Kris took the idea for a reality show about her clan to Ryan Seacrest, who has a production deal at E! He said yes immediately, and within a week every family member had agreed and filming began. From the start, the storylines have combined the glossy and mundane with soap opera–like flourishes: Kim has a fight with her (now ex-) boyfriend, football star Reggie Bush, and a photo shoot in her bikini; although she’s not married, Kourtney becomes pregnant and has the baby; Khloé meets Lamar Odom, the sixth man on the Lakers, and marries him a month later. All of this—the birth, the wedding, the photo shoots, the fights, and, most of all, the invariably happy endings—are filmed for the show. “I always knew that people assumed I was a Hollywood wild child dancing on tables, drunk at parties, shopping all day, out all night,” Kardashian told me as we headed into the mazelike bowels of Nordstrom. “But I knew: What they think of me is not me. I’m probably way more boring than they think. I’m not a drinker, and when I’m up on the table dancing, it’s for the picture. Then I sit right back down. I play into the perception of me, but it’s not really me. And the show reveals that.”
Kardashian was ushered by the FusionBeauty publicist and several representatives into a small room, where she would do interviews before meeting the waiting public. There was a table set up with sweets and savories—candy bars and carrots. Kardashian eyed the food. “Why is it when you’re dieting, you crave everything?” she said to no one in particular. This had the sound of a soon-to-be blog entry.
A procession of journalists was brought in. They asked mostly beauty questions—“Have you put the LipFusion to the kissing test yet?”—and Kardashian hit all her bullet points, again and again. LipFusion is just one of her many endorsements. She (sometimes with her sisters) promotes a clothing line for QVC, a weight-loss supplement, Armenian-inspired jewelry, an online shoe business, “couture” lollipops, bathing suits, scented candles, and Kim Kardashian perfume. The show has made her a brand: The midpriced, mainstream-with-a-touch-of-sparkle products that she endorses are carefully chosen to reinforce her glam/regular girl image. “People have been waiting for hours,” one producer said. “Why do you think they want to see you?” Kardashian didn’t need to think. “They have sisters or they don’t have sisters, and then they see me as a sister,” she said. “They relate to me. And I’m honored.”
The Kardashian entourage headed out to the cosmetics floor, where she sat behind a desk and quietly autographed pictures XO Kim K with a fat black pen. As usual she sat very straight and seemed very calm, almost serene. There’s a stillness about Kardashian that is compelling. She never appears anxious or restless; she’s where she wants to be. That dual sense of ease and concentration is obvious to her fans. “I used to think, I have to be this or that or skinny, and now, because of the show, everyone is embracing just me, which has given me confidence,” she told me later. “Now I’m like, Why did I ever give that feeling the time of day? I’m so mature now.” She laughed. “I’m a grown-up version of myself now.”