Luann de Lesseps has never shied away from life. Now is no exception. On this season of Real Housewives Of New York, with her life in turmoil and her most embarrassing moment very on display, she’s making some much-needed realizations. “This is my season for change,” declares the former Countess, sitting in her Penthouse on the precipice of rebuilding her life post-divorce, drinking, and jail.
Luann is also joining the Me Too movement, alleging that music mogul Russell Simmons (also the ex of former Real Housewives Of Potomac star Katie Rost) groped her three years ago in Miami. “He grabbed my ass in an elevator, he was just a pig. I haven’t told anybody about that before. I was grossed out. I was like ‘How dare you.’ He invaded me, he took advantage of me, being who he is, thinking he is all ‘it,’ all everything. He thought he could just do that. I looked at him and said, ‘Don’t ever do that again.’”
Luann says Simmons never offered her an apology after she gave him a little lesson in Class with the Countess. She also says this isn’t the first time she’s been subjected to inappropriate advances. As a model she learned to “swallow it, to grin and bear it” from untoward photographers or agents. “I’ve had to deal with it my whole life,” Luann laments, and she praises the #MeToo movement for bringing awareness.
Russell, in turn, is “vehemently denying” Luann’s allegation – any many others.
This revelation comes during a time of reckoning for Luann. She’s coming clean and coming to grips with many uncomfortable moments from her past – notably her doomed-to-fail marriage to Tom D’Agostino (and the quickie divorce), which led to her Christmas Eve arrest in Miami.
This week Luann will reappear in court. She potentially faces a felony conviction, with jail time, for threatening an officer after her drunken debauchery went too far. Luann is aware of the high stakes and says she’s taken pains to truly better her life. She’s attending AA classes daily, and is active in charity and yoga. And she’s cultivating a cabaret career. Luann hopes the court “can forgive someone who made a big mistake and who was not in the right frame of mind.”
“I do a lot of good. This is the first time that something like this has ever happened to me. So I hope that they see that and choose to understand that and deal with it accordingly.” Still Luann contends that she could very much be facing jail-time.
On Tom, so much has already been said, but Luann reiterates that he was a good guy who “couldn’t give up his bachelor lifestyle.” Instead Tom pulled Luann into his life of excess – one she was already teetering on the edge of, as viewers well know from her escapades on RHONY! “We were social drinkers,” she recounts, admitting cocktails started around 5PM and continued flowing. Luann constantly felt hungover – friends and family noticed, and grew increasingly concerned. Again, she disregarded those concerns.
Instead, the more people brought attention to Tom’s shenanigans, the more in denial Luann became – and the more she turned to drink, “numbing the pain to some extent,”(and in an attempt to keep up with Tom).
Even Luann’s son Noel warned her against the marriage, but she was “blinded by love.” She claims she tried everything to fix things with Tom, to no avail. After their split, Luann kept the party going and this December was in Sag Harbor December for a wedding when the infamous arrest occurred. In the Colony Hotel Lu met up with an ex – a polo player – and then she met up with the police. “My memory is patchy on what exactly happened,” she admits sadly. Spending a night in a jail cell was obviously, the lowest of her life, “The cell was freezing cold, I was on my own. At that moment, I thought, I will not have another drink. I was so ashamed.” So-far she’s stuck to that resolve.
“Rehab saved my life,” acknowledges Luann who worried that if she continued partying “I would die.” Instead of spending NYE on a yacht, she checked into the Palm Beach Center. “It was humbling for me, and I was around such amazing people.” Through therapy she realized undiagnosed PTSD from a potentially fatal car accident in Switzerland when her children were 4 and 2. Luann’s divorce had caused further emotional strain, which she never fully dealt with.
Now Luann has a (relatively) new focus: herself. She’s “working on” herself, rather than looking for men, and is done with dating for a while. Luann doesn’t know if she’s done drinking forever, but for the time being, alcohol is out of her life. “I say, ‘I am not drinking today,’” she tells The Daily Beast. That includes while filming the remainder of the season. “You’ll see there are a few occasions where I had to leave the table. But Bethenny [Frankel] told me I’m still as much fun.”
Luann doesn’t blame the show for exacerbating her tragedies, and dismisses notions that it may negatively affect her life. Which is why she hasn’t left amid her personal demons. “Oddly enough it’s become second nature because I’ve been doing it for so long,” she maintains. “That’s me, and I really haven’t changed that much.”
Of all her experiences and sometimes mistakes, Luann is emphatic. “I’m an adventurous person. You don’t get anywhere staying home,” she quips. True enough!
TELL US – ARE YOU READY TO SEE A WHOLE NEW LUANN?
[Photo Credits: Bravo]