Luann de Lesseps on how she met Jill Zarin: 'Who the f--k was that?' (Exclusive)
#CountessAndFriends isn't just the name of "Real Housewives of New York" star Luann de Lesseps' sold-out cabaret show -- it could also double as the title of her life story.
The longtime reality TV star once again took the stage at Feinstein's/54 Below in Midtown Manhattan on Wednesday night, where she performed a slew of songs like Nat King Cole's "L.O.V.E." and her own "Money Can't Buy You Class" in front of a packed house that included former "RHONY" co-star Jill Zarin.
Before Luann even took the stage, the Bravo-obsessed audience was already buzzing about Jill being in the room -- she is a "Real Housewives" legend, after all! -- with fans sneaking photos of the former reality star, who was sitting at a V.I.P. table with daughter, Ally, and comedian Heather McDonald. Midway through her set, Luann called out to Jill and recalled the story of how they initially met at the premiere of Michael Moore's 2007 film "Sicko."
Backstage after the show, AOL.com's Gibson Johns exclusively caught up with Luann and asked her about their initial meeting -- and what the key has been to their decade-long friendship.
"Jill got me on the 'Housewives!'" she exclaimed. "She walked in and first of all, Bobby [Zarin, Jill's late husband] was buying shots of tequila for my niece, who is 23. I was like, 'Wait a second, who is that guy?' So I went over and I started talking to him and liked him, so I was like, ‘If you’re going to buy a shot for her, you have to buy a shot for me!'"
"Then up walks Jill: 'Hi, I’m Jill Zarin!'" Luann went on. "I had never seen anyone like her in my life. I was like, 'Who the f--k was that?' And I loved her because she was bawdy, red-headed and real! We like real. Don’t give me a fake. Don’t try to be who you’re not, and she doesn’t do that. That's what I love that about her!"
And, over 10 years later, seeing yet another familiar face in the audience at #CountessAndFriends, clearly meant a lot to Luann.
"Having her here and actually have her be part of my show in terms of talking about how we met was great," she told AOL. "To have her sitting front and center was just fun."
See photos of Luann de Lesseps:
Clearly, Luann has the time of her life onstage, where she welcomed friends like drag queen Chelsea Piers and actress Jackie Hoffman. Throughout her set, the natural-born performer frequently interacted with her band and the audience and lightheartedly quipped about her December 2016 arrest and 2017 divorce after less than a year of marriage. As she told us, it's the spontaneity that the show's format provides that she loves so much.
"Like life is, every day is a different day. Every crowd is different, every night I do the show differently because I never have the same talent, so it’s always this revolving group of my friends that come to sing with me like I’m hosting a party in my living room," she gushed with a smile. "It’s exactly what I wanted to do. It’s my little dream that I’ve dreamed my whole life, to be Carol Burnett and be on the stage and have people come and go and I just love it. I love the concept. I love to sing, I love to host and I love to tell jokes, so it’s perfect."
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