On an ancient leather couch tucked in the back of Rough Draft, a cozy bookstore and café in Kingston, New York, Luann de Lesseps is country house chic in a white puffy vest with a fur-trimmed hood over a gray sweater and nary a statement necklace (her signature) insight. There is something unaccountably regal about her, though maybe that’s just good posture. A fixture of The Real Housewives of New York City since its debut in 2008, she’s a red giant in Bravo’s galaxy of reality-TV stars. That’s no small achievement: The network currently airs seven Real Housewives series, fuels a cottage industry of “Bravolebrity”-branded products (Vanderpump rosé from Beverly Hills, SparkleDog pink dog food from Dallas), and welcomed thousands of attendees to the first-ever BravoCon in Manhattan this past November.
Kingston is a small, low-key city, but that doesn’t mean there’s not plenty to do. De Lesseps has already fit in a full morning of yoga and green juice—“Half the price of New York, by the way”—then dropped her visiting daughter, Victoria, off at the nail salon. De Lesseps purchased a home in the nearby hamlet of Port Ewen, a scenic hour and 45 minutes along the New York State Thruway from her apartment on the Upper West Side, in late 2018, seeking peace and quiet in the idyllic environs of the Hudson Valley. Peace and quiet are not resources she has always enjoyed in abundance.
Has anyone led a life quite like that of Countess Luann de Lesseps, née LuAnn Nadeau of Berlin, Connecticut, also known, however briefly, as Luann D’Agostino? In her 54 years, she has been a nurse, a pageant winner, a model, an Italian-TV personality, French nobility (she retained her courtesy title from first husband, Count Alex Andre de Lesseps until she remarried), an American-TV personality, a recording artist, and—for a few fateful hours on Christmas Eve 2017—a Palm Beach County Jail inmate. De Lesseps was arrested on charges including battery on an officer and disorderly intoxication after trespassing, kicking a cop, and threatening to “kill” responding law enforcement. It was a nosedive for a woman whose 2009 etiquette guide, Class With the Countess: How to Live With Elegance and Flair, instructed readers in how to properly curtsy. She struck a plea deal and was ordered to one-year probation.
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March 16-29, 2020