'Summer House's Carl Radke on Filming Sober, His Housemates' Partying and That 'Ugly' Wine Toss (Exclusive)
By Brice Sander
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Carl Radke is still sending it, just sober. The Summer House star filmed the entirety of season 6 (shot in the summer of 2021) fully committed to not drinking, a feat for a show largely built around partying hard on the weekends.
"Early on, I think, you'll see me struggle a little bit," Carl confesses to ET over video chat. "I won't give away the theme, but we had a theme party that I was just like, 'I don't know about that one...' for various reasons, but I used to get really drunk for our theme, so I didn't give a s**t what it was. So now it's like, 'Do I really want to wear that?' But I grew some self-esteem. I grew confident as I had more experience because this was all new ground in the Hamptons for me. My relationship with South Hampton and Montauk has been, like, Thursday night, Friday night, Saturday night, 'til four in the morning, go, go, go, where this time, at the parties, I was able to enjoy it more for what it was."
"I was cooking, grilling out and helping, being supportive, but also talking to more interesting people and having better conversations," he shares. "Also, knowing when to leave the party or seeing the drama unfold going, 'Ah, I'm going to go over here...' So it gave me control. It gave me a little protection layer, being sober."
Carl's been a main cast member of Summer House since its inception nearly seven years ago. Season 5 saw him attempt living a sober lifestyle, but the unexpected death of his brother, Curtis, to a drug overdose mid-filming sent him into a bit of a spiral. Cut to a year later and Carl stepped into the Hamptons share house with his TV roommates at six months sober. He recently celebrated a full year of sobriety and, in some way, Carl says the show keeps him accountable to himself.
"Honestly, thinking back to how scared I was -- season 4 was about to come out and I knew that I, I mean, I'd had conversations with a lot of my close friends, family, like, 'Dude, you needed some help. You got some problems. For real,'" he recalls. "And watching season 4 back was probably the hardest season to watch back for sure, because it really leans into what I was struggling with is my drinking and my partying."
"I'm just so proud of the fact that I was able to accept that I knew I had an issue, but that acceptance takes some time," he says. "Season 4, when it was airing, I was depressed. I was sad. I didn't even watch some of those episodes when they came out. I would turn off my Twitter and Instagram because there's a party where I kicked [then co-star Jules Daoud] out. I was just a disaster and a**hole. I regret a lot of that."
Embracing the realities of those messier moments and being honest about his struggles has only made the audience relate to and buy into Carl more. He says he never expected to become a role model for sobriety when he was just trying to figure his own stuff out.
"People came out of the woodwork and were like, 'Dude, I can't believe you shared that. It makes me relate. It helped me.' I never thought in a million years that me helping myself would actually help others," he says. "I thought just, 'Oh, go volunteer at the shelter. Go to a food bank.' Like, that's helping others. No, just look in the mirror, Carl. Accept what you were facing. Be honest with yourself about it and present that you're working on it and sharing your growth and talking about your story because that's how others get through it."
Carl jokes he has "a million and a half people" holding him accountable each week, even calling out Instagram gossip aggregator DeuxMoi for its "spottings" round-ups, which often feature sightings of Carl and his co-star/girlfriend Lindsay Hubbard out and about with an asterisk next to his name: "Carl, not drinking."
Some of that leading by example mentality bleeds over into the house in season 6. While Carl is not drinking, his housemates very much are -- and he's seemingly now hyper aware of just how much they're consuming.
"I hope that some of my behavior and how I'm evolving and growing can influence them a little bit," he admits. "Mixing a water in more often, maybe not mixing all sorts of different alcohols, sticking to one thing, maybe not drinking a whole bottle of rosé on the car ride out. I mean, I used to do that, or Twisted Teas or Loverboys. So you'll see this season, I think, my relationship with Kyle [Cooke] evolves."
Carl and Kyle are best friends, and also co-workers. Carl is Vice President of Sales for Kyle's aforementioned canned cocktail line, Loverboy.
"We're on the same level as friends, and I'm kind of trying to guide him on some of his decision making and trying to kind of just focus him in a little bit," Carl teases. "You'll see him, I think the stresses in his life and the pressures he has -- that he certainly put on himself -- he uses that getting drunk and that let loose as kind of his thing, but there's other ways to do that that are going to be healthy for his relationship: Working out more. I got him an acupuncture package!"
"I'm like, 'Dude, you're stressed the f**k out, you need like to release,'" he adds. "Those are other alternatives than him going out until four in the morning drinking a bunch of Loverboy. I'm just trying to guide him on what's worked for me, but it's difficult to kind of go, 'Well, dude, I don't know, man...' I just know he's someone that when he's stressed and wants to let loose, there's nothing going to stop him sometimes."
One of those moments plays out almost immediately in the season 6 premiere, Kyle out partying until the wee hours while his then-fiancée (now-wife and Loverboy co-worker), Amanda Batula, sits up, unable to get ahold of him. Amanda gets so frustrated that she lashes out, breaking some of his toiletries in their bathroom before throwing his still-packed suitcase out on the front porch.
"What you see in the first episode, Kyle and Amanda will grow from that, I hope," Carl says. "Definitely it's a tough season at moments, but I think you'll see them work through that. But the luggage on the front porch, I still had to chuckle at."
The season 6 trailer teases a "will they or won't they?" throughline when it comes to Kyle and Amanda making it down the aisle, but according to Carl, that was never a question for those who know them.
"There were other people in the house, I would say, they thought, yes, but they didn't have not have the front row seats like I've had," he notes. "They don't have the daily interactions that I've had with Kyle and Amanda. I knew what they were dealing with externally, which name another couple that had been trying to get married for almost three years, filmed a spinoff show in Vermont [Winter House], running a business, foster dogs, getting married, they live together in this smaller apartment and work together. I just have a lot more understanding of the challenges."
"I give them a lot of credit for opening up their relationship to us and the world," he continues. "They've been a huge part of our show and their journey. I'm sure every couple that watches Summer House is going to see that fight and go, 'We might have had a fight like that at some point and just no one else sees it.'"
"I do remember kind of being like, 'Let's support these guys,'" Carl recalls. "Yes, there're some challenges and everybody has something to say, but the people have a lot to say aren't in relationships, have never been engaged... they can talk about marriage, but they're not in that same conversation. So the people that have opinions about where they are, don't have healthy relationships either. So I try to reel people in and be like, guys, we love them. We care about them. Let's get them into the finish line."
That finish line is the part of the season Carl is most looking forward to, seeing as he officiated Kyle and Amanda's big day.
"It was an incredible day filled with tons of love and friendship and excitement," he says. "They were the happiest I've ever seen them. Amanda looked unbelievable. Kyle looked incredible. Families were together. It was a really special day and I was a big part of that."
The wedding plays out at season's end, with a lot to unfold beforehand. The ball on season 6 was already in motion thanks in part to Winter House, the ski-themed spinoff the majority of the cast filmed in between seasons 5 and 6 of Summer House. Carl sat out the Winter House, though, as the group filmed the show as the Summer House episodes about Carl's brother's death aired on TV. Carl didn't want to put himself in a situation where partying would be an easy copy mechanism for reliving that trauma.
"Listen, when I wasn't in Vermont, I definitely was like, 'S**t, I kind of wish I was there,'" he now says. "It felt different because I've been part of this show since the beginning. To not be in the same room with Kyle and Lindsay and Amanda and whoever else, it just felt weird because I feel like I'm a big part of that, but I also knew it was more important for me to take care of myself, but I heard a lot of what's going on."
"That first weekend [filming Summer House] definitely felt the energy of the group had shifted a little bit," he adds. "Ciara [Miller] was a lot more confident because she had spent a lot more time with everybody building those relationships. Paige [DeSorbo] has certainly come out of her shell a ton in the last year and a half. Well, she still hangs out in her room, but I think her opening up more on our program is huge. Her relationship with Craig [Conover], or with Andrea [Denver], I personally love seeing that because we haven't seen... You don't meet [her ex-boyfriend Perry Rahbar], you didn't meet some of the guys in the past. You only saw me in the makeout in the pantry. So I think it's been great for her to come out of the shell."
"I think Winter House was important for that," Carl continues. "It gave them kind of some new legs and some new different people to meet, but that first weekend I was like, 'Wait, am I even friends with these guys?' Because I missed out on all the inside jokes in Vermont, and then when Craig and Austen [Kroll] came, there's the Vermont clique a little bit, but I don't really care. I was happy they got to have a good winter trip, but watching it back, I wouldn't have been you the right person for that trip."
Southern Charm stars Craig and Austen definitely shook things up for the Summer House bunch, with Craig now in a pretty serious relationship with Paige and Austen creating a love triangle between himself, Lindsay and Ciara.
"Certainly our show, we have a big group of people this summer and some people that visit really stir it up and that may be great TV, but some of those weekends where the things got stirred up, it was a lot," Carl teases. "There was definitely an air of uncomfort, and I still have a pair of white pants that are ruined because of all the red wine."
Carl's referencing a much-hyped moment from the trailer, which finds Ciara and Lindsay's BFF Danielle Olivera in a wine-slinging fight over Austen.
"It was a very intense moment," Carl says. "There was wine spilled, there was broken glass. It was one of those moments where I was like, holy s**t. It kind of transcended everything we had done so far. We've had my drunken 'More life!' dinners. I've been told, 'F**k off,' I've got a cake in the face, I've been told all-- it's never gotten, at least amongst the girls, physical in a place where it felt like they were actually going to go even further than words."
"I don't know, I wish sometimes our group could kind of understand why they're actually fighting," he laments. "Clearly they were fighting about one person, Austen], for the situation that was kind of growing out of all this Lindsay, Ciara and Austen stuff. Danielle's an incredible friend to Lindsay and wanted to be there to support her, because I think that dinner was incredibly uncomfortable."
Carl sums up the incident as "ugly and unfortunate," but not representative of the season as a whole. For much of the cast, this was a summer of growth and growing up. Nearly half the cast left the summer in relationships, ready to start their next chapters.
"Paige and Craig are having their little thing, and me and Lindsay are starting to have this bond," he notes. "And Kyle and Amanda finally got married. There's still so much more to go, but it was just a really nice way to, I think finish off the season."
"There's definitely life changes that were going to happen naturally," Carl says. "I'm glad it's happened organically and authentically. It's not like we're forcing ourselves to get married; it just seems like people are in that right moment to get into a relationship. But I'd love to see that growth of the relationship. I mean, Paige and Craig, I'd love to see how they're doing a year in. I'd love to see Kyle and Amanda a year in to their marriage."
For that, fans will have to wait for season 7. For now, check out season 6 of Summer House, airing Mondays on Bravo at 9 p.m. ET/PT.