A Conversation With Jaime Primak Sullivan

The PR maven and author of "The Southern Education of a Jersey Girl" relishes her Jersey attitude, even in Alabama.

Photo by Beau Gustafson

New Jersey Monthly: You call yourself a “knish out of water.” You moved to Alabama to be with your husband, a state lobbyist, in 2006. What’s been the hardest lesson?
Jaime Primak Sullivan: I didn’t know how to receive the warmth of Southerners. At home in Jersey, people are warm in a way that’s loud and open and honest.

NJM: What are the three things you miss most about New Jersey?
JPS: For one, the people. Yeah, we don’t spend a lot of time on social graces, but we’re loving and philanthropic and fiercely loyal. Two would be the food. I can’t find a good bagel anywhere, and they don’t have lobster claws in the South—meaning the dessert. The third thing would be the music. I grew up with freestyle music. If you don’t know what that is, you weren’t in New Jersey in the early ’90s.

JPSboxNJM: But you’re not exactly miserable in Mountain Brook, which you refer to as “the Short Hills of Alabama.”
JPS: A lot of times Jersey people think everyone below the Mason-Dixon line is a redneck. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Most Southerners are thought-provoking, generous, educated people.

NJM: Still, I read that you’re hoping to return to the Freehold area with your husband and three kids.
JPS: I would be thrilled. But the truth is…my husband has his work here. So what I’m hoping is that maybe I can get a place at the Shore and have someplace to bring my kids for the summer.

NJM: Did you spend summers on the Shore as a kid?
JPS: We’d get a house for a week on LBI. But I’d love to get a place in Manasquan or Belmar. We used to do day trips there. I would love my kids to have the same fond summer memories I do: Jersey Freeze, Great Adventure, Federici’s.

NJM: A lot of people know you from #cawfeetawk, the Facebook video show where you impart short bursts of wisdom culled from your life experiences.
JPS: It’s the most satisfying thing I do professionally. It’s the perfect balance of giving and receiving. I grow from the people who watch and they grow from me. I can be real and honest and open.

NJM: You have other stuff going on professionally, including your PR company, Bridge and Tunnel Entertainment, which represents a number of celebrities. Are high-profile types accepting of your Jersey pride?
JPS: They’re either drawn to it because they’re similar to me, or they’re the total opposite of me and they love that I bring that opposite quality out in them. I’ve had people say, “You’re so Jersey,” and I always say, “Thank you so much!”

NJM: You’ve had the good fortune to meet Jon Bon Jovi, one of your heroes.
JPS: Yes! He is delightful, and as good-looking in person as you would imagine. I’ve also met Springsteen. I love him, too.

NJM: Is it an obligation to like them because you’re a supporter of New Jersey?
JPS: I genuinely love them. Springsteen I love in a hometown-guy kind of way. He’s the guy I listened to with my dad, who would show up at the local ice rink sometimes.  Bon Jovi I love the kind of way that makes you feel funny in your pants.

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