LuAnn de Lesseps has been an iconic figure on Real Housewives Of New York as The Countess. Although LuAnn was demoted last season, she’s back with a bang in season 7, and continuing to embrace a down-to-earth, relaxed attitude – including leaving behind the pretentious of the Upper East Side and Southampton.
Gracing the cover of Resident Magazine, LuAnn spills all about what led her to NYC, how she became involved in RHONY, and just how real she thinks reality TV is!
LuAnn says she signed on for reality TV after meeting Jill Zarin at a Michael Moore party (of all places – it was the screening of Sicko in 2007). Jill, ever the social climber, immediately climbed on board with adding a Countess to her friends roster.
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“She invited me to her 4th of July shindig in the Hamptons and told me she was working on a reality TV show,” LuAnn recalls. “When I came back in August she told me I’d be perfect for the show and I met with the production people, interviewed, and got it.”
LuAnn admits the show has been a wild ride, but not one she regrets. After all it’s all about experiences in life! “I try not to live my life with regrets,” The Countess shares. “I’ve gotten to sing with Natalie Cole, write a book, had all these amazing trips, so absolutely no regrets.”
The former Countess moved to NYC from Switzerland, where she and The Count raised a family. They had a summer home in the Hamptons and traveled back and forth between Europe and NY, before moving to the city. When LuAnn met her husband she was living in Milan, and she speaks Italian fluently, as well as French and English, after studying at the Berlitz school! Whoa.
One thing that seems to separate the new LuAnn from the elitist of early seasons is that she has put things in perspective where reality TV is concerned; deciding to have a respectful distance between personal privacy and public consumption: case in point her divorce, a storyline which was largely kept off the show.
“I always put my family first. Just because you’re on a reality show you don’t have to drag out all your marital problems on the show,” explains LuAnn. “People knew I was having problems at the time but I didn’t want to play that out and have it out there forever.” The Count was having an affair with a much-younger woman when he abruptly left LuAnn. At the time her children were both minors.
LuAnn also shares that her children, as they’ve gotten older, have opted to keep their distance from the show. “They aren’t on the show that much. I’ve brought them on to highlight things they like to do, like riding in the Hampton Classic or breakdancing lesson,” says LuAnn, who says they are supportive “because they know I like doing the show.”
Because she chooses to keep some things separate from the show, one has to wonder just how real is reality TV? LuAnn points out that it is “an edited and produced reality TV show,” but maintains it is reality and “it isn’t scripted.”
“It’s what is happening in our lives,” LuAnn reveals, “the places we shop, the charity work we do, the places we like to eat and what we like to do.” However she doesn’t touch on whether or not conflicts and other dramas are producer-influenced.
Currently LuAnn, who lived on the Upper East Side when she was married, owns an apartment in Riverside Park (one of my favorite sections of NYC!). “Its more of a relaxed atmosphere. I love the river views,” she gushes. “My apartment overlooks the Hudson and the park.”
Likewise LuAnn says her relationships with her cast members is authentic. “Of course when you have new women there’s a different dynamic, and for the most part I get along with most of the girls at this point. We’re still filming so that could change, you never know.”
Many people have commented on how much more fun this new LuAnn is. I’ve heard rumors for years that this is always how LuAnn was, but when she joined RHONY they really insisted she play-up The Countess crap and the arrogance, but last season she decided to give no f–ks and be herself – and the experiment was successful!
This season LuAnn sells her Bridgehampton mansion and buys a new home in Sag Harbor, embracing the more low-key lifestyle. She also is embarking into the hospitality industry and has partnered with The Warwick to create “The Countess: Hostess of New York” package which offers guests the exclusive opportunity some of LuAnn’s favorite NYC spots, with LuAnn herself serving as guide. I want to do that! Seriously. Hook me up, Lu.
LuAnn is also continuing with her clothing and home decor collections.
Oh, and LuAnn’s most memorable RHONY moment: “Our trip to Morocco. I almost fell off the camel, I’ll never forget that!”
Some photos from LuAnn’s shoot with Resident are below!
TELL US – WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE NEW LUANN? IS REALITY TV REAL?
[Photo Credits: Resident Magazine]