NEW YORK – Her parents are in the middle of a tawdry divorce, her brother is in jail and she's cut off contact with her mom because of her mother's teenage boyfriend. It would seem that with all the drama engulfing Brooke Hogan these days, the last place she'd want to be is in front of the cameras.
But the statuesque starlet was eager to sign up for her own reality show, VH1's "Brooke Knows Best," debuting Sunday, despite — or perhaps because of — her family woes.
The Hogans had been depicted for four seasons on "Hogan Knows Best" (also on VH1) as Hulk Hogan's loving, tight-knit clan. But over the last year, the superstar wrestler, whose real name is Terry Bollea, and his wife, Linda, have had an acrimonious split, while their son Nick Bollea serves an eight-month sentence after pleading no contest to causing a crash that seriously injured his friend.
And if that wasn't enough fodder for the tabloids, the romantic lives of Brooke's parents (he has a new girlfriend, she's dating a 19-year-old) have made them fixtures in the gossip pages and blogs.
Despite it all, Brooke, 19, has maintained the bubbly, wisecracking persona that she embodied on "Hogan Knows Best." Dressed in a clingy red halter-top, long black gaucho pants and wearing her long blond hair in a ponytail, the striking Hogan (and budding pop star) talked about how she has been coping with the turmoil.
AP: What made you want to do another reality show?
Hogan: The first four times we did the reality show, I didn't have my stuff together with my music career. So this time, I'm like, all right, I have to start recording an album and using this TV show to my benefit, other than just letting these cameras come into my life to make ratings (laughs). And plus, I have to admit I really do miss the guys when they're gone, because they're like built-in family now, all the cameramen and stuff. So it's like, "Ah man, I really hate being followed all the time, but OK, come back. You guys are cute." (Laughs.)
AP: Do you think the Hogan reality show helped tear your family apart?
Hogan: I don't think a camera and a cameraman can destroy a family. I mean, they're not part of the family. But I think that it was the pressure of the cameras being there and the pressure of being on guard and not really being able to let your feelings fly, like if you are mad at somebody. Let's just say my parents were fighting; they couldn't just let it all out on national television. So I think it kind of suppressed it to the point where it almost let it explode, but I think that it would have come sooner or later.
AP: Do you think the strain of your brother's problems played a role in your parents' breakup?
Hogan: It takes two to tango, and it was my mom and dad, they had problems. And it's not the camera crew that tears it apart, it's not Nick's accident that tears it apart, it's just that those things add more stress so I think that to every cloud there's a silver lining, and I think that they almost saved my parents from their marriage going any farther down a destructive road.
AP: How have you dealt with your brother not being around?
Hogan: It's really, really hard because I feel like our whole lives I was able to protect him ... and now I had to watch him walk away in handcuffs and I couldn't do anything about it. It's hard because he's like my best friend. I mean, I have friends, but my brother is really the one person who I can confide in and talk to about anything. So it's tough because everything that we talk about now is recorded. And we saw what happened with that.
AP: How did you and your mother get so far apart?
Hogan: My mother and I naturally have a tremendous bond, there's like a bond that you just can't break with us. ... Right now I'm just really disappointed with her and I feel like I wish I could talk to her, but you just can't. It's one of those kind of things where, I am a very straight-laced person and maybe that makes it even harder for me to see the path that she's going down as being right, but I look at her now and I'm like, "You were my hero at one point. Why are you making these weird choices?" I don't understand it. I definitely don't condone what's going on. I definitely don't think it's cool who she's dating. I think it's ridiculous but at the end of the day she's my mother and I will still respect her and love her but right now ... I just have to love her from a distance for now.
AP: Were you at one point as disappointed in your dad?
Hogan: My dad and I had a little bit of a tiff earlier this year and that kind of stuff I really don't want to talk about now, but I was disappointed for a minute. But what I respect about my dad is he comes forth and he tells the truth, and he's a very honorable person, I respect him a lot. He, I know deep down, has a good heart. Honesty with me goes such a long way that once the truth comes out and that person can be man enough to tell you the truth, it gives me an even higher respect for them than before.
AP: Are you dating anyone?
Hogan: I was actually dating somebody that I've actually known since I was 15, and that was a great experience and I'm still really, really close to him and I still really love him but we just recently kind of broke it off, so it didn't seem right anymore. So as of right now I'm single.
AP: Will we see your romantic side in the new show?
Hogan: You'll see a little bit of the romantic side. I went on a couple of dates. Some of them were disasters and some of them were really, really great. You'll just have to find out! I'm not going to tell you everything about it.