Ok I have a confession to make, I stalked Jeff Lewis. When I read on Twitter that he was in Raleigh (NC)…thank you @Bravotwins… I instantly joked about stalking RDU, the local airport. Then on Valentine’s night Jeff posted a picture of himself outside my local mall. He was standing in the snow shivering because American Airlines had lost his luggage. I knew exactly where he was. I was encouraged through some Twitter dares to go. I explained to my husband I needed him to take care of the kids. When he asked “why” I thought he would be ready to sign the commitment papers. To my surprise he said “yes”, still, when I got into the car I started thinking myself insane to go through with this.
I arrived at the mall, sat down on the bench, and wondered “now what?” Should I just sit here praying he walks by again? Only 25 minutes had passed since his tweet. Perhaps he’s eating in the upperclass restaurant next to where he took the photo. You may recall Jeff will slap you with a restraining order (remember the Ugly Betty Star in 2008), so I was a tad nervous. Yet I was on a mission to experience my very first Bravolebrity sighting. I even stopped at a Starbucks and bought him coffee just to stir up conversation. I don’t know where my common sense went. If he’s eating at the restaurant, maybe I can catch him on the way out. I went inside and asked to buy a gift card. They sent me to the bar. I was looking in every direction. I felt like a fool at the bar buying a gift card on Valentines Day solo. I then asked if I could use the rest room, you know, so I could continue to search the restaurant for Jeff. I walked the entire restaurant. No Jeff. I left disappointed. Then I saw the car he took his picture in front of. I stood around it thinking someone’s going to call the cops. I would have. So I asked a random stranger to take my picture in the same style Jeff’s was. I went home after that, defeated, but after all it was Valentines Day and I did want to spend some quality time with my husband.
As I tweeted my “stalker pic” a commercial aired that said Jeff and Dina Manzo would be at the Raleigh Convention Center for a home show that weekend. I was free on Sunday, tickets were only 3 bucks, I had no choice but to go! (I even ditched church. I hope God’s a Bravo fan…or at least would understand and let me slide this time).
I elected my sister to be my new partner in crime. When we arrived I saw Jeff walking in the hall with Gage. We made eye contact and he said “hi” with a smile; I smiled, said “hi”, and waved like a little giggly girl. After I got over that Ramotional moment my sister and I headed straight to the stage, sat in the third row and waited. Over 175 people followed us, many stuck standing the entire two hours. Jeff, who looked fantastic, started with a Q&A. The moderator asked him questions about his experiences on Bravo, his line of paint, and his relationship with Gage. Jeff revealed that he’s painting his living room black and that wallpaper is making a comeback. He reminded us all that the new season of Flipping Out will be starting soon. When somebody asked “when” rather loud, I instinctively shouted out, in true stalker form, March 5th. Everyone enjoyed a chuckle, even Jeff.
Jeff had a lot to say regarding his work on Bravo TV. He said Interior Therapy may or may not return pending on negotiations he is having with Bravo on the state of the show. He felt Season 1 was overproduced, so Season 2 was not produced at all and he enjoyed it more. He went on to inform us that in no way is Flipping Out produced. What you see is exactly like it is like in his office daily. He said Flipping Out saved him financially when the housing market crashed. He appreciates every penny that comes thru his hands, but knows it won’t last forever. That’s when Jill Zarin came up in the conversation out of nowhere. He said, ” Don’t get me wrong Jill Zarin made good tv, but she wasn’t appreciative, too hard to work with and over demanding. She thought she couldn’t be replaced. She was mistaken, has tried to get back on Bravo, but it’s a no from all above.”
Jeff continued on about some of his Bravo colleagues saying many Housewives are “not starving they are already well off and are just in it for the fame. They don’t need the money. This s why there are so many replaced housewives on Bravo. They don’t appreciate it so they lose it”. He never hits diva status with Bravo hence his long, continuing career with them. Jeff then went on to talk about how Jenni (Pulos) is the main reason there is a Flipping Out. He also talked about how much grief he still gets from his family for firing his sister in law. Holidays are very uncomfortable for him. Jeff went on to answer some design related questions and then stayed to take a photo with all 200 plus people waiting.
I was one of the lucky first in line. Jeff’ complimented my hair. I thanked him, then said how much I appreciated him taking the time to chat and snap photos with fans. When I showed him my stalker pic and asked him to sign it he laughed and said, “you’re not my first stalker.” He also gave me advice on pillow colors for my couch!
After fans took a moment with Jeff they ran over to snap a photo with Gage. I asked him if and when they are considering having kids. He said, “perhaps in the next year or two. Thing are very busy at this exact moment in time.” Gage didn’t have an assistant with him. So many people were solo wanting a photo with nobody to take them, so I volunteered to be Gage’s assistant for the hour. I took so many photos. I felt like a professional photographer. I wasn’t nervous any longer and Gage and I were constantly interacting making jokes. One woman wanted a picture alone with Gage and one with her boyfriend and Gage. I said ” so when you dump him you don’t have to photoshop him out” Gage laughed really hard and said I was a comedian. Then a mother took a picture with Gage for her daughter stationed in Hong Kong. I told Gage her story and he took a second one with his arm in the air pretending to be wrapped around a person so she could photoshop her daughter in. He is extremely sweet.
After it was all over. Gage and Jeff thanked ME! Gage went on to say I was the nicest stalker ever. And off they went to stir up some more American Airlines Twitter drama.
Laura Piazza is a North Carolina wife and mother of children who has a major passion for Bravo TV. Her knowledge of the programming caught the eyes of the network who awarded her the title of Bravoholic in 2013. In addition to Reality Television Laura enjoys crafting and baking. The most important part of her life is family. In addition to raising teenage twins and a toddler, she cares for her sister in law and volunteers within the special needs community. Follow Laura on Twitter @LauraRHONC