Countess Luann is a class act

  • by Adam Sandel
  • Wednesday June 20, 2018
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When it premiered in 2008, Bravo's reality show "The Real Housewives of New York City" introduced the world to four socialites - and a countess. As the others engaged in a series of wine-swilling, party-spoiling misadventures, Countess Luann de Lesseps remained the arbiter of taste and class.

Ten seasons, two divorces, one re-marriage, three pop songs, and a 2017 arrest (for disorderly intoxication, resisting arrest, and battery of an officer) later, de Lesseps is a rehab-ed new woman - and a nightclub star. Countess Luann brings her nightclub act to Feinstein's at the Nikko on Fri. & Sat., June 22 & 23. She'll also grace the SF Pride Parade on Sun., June 24, joined by DJ James Kennedy of Bravo's "Vanderpump Rules."

In a recent interview she proved to be much more candid and bubbly than her TV persona. So how does she describe her nightclub act?

"I've found my calling," she said. "It's like you're sitting in my living room. I love to tell jokes and sing and be the center of attention, so it's perfect for me!

"I've been singing since I was a kid - songs by Bonnie Raitt, Stevie Nicks, Heart - and friends kept asking me to sing," she said. "Director Ben Rimalower came up with the idea for me to do a comedy act with music. And I've got lots of stories!"

She's performed the act in New York and Los Angeles, and was just booked to play the massive room at the Borgata Casino in Atlantic City. Her shows also feature guest performers. Tony nominee Sharon McKnight and Broadway's David Burnham are set to join her for the Feinstein's gig.

"Jake Shears of the Scissor Sisters came to my New York show, then came back to be in the show. He said he wants to be on my next dance single."

Her 2010 recording debut "Money Can't Buy You Class," followed by "Chic, C'est la Vie" and "Girl Code," were inspired by her "RHONY" co-stars (they know who they are). When asked about the highlight of her 10 years on the reality show, her answer is quick. "Singing with Natalie Cole," she said. "She was a lovely woman, and that was a real thrill.

The episode that depicted her December 2017 arrest had just aired before we spoke, begging the question of what it felt like to watch it. "I'd already been through it - shackled and jailed with criminals," she said. "Seeing it on the show, at least I looked good! On that camera in the police car, I looked blonde, like Jean Harlow.

"I'd been self-medicating since I was going through so much pain married to that man," she said. Her wedding to Tom D'Agostino, and their messy split eight months later, were all chronicled on the show. "The things we do for love," she sighed. "Wait, I should sing that song!

"Going through rehab was the best thing I ever did," she said. "I did therapy and yoga, I changed up my friends, and I'm still not drinking. I got a great new agent, and everything's been blowing up - it's great!"

The experience also brought de Lesseps closer to one of her TV co-stars with whom she'd been on the outs. "Believe it or not, Bethenny [Frankel] has really come around, because she likes supporting women who've been knocked down."

So what's the next goal for the renewed Countess? "I really wanna play Matron Mama Morton in 'Chicago,'" she said. "She sings about class - and she lives in a jail, so it's perfect!"

Luann de Lesseps: #CountessAndFriends, 6/22 & 23, 8 p.m., Feinstein's at the Nikko, 222 Mason St., SF. (415) 394-1100