After all the bad press they received from crashing a White House state dinner last November, Tareq and Michaele Salahi might have plenty of reason to avoid the spotlight.
However, the D.C.-area duo appeared at a sold-out luncheon at the Georgetown Ritz-Carlton in Washington Wednesday, saying they were ready to move on from the crashing incident and begin the next chapter of their lives -- as stars of the "Real Housewives of D.C." premiering on Bravo on Aug. 5.
"We didn't do anything wrong. If the president and vice president are laughing, how serious can it be?" Michaele Salahi said, referring to comments by President Obama during the recent White House correspondents' dinner.
"Odds are that the Salahis are here," Obama joked.
"There haven't been people that were more unwelcome at a party since Charlie Crist," he said, referring to the Florida governor who bolted the Republican Party for his re-election bid.
The felony and misdemeanor charges the Salahis could face for crashing the White House event are no laughing matter and could lead to six months in prison. But they say the show -- which Michaele Salahi said she began "participating in" beginning in March 2009 -- will make it clear they did nothing wrong.
"If you watch the show, you will see the truth," Tareq Salahi said.
They added that they couldn't discuss the incident in detail until certain episodes of the show air, hinting that it was all part of the show.
"Because there were some things in the show, we can't discuss future episodes," Tareq Salahi said.
They discussed intimate details of their childhood, including that her given name, "Michaele," was a mixture of her parents' names Michael and Michelle. Her nickname growing up in Florida, she said, was "Missy," and then later, "Molly."
Michaele Salahi said she wanted to be a model when she was younger.
"I always knew I'd be involved with people in some degree," she said. "I didn't know how."
Tareq Salahi, who is Palestinian-American, detailed how he bottled wine for his industrious parents, who opened a vineyard and a Montessouri preschool in Virginia. He had aspirations to become a pilot before deciding to run the family business, studying wine-making at University of California-Davis.
The family vineyard, Oasis, now is defunct and at the center of bankruptcy proceedings. He said it is fully owned by him and the bankruptcy dispute will be cleared up soon.
"The family matter is not settled yet," he said. "The whole bankruptcy itself is in question, because my mother never had the authority to put it into bankruptcy, because I hold that power of attorney. So that's going to be dealt with in the bankruptcy courts at a certain time, which is coming."
He said his mother was now suing his father, who was suffering from declining health.
Although they became prickly at some moments, the couple clearly enjoyed the publicity. Before the White House incident, they were regulars on the D.C. charity scene.
"It's great to be here," Michaele Salahi said after a question-and-answer session at Wednesday's event. "We agreed over two months ago that we would talk with the community and answer some of the questions."
Not all of the 50-or-so luncheon attendees were fans.
"I just don't know people that do this," Maryann Williamson said. "I mean, were they just sitting around their living room one night saying, 'What can we do next? Should we go crash the White House?' I just don't know people like this.
"I just don't understand what their claim to fame is," Williamson added. "I don't understand. What do they do? I'm puzzled by this. ... I get the feeling that they're broke and are just doing this to make money. I hope they're doing it for some charitable cause, or something, but I don't understand it, I mean, I'm embarrassed for them."
The Salahis said they are ready to put the White House incident behind them.
Would they do it again, given what they know now?
"We're not regretful of anything we did, because as far as we're concerned, we didn't do anything wrong," Tareq Salahi said after the Q-and-A session. "We're putting all that in the past, we've closed that chapter, we're moving forward from that. I think everybody in Washington is moving forward from that."
Maybe so, but the host of the event, Carol Joynt, said it was sold out in two days. In contrast, her next event, featuring director Oliver Stone, is not sold out.
"My show is all about talking to notable people, people in the news ... and, hello, they are in the news, they are sensational, controversial," Joynt said. "That's the news business. You go where the heat is. I do a lot of shows about life, and I don't get the audience I got with the Salahis."
The Salahis plan to host a paid premiere of the "Real Housewives of D.C." at a local venue to be announced next Friday. General admission tickets will cost $20, and VIP tickets will cost up to $100, they said -- but troops will get in for free.