe's current friendship status were treated to a joint 2014 appearance on Watch What Happens Live. While participating in the late-night talk show's "Plead the Fifth" segment, NeNe revealed that of all the things she's said about Kim on RHOA, she wishes she could take back her "close your legs to married men" comment from season one. "Oh, I love that, thank you," responded Kim.
THE COCKROACH INCIDENT
In October 2017, NeNe slammed Kim's daughter Brielle with claims of "prejudice" after the mother-daughter pair visited NeNe's home and allegedly found cockroaches, resurfacing an old video filmed by Brielle in NeNe's bathroom. "@briellebiermann We don't have roaches! If you found 1, u brought it with u or it fell outta yo funky p—y! Please know I will get You all the way together when you start f—ing with me and mine!" NeNe wrote in a since-deleted post. In the comments section of a separate Instagram account, NeNe called the duo "racists."
"Kim & her daughter oops whole family are racists! What her daughter did at my home, (which she nor kim were invited to so be clear abt that as well) was pure disgusting, racist, learned behavior etc," NeNe wrote, adding, "children are NOT off limits when you allow your child to talk to adults any kind of way, post disrespectful things on social media and so on. Kim is a calculating bio polar racist with a horrible mouth, who uses black folks for her come up."
Kim jumped to her daughter's defense via Instagram, assuring RHOA fans that they will see the bug incident play out on the upcoming season, premiering Nov. 5. "Brielle went to the bathroom and saw several bugs and had sent ME the video on [Snapchat] and NO ONE ELSE!!! We ARE filming a show, remember that, (RHOA) and Nene released this video herself! No one has EVER seen this video but RHOA! Nobody would have ever seen this video!" she said. "Nene has said and done some things that are absolutely disgusting, however I will take the high road as you will see it on the show soon enough, but you WILL NOT make it seem as though my daughter did ANYTHING wrong! She never posted this video nor would she! As you see here I myself was not willing to send the video just for ratings for RHOA. END OF STORY."
"It's so sad and offensive that someone can stoop so low as to call someone a racist just because they are mad," she continued. "Everyone in my life knows that I am far from racist and unfortunately NeNe Leaks has tried for the last 10 years to paint that picture because that's her last resort. (It's convenient that I'm not racist when we are getting along.)"
NOTHING BUT LOVE
During a pre-taped October 2017 episode of Watch What Happens Live, Kim — who was joined by husband Kroy — was asked about her current dynamic with NeNe. "I love [NeNe] always will, we started together so," she told host Andy Cohen before news of their feud went public.
SEEKING LEGAL COUNSEL
During an appearance on Larry King Now in October 2017, Kim explained her decision to seek legal counsel in the wake of NeNe's claims. "She put #KKK on the Instagram post. It's just that bad," she said. "I'm on a show with all African-American women and I'm the only one that's ever been on the show that's Caucasian, so it’s the card that sometimes they play and it’s gross. And I won't allow it."
DRESSED FOR THE OCCASION
For Halloween 2017, Leakes made reference to the pair's feud by dressing as a pest control worker, with husband Gregg taking on the role of a cockroach. "Roach Pest Control in full effect," wrote Leakes on Instagram, using the show's hashtag, "#RHOA," to cap off her post.
O.G. Real Housewives of Atlanta star Shereé Whitfield, who is good friends with Zolciak-Biermann, gave an update on how the Bravo star has been doing since she obtained legal counsel following Leakes' "racist" accusations against Zolciak-Biermann. "She's holding her head up," Whitfield said during an appearance on PEOPLE Now. "She was definitely very upset and not happy with some of the comments that were made about her and her family, but she's holding up."
"Again, we're O.G.s and we started this platform [in Atlanta] all together," she continued. "I want to believe that they can get past this, but there was so much said and done — I’m not sure they’ll ever be where they were before."
We'll find out what happens next when the Real Housewives of Atlanta returns to Bravo on Sunday night, Nov. 5, at 8 p.m. ET.
WHEN IN BARCELONA
On an episode of the Real Housewives of Atlanta, which saw the cast members travel to Barcelona, Spain for a girls trip, Zolciak-Biermann was noticeably absent — and it didn’t go over well with NeNe. The “Tardy for the Party” crooner skipped the getaway not only because husband Kroy wasn’t invited, but also because of her health issues.
Leakes shaded Zolciak-Biermann’s history of health problems used as reasoning for not wanting to travel alone, implying that was all an excuse. “Kim is the only person who has had cancer, thyroids, blood clots, open-heart surgery, a stroke, and is still running around here being negative,” Leakes said. “If you’ve had that much, you should be so positive and thankful that God has let you live through every disease in America. Cancer, stroke, thyroid, open-heart surgery, and still living? I can’t get over it. God is good, honey. She’s had it all!”
Zolciak-Biermann learned of Leakes’ talk after castmate Shereé Whitfield called her up to tell her, which prompted the Don’t Be Tardy star to send a text to the group while they were in Barcelona.
“NeNe is sick and disgusting,” she wrote in the lengthy text, which came with video of the so-called “roaches” and a photo of Leakes’ car parked in the handicapped spot. “And I’m not just speaking on the fact that she made fun of a SERIOUS health issue I had… But I am also speaking on the fact that she lives in a f—— roach nest. For someone who has two beautiful kids and an amazing husband, she should be worried about karma. But this is coming from the same person who takes handicapped spots from the handicapped.”
Following the reunion episode of The Real Housewives of Atlanta, Zolciak-Biermann took to Instagram to make a public apology to Leakes, for everything that had occurred on the Bravo show's most recent season.
"I am so sorry for what has happened @neneleakes. We both know the truth, we both know that if I wanted to, I could have a law suit for the lies you have spewed, tweeting out fake texts, implying I am racist, attacking me physically, claiming my daughter tweeted negative about you and your home, we both know these are lies. I have reacted to it publicly and for that I am sorry," she wrote on Instagram. "I should have risen above it."
Zolciak-Biermann continued: "I personally will no longer engage with you on social media and perpetuate the hate. I am asking you to do the same. We are grown women with families. Enough is enough. I want us to move on."
Leakes did not accept her apology, taking to Twitter to share her own thoughts on the matter. “Please file a lawsuit,” the former Fashion Police host posted in a series of impassioned tweets, never directly naming her frenemy but alluding to Zolciak-Biermann. She added, “Anytime you wanna go to court, I’m happy to see you there because your lies have runneth over.”
“You can never WIN when you play DIRTY so throw in the towel!” she also tweeted, before seemingly mocking Zolciak-Biermann’s lip injections. “I mean, throw in the lips!”
A THOUGHTFUL GESTURE
Though the two reality stars have had a longtime rivalry, which most recently exploded in and all-out war on the tenth season of The Real Housewives of Atlanta, Leakes and Zolciak-Biermann seem to be on good terms again. Shortly after revealing that husband Gregg has been battling cancer, Leakes received a care package, courtesy of her frenemy.
"What can i say other than THANK YOU!," Leakes wrote on Instagram in the caption to a photo of her haul, which included plushy bath robes, motivational books, and items from Zolciak-Biermann’s Kashmere Collection. "Thank you @kimzolciakbiermann for your thoughtful gift! Opening your box is like Christmas! Just all kinds of goodies 😂 😍."