I met the beautiful Kaylee DeFer through Chelsea Schuchman back in fall. We hit it off instantly over dirty martinis and bacon-covered dates at Village Idiot on Melrose, Hollywood – she had just landed a role on Gossip Girl, and she was ecstatic. Several months later, the most addictive show on TV is (finally!) back on tonight and I’m thrilled to watch my new BFF shine on screen in the role of Charlie – Serena (Blake Lively)’s cousin – a pretty ingenue who hits the New York social scene for the very first time. We sat down with the witty actress back in her L.A. digs, and here’s what she had to say:
LF: You just spent three months in New York City – your first time living in the city. You’re a funny girl who makes friends easily… how was the vibe on the set?
KD: Well thank you, love. First, New York City was unbelievably beautiful. I was terrified to step off the plane into that winter weather. I’m from Tucson, Arizona, so snow was only something we’d see on top of the mountains. I had heard horror stories of winter in the big cities, but it couldn’t have been more enchanting. I was in my first snow storm there! Some of the cast and I made snow angels in the middle of 5th Ave. Such an epic moment. As far as the vibe on the set went, everyone was pretty delightful in their own unique way. It was like being the new girl coming into high school at the end of senior year, so I tried to keep to myself as much as possible and observe. It’s always a strange thing stepping on to other peoples’ turf. I always expect the worst, that way I’ll never be disappointed. In this case I was pleasantly surprised.
LF: What did you learn about fashion while working on Gossip Girl?
KD: Fashion. Fashion. Fashion. We have a love hate relationship. Last year I have to say I lost my mojo for it all, but if anything were to ever have cured that loss it was New York and working with Eric Dane on Gossip Girl. I don’t know if I could call it learning so much as rekindling the flame. Wardrobe fittings were definitely one of my favorite parts of the show. It’s a fashion wonderland in there. No inch of space is spared.
LF: You gotta admit New York is a shopper’s paradise, though. Can you share some of the favorite stores you’ve shopped at while in New York?
KD: I found the most amazing flea market called the Garage off 24th. I stumbled across it walking home from a class. I spent hours in there. I can honestly say it was the only place I actually bought anything in New York. I really didn’t have much time for shopping.
LF: As an actress, what was your biggest challenge on this show?
KD: It would have to be between getting caught wearing the set UGG boots and being called an animal killer. OR, keeping my character a secret. Not even the cast could know anything. I had to make some serious character decisions with Charlie that would show the audience her layers, but not give anything away.
LF: You were away from your fiancé for three months while shooting. Favorite sex shops you’ve discovered? How did you keep the romance alive.
KD: Technically, Mike and I were only apart for a total of 3 1/2 weeks. I couldn’t stand being apart even that long! Well, that “class” I spoke of in your last question was an S Factor class. For those of you who aren’t familiar, it’s a work out designed around a stripper pole. The woman who played my mother in Gossip Girl actually created it, Sheila Kelley. She got me going and I fell in love! It’s like Fight Club for women. It’s a safe haven for women to tap into their sexuality and learn to express themselves. Let’s just say Mike isn’t bummed.
LF: You are famous for introducing the word pook to the L.A. foodie bloggers community during one of our epic lunches at Jitlada. Any NYC restaurant discovery you’d like to share?
KD: Hahaha… That’s right. Pook. It’s when you don’t know whether you’re going to puke or poop your pants. I have to say I had not one pook experience in NY. I found myself asking the question, “Why is everything so good here?”, quite often, and the theory I came up with was that just like every other industry in New York; if you’re not good, you’re out. Some of my favorites were Cafe Cluny, ABC Kitchen, Momofuku, Balthazar, Frank, Gemma, Torrisi… I ate a lot of Italian food there. How can you not?
LF: What do you find sexy in the opposite sex? What do you find sexy in the same sex?
KD: I am completely turned on by someone who is great at their craft, whether it be man or woman. When someone does something well and enjoys it, there is an air of euphoric cockiness that’s irresistible. That’s what drew me to Mike. That and he is one of the most fun people I’ve ever been around.
LF: Where do you want to travel next?
KD: Somewhere warm. I want to be on a beach. Naked.
LF: Photos that turn you on. Why?
KD: Anything by my brother Lincoln DeFer or my dear friend Ruvan Wijesooriya. I also love R. J. Shaughnessy and Ryan McGinley. Shaughnessy captures such beautiful photos from everyday life. As far as McGinley goes… his Moonmilk project is beyond epic. I wish I could jump into those caves! Could you imagine being completely alone in giant caves with that photographic genius?… Naked?!
LF: 5 favorite art pieces?
KD: Anything by Damien Hirst, I love him. He can do no wrong in my eyes. Also, anything by Jeff Koons, especially his porn project with the wifey. But, if I were to choose an All time favorite it would be a close tie between the creator of Ed Hardy, Christian Audigier, and whoever created those god-damn-amazing trucker hats, Von Dutch.
LF: Who’s your favorite designer right now?
KD: Please refer to last question. God, I hope everyone can read into my humor. I just get what looks good. I don’t even know where to start. Honestly, my focus in life has not been on fashion. I’m busy feeding the beast. Although, Rick Owens is a good one. He rarely steers you wrong.
LF: How is it being back in Hollywood? What did you miss?
KD: I missed seeing the sky. I never realized how much I took that for granted. And my bed.
LF: What’s your ideal role?
KD: I love comedy. Being able to laugh everyday as a profession is a goal of mine… making other people laugh would be nice, too.
LF: What are you wearing right now?
KD: I’m wearing a robe my fiancé got me from the Madonna Inn. We spent our engagement weekend there.
Photography by Ruvan Wijesooriya