When Luann de Lesseps’s publicist reached out to Jezebel requesting an interview, ahead of her upcoming Christmas cabaret show at the Wellmont Theatre, I could barely fit the list of questions onto a single sheet of paper (let alone my entire brain). Countess Luann. Luann De Lesseps. Lu. She was instantly iconic when the Real Housewives premiered over a decade ago, married to a rich Count and a recent ex-patriate of the Swiss Alps. In the 12 seasons since, she has divorced twice, released a book, launched a veritable music career, become one of the most recognizable reality television stars, and scolded Alex McCord for her Herman Munster-esque Louis Vuitton boots.
She’s also had her arrest for disorderly intoxication in Palm Beach, Florida documented more thoroughly than the ongoing impeachment inquiry, with her journey towards sobriety occupying much of RHONY’s last few seasons. How was I going to cram even a drop of that into a small junket interview for her cabaret? Especially since I’d spent my first real year as a gossip reporter documenting lawsuits and domestic abuse cases. But I also figured that anyone who would request an interview with Jezebel would know what they were getting themselves into.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. To put it mildly, this ultimately inconsequential junket interview was more terrifying than phoning up a high-powered attorney and asking why their incredibly rich client was getting sued.
Less than a minute into our conversation, Luann informed me she was “not here to talk about my personal life. I’m here to talk about cabaret.” I’d asked about her relationship with agent Rich Super, who handles her shows, since not many can successfully launch a nationwide tour performing “Money Can’t Buy You Class” and “Feeling Jovani” to people like me, let alone date the agent co-ordinating it all. That optimism, faced with my first-ever junket interview, faded quickly. I was the plucky young reporter digging for secrets, and she was the cabaret star unwilling to relinquish them. “Uh, that’s okay!” I shakily said. “Let’s move on.”
My follow-up questions were immediately axed. I couldn’t ask her how her relationships with the other women have changed since last season, considering she recently told Jenny McCarthy that it’s been nice not “walking on eggshells” around the dearly departed Bethenny Frankel. I also couldn’t ask her if she’s found a work-life balance with the other women since they accused her last season of being self-absorbed and cabaret-obsessed. And I definitely, under no circumstances, was going to get a question in about how her arrest and the subsequent legal battle would factor into her upcoming memoir, or if she’d finally found a publisher. (Maybe, I realized, it would be good to get out of those court transcripts every once in a while and learn to speak to other human beings.)
Instead, I pivoted to Jovani. Luann, who did the same in 2018 after being introduced to the brand by Dorinda Medley, has gone on to become the veritable face and ambassador for the brand. If the move worked for her, it would work for me. And it mostly did! Luann informed me that the brand designed all of the outfits for her Christmas show—four in total—and that she sees the experience as “part fashion show.” Which tracks! Luann made a name for herself in early seasons as the outspoken Samantha Jones of the group. Her diva antics baffled her co-stars but delighted fans. Besides, the fashion industry is where Luann got her start. After winning a pageant and being named Lady Universe, she moved to Milan to model and landed a job on a wildly popular show called Pressing.
It was also in Milan that Luann was friends with Honeychile Wilder, a famous socialite/princess known for being a showgirl for Bob Hope. She whisked her around the city to the showrooms of famous designers Hubert de Givenchy, as Luann revealed in her Before They Were Housewives special. Her connection to fashion and how it’s bolstered her rise to fame reminded me of a dress she spoke about wearing to the Miss Connecticut pageant, back when she was just a nurse with big dreams. It was red and covered in sequins. She lost that pageant, but when she was scouted by a man from New York City to wear the same dress in a separate pageant, Luann won and, through that, she moved to Milan.
When I asked if she still has that dress and ever considered including it in her show, she laughed. “Oh my god, I don’t have the dress, but I should have the dress I think my mother still has it at home, somewhere in the closet... But that isn’t a bad idea!” It was here that Luann likely forgave me for my earlier invasiveness, as would anyone, for remembering a garment she mentioned in exactly one sentence during a special you can’t watch anymore, that also aired almost five years ago. Good save, Joan.
As for the actual tour, Luann also revealed that on top of her Christmas shows, she has a run of shows slated for the spring and summer of 2020, tentatively titled Marry, F, Kill. “I got the idea from my audience because I do a Q&A, and without a doubt every show someone asks me who I would marry, who I would “f” (-uck), and who I would kill.” Because I was shot down for asking about her personal life, I jumped on my chance to extract some small amount of gossip from her.
Jezebel: Seeing as how your audience loves playing “Fuck, Marry, Kill” with you, would you be up for a quick round?
LUANN DE LESSEPS: Oh, sure!
Let’s talk your current cast members on The Real Housewives of New York. Fuck, Marry, Kill: Ramona, Dorinda, and Sonja.
Well, I’m gonna have to eff Dorinda, because we just made up, and there’s nothing like makeup sex. I’ll have Sonja along, because she exudes sex appeal. I call her my little Sonja-rita. So I’ll have sex with her and cheat on Dorinda.
Damn, sorry Dorinda!
And I’m going to have to kill Ramona. I’m sorry Ramona, I love you.
Speaking of her comrades at Bravo, fans can expect to see a “Housewife or two” at her upcoming shows, she says. While she didn’t reveal who, I did ask who her favorite Real Housewives of New Jersey star was while snooping for clues. “I like Melissa Gorga!” (Since Melissa also dances and sings in televised commercials for Bravo, I’d imagine the pairing would be a success!) Fans can also expect to see paired down “previews” of her cabaret when Season 12 of Real Housewives of New York premieres next year, or when she announces tickets for her “Marry, F, Kill” tour next spring and summer.
If you’re impatient: you can catch Luann’s brand new Christmas-themed Countess and Friends show at the Wellmont Theatre in Montclair, New Jersey on November 30, or anywhere else she goes on tour up through January 25. Tickets are available through her website.