It’s Pride month, so Pride miracles are in abundance. One takes the form of Luann de Lesseps as she brings her gay-famous cabaret to our mossy shores this week. 

Luann—also known as the Countess thanks to her former marriage to a man whose family literally built the Suez Canal—is one of the recognizable faces from Bravo’s Real Housewives of New York City (RHONY) franchise. She’s weathered 13 seasons of the reality show with an entrenched commitment to being the preeminent diva among divas. RHONY has documented Luann’s etiquette book, two grueling divorces, burgeoning performance career, sexy escapades with sexy dudes, arrest (and subsequent stint in rehab), and various friendships with the rest of the cast—all fodder for her cabaret production. “Being able to laugh at yourself is key,” Luann told me in a recent interview. It’s a motto she certainly lives by.

The Richard Jay-Alexander directed Countess Cabaret shimmies into the Showbox Friday, June 10. I recently caught up with Luann over Zoom. Here’s what she told me about Real Housewives, memes, and what makes cabaret so special.

This interview has been edited and pruned for clarity.

THE STRANGER: The news on everyone’s minds right now is that RHONY is really shaking up the format with a new cast and a cast of ex-RHONY stars. How are you feeling about the future of the franchise?

LUANN DE LESSEPS: I found out just before everybody else did. At first I was really surprised—I wasn’t expecting it. And then I thought about it, I talked to Andy about it, and I'm delighted to film with the OGs. That’s who we are! I mean, we’re friends, we know each other’s lives. Sometimes it’s not always easy to bring a new cast member in who doesn’t really fit into our group. So I think it’s cool that they’re doing another ideation of the show and let’s see what works! I’m not mad at it. Let’s put it that way.

There’s so many iconic moments that have come out of your time on the show. Right now there's a sound on TikTok going around—I’m not sure if you’ve seen it—from season eight where you’ve just found out your now ex-husband Tom is cheating on you and you speech-to-text type: “How could you do this to me? Question mark.” What’s it like having personal, private moments like that become memes on the internet?

At the time, I didn’t know it would become a meme. I was just dealing with what I had to deal with. So I’m not really concerned about it. At least I try not to be concerned about what people say or think, because, you know, I wouldn't be around this long if I care what people say or think obviously! [laughs] Sure—it's not easy to go through that moment. But looking back and having a meme out there that's like “Please don't let it be about Tom” is a moment for me that I’m so over. I’m so done with that moment that it doesn’t really affect me anymore. In fact I laugh at it now—and being able to laugh at yourself is key.

You also have several original songs that pull from a lot of different genres. Who or what does your biggest inspiration come from when it comes to your music?

You know, my first song was “Money [Can't Buy You Class].” I met a producer because I wanted to write a song, but I didn't know exactly what I wanted to write. He goes, “So tell me about yourself.” I said, “Well, I just wrote this book [Class with Countess: How to Live With Elegance and Flair].” He starts flipping through the pages and he reads “‘Elegance is learned’—okay.” Then he reads “‘Money can't buy you class’—you know there’s some really good stuff in here.” And that is how “Money Can't Buy You Class” was born. All of my music really stems from my experiences on the show with the women, from my life, all rolled up into one “Chic C'est La Vie”... A lot of people don’t know, but I do write my music. I love that people identify with each part of it because there’s so many different layers to all that music. So, what better for me than putting it all out there in a cabaret show?

That’s actually a really great pivot to my next question: How did you get into cabaret? 

I used to work in Italian television before I ever started Housewives. I was kind of a showgirl. I did a lot of various variety shows, so I’ve always loved that. I always loved Carol Burnett, I love variety, I love comedy. One day a really old friend of mine said “Luann, you love to sing for your friends. You love to tell jokes and you love to host parties. You should be doing cabaret.” I didn't do anything about it in the meantime—I married Tom. So that wasn't happening. And then the time was right and I decided, you know what? I’m gonna do that cabaret show. I got connected to a producer-director who was a fan of the show. We joined together and we created the Countess and Friends, which actually was the first iteration of it. 

What songs do you sing in your show? 

I sing “Dreams” in my show from Stevie Nicks. I sing some David Bowie. I sing a variety of songs because it’s a variety show. I talk Housewives, I talk about all the bad things that happen to me, too, because I’m not afraid of them. I do a Q&A with the audience—everybody gets involved and it's so great. There's a camaraderie in the audience because they all are there for the same reason. So people often go out together, they become friends at my shows. It’s the sweetest thing in the world because they are there to lift me up and I’m there to show them a good time. And that’s exactly what happens!

Yeah, I’ve heard that the Q&A can get really saucy. 

But I’m ready—I’m ready. I mean, somebody asked me, “So how long was walk up the pirate’s plank?” You know what I said? “Not long enough!” [laughs] That’s why I’m a reality star. I tell you, you gotta think fast on your feet. I love the Q&A, I don’t dodge any questions. And if I do, I plead the fifth!

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What’s the secret sauce that goes into a good cabaret performance?

I think the secret sauce is being really comfortable because cabaret is very much your story. At least it is for me. I sing songs that you guys grew up on. My fans are 20 to 60s or 70s. There’s girls at my show that are now in their twenties that grew up watching Housewives with their mommy. So they know all the music that I’m singing and they can sing the words. That’s so important to me. I want the fans to be like, “Oh my God, I love that song!” I select my music very carefully because I want the fans to be able to sing along. I want them to know it or at least be really familiar with it.

So you do a wide variety of songs is what I'm hearing. It’s not just old show tunes.

Maybe one? But I put my twist on it. I play the bongos.

I heard that you play the bongos! 

Well, just a little bit. It’s fun.

Are there any special guests that we can expect at the cabaret?

You never know who’s gonna show up! Listen, I used to have a lot of guests in my show. It’s more of a one-woman show now. But I always have guests who come—the last show I had Madonna’s daughter [Lourdes Leon] come, which was amazing. And the Housewives pop in, Lance Bass has been in my shows before... so you never know who’s gonna show up. 

I love a little mystery. My final question—will you be wearing Jovani?

Well, what do you think?

Countess Cabaret starring Luann de Lesseps is happening at The Showbox on Friday, June 10 at 8:30 pm.