The Real Housewives of New York City's Countess LuAnn (yes, she still goes by Countess, even after divorcing her husband the Count) feels like she's gotten a bad rap. "There’s always the editing and misinterpretations," she says of her mean-girl role this season as Jill Zarin's "flying monkey" (in Bethenny's words, of course). We spoke to the new singing sensation yesterday by phone, and while she wasn't as candid as, say, Ramona (but who is, really?), she still shared much about the season and her fellow housewives and answered commenter questions ... the ones that weren't outright slashing, that is. Come on, people, the woman wrote a book on manners: How were we supposed to ask questions like, "Who are you? Really ... who the hell are you??"
I was just listening to your new single "Money Can't Buy You Class." It’s catchy!
It is, isn’t it? Tonight you’ll see me actually singing and recording it. You don’t see this on the show, because of music rights, but I sing a lot — I sing for my friends if we’re having a dinner, I sing at concerts at my kids’ school. I met a producer called Chris Young, and he knew who I was and that I’d just written a book on manners, and I started reading some lines for him out of the book, and that’s how we came up with the song. I care about manners, even before I did the show — it’s the simple gestures, the respect for other people, the please and thank-yous.
I like the line about not texting on a date.
Texting on a date/if you make a lady wait/she’ll take a pass!
Have the other Housewives heard it?
They love it! They actually like it a lot, and I think they’ve been pretty honest. But people have been listening to it — oh boy, and they have their opinions! It’s a novelty record, you know? I’m not going out there saying that I’m Beyoncé. I’m not trying to be a pop star.
This season has been kind of tough for you. You and Jill sort of come off as bullies.
You know, it is what it is. I try and keep out of the catfights, even if I do get screamed out, I just sort of walk out of the room, or I roll my eyes, or I just say, "I can’t believe you said that." I must say, it wasn’t a lovefest between Bethenny and I in the beginning. She did really yell at me. But she later apologized, and she’s hormonal, obviously! It was a rough start for me this season, but it’s quieting down, and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next for me — dating and getting on with my life.
You and Jill seem like new best friends. Is that accurate?
No, Jill and I have been friends from the beginning. You know, she took a lot of hits and I stand by her side. I took a lot of hits in the beginning. We’ve been close since before the show started.
Really? Why didn't we ever see that?
That’s what it’s edited to look like! People can’t forget, it’s an edited, produced TV show, and this is just a smidgen of my life. I’m always surprised — I started the show saying, “I don’t feel guilty for being privileged, I feel lucky,” but the lucky part gets exed out. You know, they’re creating characters, and they love to keep the Countess in a certain place.
Well, right now they're playing up the new single lady angle with you.
I'm starting over, going out with the girls, looking for apartments — picking up the pieces and moving forward. I didn't know I was going to get divorced when I started this show! I think it happens, eight times out of ten to a lot of women. I’m putting myself out there, I’m on a reality show, and singing isn’t the easiest thing in the world, but I’m having fun with it, and I think sometimes people take it too seriously.
What's your take on what Jill said about upping the drama to remain on the show? Ramona denied it.
My take is that some people amp up their roles because they might be asked to. I never do anything that I don’t feel comfortable doing. I try to be naturally as much who I am, but there’s always the editing, again, and misinterpretations. It’s the nature of the beast.
Do you ever regret doing the show?
No. I got to write the book I wanted to about my journey; it’s about how I grew up with a very simple background, and being adventurous and taking risks in my life, and moving to Europe and learning new languages. It’s about knowing that you’re just as good as anybody else. I’ve rubbed elbows with aristocracy and kings and queens, and that’s something that they always liked about me is that I’m down to earth. And that character doesn’t come across on the show.
You did seem to get really offended when Mario called you "Count-less."
For me, manners are all about making people comfortable, and I just wasn’t comfortable with his statement. I thought it was something that could have been taken back very easily. And that sort of dragged on a bit, and normally I would never drag something like that on, but it just played out that way on the show.
Mario doesn’t seem to have a great filter
Well, Ramona! Oh my God. She’s had a pretty funny season. The runway walk will go down in history. And I just think that Jill was trying to be funny and it just didn’t come off that way.
You like to pick on Ramona's crazy eyes.
Crazy eyes, I do, I do. And that scene with Kelly and Sonja was hysterical, we’re talking about dating and men and then Kelly said something about Ramona’s crazy eyes, and I said, “That’s my line!” And the way she behaved at that Kodak event wasn’t it the worst? That’s what happens with Ramona, you never know what’s going to come out of her mouth.
Did you ever find an apartment?
I did, I did. You know, I couldn’t find it quick enough during filming. I was like, I love you guys, but I’m not going to move into just any apartment so that we can get it on camera. But I did end up finding a great one.
Commenter Kelstar asks: "I absolutely love LuAnn's turquoise eagle necklace. I want to know more about it, it's so unique."
That comes from a very dear man called David Sate, who had a store on Park Avenue which no longer exists. I have many pieces of Indian jewelry, and this comes from the southwest, but it’s an old piece that I’ve had for years.
Commenter haystack_charm asks: "Countess LuAnn, here's a plea for some advice. When out at the bar, how do you keep unwanted men away?"
Don’t make eyes at them! That should be the least of your problems, right? What a question. Try to focus on your friends, and generally, that keeps them from coming over. No flirting.
Commenter BELLEduSoup asks: "Are you pro or anti Botox?"
I don’t have anything against Botox.
Commenter Alz99 asks: "Where can a classy single lady go in New York to meet an equally as classy guy?"
Embassy parties! Call the embassy and find out what’s going on socially. I think sophisticated men go to cigar bars. You’ll end up smelling like cigars, but it depends on how badly you want to meet a man.