Thomas Ravenel…bless his heart. The fifty-something playboy Lothario whose antics and relationship drama are highlighted each week on Southern Charm is definitely the guy fans love to hate–or, in some cases, hate to love. He seems to be constantly riding a bourbon high even when stone-cold sober, he yells at his dinner guests, and he is likely to jump out the window to avoid confrontation with the mother of his two young children of whom he is now estranged. Hell, T-Rav once drunkenly fell in a pool with his baby girl! All these shenanigans aside, there is something about his that is interesting, a bit endearing, and dare I say, charming? Sheesh. I need to lay off the vino and get some sleep.
The former politician (and inmate) has had his share of ups and downs over the three seasons of the Bravo hit, and all of them revolve around his volatile relationship with Kathryn Dennis, thirty years his junior, and pretty dramatic in her own right. The pair makes for great reality television, but the headlines they cause when the cameras aren’t rolling are nothing short of heartbreaking. The pair is currently in a bitter custody dispute over toddler Kensie and baby boy St. Julien, and they tend to air their grievances on social media (loud and ugly) rather than sorting out issues in private. But hey, isn’t that what makes them so fascinating? Of course, with two beautiful little ones in the mix, I say that with a major dose of sarcasm.
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While the couple has a long history of hitting each other below the belt with vicious tweet and deletes and then passionately reconciling, Thomas claims to be ready to take the high road for the sake of their children. He recently sat down for an interview with Charleston local Quintin Washington for Quintin’s Close-Ups which is featured on the interviewer’s YouTube channel. Quintin brings up the recent headlines about Thomas which reference drug abuse, strippers, and custody. Remembering an interview the two had in 2013, Quintin references that back in the day, T-Rav spoke of wrestling with issues.
Quintin wonders what Thomas is wrestling with now. Thomas opines, “The most explicit substance on the face of this earth is estrogen. Think about that one. You know, I’m in a difficult position. My priority first and foremost is my children and I’m concerned about what they think about their father. A large part of that is how I treat their mother. So, when I’m talking about her, sometimes it’s best to say nothing and wait for the moment to pass. I’ll just smile and say next question.”
Discussing filming the upcoming reunion, Thomas recalls, “When I was on the set of the reunion I talked to a therapist because I had a lot of emotions and I wanted to control them. She told me that if you ever want to accomplish anything in life, you have to control them. Feelings are to be felt because they could be based off a negative belief system. Let’s say your father tells you you’re stupid. It’s completely fail, but someone could say something like ‘hey dummy!’ and the next thing you know you have a feeling that is based off this false belief system. The feeling creates a negative thought which creates an action. Then you do something stupid. The action is stupid because it’s based off a thought that was incorrect because it came from a feeling that was based on an incorrect belief system. See how it all escalates? But if you just sit on the feelings or sit on the emotions, they shift. Then clarity enters the fold and you can make good decisions.”
Thomas continues, “So what I’ve been trying to do is listen to my inner voice, my intuition. I asked my preacher once if I should think with my head or my heart. He said my head. But my therapist said the head is crazy because it has these crazy feelings and thoughts and emotions that are generated from the heart. You have to listen to that inner voice inside. That’s God talking. That’s true north, and I don’t want to say something that would cause her to hit that tipping point. You know, she’s a little hormonal. She just had two babies. She’s a little temperamental. She’s angry. She’s bitter.You know, I’m going to have to work with this woman. She’s the mother of my children. I’m in a difficult spot because there are some untruths that are being put out there about me, and at the same time I don’t want to speak ill of the mother of my children. Sometimes it’s better to say nothing.”
Comparing his recent custody woes to his prison stint, Thomas asserts, “It’s really forced me to change my behaviors. For example, once the courts get involved, they drug test you. It’s not drugs because I’m not doing anything illegal, but you know alcohol is a legal drug. They test to see if you drink too much. That’s what’s crazy to make something like marijuana illegal because people will substitute with something far worse–alcohol. You can come home stumbling drunk every night and take an Uber, and that’s perfectly legal, but in a court system when you’re raising children, you know, most fights, most arguments, most domestic violence is the result of alcohol. Cops will even tell you that someone who smokes a lot of pot is only going to abuse a bag of Doritos. They don’t come home and beat up their wife. I have to be a responsible person.”
Elaborating on his state of affairs, Thomas adds, “I can’t go out and hang out and drink or do anything. If I do, I’ll lose my kids. Kathryn, unfortunately, did not pass the test as everybody knows–I’m not speaking ill, it’s a matter of public record and the judge refused to seal the record. It’s amusing because the people they’re not supposed to seal the record for are elected officials, yet the way our state has it set up, the only people who have their record sealed are elected officials. Mark Sanford’s divorce record sealed.”
He explains that he and Kathryn’s case wasn’t sealed because of the judge’s skewed logic. Basically Thomas claims the judge believed he and Kathryn had already harmed their kids by putting them on television, but T-Rav wonders why the judge would want to continue to harm them by not sealing the record. He also claims that he has always tried to compensate Kathryn high above what the courts would order.
Stating the couple had an agreement in place before the hearing that has never been enforced, Thomas shares, “I want to do more than what’s fair. I want my kids to see me treating their mother well. It’s not a matter of doing the minimum, but doing what is fair…I’ve never gotten a number. There’s never been a counter proposal. I’d like to resolve this. What’s most important is the kids. With Kathryn and I, the age gap is so large that it lends itself to a lot of disagreements, a lot of arguments. It’s not healthy for the kids to be in an environment where negativity is emanating their environment. It’s not good for them. I think both of them will benefit more from being with each of us individually,” adding, “I want the best for her.”
Of the current status of their relationship, T-Rav reveals, “We’re incommunicado. We’re not talking unless there is an emergency with the kids. I’m not sure where we are. I thought we had an agreement, but then we don’t have an agreement. I’m not sure where things stand right now. It’s a very emotional, very sensitive topic. I’ve probably already said too much.”
Changing the subject to the show and it’s vast popularity, Thomas admits, “I don’t know if I’m a Hollywood star. It’s reality TV. It all got started because this guy–a local–wanted me to meet a guy by the name of Whitney Sudler-Smith who was a film producer in LA. At first, I was like I don’t want to meet this guy. [Then] I met with Whitney, he’s a quite educated and interesting individual–well traveled. He went to school at Oxford. He came up with this crazy idea to do this show. His vision of it was far different from what Bravo turned it into. He wanted it to be this Downton Abby meets Gone with the Wind meets, I don’t know, the Andy Griffith Show. He wanted it to be more of a documentary, or docu-drama, more about Charleston and the Charleston charm.”
Dishing on the show’s drama, Thomas shares, “A lot of it is reality. There are a lot of dots out there that need to be connected with some creative editing. Infer from that what you will. I’m really not at liberty to say. We’ve got all these dots and events. How do we tie them all together? There are a lot of suggestions, hey, why don’t you ask this character this question. It may be interesting to hear their response. Sort of tie it all to create a theme, create a plot. A lot of it is real, but some of it is manufactured. This thing with me and Landon, she and I were friends but there is absolutely nothing. Oh he’s sleeping with Landon. I mean, No. We’re merely friends. I did run into her over in London and we took a couple pictures and we posted them. It was her idea, you know, to create a stir back home, but it really created a stir with Kathryn. She may be rolling with it too and know that it’s nothing to get air time.”
Joking about that crazy dinner party, Thomas says, “We want to get the ratings up, everyone wants to maintain their job. I feel a little bit of that too. I’m being paid a lot of money per episode, and I feel obligated to get some ratings, you know, offer some ‘wonderful words of wisdom.'” He hints that producers offer suggestions to exacerbate the drama, but he promises a lot of what viewers see is the real deal…including him jumping out of the window during a confrontation with Kathryn. He laughs, “That was totally me. I walked in there under the impression the list was all approved by Kathryn, but it was not. They told me it was and there would be no push-back, but there was. I was angry–not at her but at production. I made it clear that I wasn’t going to go in there with Landon on the list if she didn’t want it there. They said, no, no, she’s approved the list. She just wants to talk about the list.”
Waxing poetic on the difference between politics and reality fame, Thomas cites, “That is one thing about the show that’s different from politics. I used to be able to leave the state of South Carolina and regain my anonymity. Now I can’t leave the state and have people not know who I am. I go to Canada and people know who I am. In England, in Australia. I go to New Zealand and people know who I am. Any English speaking country is watching that show. I’m known everywhere. Everywhere I go. I’ve always been used to it a local level, but when I’m in New York City, I go into the Standard Hotel and all eyes turn.”
Thomas then goes on to rant about everything under the sun, from feeling protective of Kathryn while reserving the right to talk smack about her to that state of the government in Venezuela. It’s bizarre, yet he’s highly intelligent and informed. In the terms of a diatribe, it’s pretty remarkable, but also a bit…off. Remember at the beginning of this post when I wrote that T-Rav always seemed to be riding a bourbon high? Well, I’ll leave it at that. He didn’t imbibe for the entire thirty minute interview, and if you want to see what I’m alluding to you should watch the clip. When asked to describe himself in one word, T-Rav concludes, “Thomas Ravenel in one word? Philosophical. It’s hard to do in one word. Change? Philosophical? That’s two words.”
And he can count. That charming scoundrel!
TELL US – DID YOU REALIZE THOMAS WAS THAT RECOGNIZED? WILL HE AND KATHRYN GET THINGS ON TRACK?
Photo Credit: Bravo TV