LuAnn de Lesseps on White House–Crashing

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The Salahis are encroaching on the Countess's sense of class.
Photo: Getty Images

When we heard the spectacular tale of Michaele and Tareq Salahi, who crashed last week's State Department dinner without so much as a fake press pass, we wondered which expert we could turn to that would have just the right perspective. It had to be someone who lived in a world of cocktail dresses and high-profile parties. But it also had to be someone who understood the allure of trashy reality television (the Salahis are aspiring cast members of Bravo's upcoming The Real Housewives of D.C.). And yet it had to be someone who would be willing to give copious notes on the level of class in other people. Gosh, this was a hard one.

Just kidding! Paging Countess LuAnn de Lesseps!

When we got LuAnn on the phone, she was only too happy to chat. After all, she did write the book on this particular type of social grace: Class With the Countess (out in paperback next April!). "This story is everything I love," she cackled. "Talking about how bad people behave!" Here's what she had to say:

What do you think of all this?
I think the people that would go that far in order to be a celebrity really lack integrity and class.

Were you surprised by it?
I was surprised — I mean, I was surprised that they got in. That's the most unbelievable thing: that they were able to get through. I do believe that Bravo really didn't know.

Really.
Yeah, I believe that production didn't know. I believe these people said that they were invited, they kind of made them believe that, and then they got in!

So Bravo was filming them in anticipation of this event.
Yeah, they basically got ready with them and followed them to the White House. And then I think after that, after they got through security, they weren't able to follow them, of course.

Have you ever crashed a party?
You know, I think when you're 16 or you're at college, that everyone has crashed a party at least once in their lives. In this situation, or any situation, as an adult, you don't party-crash. So I think it's totally unacceptable.

Is there any example of a time where it would be okay to crash a party?
Well, I think it's better to be invited.

But what about if you knew the love of your life was in a party and you could meet him?
No. I think that looks terrible.

What do they get out of this? Anything good?
I think they get nothing out of it. I mean, I think that they make themselves look bad. They're setting a really bad example of behavior. It's not acceptable behavior. You just don't crash parties. It's one thing if you crash Paris Hilton's party, but to crash the White House is another!

If you don't know someone who comes up to you for a picture, as a famous person, do you automatically pose with them even though you don't know them? Like Joe Biden and Rahm Emanuel did?
People with good graces are nice, and want to please people and make them happy. That's a part of being graceful. I think that they were being gracious to the guests, having no idea that they weren't invited. I don't think that Biden did anything wrong. Why would he be ungracious and not take a picture with them? He's not going to check their I.D. He thought security did!

If you were to try to teach a lesson from this, what would it be?
That money and power can't buy you class.

Is this something a Real Housewife should do?
No. I mean, in New York, we're the real deal, we actually get invited into parties. We're trying to keep party crashers out of our parties.

So you don't think any of the Real Housewives of New York would crash a party?
No. Well, maybe Alex and Simon. [Laughs] That's mean.

So is there class variation between the different casts of Real Housewives? Maybe this is a thing a D.C. Real Housewife should do?
I think that all the shows are different, and all different classes. [Laughs] Absolutely, but no one should crash a party. I don't think it's acceptable for Atlanta or O.C. or any of those girls. I think this boils down to integrity and dignity and doing the right thing. That's what manners are all about in my mind.

Do you think Bravo will work with them after this?
I don't know. I know I wouldn’t like to work with them.