Most of Teresa Giudice’s new memoir, Turning the Tables: From Housewife to Inmate and Back Again, out today, is spent talking about how she spent her prison stay exercising three times a day, trying to avoid the awful food, crying, and missing her family. However, there are a few sterling tidbits in the 261 pages that really stood out about her 11 months at the Federal Correctional Institute, Danbury, the same prison that held Orange Is the New Black’s Piper Kerman and Lauryn Hill. Here they are, correlated into some thematic groupings that came up repeatedly.
1. How her parents met.
The early chapters of the book are about Giudice’s life growing up in New Jersey and how she met her husband, Joe. Mostly, she talks about how strict her upbringing was. However, this little nugget about her parents first meeting in a small village in Italy certainly stood out, mostly because of their ages. They married five years after that first meeting.
My dad met my mom when he was 20 and she was just 13, when she was on her way to a feast to celebrate the Blessed Virgin. My mother didn’t give him a second thought, but my father couldn’t get her out of his mind. He found out where she lived and began visiting her at her grandmother’s house every week … My dad wanted to propose right away, but his father told him he was too young and needed to have a good job and earn some money before he could get married and start a family.
2. Real Housewives gossip.
There is a chapter about how Teresa got involved with the show and some behind-the-scenes scuttlebutt about her current and former co-stars.
It took me 11 months for me to agree to do it … Toward the end of those 11 months, I met Jacqueline [Laurita, her once and future Real Housewives co-star] for lunch at this Chinese place we liked in Franklin Lakes. She and all the other ladies had signed their contracts long before. She brought a blank contract — a contract meant for me — and said, “Are you going to sign it already? If you’re not going to do the show then I’m not going to do it either.” … I bit the bullet and signed the contract right then and there — without a lawyer to look it over. Jacqueline took it and immediately mailed it, so I couldn’t back out.
On the infamous table-flipping incident in the first-season finale:
Truth be told, I was mortified. This was not my proudest moment — and I did it while cameras were rolling. OMG. I just remember saying to myself, over and over after it happened, I cannot believe I did that.
On former co-star Danielle Staub:
After the dust settled and I was able to look at everything objectively, I realized that she wasn’t the kind of person who would try to hurt me or my family. I don’t hold a grudge against her, either. When I found out in prison that she got engaged I said, “Good for her!” and I meant it.
3. Prison goods.
People will naturally be curious as to how life is different on the inside compared to the outside, especially for a self-proclaimed “glamour girl” like Teresa, a woman who has multiple cookbooks to her name. Here’s how she coped.
On homemade makeup products:
[Her new friend Nikki] gave me Vaseline so I could take my makeup off … and told me to use a maxi pad to remove it. What?! Here I was, used to Lancôme makeup remover, and now I was wiping off my face with a feminine hygiene product.
I bought Pantene shampoo and conditioner, a bar of Tone soap, Colgate toothpaste and a toothbrush, sweats, a T-shirt, hair ties, Queen Helen hair gel, and St. Ives body lotion. The only kind of makeup they sold was Wet n Wild — the super cheap stuff you get at the drugstore. I bought eyeliner, lip gloss, foundation, and mascara … What a blast from the past. I used to buy Wet n Wild lip liner in fuchsia when I first started wearing makeup in high school.
On getting contraband from “Magic,” one of the inmates who cornered the black market:
This petite Hispanic woman with a huge bun on her head and tattoos all over her neck came up to me from behind and shoved two boxes of the exact hair color I needed — medium brown — and a paper bag full of raisins into my hands.
On what she did and didn’t eat:
They served turkey ham, which I refused to eat. I think one of the bulldaggers named it dick meat because it was gross and inedible (believe me, I was laughing at that one).
One of their favorite concoctions was the “potato log.” They would crush up a bag of potato chips, add water to that in a Tupperware container, and then mix that concoction with onions, peppers, cheese, chicken, sausage, or tuna fish, depending on what they had access to at the moment, and cook it in the microwave we shared. It was actually pretty good.
Franchie made this great punch and some of the girls made the most delicious popcorn balls! That was probably my favorite thing to eat in there. They would melt caramel and butter in a Tupperware container in the microwave, add in some kind of candy bar, like Snickers, pop some popcorn, and mix it all together. Delicioso!
On what she wore:
I hired a woman named Jenny, who used to be a seamstress, to alter my uniform so it fit me much better. It made me feel good to wear clothes that finally fit me so well. It was well worth the $12 I paid her in commissary items.
4. TV fights in prison.
As Teresa explains, most of the fights she witnessed were over control of one of the five TV sets in the rec room. One was controlled by the Latinas, who only watched Spanish-language television, and two were always tuned to sports. A group of white prisoners and a group of African-American women controlled the remaining two televisions, and they had gatekeepers, who planned the programming, and enforcers, who made sure that the schedule was respected.
The biggest fight erupted when a black inmate stole the remote for the white prisoners’ TV:
I was watching the whole thing and had had it. I was friendly with both girls and didn’t want them to get a shot for a stupid fight over TV. I stepped in and said, “Look — just give us back the remote. You have your own TV and you know we always watch our shows in here. We don’t go in and try to grab your remote.” The Remote Thief just gave me a funny look and turned back to Butchy [the enforcer], “Hey if the remote was so fucking important to you, then you shouldn’t have left it laying around. You’re shit outta luck!” I could see the red rising in Butchy’s cheeks. I thought she was going to belt her. She lunged at Remote Thief, who laughed and held the remote high up in the air, so she couldn’t get it … In all the chaos, she dropped the remote on her chair, and Butchy scooped it up.
I wanted to avoid more trouble in the TV room, so I took charge of writing down what shows we all wanted to watch, since the girl who was doing it before had gone home. I was now the Gatekeeper of the TV schedule, and I took my new role very seriously.
On the second-biggest TV fight:
One night, Tonya [Teresa’s best prison-friend and roommate] and I went to watch TV, put on a movie Double Daddy on Lifetime, and were in the middle of watching it when a woman named Abby came in and sat down. “You know at ten that we are changing the channel,” she said, looking right at Tonya … “Why don’t you shut the fuck up and mind your fucking business,” Tonya said. “Mind my fucking what?” said Abby. “I hope I didn’t just hear you right. I’m watching whatever I want at ten. And stop being such a bitch all the time.” “What did you just say to me?” Tonya shifted in her seat and was facing Abby. Who stood up and got right into Tonya’s face. I was sitting in between the two of them and couldn’t believe things got this bad, this fast. “Calm down!” I said. “This isn’t worth it!”
5. Lesbian sex stuff.
Other than yoga, the thing Teresa spent the most time doing during her stay was getting grossed out by lesbian sex, especially in her first six-woman room, where two of her bunkmates were getting it on every night, until they got a new roommate named Katie, who would snitch on anyone hooking up. Teresa loved Katie.
I smelled something fishy. I thought, “Who’s cooking in their room at this hour? That’s weird.” The smell got stronger … as my eyes adjusted to the blackness, I could see two women on top of one of one of the two other bunks, writhing around on the bed. They were totally going at it. Then out of nowhere, Teeny asked me if I washed my “chucky.” I was literally dumbfounded and at a loss for words. No one had ever asked me that in my life. Not even my gynecologist. “Do you use soap on the outside and the inside?” The women were getting it on so much in there that our room became known as the Boom Boom Room.
If you had a top bunk, you could see over the “walls” into the next cubicle, and believe me, I was thanking my lucky stars I got the bottom bunk. I did not need a bird’s eye view of the other inmates having sex with each other, because ew. Later on, one of the Stud’s girlfriends came up to me and told me that she thought the Stud got her pregnant. I said, “And how did she do that?” She replied, “Cuz girl! She rocked my world!” The girls were bouncing off the walls, running through the streets, hooting and hollering and having so much sex! My cubicle was near the bathroom, and I had never seen so much action go on in there in all my months in Danbury. Honestly, I think there was an orgy going on. I had never seen so many feet in those stalls before … I found out later that two lovebirds actually broke the sink off the wall after having sex on it!
6. Making dildos.
Of all the contraband and arts-and-crafts stories, this one is the best. Oh, except for the crochet Star of David that Teresa mailed Andy Cohen from prison.
Some made … dildos by wrapping a maxi pad around a toothbrush or two, taping them together, and sticking that in a rubber glove they got from the kitchen. If you wanted a thicker dildo, you just used more maxi pads. I was like, “WHAT?!” I, for one, would not be buying a homemade dildo, thank you very much.
7. Sexy thoughts about Joe.
Just about every other paragraph in the book is about how much Teresa missed her family, but especially her husband, Joe. With all of that lesbian sex going on, she was bound to get hot and bothered sometimes.
When my mom, Gia, Milania, and Gabriella got up to go to the bathroom, Joe surprised me by kissing me on the lips, which is not allowed. Kissing in front of other people usually makes me feel embarrassed because I’m so old-fashioned like that, but this time, I didn’t care. I missed him so much and this was way overdue! We started making out the way we used to when we were younger. It felt so good to kiss him We told Audriana to stand in front of us so no one would see us. She thought that was the greatest thing. It was so cute I think she liked seeing Mommy and Daddy so happy and so in love.
For Father’s Day, I sent him a card with three pages of printouts of positions I told him I wanted to try when I got home. I told him that I had gotten very flexible in there from doing so much yoga. I thought he would like seeing those printouts — and he did! He emailed me when he got the card, saying he laughed out loud because I had never shown him anything like that before in my life.
8. Dealing with the tabloids.
Teresa spends a lot of time complaining that the tabloids were always trying to get her picture both before she went into prison and while she was in the joint. It’s one of her major annoyances, and she’s always cursing out the tabloids for ruining her life … at least until it’s time to sell them a story.
One cold, sunny morning, some of the admins called me into the office to tell me I had to change my schedule. On more than one occasion, someone had noticed a small, low-flying plane circling the prison overhead. Officials had heard a rumor that a media company had hired the plane to take pictures of me leaving the actual building and walking down the outdoor staircase to the gym and track. Apparently someone inside had leaked details of my daily routine. And because of one reason or another, officials actually ended up putting the entire prison on lockdown, to prevent anyone from going outside.
When I found out that this bitch and her husband were trying to sell a picture of me in prison, I wanted to beat them to the punch … And so, Jim made calls to some of the top magazines, and got some huge offers for pictures of me inside prison in my uniform. They would get their story and I would get a paycheck.
9. Being in prison is just like reality television.
The way Teresa tells it, her life fighting for a living in front of the cameras was very similar to her life avoiding fights behind bars. Here are some of the times she drew parallels between the two.
While I met a lot of great women in prison, it’s still full of depressed, frustrated, bitter, and toxic people who like to start trouble just for fun. (Sound familiar?)
I thought, These women look ridiculous. For a split second, I wondered, Is this how I come across? While I have never given anyone a bloody nose, I have nailed people with some verbal zingers. Words I knew would nuke their hearts. Why? Because my heart got broken, so I fired back. But when I stepped back, I thought, This is not how I want to come across. There has to be a better way.
A big fight broke out between Teresa and her bestie, Tonya, because Tonya told Teresa something about someone and told Teresa not to ask a mutual friend about this person, but Teresa did anyway. When it got back to Tonya that Teresa was talking to these people, things erupted.
Tonya was standing near the track with Trouble, watching all of this. She looked pissed off. “Get over here, Teresa,” she said in front of about 20 other inmates. … “I’m not doing this right now,” I said to her as I turned and walked away. “Who the fuck do you think you are?” she said. “Don’t you walk away from me! Come back over here, you fucking bitch!” I turned around but kept walking. “You heard me bitch. Get back here!” I turned around again and she yelled something out, but I couldn’t hear her. No one would tell me what she said, either. Finally I said, “all the drama!” “No, Teresa, you are the drama!”
Teresa found out that her prisonmate Olga was saying nasty things about her behind her back and decided to confront her.
When I confronted Olga about this, she denied bad-mouthing me, too. “Why would I say something nasty about you?” she said, looking me dead in the eye. “How dare you even accuse me of such a thing!” I literally was like …Wait … am I being filmed for Housewives right now?! It was all so dramatic!
10. Teresa did nothing wrong.
No matter what she learned during her prison stay, Teresa still refuses to admit that she broke the law and doesn’t completely understand what put her there in the first place.
“There’s a reason why [they sentenced me to 15 months]. They thought I broke the law.”
Am I really here in prison? Why, God, am I even here?
My dad still doesn’t understand why I had to go to prison. Neither do I.