How To Get Laid, According To Luann De Lesseps

The Countess is one of the great daters of reality television. Can she help us through the sex recession?

Countess Luann De Lesseps talks to Bustle about her new 2024 cabaret show, 'Marry, F, Kill!'

The first thing that Countess Luann wants me to know about the art of seduction, she says, is that “women really call the shots.” We’re in the sitting room of a rented Manhattan townhouse and Luann de Lesseps, wearing full glam, a terry cloth bathrobe, and matching slippers, has just returned from a quick cigarette and Diet Coke break. Here, she refers me to the lyrics of her classic camp song “Chic C’est La Vie”: Mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest in the land? / I guess it’s not his call.

“It’s your call,” she says.

I’ve asked the reality star to give me dating advice because, in case you haven’t noticed, she’s on something of a tear. She made waves this winter in the Bravoverse after rumors flew that she hooked up with Southern Hospitality’s Joe Bradley, 28, who was dating Summer House’s Danielle Olivera at the time. In March, she ignited a tabloid frenzy by lunching with Mary-Kate Olsen’s ex-husband, Olivier Sarkozy, 55. And for the chronically online demographic, there was last summer’s flirty selfie with controversial podcaster Adam Friedland, 37.

“I think it’s being fearless at this point,” she says of dating at age 59. “It’s the best decade for me personally in terms of how free I feel. When you’re happy and feel free, that changes the game.”

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In a moment when young people are having less sex, and the dating apps we’ve relied on are letting us down or locking us in rose jail, it’s electrifying to revisit de Lesseps’ on-camera romances. “I’m always in trouble with the guy on the show,” says the twice-divorced star, who was a staple on Real Housewives of New York City until it was rebooted in 2023. On RHONY, she actually got real about how she — a former geriatric nurse — bootstrapped her way to Europe, where she snagged her ex-husband, Count Alexandre de Lesseps. (They fell in love at first sight at a chalet in Gstaad, even though her boyfriend-of-the-moment was also there.) And she was the only castmate who seemed to intuitively embrace post-divorce life, whether she was picking up “the pirate” in St Barths; canoodling with businessman Harry Dubin, an ex of multiple co-stars; or embarking on a seven-month marriage with Tom D’Agostino, another castmate’s former flame.

In the past year, de Lesseps and her dating exploits have featured in a series of spinoff shows — and she’s still gloriously devoid of shame. As her castmate Kelly Bensimon observed while watching de Lesseps sashay her way through a disco-themed party full of eligible bachelors on The Real Housewives Legacy: Girls Trip: “Watching Luann go around a room is like watching a pinball. Every ding is a new guy. So ding, ding, ding, ding… and she always wins!” (She did, in fact, get lucky that evening.) And she exhibited that same energy on last summer’s Luann and Sonja: Welcome to Crappie Lake, in which the two descended on a small Illinois town with the same fervor and friskiness of Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie in The Simple Life.

Over the next few months, she’s channeling what she’s learned about love into a cabaret show, Marry, F, Kill!, titled after the same-named party game, which her fans love to bring up in Q&A segments. The packed crowd at her London performance on June 2 quickly went viral. As one enthusiastic tweet read, “While J Lo cancels her tour, Lu’s performing for sold out audiences.”

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De Lesseps would love to parlay Marry, F, Kill! into a dating show or a sex-and-dating advice book. “I think it’d be really helpful to women,” she says, adding that she wouldn’t mind being the next Golden Bachelorette herself. “To have the network put together a group of men specifically for me? Bring them on!”

Not that she has ever, or will ever, need help finding a man. “When you’re confident and feel good and fabulous, the whole world is going to believe it,” she explains of her approach. “That draws people to you.”

Below, the Countess shares her best dating tips and tricks, from Bed Bath & Beyond divorcés to the biological perks of being a cougar.

You’ve said that having four older brothers is what has made you feel so comfortable around men. Was that always the case?

No. I was a late bloomer. I didn’t feel confident in my teens. I was taller than all the boys. I remember a boy actually saying, “It’s too bad you’re so tall, because you have such a pretty face.” So I didn’t really have a boyfriend or have sex until I was 18 years old.

Eighteen is when you lost your virginity?

Yes. At prom.

Did you plan it that way?

Yeah, I calculated it. We had sex in the car, which is so prom. Jim was older than me but he was very handsome and sweet. I thought he was the perfect guy to lose my virginity to because he was good-natured. So that was a great experience, actually. Then it just went on from there: the love affair with boys.

We’re often told that women lose their libido after a certain age, but you and Sonja Morgan’s exploits on Crappie Lake certainly prove otherwise. Have there ever been ebbs and flows in your sex drive?

I love men and I love sex, so that’s never been my problem.

A lot of women — including former Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Lisa Rinna — are singing the praises of hormone replacement therapy for sexual health. Do you take estrogen?

I do a small dose of estrogen. We’ve got to keep the hormones intact, you know? I mean, whatever it takes to keep your libido going.

I recently attended a taping of Watch What Happens Live, and during Andy Cohen’s audience Q&A, I asked what he thought made you so attractive to men. He said you have this confidence that makes you hit on people the way men hit on people. What do you think?

I kind of date like a man. I know what I want. Recently, I met somebody I really liked, and my head whipped around and I was like, “Oh my God. Now that’s the guy I’d like to… you know.” It turns out he’s married, but it doesn’t matter. The point is that I think you know when somebody walks in the room.

I know from my first marriage to the Count. We met, got married two weeks later. Five days [into the marriage] he goes, “You’re going to be the mother of my children.” I said, “I already know that.” So it had a lot to do with confidence. If you don’t think you’re great, nobody is going to think you’re great.

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How are you meeting men these days? Are you on the apps? Or are you still going to the Regency?

I don’t go to the Regency anymore. But I’ll meet guys through other friends, dinner parties, at bars. The home goods section of Bed Bath & Beyond is a good hang. Lots of guys buying toasters and sh*t because they’re getting divorced. Also, if you can get invited to an embassy party, that’s always good because there are a lot of men there, and they’re foreigners.

I love European men. I love Latin men. Americans are tricky. I lived in New York, and then I moved to Milan, and I couldn’t walk down the street without, “Ciao bella, you have to drink a coffee with me!” Otherwise they were going to die. They put women on a pedestal and I feel like we’ve lost some of that.

Do you think the dating rules have changed post-Me Too?

Yes. I think there’s a lot of pressure and a lot of, “Oh my God, what if I say the wrong thing?” For example, you’ll be out with a group of girls, sitting at a table, having drinks, and there’s a guy at the bar. He’s alone, but he’s terrified to go to the table with all these girls. So you write a note that says, “Join us for a drink.” Give it to the waiter to give it to the guy. Now he comes over because you gave him permission to come over. Otherwise, he’s not going to do that.

You’re mostly going for younger guys these days, right?

I’m living my best cougar life right now.

What are the biggest differences between sex with older and younger men?

So the 30-somethings and 40-somethings are into my stuff. The 50-somethings are like, “Oh, sh*t, I’m 50. I have to date a 20-year-old.” And the 60-year-olds have a problem in the, as Ramona [Singer] would call it, “lower level.”

On the subject of younger guys, I have to ask about Joe Bradley. Danielle Olivera has said she believes you two hooked up after meeting on WWHL. Anything you want to set the record straight about?

She followed him on his phone to my apartment. But what she doesn’t know is that I had other friends that were staying with me who were there, and Joe came over. He didn’t sleep over. But he was there.

Any tomfoolery you want to admit to?

Ah! Well, a lady doesn’t kiss and tell.

If he came back into town, would you hang out with him again?

Well, I find him very charming and very mature for such a young man.

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Not long after your night with Joe, you made headlines yet again when you were spotted having lunch with Mary-Kate Olsen’s ex-husband, Olivier Sarkozy. Anything you care to share about that rendezvous?

We’ve known each other for quite a while. I know Mary-Kate. I’ve met her a couple times with him, actually. And his brother is the ex-president of France, and they know the de Lesseps name. People think I pulled my Countess title out of a Cracker Jacks box, but the de Lesseps got the title from Napoleon I, for serving the court. The Count’s great-great-great-great-grandfather was such an important person in France that he was the one who handed over the Statue of Liberty to the United States! Anyway, I forgot what we were talking…

You and Olivier Sarkozy.

Oh, right, OK. So he knows the de Lesseps name. And yeah, we went out to lunch.

Have you seen him since?

I have not. I’m just dating and having fun, and I’m traveling a lot with the cabaret show.

You’ve said that you’re open to getting married again. How does that affect what you’re looking for when dating?

I don’t think like that. First of all, I would love to have a partner in crime. But at the same time, I’m having so much fun dating. I’m a hopeless romantic, so I wouldn’t put it past me to get married again because I do love relationships. I’ve been in many long relationships — well, aside from Tom.

Would I do it again? Maybe. Am I looking for marriage material? Hell, yeah. But that also means [looking for a] partner without having the legal paper of getting married, because look, I’ve got my own homes, children, and things to protect. So it gets complicated.

Bumble faced a lot of backlash last month when they ran ads telling women “a vow of celibacy is not the answer.” That might not have been the best move, but the sex recession among young women is very much real. What’s your advice to women who might be experiencing this?

Well, get a good vibrator.


Live in the moment and live it like it’s your last day. That way you’re not going to be afraid to go up to the guy and say, “Hello.” Don’t be afraid to ask him, “Come for a drink in my neighborhood. I have a place for happy hour.” People talk down to themselves all day, but it’s all about the energy you give off when you walk into a room. Getting dressed for yourself is important, too. Like, I have to have matching underwear. Because the more in love you are with yourself, the easier it is to get people.

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Another phenomenon in our contemporary dating culture is the rise of polyamory.

Like throuples? I think somebody’s always going to get hurt in that situation. Now, I’ve had many opportunities to be in partouzes and things like that in Europe [Editor’s note: partouzes is the French word for orgies]. But for me, sex and lovemaking is very personal, so it’s never been my thing to be polyamorous. But I get it and think there’s nothing wrong with it.

I do think there’s a bit more moralizing in America when it comes to relationships, as opposed to Europe, where the attitude toward “dalliances” has always been much more laissez-faire.

Absolutely. People are much more free sexually in Europe. Here, you have an affair and it’s like the end of the world.

Even thinking back on your relationship with Tom, when Bethenny Frankel and the girls tried to warn you that he was fooling around with other women, it almost seemed like you guys had a sort of “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

That was ego. I really wanted to prove [my castmates] wrong. I was in love with him, and he was a great lover. But he was a disaster on TV.

Now I have a few rapid-fire questions for you. First, who’s your Bravo crush?

Oh my God. OK… Joe Bradley. [Laughs.]

Do you ever make eggs à la Française for your lovers?

All the time.

Would you be interested in going on The Traitors?

People are asking me that all the time! Yeah, I’d love to go to Scotland. And I like Alan Cumming.

Other than you, which of your castmates has the best game?

Ramona. She’ll walk right up to a guy. She has no shame and is so brash. When you need a wingman, Ramona’s your girl. Sonja will be competition. When you see her bring guys around, she’s always like, “Get away, Lu!”

Finally, in honor of your show Marry, F, Kill!, I have one for you: Tom, Harry Dubin, and the pirate.

I already married Tom. People already think I f*cked the pirate, because I looked so guilty when I lied about him not coming back to the house. Then the next night, who actually has sex with him? Sonja! Then God knows we’d kill Harry.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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