Tabatha Coffey Is Straightening Out Family Businesses On “Relative Success With Tabatha”

"It can be pretty ugly."

Mariah Carey needed tea, but some folks require Coffey to get sorted: Tabatha Coffey’s new Bravo reality series, Relative Success With Tabatha, sees the no-nonsense reality star applying her business acumen and motivational knowhow to troubled family companies.

Coffey, star of Shear Genius and Tabatha Takes Over, gave NewNowNext the scoop on the new show, her parents’ unusual family business, and whether she’ll wed her longtime girlfriend now that her native Australia has legalized equal marriage.

How is Relative Success different from other reality shows you’ve done?

The real difference is these are families: Family businesses are fascinating and exhausting, and have their own built-in drama. Some are generational, and some are businesses family members work together on. Just imagine working with your family every day, right? We can all understand what that would feel like sometimes.

What’s the biggest upside to being in business with family?

Trust. Most of the time you know your family members have your back. That’s a real benefit, and catalyst for a lot of people going into business.

Nicole Weingart/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

If it’s generational, the founder wants to build something better and pass that legacy on to their children. When it’s family deciding to create a business together, it’s because your family knows you—and you know them—better than anyone else.

Did you come across any families where someone betrayed that trust?

Probably not as blatantly as you think, but yes. The most fascinating thing was at how much stuff we sometimes don’t let go of as we become so-called grownups.

A lot of the jealousy, pettiness, and insecurity carried into business with siblings and parents or partners. It can be pretty ugly.

It totally went awry sometimes, often [because of] what everyone has seen me do for so long: When I go into a business—and I start poking around and finding out what’s going on, and pointing out the obvious—tempers flare and people get upset.

Nicole Weingart/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Growing up, your family ran a business, too—they owned a strip club in Queensland.

Yes, a lot of the girls were [trans and] going through their gender transitions. My parents would lend them money to go have the surgery, Then they would come back and work and carry on with their lives. It was probably the thing that changed and helped me become the person I am.

I would sit in the back room and watch them do their makeup get their costumes together. They put me to work setting their wigs, which was my first foray into hair. But also seeing people be really authentic to who they were, at any cost, was the big life lesson.

Marriage equality is finally a reality in Australia. I know you live in New Jersey now, but would you consider going back to marry your partner?

Don’t you start on me, too! It’s only been like 21 years together, so no rush.

You’ve been posting a lot of inspirational sayings on Instagram lately. Who do you follow on social media?

I follow a million puppies—I wake up in the morning and can’t wait to look at them. And I follow the Kardashians, like we all do.

But that was one of my things this year: I didn’t want to be bogged down with social media, so I actually deleted a lot of things off my feed that I felt were too ridiculous and time-wasting, because I can fall down the rabbit hole easily. So everything on there now is like a puppy picture or fashion picture or a hair buddy.

Are you going to watch RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars?

Of course! It has to be Morgan McMichaels [winning], because we’re really good friends and she does the best impersonation of me ever. She has me down to a T. I’ve gone to see her do it live when I’m in L.A.

Relative Success With Tabatha premieres Wednesday, January 17, at 10/9c on Bravo.

Lawrence is a New York-based travel and entertainment writer whose work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, Time Out New York and The New York Post.