Melissa Gorga is not a money-hungry monster.
And, the Real Housewives of New Jersey star says, her enemy-in-law Teresa Giudice knows this.
"When I hear her call me pretty much a gold digger, it's like putting a knife in my heart and twisting it, because I know that she knows that's not true," Melissa told me yesterday when she stopped by E! during her first trip to Los Angeles.
Gorga offers up some pretty convincing proof...
"Joe and I have been married for seven years and have three kids," Melissa explained. "We went through a time where we couldn't even buy diapers. We had to sell every house we lived in...Did I go anywhere? Would I ever? No. It hurts me that she would even put that out there, to put that in someone's head. And it doesn't even hurt me as bad as it hurts her brother."
Melissa insists things haven't always been so bad between her and Teresa. "Before the show came around, Teresa and bumped heads, but we always worked it out," she said. "It wasn't like we hated each other. We'd always be in the same rooms, but we never were best friends. You know, some people just don't click."
This Sunday's episode includes footage of them trying to talk things out. No surprise, but nothing was really resolved. "It's not her fault," she said of Teresa. "It's everyone's fault. What's so funny is everyone thinks most of the problem is between Teresa and I and it's not," she said. "It's between Joe and Teresa. I'm caught in the middle. The issues that Teresa and I have are ridiculous."
But hey, all the craziness has been worth it because Melissa has that singing career she's trying to launch. "The best part of being on the show is everything that's going on with the music," she says. "I can't deny it. It's put it to another level." (FYI: Her first single, "On Display," drops next month.)
She's also taking a page out of the Ramona Singer playbook. "I have a champagne that I'm coming out with," Melissa said. "It's called Magnifica Giornata and it stands for 'magnificent day.' It's like a motto, 'Every day's a magnificent day.'"
Not counting the day of her son's christening, of course.
(Originally published June 24, 2011, at 4:23 p.m. PT)